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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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Book Review – All That Happiness Is

Book Review – All That Happiness Is

(Originally published at NYJB)  For a slim book of 62 pages, All That Happiness Is packs a wallop. Full of insights into what this prized state is—and isn’t—Adam Gopnik’s reflections teach us how to free ourselves from the chains of expectations and let happiness find us. A long-time staff writer at The New Yorker, prize-winning essayist, and prolific author, he writes with wit and compassion and parses his theory of happiness down to the nitty gritty. Gopnik starts out by pondering whether the crux of our nation’s fixation on happiness might be that our Declaration of Independence guarantees only our pursuit of happiness, and not, sadly, its capture. Warning us about the illusion of enjoying ongoing, permanent happiness, he urges us to be satisfied with “bursts of delight” based on the understanding that “the pursuit is the happiness,” which is the theme of this book. At the age of 12, Gopnik stumbled upon happiness in the form of...

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Book-Review-ADHD-for-Smart-Ass-Women

Book Review: ADHD for Smart Ass Women

(originally written for and posted on NYJB) Whether you have ADHD or are close to someone who has it, are female or male, young or old, this book will brighten your outlook on it. Rather than focus solely on how to remedy its disadvantages, certified ADHD coach, attorney, and podcast host, Tracy Otsuka—who carries the diagnosis herself—offers an upbeat view of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and shows how understanding its brain-based causes and managing them effectively will set and keep you on the road to success.   Otsuka’s goal is to make this book for women with ADHD “fun and easy so that you feel good reading about it—and keep reading it.” Encouraging curiosity rather than judgment about what she views as this spectrum condition, she advises that those with it find their own unique ways of managing it rather than copying what works for others. She writes from the stance...

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Book-Review---Polyvagal-Practices

Book Review – Polyvagal Practices

Consider the level of emotional safety you experience around people and in the world. Do you tend to feel edgy and reactive and use anger or anxiety to protect yourself? Or does reactivity cause you to withdraw and isolate to avoid wounding? If you use these coping strategies more often than you’d like and want to feel more in tune with yourself and in balance with the world, Polyvagal Practices: Anchoring the Self in Safety by Deb Dana, LCSW will help you reach your goals. Dana seeks to help you find your “way to the rhythm of regulation that brings you safety, connection, and joy.” She explains how, outside of our awareness, the autonomic nervous system controls bodily functions through three hierarchical response pathways: ventral, sympathetic and dorsal. “Each pathway brings its own set of thoughts, feelings, behaviors and bodily experiences.” At the top of the hierarchy is the ventral state...

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Book-Review-The-Eating-Disorder-Trap

Book Review: The Eating Disorder Trap

Although The Eating Disorder Trap by Robyn L. Goldberg, RDN, CEDRD-S was written as “A Guide for Clinicians and Loved Ones,” much of it is equally useful to people with dysregulated, dysfunctional eating. So, feel free to learn from this book, pass it on to your therapist who may know little about the specialty of treating eating disorders (EDs), and encourage intimates to read what Goldberg has to say from her decades as a registered dietitian helping clients and their loved ones make recovery happen. Full of valuable information and insights, chapters are short and to the point with simple graphics, case examples, and research data and conclusions. The book begins by explaining how lack of accurate information about EDs in our culture lays the traps that unwittingly snare people into them. Goldberg shares the truth about BMI, what “normal” eating entails, why diets fail long-term, and how to decide the...

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Book-Review_-Codependency_-Loves-Me-Loves-Me-Not

Book Review: Codependency: Loves Me, Loves Me Not

A client gave me a book on co-dependency which I’d never heard of, but it was full of wonderful insights and advice. A quick read, Co-dependency: Loves Me, Loves Me Not by Simeon Lindstrom, hits all the right notes on the subject.  It’s a must read if you: feel lost when you’re not in a romantic relationshipbelieve you’re responsible for others’ feelingsfeel pressure to rescue people who have problems or to make them feel betteroften are taken advantage of and are then outraged and feel like a victim tend to be attracted to and have relationships with people who end up hurting youhave difficulty ending relationships in which you’re hurt repeatedlyalways worry about what others think of youavoid hurting others’ feelings and end up hurting yourself This book explains the adult, mature, healthy mindset you want to have in relating to others: You’re independent, though sometimes you depend on people situationally. You...

