karen header 3

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. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

One Story of Recovery

One-Story-of-Recovery
Being in Recovery from Binge-Eating Disorder A guest blog by Dustin LindenSmith   I’m a 47-year-old married man with three kids living in Atlantic Canada and I self-diagnosed with Binge-Eating Disorder about five years ago. I first discovered how to use food for emotional comfort as a young child, but an alcoholic and abusive step-parent pushed me to turn towards heavy binge-eating in my early teens. I would consume vast quantities of food in secret—I could never seem to get “enough”—and then I’d go on a diet to lose the weight I had gained. In this way, I “dieted my way up” to over 300 pounds in college, and I repeated that cycle several more times in my life. I estimate that I’ve gained and lost over 850 pounds since the age of 10. Binge-Eating Disorder is often described as a chronic and compulsive binge-diet cycle, but to me, it felt...
Continue reading
0
  598 Hits
  0 Comments

Is It Okay to Engage in Emotional Eating During the Pandemic?

Is-It-Okay-to-Engage-in-Emotional-Eating-During-the-Pandemic
While I strongly agree that no one should shame themselves or others for emotional eating during the pandemic (or any time), I disagree with some eating disorders clinicians who seem to be saying that under lockdown, it’s okay to eat emotionally on a regular basis. (“Don’t Be Ashamed of Those Extra Pounds” by Courtney Robin, 8/8/20, accessed 8/9/20). I think the problem in the article is that these two ideas have been lumped together when they are entirely separate. On the whole, turning to food for comfort is a behavior that eating disorders therapists discourage. If food were true emotional comfort with no downside, we would likely be out of business. But it isn’t. It’s only comforting while we’re thinking about what we’re going to eat and when we’re chewing. After swallowing, it’s all downhill. Aside from consequent guilt, shame and remorse which are a useless waste of energy, there are...
Continue reading
0
  441 Hits
  0 Comments

Keeping Favorite Foods in the House without Overeating

Keeping-Favorite-Foods-in-the-House-without-Overeating
Why would anyone buy a whole bunch of their favorite foods and then eat them all at once? The answer is not that they were famished or afraid the food would go bad. It’s because they either feared that the food wouldn’t be available when they did want it or figured that they’d eventually eat it all anyway, so why not do it in one fell swoop. I truly hope that none of these reasons sound rational to you because they’re not. Dysregulated eaters are faced with a conundrum. On the one hand, intuitive eating therapists encourage them to keep favorite foods in the house to learn how to manage their urge to eat them simply because they’re there. On the other hand, every fiber of their bodies is screaming, “No, no, you have no idea what having them all within reach will do to me. Don’t you understand I’ll eat...
Continue reading
0
  540 Hits
  0 Comments

Moving from the Diet Mentality to Attuned Eating

Moving-from-the-Diet-Mentality-to-Attuned-Eating
So many dysregulated eaters have dieted and obsessed about food for so long that it’s hard for them to imagine how they need to think, feel and act to have a healthy and sane relationship with food. Thanks to Judith Matz, LCSW (http://www.judithmatz.com) for laying out the path in this terrific chart which shows where you’ve been and where you’re going on the journey to become a “normal” eater. (“Body and Mind” by Alison Laurio, Social Work Advocates, Apr-May 2020, p. 24). DIET MENTALITY ATTUNED EATING External rules →→→→→→Internal cues Rigid→→→→→→→→→→Flexible Deprived →→→→→→→→Satisfied Guilt →→→→→→→→→→Pleasure Fear →→→→→→→→→→Trust Preoccupied→→→→→→→Empowered Weight loss →→→→→→→Nourishment Shame →→→→→→→→→Compassion Judgment→→→→→→→→Acceptance Oppressed  →→→→→→→Freedom In Control →→→→→→→→In charge Look over the chart and consider how much you want the qualities listed in the Attuned Eating column. How much do you wish to feel free, that you trust yourself, that you’re empowered and in charge? Are you willing to give...
Continue reading
0
  432 Hits
  0 Comments

Measure Progress by How and What You Eat

Measure-Progress-by-How-and-What-You-Eat
No matter how hard I try to shift clients away from a weight focus, they often come back to it as a way to measure progress. Although I’ve blogged on other ways to assess forward movement (https://www.karenrkoenig.com/blog/measuring-progress-in-recovery) and (https://www.karenrkoenig.com/blog/ways-to-measure-progress-without-weighing-yourself), clients are so used to the ultimate culturally-approved standard, that they keep drifting back to it. The goal is to evaluate what and how you’re doing, from thoughts and urges for food when you’re not hungry to how compassionate you are with yourself when you overeat. Rather than write down or chart what you weigh or eat, instead, each day answer these questions about your eating and related issues. Urges: How often did I… feel the urge to eat when I wasn’t hungry? _____refrain from eating when I wasn’t hungry? _____eat when I wasn’t hungry? _____ Hunger: When I was hungry, how often did I . . . wait until I was...
Continue reading
0
  459 Hits
  0 Comments

