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Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. Older blogs are archived at http://www.eatingdisordersblogs.com/authors/karen-r-koenig/.

You’re All Wrong About Anxiety

Most of my clients are anxious, whether they have dysregulated eating or not. They fret incessantly about how they’re doing in life compared to others, whether they’re making enough “right” decisions, and how they’ll manage if life doesn’t go exactly as they’ve planned. They’re so used to believing that it’s their worries and fears that keep the sky from crashing down upon them, that they never stop and think that anxiety is no more powerful than the Wizard of Oz or protective than the Emperor’s new clothes.   This realization dawned up on me while talking with a client one day. She grew up very anxious with a strict mother who brooked little dissent and made my client think there was a right way—and, of course, a wrong way—to do everything. Hence, my client’s worry about whether she should leave a job that she (more or less) hated or stick...
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Are You Often Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop?

Do you ever feel as if things are going swimmingly in your life—even as you’re waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop? If you frequently feel this paradoxical tug of simultaneous joy and fear, let me explain this dynamic and what you can do about it, the goal being that you lose the fear and keep the joy. That’s what you want, isn’t it?   Somewhere along the way (okay, probably in childhood), you weren’t in charge of making yourself happy and had to share that job with parents, siblings and maybe even other relatives. Perhaps you’d be right in the middle of some joyful activity and something not so good would happen to pull the rug out from under you. In this way, you learned to become wary of feeling too good for too long because you figured that that there was a shoe out there ready to...
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Beliefs to Toss That Lead to Emotional Eating

A good deal of emotional eating is due to irrational beliefs, especially about people, that do not serve us well. When we build our lives around these unhealthy beliefs that run contrary to how the world actually works, we’re bound to get upset easily and often. By reframing these beliefs, you’ll provide yourself with a healthier base for better living and better eating.   I’m nice, caring and loving, so other people must be that way too. Would that this were so. Many people have serious limitations in their ability to be intimate and forge positive, nurturing, mutually enhancing relationships. Most of their deficits are from growing up in dysfunctional families and from a culture that sends mixed messages about appropriate values to live by. It’s important to take these limited people as they are, not as you wish them to be. If they consistently treat you poorly and haven’t...
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When There’s Too Much Closeness to Your Parents

Occasionally clients come to see me because they’re estranged from their parents or aren’t as close as they’d like to be. More often than not, they feel trapped in too tight a relationship with parents and don’t know how to create more distance without their parents’ feelings getting hurt. Instead of challenging the status quo between parent and (adult) child, they eat themselves sick.   I am all for parents and their grown children getting along and enjoying each other’s company. But, often parents wish for more than their adult progeny can or should give. This intimacy overload is called enmeshment and it’s no good for either party. Sometimes parents want too much of their child’s time because they have issues with abandonment and loneliness. Other times they want to be best friends with their children, rather than having their own peers with whom they share details of their lives....
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Knowing the Difference Between Distress and Stress

Do you know the difference between distress and stress? You may think of them as one and the same, but they’re not. Distress is uncomfortable, upsetting and closely linked to anxiety. It often signals that we are hurt or are afraid to be hurt in some way. It’s an emotion which occurs in reaction to an external or internal trigger. I’ll get to explaining the difference between distress and stress in a minute.   Here’s the instance of distress that prompted my writing this blog. A client arrived at my office early one evening flushed with emotion and started talking before she even sat down, explaining in rapid fire speech that she’d mailed her health insurance payment two months before and had just been notified by letter that her payment was overdue. We talked about what might have happened to the missing check and what she could do to remedy...
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Bring This Information to Your Doctor, Therapist or Health Care Provider

The White Paper below explains the importance of language in talking about eating disorders, especially about weights at the higher end of the spectrum. Read it over and see what you think and talk with your health care providers about it.   WHITE PAPER The Language of Eating Disorders: What the ED Professional Needs to Know Addendum: Language Directed to Binge Eating Disorder (BED), Compulsive Overeating (CO) and People of Size https://www.iaedp.com/Language_of_EDs_Addendum_BED_17.pdf   Purpose The purpose of this addendum is to increase the awareness and educate the professionals who work with, treat, or educate, patients with BED, CO, and people of size on the “language” appropriate for this population. Note: The above diagnoses are clearly defined and the professionals working with these patients should be aware of and understand these clinical parameters when using terminology within the patient conversation with insurance reviews, general writing, article submission and presentations at all...
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Forget Smart or Perfect and Shoot for Wise

As I age, I’ve been thinking a great deal about wisdom, a useful concept to reflect on in my business of helping people lead their best lives. What I’ve come to believe is that if I can teach clients and readers how to become wiser in order to make better choices for themselves—with food and all of life—I’ll have made an impact. Rather than hear my voice in their heads guiding them, I’d like them to develop their own internal Wise Woman or Man who knows what’s best for them.   The word wise has many meanings: good judgment, discernment, prudence, sagacity,  the ability to discriminate, enlightenment and knowledgeable. It is not per se about happiness, success, achievement, love, power or healing. In my mind, it grows out of learning from your experience and that of others in order to make the best choice you can make in any given...
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Are Recall Triggers the Canary in Your Coal Mine?

The triggering of recall memories are something like canaries in a coal mine. Their job is to prevent you from harm, like the poor birds flying ahead of minors sacrificing their lives to test for toxic air. Used consciously old memories can be a real benefit. Because they get triggered, you might catch onto who people are beneath the surface (he’s a trickster or she’s only out for herself) or what’s really going on in a situation more quickly than others. You’ve been there and done that and know what certain feelings and reactions may mean for you and others. However, if you let them direct your reactions in the present, you’ll never become an effective problem-solver.   Let me tell you about a client we’ll call Cynthia who was excited and proud that she was now pretty much able to identify when emotional reactions were triggered by memories. She...
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Why Giving Up the Goal of Weight Loss Can Be Hard

Of all the discussions I have with clients, the most difficult for both of us, it seems, is talking about their desire to lose weight. The topic comes up often—for some clients, in nearly every session—and its exploration never gets any easier. I sometimes feel as if I’m being drawn down into a quagmire with every word I utter and believe that my clients feel similarly. Why is it so tough to talk about the perils of a weight-loss focus?   First off, clients seem to feel as if I’m trying to snatch something away from them. I even get the feeling that they think I’m a little crazy to be suggesting that weight loss isn’t a great long-term motivator or goal. After all, their doctors and doctors’ nurses, dieticians and, well, just about every health professional they encounter is telling them just the opposite. And then there are the...
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Good and Bad Don’t Apply to Eating

Sometimes we can’t help overhearing conversations, especially when someone is talking really loudly on their cell phone, as if they’re alone in the room. That happened to me recently, and I was dumbstruck over what I was hearing. A man was telling someone about an upcoming doctor’s appointment and this is what I heard: “My doctor is going to be really mad at me because I’ve been really bad. I’m eating all the wrong things when I promised him I’d be good. Man, have I been bad.”   If I hadn’t seen that this speaker was a middle-age guy, I would have sworn I was listening to a child between 6 and 12. That’s the age when we’re often preoccupied with wishing to be good and fearing being bad. That’s the age when we don’t have a huge vocabulary and use words like “good” and “bad” because we don’t have...
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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.