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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. 

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What If You Didn’t Care So Much about Your Appearance?

What if you didn’t care so much about your appearance? What if you could flip to the other side of the continuum about your looks and feel a decreased sense of their importance to you? What if you could expend less time thinking about your face, body, and hair because you hate how it eats up so much effort and energy and simply don’t want to live with such a spirit-killing pre-occupation. Before you insist that this metamorphosis could never happen to you, take a deep breath and just consider “What if?” Ask yourself: What if I could care less about my appearance? What if I could change? You know how to do it: You used to adore certain friends and now don’t, were wild about particular songs and no longer listen to them, or were fiercely wedded to political or philosophical ideas and now wouldn’t be caught dead believing in...

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What Higher Weight Adult Children Want Their Parents to Know About Them

Some of my most heart-breaking work is with higher weight adults and their parents, usually mothers. The pain of both child and parent is evident, as is their frustration, confusion and helplessness about how to discuss matters of weight. I write this blog to give guidance to both parties partaking in this family therapy experience. Generally parents (usually Mom) and adult children (usually Daughter) haven’t been in therapy together, but sometimes times they have a long, unhappy history of family therapy. In either case, here’s what each typically feels as therapy begins. My higher weight client feels highly vulnerable speaking directly with her mother about such a tender subject, for the first or umpteenth time, expecting to be blamed and shamed. Equally, Mom (or Dad, or Dad and Mom) come in feeling frustrated, helpless and guilty. Most often Mom is also worried about her child’s health which adds to the difficulty...

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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 on you....

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Being Fat and Feeling Sexy

This culture can cause heavy people to feel as if fat can’t be sexy, but that’s only cultural bias. If you’re fat, you have two choices: to dislike and hide your body or to feel good about it and decide how to show it off in its best light. If you’re going the latter route, here are some great suggestions from Advice Goddess Amy Alkon (Think you’re fat? Try this at home, TICKET, SARASOTA HERALD-TRIBUNE, 12/20/12). She begins by offering research that tells us that “‘walking the walk’—acting the way you’d like to feel—is one of the most effective ways to change how you feel.” When I make this suggestion to clients (about anything, not just body attitudes), I almost always hear, “But I can’t do something I don’t believe. It just doesn’t feel right.” Well, duh, that’s how change occurs: by doing something that feels uncomfortable. So, either do what...

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What Should We Look Like?

What weight should you be and what kind of body should you have? Time- and culture-bound as we are, women especially can’t help but unconsciously model ourselves after the images we see, the bodies we’re told either to have or avoid. From medicine to the media, we’re focused on two extremes: those who are fat or overweight and those who are ultra-thin or gym-sculpted. We notice these folks, rather than average-looking Jills and Joes, because, for the most part, that’s where the “in the know” fingers are pointing. Three recent images I recently encountered are perfect examples. Two are from a comedy club. Before the first act, the audience was “entertained” by an oversized TV screen flashing images of some current young diva and her female dance entourage, none of whom looked remotely like anyone I know and few that I see in my daily comings and goings. It was hard...

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Virtuous Aging and Body Image

I heard someone in her 40s say that, being middle-age, she was worried about her aging body. For some people, aging automatically brings about a shedding of body image concerns, while for others, it amplifies them. Did you know that there’s an increase in eating disorders among aging women? Forget culture and the media, we have it in our power to decide how we want to view the inevitable changes in our bodies, so, for goodness sake, let’s choose a viewpoint that is positive and healthy. According to Joann M. Montepare, director of the RoseMary B. Fuss Center for Research on Aging and Intergenerational Studies at Lasell College in Massachusetts,the view of “researchers may be part of the problem—that focusing on how to mediate and mitigate the ravages of growing old can fuel negative self-perceptions among those of us engaged in graying…Ultimately, we need to figure out how to make peace...

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Body Grievances

Often times I run into women—in my practice, in my life—who have everything going for them, look great, seem full of pep and energy, yet are stuck on losing weight—they insist—in order to be happy. Maybe it’s three pounds or fifteen or 100. Sometimes it’s enough that people would notice and sometimes no one ever would. Anyway, the point is that I wonder what would happen if these women let their weight loss dreams go. The “excess” weight doesn’t necessarily inhibit their being attractive, healthy, or successful, so what is it really all about? My guess is that there are a couple things going on. First is that we have few if any role models of women feeling okay about their bodies. When was the last time you heard someone, a female someone, say she liked her body just as it is? I don’t honestly recall ever hearing that comment. Even...