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Book-Review--Us-Getting-Past-You-and-Me-to-Build-a-More-Loving-Relationshi_20221122-195104_1

Book Review – Us: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship

My book review originally published at NY Journal of Books This life-altering book stands head and shoulders above the countless how-to guides aiming to teach couples how to repair broken relationships. Its brilliance lies in both its macro-analysis of how cultural over-valuing of the individual undermines loving partnerships, and its detailed strategies to get back on track by learning to hold the well-being of the union above the happiness of each member. Written in plain language, the author’s generous sharing of therapy sessions will make readers cry with his clients and laugh at themselves. Terrence Real, LICSW, internationally recognized family therapist, speaker, and multi-book author, is the founder of the Relational Life Institute. The power of his message comes from professional wisdom, topnotch writing, deep introspection, and exceptional frankness about the challenges he’s faced to become not only the man his wife would like him to be, but the man he,...

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Let-Go-of-Emotional-Overeating-and-Love-Your-Food-Arlene-Englander-MA-LCS_20220919-192200_1

Book Review – Let Go of Emotional Overeating and Love Your Food

I’m always interested in reading a book by a seasoned psychotherapist who, like me, has also recovered from emotional overeating. It’s the perfect combination to educate and counsel people who want to manage both their emotions and relationship with food. In Let Go of Emotional Overeating and Love Your Food, Arlene Englander, MA, LCSW, offers a 5-point plan that, when diligently and joyfully followed, will change your relationship with food. She describes emotional eating as “eating neither to satisfy hunger nor for enjoyment, but in a desperate attempt to distract oneself from painful thoughts and feelings.” In short, when we emotionally overeat, we not only abuse food but also mistreat ourselves. To help readers understand and identify with what she says, she shares experiences from her own emotional eating days and uses case examples from her clinical practice.  Her major focus is to teach readers how to connect with themselves and...

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Book Review: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole

Book Review: Bittersweet How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole

Book review by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, MEd originally published at the NY Journal of Books In Bittersweet Susan Cain explains why it’s crucial to embrace all our emotions, especially those that are bittersweet. She takes on this nation’s pursuit of perpetual positivity with the same gusto, erudition, compassion, and thoughtfulness that made her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, a bestseller.   Cain describes the emotion of bittersweet as “longing, poignancy, and sorrow; an acute awareness of passing time; and a curiously piercing joy at the beauty of the world” along with recognition that light and dark, birth and death—bitter and sweet—are forever paired.” She even provides a short quiz to help readers determine if they lean temperamentally toward sanguine or bittersweet or travel between the two states. A lifelong devotee of Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen, Cain uses examples from...

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Book-Review-Emotional-Inheritance

Book Review: Emotional Inheritance

This book review was originally published at New York Journal of Books on 1/24/22.  Emotional Inheritance explodes the myth that what we don’t know can’t hurt us, at least when it comes to family legacies. It explores the subtle and often hidden ways we are impacted by what happened in the lives of previous generations, especially by the traumas family members suffered and the secrets they held. Psychoanalyst and multi-book author, Galit Atlas, PhD, describes “the many faces of inherited trauma, its impact, and how we move forward.” She intertwines the personal impact of her ancestry and experiences with case studies of her clients to help us understand that we are—for better or worse—far more than we think we are because of how the past lives on within us. This book will be helpful to clinicians treating trauma survivors as well as to anyone trying to unravel their identity and resolve...

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Book-Review-Why-Smart-People-Make-Bad-Food-Choices

Book Review: Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices

The goal of Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices is to alter not only our individual eating habits, but to change society’s relationship with food. It is truly a book for our times and our appetites. (Originally published at New York Journal of Books) Author Jack A. Bobo, who has worked for 13 years as a senior adviser on global food policy and spent the last decade learning how behavioral science can improve our eating decisions, states at the get-go that his book is not about slimming down and confirms why weight-loss diets inevitably only make us fatter, saying, “The truth is that diets don’t work for most people . . . the research is pretty clear that a lack of self-control is not what’s making us fat . . . reducing obesity in America is not about diets or information. It’s not about reading labels or counting calories. Instead,...

