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. 

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Book Review: Beating Ana

BOOK REVIEW: Beating Ana: How to Outsmart Your Eating Disorder and Take Your Life Back by Shannon Cutts (HCI, 2009) Author Shannon Cutts has created a smart little book in Beating Ana for anyone struggling with eating issues. The theme of the book, which I whole-heartedly endorse, is developing relationships to replace eating disorders. Cutts couldn’t be more on target when she says that we need to “feed our minds and hearts with the empowering stories of others.” To extend the metaphor, the book is a most satisfying meal. The focus of Beating Ana is on mentoring. Cutts defines a mentor as “one who is recovering who understands and can give hope and support from an insiders’ perspective.” This concept is the foundation of the “Anonymous” organizations and works well for recovering from a host of problems and addictions. As Cutts underscores, it is precisely our isolation and shame that keep...
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Book Review: Nice Girls Finish Fat

My fourth book, NICE GIRLS FINISH FAT—PUT YOURSELF FIRST AND CHANGE YOUR EATING FOREVER (Fireside Books, a division of Simon and Schuster), hits the shelves tomorrow, June 2! It’s the first book to link up doing too much and eating too much, and was written for all of you women who take care of others with your warm hearts and generous natures and take care of yourselves through multiple trips to the refrigerator. “Nice” men who abuse food will benefit from reading the book as well. NICE GIRLS FINISH FAT developed from my gradual realizations about the excessive niceness of the women I treat for food problems—smiling all the time, dutiful about keeping appointments, guilt stricken when they can’t pay me on time, apologizing for half the session for coming a few minutes late, and spending much of our time wailing about how much they have to do, how imperfect they...
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Book Review: It’s Not Your Fault

Books that tell you to change unwanted attitudes and behaviors by “just doing it” don’t generally work for readers with traumatic childhoods. That’s why I like It’s Not Your Fault: How Healing Relationships Change Your Brain and Can Help You Overcome a Painful Past by Patricia Romano McGraw, Ph.D. She explains in readable language and through case-based examples what happens to a child’s brain growing up in a stressful, dysfunctional (ie, traumatic) environment and describes how therapy can actually change the brain and heal the heart. As so many disregulated eaters are trauma survivors—whether you recognize yourself as one or not—this book will help you understand why it’s so difficult to establish and maintain new eating habits. McGraw presents the concept of templates—models or patterns on which things are based—that are physically laid down in the brain through childhood interactions we have with caretakers, primarily our parents. Because neural pathways grow...
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Book Review: Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

I read as many psychology and self-help books as time permits to keep expanding my knowledge base and make targeted suggestions when clients need help. Some books relate directly to eating, others have a peripheral link. As you probably know by now, food and weight problems are connected to many facets of life. Here’s a review of a relatively new book about mothers and daughters which has been helpful to my clients. Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride, Ph.D., is a terrific addition to the literature written about the clinical diagnosis of narcissism and how having a narcissistic parent can detrimentally affect you throughout life. Written by a psychology professional and daughter of a narcissistic mother, the book explains: what a narcissist is (and isn’t), the underlying causes of narcissism, why and how daughters of narcissistic mothers suffer, and what they can...
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Book Review: What Every Therapist Needs to Know about Treating Eating and Weight Issues

Ever wish your therapist could help more with your eating and weight issues? Wonder why a counselor doesn’t pick up on your distress over food or body image or minimizes these issues when you start talking about them? Feel angry that the only response a therapist has to your being overweight is to tell you to go on a diet? Love working with your therapist, but wish he or she had a better understanding of your eating and weight frustrations? My new book, What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Treating Eating and Weight Issues, has the answers you’re looking for—and much, much more. Published by Norton Professional Books in September, 2008, What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Treating Eating and Weight Issues was written for general practitioners who have little or no training or experience working with these problems. Maybe they specialize in treating depression or anxiety or family...
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Book Review: The Food and Feelings Workbook

I’m going to use blog space today to encourage you to read my second book, The Food and Feelings Workbook—A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health. My purpose isn’t to sell more copies (though that’s always nice!), but to share with you a powerful vehicle for learning about your emotional relationship with food. If you already know about the workbook, have read or are reading it, well, then you don’t need to continue on and have a few extra few minutes today to do something else. The workbook came about from my experience treating people who worked hard on becoming “normal” eaters but couldn’t get there because of how they used food to prevent or lessen uncomfortable feelings. It didn’t matter whether they were over- or undereaters or yo-yoed back and forth. The issue was how they turned to food to avoid and modulate emotional distress. The workbook explains the purpose...
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Book Reviews: Books for Healing

I know that many of you read books about eating (like mine!) to help you resolve your food problems. However, other books that don’t specifically target eating can work wonders in moving you toward recovery. For now, here’s a taste of the wisdom from my favorite “self-help” books. From time to time, I’ll provide you with more titles. Two books by Daniel Goleman offer highly readable descriptions of emotions from a biological and sociological perspective. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ focuses on temperament, the biology of emotions, and the importance of really knowing your “feeling” self. Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships provides a thorough education on the biopsychosocial chemistry of how and why we relate to others as we do. Another gem on the subject is The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life by Joseph LeDoux which tells explains how the brain...
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