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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Calorie Labeling

I read recently that the New York City Board of Health will adopt a regulation on March 31 to make restaurant chains post calorie counts for the food on their menus. I’m unsure of the ins and outs of the regulation, and confess to having mixed feelings about its usefulness for both personal and professional reasons. While the regulation is intended to enable diners to make more appropriate food choices, I’m not certain that’s how things will play out based on my—albeit narrow—eating experiences at a spa that offered extensive nutritional information on its menus. One of the first things I noticed sitting down to eat was that the calorie and fat gram counts on the menus instantly grabbed diners’ attention and became the focus of endless discussion. I could almost see the calculators clicking away in their brains as I tried to ignore the not-so-tiny numbers listed next to each...
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Overweight and Death

For years Americans have been scolded for being fat because “evidence” has proven that being overweight increases the chance of developing serious illnesses and dying. However, we know that many Americans have not taken the message to heart because surveys report that about two-thirds of adults are considered overweight or obese. Part of the problem is the way the media and health community have approached the subject—mostly through trying to change behavior rather than thinking—and part is due to the don’t-tell-me-what-to-do-ness of the human spirit. Lately we’ve been hearing “news” that really isn’t new to people who struggle with overweight and those of us who treat them: that the subject of health and weight is far more complicated than previously thought. There have been a recent spate of books and headline articles that tell us that being fat does not automatically up the chance of developing life-threatening illness. Take a recent...
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Biology, Eating, and Weight

I’ve been doing research for a new book I’m writing for therapists on how to treat eating and weight issues, and am continually amazed at how much of our capacity to eat “normally” and remain at a comfortable weight is rooted in our biology. Some 50-70% (different sources give different percentages) of our weight is predetermined genetically, giving us an inherited predisposition toward fat or thin. Although we can influence biology through stress management, changing unhealthy environments, practicing healthy habits, and getting regular exercise, we all have to work with what we’ve got. Here are some theories you need to know if you’re working on eating and weight issues. As you read them, remember that these are all possible explanations for your struggles and that you still have to do whatever is in your power to achieve eating success. Be careful not to use this information to allow yourself to give...
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Weight Obsessions

Science tells us that when we restrict calories too severely, we automatically rebound by obsessing about food and feeling driven to overeat. This is the body/brain’s way of righting itself and staying in balance. Engage in this process often enough and you’ve got an eating disorder in the making. But there is another way that you can create an eating disorder—by using it to mask the more difficult problems and dilemmas in life. It’s all too easy when you’re in the grip of fanatically seeking that “perfect” weight to make it the focus of your existence. Problems with family, in school, on the job, or within relationships fall by the wayside as you convince yourself that achieving thinness will make all your other troubles disappear. The truth is that if you get to that thin weight, you will still have all the other messes in your life; they won’t drop away...
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What Should You Weigh?

Most of you have a general idea of what you would like to weigh and some of you may have a specific number in mind. Your view develops from health information, the media, fashion ideals, looking at other people, and considering what you used to weigh. The messages we receive about weight imply that we should simply pick a number and diet to get there. However, the more I read about metabolism and eating, the more I understand that we have a genetically programmed weight we are meant to be, that is, a range below and above which it is hard to go. The best indicator of what your range might be is to look at your family, because the latest research tells us that 50-70% of weight is genetically determined. I can already hear the sighs of dismay and the shouts (maybe some curses too) of denial—50-70% is a huge...
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Weighty Comments

In a recent workshop, members had a lively discussion about what to do when people comment—positively or negatively—on their weight. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but there are a number of winning responses, depending on the situation. The first step is to identify what bothers you about the comment: Is it a throwback to how some relative in your childhood used to chide you for being too fat or thin? Does it make you feel uncomfortable because it’s tinged with sexuality or a come on? Does it feel fake, competitive, downright hostile, or as if the person envies how you look? Has it been said thoughtlessly, with love, or with obvious mal intent? Is it from a stranger or an intimate? Your response needs to grow from what you’re feeling—angry, embarrassed, sort of pleased and sort of not, violated, scared, devalued, sexualized, self-conscious—and from the context of the situation. For many people...
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Don’t Stress Over Weight

It’s okay to have stress in your life. In fact, it’s difficult to imagine life with a modicum of stress. The idea is to keep it to a minimum and know how to handle it. Obviously, mindless eating is one way, but not an effective one. I often wonder how many of you don’t recognize the stressors in your life which affect your eating. Here are some.Many of you focus on weight loss so fiercely that you stress yourself out by wanting to look at certain way or weigh a certain amount. What you likely don’t realize is that you are stressing yourself out by pursuing this goal and that this stress may be ruining the quality of your life—even if you do manage to lose weight or keep it off. I understand that you’re trying to feel better by finding a more comfortable weight, but my point is that the...
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