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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 Imposter Syndrome

I posted on Facebook about the Impostor Syndrome (IS) a while ago and was surprised that I couldn’t find any blogs of mine about it. To remedy that deficit, here’s an explanation of what IS is, how it impacts dysregulated eaters, and what to do about it.   According to “Feel like a fraud?” by Kirsten Weir (American Psychological Association gradPSYCH Magazine, 11/13, http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud.aspx , accessed 11/26//17),  The Impostor Syndrome or Phenomenon is a form of “intellectual self-doubt” and is “generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression.” As these three conditions are commonly seen in dysregulated eaters, it pays to learn how to stop feeling like a fraud and start believing in yourself to up your self-worth.   The term was first described by Suzanne Imes, PhD and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD in the 1970s. They found that high achievers were unable to assess themselves adequately and appreciate their success....
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The Destructive Power of Internalized Weight Stigma

Many higher weight people think that weight stigma may only affect their self-perception and self-esteem. Not so. It may also negatively impact their health. According to research (Himmelstein, M. S., Puhl, R. M., & Quinn, D. M. (2017, November 9). Weight Stigma and Health: The Mediating Role of Coping Responses. Health Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0000575 , accessed 11/17/17), “A large and methodically diverse literature links exposure to weight stigma to a range of poor health outcomes including obesity, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, physical activity avoidance, heart disease, stress, and depression.” For this reason, “…it may be useful to address weight stigma and coping in the context of weight management and obesity treatment programs, to help protect individuals from negative health effects of experiencing weight stigma.” If you have depression, anxiety, low self-esteem or difficulty accepting your body at a higher weight, weight stigma may be having a negative impact...
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Beware of Corrupt Power

If you frequently turn to food for comfort because you have a boss, parent, partner or someone close to you who abuses power, you may wonder why he or she acts that way. Or you, a nice person, may be shocked that others can be so mean and cruel. Either way, it pays to understand what power can do to some (but not all) people.   A Columbia University experiment helps us comprehend “how power corrupts the minds of those who possess it, more specifically noting how power changes the way people visually perceive others. According to the study, the most powerful people tend to perceive those who are less powerful as smaller in stature. In another series of studies , researchers observed how power increased moral hypocrisy. They found that powerful individuals tend to judge the powerless more harshly when caught in the act of cheating than when more...
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More Benefits From Meditation

I confess that it took me a while to see the value of meditation. When it was first touted as a stress reducer, there weren’t a whole lot of studies to back it up. But now, the more I read about it, the bigger fan I’m becoming—especially since so many anxious clients ask me, “Can we really change our thinking? Is it truly possible to change our brains?” Science tells us that the answers to these questions are yes and yes.   According to “Meditate on this: a mindfulness practice promotes better health” (Healthy Years, vol. HY16H p. 5), a practice of meditation has health benefits beyond simply reducing anxiety and stress, not that that’s any small feat, particularly for emotional and stress eaters. The article states that “Science is still not clear how meditation influences the brain,” but that it helps in “decision-making, planning, abstract thinking, and regulating emotions.”...
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How to Gauge What You Should Weigh

I had a long discussion with a client about what a comfortable weight for herself would be. Having spent time years before engaged in anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating, it made sense that she didn’t know, now that she was eating more “normally,” what a healthy weight would feel like. I understood. This is an issue for many women I treat. Honestly, it doesn’t seem to be as much of a quandary for my male clients.   We looked at this issue from several angles. First, we talked about cultural pressure to look a certain way. For those of you who are young, please know that it wasn’t always this way, and that now there’s almost no escaping it. My grandmother, who was considered a great beauty in her day and who buried two husbands and then had a boyfriend in her eighties, would have been told she had a too...
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Book Review — “This Messy Magnificent Life”

I have a special place in my heart for Geneen Roth’s books. Back when I was in the throes of my emotional and binge-eating, she was there to teach me that food wasn’t love, that I could honor my needs rather than gobble them away, and that I could enjoy a comfortable body weight without dieting and deprivation. And now she has a new book out that’s just as wise, witty, and inspirational as her others, the aptly named "This Messy Magnificent Life: A Field Guide."   As a writer myself, I’m a sucker for beautiful prose and Geneen’s liquid, lyrical style doesn’t disappointment. As a therapist, I’m thrilled that she’s finally stopped seeking answers from outside “experts” and now recognizes that she is her own font of considerable, ever-flowing wisdom. By writing from that point of view, she encourages us all to look inward to learn, as she says,...
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Not Everyone is as Nice as You Are

Some dysregulated eaters set themselves up for disappointment and heartbreak and turn to eating for comfort because they believe that everyone is as good, kind, nice, caring, trustworthy, reliable and honest as they are. This perception often leads to emotional eating. If this is an issue for you, it’s time to recognize and accept that there are malicious, callous, cruel people in the world who are very invested in staying that way. Here’s are some of the reasons you might not be able to see them clearly. Maybe you were raised to see only the good in people and told never to be judgmental. As a child, when you said something critical about someone, you were told that, “You need to be understanding” or “You shouldn’t say things like that.” In this way, you came to believe that you were wrong or bad if you acknowledged traits in people that...
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Do You Know the Signs of Emotional Abuse?

I treat many clients who’ve been or who are being emotionally abused. Some have eating problems and some don’t. Most are or were partnered to individuals suffering from Psychopathy and or the less dangerous Narcissistic Personality Disorder. None of them expected to become victims of emotional abuse and many stayed too long in their destructive relationships. Fortunately, the majority are now on their way out—for good.  One type of abuse called “coercive control” is used to dominate partners. It is described in “The domestic abuse that leaves no mark” by Abby Ellin (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8/2/16, Wellness, p. 6) as “a pattern of behavior that some people—usually but not always men—employ to dominate their partners.” It is “an ongoing and multi-pronged strategy with tactics that include manipulation, humiliation, isolation, financial abuse, stalking, gaslighting and sometimes physical or sexual abuse.”   “Coercive” individuals make a constant effort to control their partners: where...
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It’s Not Your Job to Make Everything Okay

As children, we often turn ourselves inside out trying to make things go well for us. If Mom yelled a lot when she was stressed, you gave your all to being nice and behaving better. If Dad frequently acted disappointed in you, you tried harder—and harder—to gain his approval. If your brother ignored you, you did all you could to get his attention. If your sister teased you for being a baby, you redoubled your efforts to act grown up.   When we’re mistreated as children, intentionally or not, we attempt to fix the situation by changing ourselves. That’s all we can do and we fervently hope that doing so will improve our lot. If we do just what she says, Mom will stop yelling at us; if we raise our grades, Dad will be proud of us; if we pretend to like our brother’s interests, he’ll be more attentive;...
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When Parenting is a Foreign Language

If your emotional and mindless eating is often caused by the stress of parenting, you’ll want to read "When Parenting Is A Foreign Language: A Child Therapist’s Guide to Speaking Your Child’s Language" by Diane Ross-Glazer, PhD. This gem of a book provides a quick study that gets right to the heart of effective parenting and is written in a casual, humorous style to engage and enlighten any frustrated mother or father who is ready to learn some simple guidelines for improving their relationship with their children.   Whereas most child-rearing books focus on what to do to prevent and respond to misbehavior, "When Parenting Is A Foreign Language" addresses the missing connection between many mothers and fathers and their children, one that is felt from and made with the heart. The book gets you to put aside your thinking and zero in on what you and your child are feeling...
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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.