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Book Review

Book Review of the Expectation Effect

This book review was originally published at New York Journal of Books on 2/14/22.  In The Expectation Effect, award-winning science writer David Robson answers these questions: “What are the beliefs and expectations that rule our physical and mental well-being? How do the body, brain, and culture interact so potently to produce these self-fulfilling prophecies? And how can we use these fascinating findings to our own benefit?” He explains how beliefs “shape your health and well-being in profound ways, and that learning to reset our expectations . . . can have truly remarkable effects on our health, happiness and productivity.” He also shares how he reset his own expectations regarding his anxiety and depression and how much better he feels and is faring since changing his assumptions about them and himself. The book is replete with studies and stories from around the world about how expectations affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally....

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Book-Review--Savor-Every-Bite

Book Review – Savor Every Bite

Savor Ever Bite: Mindful Ways to Eat, Love Your Body and Live with Joy by Lynn Rossy, PhD takes you by the hand and teaches you how to eat mindfully. More than that, it shows you how to be more mindful in all of life because you can’t simply choose one area to be mindful in and expect an improved relationship with food. Regarding eating, Rossy lays out five steps for becoming more mindful: Step 1: Slow down and explore your senses Step 2: Soothe (instead of eat) your emotions Step 3: Surrender limiting thoughts Step 4: Smile and create your own happiness Step 5: Savor every moment Think about these steps and how much sense they make. I’ve never met anyone who overeats or eats mindlessly who doesn’t tell me that they eat too quickly and get so absorbed in doing so that the whole world drops away. Rossy tells...

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Book-Review-Good-Morning-Monster

Book Review: Good Morning, Monster

If the title of Catherine Gildiner’s Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery does not imply that the real-life psychological horror stories within it actually had happy endings, it might be almost unbearable to read. Oddly enough, quite the opposite is true.  Gildiner, a seasoned clinical psychologist and acclaimed author, knows how to provide readers with just enough detail to get them hooked into rooting for each patient, but not so much to make them recoil from their gut-wrenching histories. With gentle humor and welcome candor about her own therapeutic shortcomings, she draws us into patients’ lives, then helps us let them go, both of which she had to do as their therapist. Good Morning, Monster functions on several levels. Readers with a general interest in psychology and human development will appreciate well-told stories of five pseudonymously named patients over the span of many years as...

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Delivered-from-Distraction

Book Review: Delivered from Distraction

When a client newly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)— formerly known as ADD—asked me to read Delivered from Distraction—Getting the Most Out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder, I thought I’d do it for my own edification. The book is a sequel to Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D.’s landmark book, Driven to Distraction, which I read when it first came out many years ago.  The book has important things to say about state-of-the-art treatment for ADHD, and for the authors’ reckoning of what constitutes mental health. For example, you might have a bright child doing poorly in school or might have had a parent who was so disorganized that they regularly lost jobs or “forgot” to attend your school events. Maybe your marital or relationship frictions are due, in part, to the other person having ADHD. I have at least one client with a rocky...

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Book-Review-Embodiment-and-the-Treatment-of-Eating-Disorders

Book Review: Embodiment and the Treatment of Eating Disorders

Although Embodiment and The Treatment of Eating Disorders, originally published at the New York Journal of Books, is a scholarly work for clinicians, understanding its premise and promise may help you overcome your eating disorder. Psychologist, author, professor and researcher Catherine Cook-Cottone, herself recovered from body obsession, dieting and overeating, bases her treatment approach on the concept that troubled eaters are dis-embodied and that the way to recover is to move in the direction of wholeness. Being disconnected from emotional and physical needs is exactly why you are often filled with internal conflict. What I mean by conflict is, for example, yearning to be noticed and cherished while remaining steadfastly emotionally tucked away, lest relationships lead to getting hurt; pursuing others’ approval while hating how infantile and dependent this makes you feel; knowing how you want your body to look but not who you are inside it; and driving yourself harder...