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Change the World, Not Yourself

Women are taught to change themselves to fit into the world—get a new hairstyle, learn some tricks to dazzle your guy in bed, do what you can to make people comfortable, try an exotic recipe, forge a perfect body—but how often are we encouraged to create a better world, one in which we can be just ourselves? Rarely. We could do more with the Sixties mentality which prodded us to question authority, fight back, and be part of a revolution. In fact, one of the best antidotes to an eating disorder or problem is to practice saying yes to what’s right with the world and changing what’s wrong. Although disordered eating seems like a personal problem, it affects us all. It’s generated by unhealthy cultural attitudes towards women’s beauty and bodies (sorry, guys) and is a major cause of health problems—undernourishment and overweight. Not to mention how miserable women feel about...

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Addiction to Looking Good

Whether you grew from an adorable toddler into a knockout or morphed from an “ugly duckling” into a “swan,” you may have become addicted to looking good. Because this culture worships and rewards beauty, if you’re attractive (especially if you’re female), you may be so hooked on receiving admiring glances and gushing compliments on your appearance, that you may not realize how attached you are to them. You even may be greedy for praise and convinced you can’t live without it. If you were cute as a button as a child and blossomed into a striking adult—with classic or eye-catching looks—you may have been complimented and rewarded all your life for nature’s gifts. Receiving too much praise for appearance, especially if you get none or few compliments for other innate qualities and learned skills, may make you believe that you are nothing more than a pretty face or an ideal body....

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Mirror, Mirror

A recent blurb in the newspaper has me agog. According to an online survey by Transformulas, a British beauty company, women look at themselves in the mirror every 30 minutes on average daily when they’re awake (Did they really need to add “the awake” part?) and men check themselves out every 27 minutes. My guess is that statistics in the US are about the same, but I fear they may be even more outrageous. The Transformulas survey says that when women are mirror-gazing, they’re reapplying makeup—11 times a day. Obviously this is not the case for men, so what is it that draws us repeatedly to our own image. I’m wondering, when we look in the looking glass or pass a reflective store window, are we looking at or for? Are we checking to see if there is something out of place that needs to be fixed—we’ve left a roller in...

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The Good Body

Last night I saw Eve Ensler’s The Good Body here in Sarasota. If Ensler’s name rings a bell, it’s because she’s the creator of The Vagina Monologues. From its title, you might guess that The Good Body is about women’s quest for one and you’d be right. In fact, perhaps the show should have been called The Perfect Body. However, the word “good” works because many of these women are struggling desperately to be good girls as well. Sound familiar: trying to be good woman and have a good body? The show’s main character, Eve, is overweight and obsessed with her fat stomach. We meet her critical father, in the ice cream business of all things, and come to see how her disturbed relationship with food and body came about. Eve diets and overdoes it on the treadmill, but can’t get rid of her round mound of a belly. She even...

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A Fat Rant Video

A client recently told me about a great YouTube video called A Fat Rant by Joy Nash. You can find it at

. For all of you—fat, thin or in between—who simply cannot imagine feeling good about yourself at a weight society deems unacceptable, it’s a must-see. Frankly, it’s a must-see for everyone on the planet because it says what Gürze (and other) authors have been maintaining for decades: fat is neither a sin nor a crime. It’s nothing more than a descriptive term. I suggest you view the video and return to read the rest of this blog. So, what did you think? I bet some of you felt terrific, seeing this self-admitted big (though she doesn’t look 220 pounds on the video), beautiful woman oozing self-confidence and self-love. We need more role models like her who are willing to put themselves out there and say, “Yes, I’m fat. So...

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Body Shame

Body shame is an interesting phenomenon. Some people have way too much of it, so much that if they’re three pounds up and can’t fit into their jeans, they’re miserable and abhor their own flesh. Other people who are overweight, don’t view themselves that way. When they look in the mirror, they don’t see extra-large, but instead see the thin or average-size body they used to have. In both cases, shame has gone awry and is not being used effectively to foster physical and mental health. Let’s take the first scenario when you really aren’t fat, but have put on a few pounds due to vacation, holidays, or simple bloating. You (hopefully) know that your life won’t go down the tubes because of a couple of extra pounds, yet you feel intense hatred for your body and enormous shame about its appearance. Remember, shame is meant to signal that you’ve done...

