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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. 

Beware of People Who Work Too Hard to Take Care of You

How could it be a problem when people wish to take really good care of you? Isn’t that a positive trait in a person? Doesn’t that make them ideal as a partner or friend? How could care-taking ever be something to be wary of?   Let me explain. Some people are looking to take care of you because they’re natural caregivers and others do it because they love you and want the best for you. But, there’s another aspect of a care-taker who has motives, albeit generally unconscious, that are neither benign nor healthy. That is the person who needs you to be sick or stuck because then you can be accountable to them and needed by them. These kinds of people create in you an unhealthy dependence on them that only keeps you from becoming healthy and empowered.   Here are some examples. One of my clients was seeing...
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What to Focus on While You’re Eating

I recently did an eating workshop for a local organization which included us eating lunch together. As I usually do, we spent half an hour having lunch. The first 15 minutes was an exercise of eating in silence and the second 15 minutes was a discussion about what participants observed during their silent meal. The discussion was pretty much the same one I’ve had with other groups doing this exercise.   I truly wished that I could have videoed those first 15 minutes and maybe someday I will, with the groups permission. What I’d really like to do (but won’t), because it would be far more beneficial for them, is to make a video without their knowing it to capture their natural style of eating. Granted that it’s likely that most participants were a bit self-conscious about eating with others and having me observe them, but I think that self-consciousness...
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Being Too Nice Can Ruin Your Relationship with Food

I taught an eating workshop this fall in southwest Florida to a wonderful group of women. They exemplified the positive traits of the “nice” girls I write about in my book Nice Girls Finish Fat: Put Yourself First and Change Your Eating Forever ), as well as the problems caused by having nice as a singular identity. I’m blogging about them for all the women and men (yes, there are men who are too nice for their own good) who tend toward being overly nice in any situation, then end up struggling with dysregulated or unhealthy eating because of it.      (An aside: When I came up with the book’s title in 2009, I thought it was catchy and my publisher, Simon & Schuster, loved it. Now I feel that it’s insulting to use the word “fat” so pejoratively. In truth, I would never choose that title now, but...
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Don’t Confuse Compassion with Over-Identification

Many people are confused about the difference between having compassion for someone and over-identifying with him or her. It’s a critical distinction, especially if you’re inclined to feel sorry for people and then end up losing yourself in the relationship and/or taking better care of them than of yourself.   According to self-compassion author Kristen Neff, compassion is meeting suffering with kindness—part empathy and part wishing to treat someone as kindly as you’d like to be treated. There’s nothing wrong with compassion, which I encourage you to feel toward others and yourself. But, there’s everything wrong with over-identification. The Oxford Living Dictionaries defines it as, “The action of identifying oneself to an excessive degree with someone or something else, especially to the detriment of one's individuality or objectivity.”   ( https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/overidentification , accessed 9/16/17) When we have compassion, we feel for someone. When we over-identify, we feel someone’s emotions to...
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How Our Food is Losing Nutrients

You may think that eating lots of vegetables, fish, and plant-based foods means you’re getting all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. That may have been the case decades ago but, according to Irakli Loladze, Ph.D., the quality of our food is decreasing because of the quality of what it is fed or feeds on due to climate change. (“The great nutrient collapse,” Helena Bottemiller Evich, 9/13/2017, Politco, accessed 9/16/17, http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/09/13/food-nutrients-carbon-dioxide-000511 ) There is a complicated answer to what’s been going on, but I’ll try to keep it simple.     Loladze explains that “Plants rely on both light and carbon dioxide (CO2) to grow” and that scientists have known for decades that CO2 levels have been rising in our atmosphere. “Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising…We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere...
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The Critical Importance of Emotional Health

How is it that so few people understand the purpose of emotions and how essential and valuable they are to us? The answer lies in our culture, especially its Puritan aspect, and in our ego-driven attachment to things rather than ideas and inner wisdom. Considering this off-base perspective, I was delighted to read what former US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, MD, had to say about the relationship between physical and emotional health (“What it means to be healthy,” National Geographic, 9/2017, p.3).   Reporting that he realized the importance of emotional well-being while traveling around the country, Vivek says that “people were experiencing a high degree of emotional pain. I think of emotional well-being as a resource within each of us that allows us to do more and perform better. That doesn’t mean just the absence of mental illness. It’s the presence of positive emotions that allows us to be...
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Blogging about Weight and Weight-Loss

I love to blog because I love to write. However, I find it daunting to talk about weight and weight-loss because I’m concerned about my comments may come across. Aside from being scrupulous about not using weight in a stigmatizing way, I also want to address readers’ concerns on the subject and be careful not to bum them out by what I say.   Every time I post a blog or an article describing scientific evidence that weight is strongly genetically based, I get a pang of discomfort. If I write that obesity is highly heritable, I worry that readers will feel pessimistic and lose interest in taking care of their bodies, thinking “What’s the use?” If I write that most people who lose weight regain it or, often, regain more than they originally lost—I fear that I’m blowing someone’s day and that they’ll feel frustrated and helpless to ever...
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Chew More, Eat Less

I often say that sometimes how and what you eat is like a train’s locomotive and what you weigh is like its caboose. Not that we can always control weight by diet, as 50-70% of what we weigh may be due to genetics. However, according to new research, we may have an impact on how much (or less) food we eat just by chewing more.   Here’s some of the science behind this theory from “Why slow eaters may burn more calories” by Markham Heid (Time.com Health, Diet/Nutrition, 4/12/17, accessed 9/9/17, http://time.com/4736062/slow-eater-chew-your-food/ ). “Some preliminary research has found that chewing until “no lumps remain” increases the number of calories the body burns during digestion: about 10 extra calories for a 300-calorie meal. Eating fast, on the other hand, barely burns any calories.” (“The number of chews and meal duration affect diet-induced thermogenesis and splanchnic circulation” by Hamada, Kashima, and Hayashi,...
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The Difference Between Yearning and Wanting

How often do you use the word “want”? Probably a good deal. What about the word “yearn”? Is there a difference between yearning and wanting? According to Drs. Judith and Bob Wright, founders of the Wright Foundation and Wright Living, there most certainly is. (“How to understand and handle an abusive boss” by Lindsey Novak, At Work, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 9/4/17, D15)   This topic is particularly relevant for dysregulated eaters who have food wants galore and often unmet yearnings. The Wrights tell us that wanting stimulates dopamine, generating that temporary rush you feel when you get what you desire. “Yearning, on the other hand, is paramount to one’s survival. When yearnings are met, one’s system is flooded with feel-good neurochemicals.” They’re saying that the high from getting what we yearn for is far better than the quick fix from satisfying a mere want.   This idea makes me think about...
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Beware of Unhealthy Advice

We can’t be expected or expect ourselves to always know what’s best for us. That’s what family and friends are for, right? Well, not exactly. Sometimes their input is useful and sometimes it’s just about the worst baloney that we can hear. The key is to figure out when it’s right on and when it’s way off base.   Here are three examples I heard recently of clients asking family or friends for help and getting advice. See what you think of what they were told.   Case #1: A client who’s been trying to become a “normal” eater, yet hasn’t lost the weight she’d like to asks her mother how she just lost 90 pounds. Her mother tends toward narcissism, is known for her all-or-nothing thinking, and has suffered from serious depression. Since she’s been on anti-depressants she takes much better care of herself and is easier to get...
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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.