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Book Review – Brain Over Binge

Book Review – Brain Over Binge

A client recommended that I read Kathryn Hansen’s 2011 book Brain Over Binge: Why I Was Bulimic, Why Conventional Therapy Didn’t Work, and How I Recovered for Good. She marveled that reading it had 100% stopped her 30-year habit of binge-eating and compensatory over-exercising. Another client who’d begun reading it feared that I wouldn’t care for it (I was waiting for my copy to arrive) because it was vehemently anti-therapy for treating eating disorders. By this point, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Now that I’ve read it, my feelings about it are wildly mixed. I think it has extremely valuable ideas for troubled eaters and people who are inclined to fall back into weight-loss dieting when harmful eating patterns are feeling too hard to give up. But Hansen is neither therapist nor ED researcher. She’s a long-recovered dieter, binge-eater, and over-exerciser who wrote a “recovery memoir” which...

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Book Review – My Body’s Superpower

Book Review – My Body’s Superpower

How I wish I’d had a copy of Maryann Jacobsen’s book, My Body’s Superpower: The Girl’s Guide to Growing Up Healthy During Puberty, in my pre-adolescent and adolescent years. Although many decades have gone by since then, I still vividly remember how difficult it was to manage my feelings, my changing body and the world I lived in. If you have a female child who’s approaching or going through the changes of puberty, you’ll want to purchase a copy of this book to help guide her through it. The premise of My Body’s Superpower is that we all have secret powers that become superpowers once we discover, practice, and start using them regularly. The book begins with Jacobsen, a dietician, mother and author who writes about effective parenting, explaining what puberty is and describing its five stages. She describes early and late puberty and even has a short section for boys...

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Book Review: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone will teach you about yourself. Sure, it details author Lori Gottlieb’s journey with her therapy patients and her attempts to sort out her own mental health conundrums. But, as the subtitle implies, it’s also about “Our Lives Revealed,” because under all our class, ethnic, religious, educational, political, gender, and vocational differences, we’re all just struggling to paradoxically both know ourselves and hide from this knowledge at the same time. Although this book is presented as a series of stories involving the author, it’s really a teaching tale about how we create, assign meaning to and, if we’re lucky, change our own stories. Telling hers and those of her beloved patients, Gottlieb bares her soul often enough to make us cry, while also making us laugh as she offers herself up as a prime example of someone maneuvering the mind-bending ups and downs and in and...

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Book Review: Loving Someone with an Eating Disorder

As an eating disorders’ therapist, I can say unequivocally that partners of dysregulated eaters need to know what to do to help their loved ones struggling with food. Although they don’t think of it as “their” problem, it deeply affects them deeply. Whether they realize it or not, what they do or don’t do has a strong impact on their partner’s eating. From working with partners of dysregulated eaters, I know they often feel either overly responsible or powerless to fix their beloved’s dysfunctional eating. Loving Someone with an Eating Disorder: Understanding, Supporting and Connecting with Your Partner by Dana Harron, PsyD provides concrete, psychology-based strategies to help partners become more helpful and feel more confident in promoting healthy and effective dynamics to help their loved one resolve his or her dysregulated eating problems. Topics include feeling alone in loving someone who has an eating disorder, learning about different kinds of...

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Book Review – The Weight of Being

Reviewed by: Karen R. Koenig (Originally published at New York Journal of Books) https://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/book-review/weight-being Kara Richardson Whitely’s double-entendre of a title, The Weight of Being, wonderfully captures her physical and emotional life as a person of higher weight. In spite of successfully having climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro at 300 pounds and survived a dysfunctional childhood that involved PTSD from sexual abuse, her father’s heartbreaking abandonment of the family, suffering as the target of fat stigma, near disabling self-doubt, body hatred, depression, and low self-esteem—all of which she writes about in lively prose with touches of self-deprecating humor—the one thing that she’s unable to do is to have a consistently sane, sensible relationship with food. Having begun dieting in middle school, she knows how to starve herself and lose weight, but the pounds always pile back on. The book describes the discomfort of moving around in a large body well enough to live...

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