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Body Think

It’s a real drag that most women’s assumptions about their bodies run on only two channels: either positive or negative. Positive thoughts go something like this: Boy, I look great today, I’m really thin, That new wrinkle cream makes me appear years younger, You can hardly see my cellulite when my weight is down, I love how slim this dress makes me look. Negative thoughts go like: who am I kidding—we all know too well the evil thoughts about our bodies. It seems we’re either at one extreme or the other. Wouldn’t it be nice to simply take our bodies for granted in a healthy way (like most men do) and stop living our lives around how they look to us and others? Although it’s a lot healthier for us not to obsess about how bad we look and dump on ourselves for having fat, flab, love handles, or cellulite, it’s...

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Sexuality

A fascinating discussion about sexuality and body size is occurring on my message board (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings). Even though we live in a culture that’s considered out there with sex, the sad truth is that sexuality and intimacy get talked about very little among women. The subject gets raised even less frequently by women who are ashamed of their bodies because of their size. Hats off to those of you who are willing to take the plunge and think and talk about sex and weight. No matter what their weight, most women have lots of conflicting feelings about sex, sexuality, and intimacy. After all, we’re supposed to be demur yet seductive and other mutually exclusive traits all at once. Then there’s the bombardment of cultural messages telling us that fat is repulsive and thin is alluring. Women who feel comfortable in their bodies at any weight are few and far between. I don’t...

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Perfect Bodies

Last month I went to the beach with a friend and, there, on the blanket next to us was a woman—in her early 20s, I’d guess—who most folks in this culture would assess as having a “10” body. Evenly toned and tanned, she also had a pretty face and straight, brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her bathing suit, a shocking neon blue, could probably be seen for miles. She certainly looked as if she had it altogether body-wise. Why, then, did I feel so sad for her? For all of you who think you’d beg, borrow or steal to have a perfect body, think again. For example, compare this woman to the young women who had set up their chairs and beach umbrellas on the other side of us. They had far from perfect, plump, soft bodies. I don’t recall their bathing suits or their hairstyles or anything else...

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When Your Clothes Are Too Tight

Whether you’re learning to legalize foods and enjoying them for the first time (or the first time in a long time) or are putting on weight because you’re not paying attention to your food intake, your clothes may be getting tighter. A waistband digging into your belly, a zipper that won’t quite close, or pant legs that bind your thighs all can lead to physical discomfort. And if you’re someone engaged in ongoing battle with food and weight, snug clothes can bring on feelings such as shame, disappointment, and panic as well. People put on weight for a variety of reasons, including inability to exercise, aging, food allergies, medication, vacation, “the holidays,” and hormonal changes. “Normal” eaters might be a bit frustrated, surprised or perplexed by putting on a few pounds, but most take it in stride without an intense reaction. They might try cutting back on treats, increasing exercise, talking...

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Romance and Body Image

I hear the same story over and over from clients: I want or wanted to lose weight to meet a man. Although I haven’t heard this exact sentiment from male clients, they have said that they felt if they were to divorce, at their current high weight, they feared no woman would want them. Ironically, in the case of the women, their problem with romance was never really their weight; it was that they were consistently choosing the wrong men, which is a statement about their self-esteem, not their size. These clients were so preoccupied with looking attractive, looking thin, and looking for love and approval, that they never stopped to ask themselves how they managed to unerringly find dates and mates who treated them poorly, showed little ability or desire for emotional intimacy, and who, to a person, ended up causing them to feel inadequate and rejected. They were paying...

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Body Acceptance

In her new book, Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss—and the Myths and Realities of Dieting, Gina Kolata puts forth a version of set point theory, maintaining that for mostly biological reasons, the body has a natural weight that it will return to again and again. She presents case studies and scientific evidence based on research that the body “fails” at dieting because it simply cannot drop below a minimum weight. If she is right, how can you learn to accept your so-called set point—when you’re eating both “normally” and nutritiously—even if you wish it were lower? The fact is, even if you can’t change your body, you can always change your mind. Many heavy people get on with life and don’t become obsessed with losing weight or being fat. They know they’re large, might or might not aim for fitness, and weight is not the focal point of...

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Being Critical of Appearance

Not everyone feels the same way about their appearance. Some people could care less what they wear and how they look. They’re too busy with other things to fuss about clothes, have low self-esteem, or are depressed and lack the interest or energy to make a big deal about appearance. Other people are obsessed with how they look—striving for a perfect body, spending oodles of time and money on the right clothes, unable to leave the house without taking their appearance into account. Some of these people, as well, may suffer from low self-esteem and only feel good about themselves when they think they look their best. In the middle of the continuum are people who have a reasonable pride in appearance, but don’t go overboard . Much of attitude about appearance comes from what we learned in childhood. Think about how your parents viewed their looks. If you had a...

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