Make Mealtime Family Time

Make-Mealtime-Family-Time
For those of you who are raising children, what messages are you giving them about mealtimes which include when, what, where and how much to eat? “7 tips to make every family meal count” by Cara Rosenbloom (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 12/2/19, E24) has some basic ideas for cohering and educating your family. I’m blogging on this subject because I fear that some dysregulated eaters don’t know the value of sharing structured meals and what they can teach children about our relationship with food.  Clients tell me that because they are stressed out, they feel overly taxed by food shopping and preparing. So they order take out, go out to dinner, or let their children grab whatever is in the refrigerator. All of the above is acceptable once in a while, but what does it teach your children if it’s a regular pattern? It says that food is incidental or even irrelevant to...
Continue reading
0
  345 Hits
  0 Comments

Fears That Prevent "Normal" Eating

Fears That Prevent "Normal" Eating
If you live in terror of food cravings and weight gain, you won’t learn to become a “normal” eater. It’s simply not possible. Something has to give: the fear or the desire. This is a major conflict for people who ping pong between restrictive eating (restraint via self-control) and going hog wild with food. I often see this process played out in therapy. Here's what happens. A client comes in saying she (it’s usually but not always a she) is sick and tired of dieting and wants to learn how to eat “normally.” She provides her diet history and explains why and when she binges and how she is physically and mentally so done with this cycle. She recognizes that neither behavior serves her and comes to me to help her find the alternative, saner approach to eating. All is well and good so far. At some point, after talking at...
Continue reading
0
  582 Hits
  0 Comments

The Joys of Intuitive Eating

The Joys of Intuitive Eating
“Intuitive Eating: The anti-diet, or how pleasure from food is the answer, says its creators,” a CNN Health article, makes it sound as if intuitive eating (IE) is making a comeback, when it’s never gone away. Back in the 80s IE taught me how to eat intuitively after decades of dieting and binge-eating and the movement has only grown stronger nationally and internationally. (Sandee Lamotte, 1/31/20, accessed 1/31/20, https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/31/health/intuitive-eating-no-diet-wellness/index.html). Since then there have been hundreds of books written about appetite-attuned eating. Here’s some how-to advice straight from the mouths of its creators and the authors of Intuitive Eating: An Anti-Diet Revolutionary Approach, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, both well respected registered dieticians. “The scientific mechanism behind intuitive eating is called ‘interoceptive awareness,’ or the ability to perceive physical sensations that arise within the body. Intuitive eating is really instinct, emotion and thought," Resch said. "It's the instinct, hunger, fullness. What we...
Continue reading
0
  513 Hits
  0 Comments

Eating and Mental Health Disorders

Eating and Mental Health Disorders
Certainly not all, but many people with dysregulated eating suffer with underlying Depressive and Anxiety Disorders. Even if they don’t have full-blown disorders, they experience sub-clinical distress that is enough to contribute to eating problems. It’s not uncommon for me to hear about panic attacks, excessive worrying, isolation due to social angst, low energy, apathy toward beneficial activities, low self-esteem, a shame-based mindset, and over-focusing on controlling life.  What is of interest here is how clients are much more likely to be aware of and wish to talk about their eating problems than the emotional distress which drives them. I am not saying that depressive or anxiety disorders (or any other mental health problems) cause dysregulated eating. All three are biopsychosocial conditions concurrent with eating disorders. But focusing solely on eating better, without attending to underlying issues of anxiety and depression, will derail even the best therapeutic efforts. Here’s why this...
Continue reading
0
  531 Hits
  0 Comments

COVID-19 Isolation Need Not Lead to Overeating

COVID-19 Isolation Need Not Lead to Overeating
If you’ve felt an uptick in urges to munch and crunch your way through the day since COVID19 has revamped our lives, you’re not alone. It’s hard enough not to fall prey to emotional and mindless eating in the best of times. Enduring sky-rocketing stress while hunkered down, we need compassion for what we’re experiencing and a redoubling of attunement to emotions and appetite regulation in order to stay sane and healthy.    How can we not feel overwhelmed when seemingly overnight our usual host of worries has been transformed into inconceivable horrors: ourselves or loved ones succumbing to COVID19, losing our jobs and financial assets, and wondering when this nightmare will end? As our stress ramps up and routine pleasurable, relaxing activities are cut off one by one, it’s natural to experience feelings of extreme loss of control so that the mere act of eating seems like a magical antidote to...
Continue reading
0
  613 Hits
  0 Comments

Why We Eat the Way We Do

Why We Eat the Way We Do
Check out “Why We Eat The Way We Do” on NPR’s Hidden Brain which runs just shy of half an hour (https://www.npr.org/2019/11/11/778266536/hungry-hungry-hippocampus-the-psychology-of-how-we-eat, accessed 11/23/19). Here’s what I learned from this entertaining and enlightening podcast.  Psychologist Paul Rozin was being interviewed by Shankar Vedantam, host of Hidden Brain. Rozin, who has spent decades studying “the interplay between food, identity, and culture,” maintains that "Food is not just nutrition that goes in your mouth or even pleasant sensations that go with it. It connects to your whole life, and it's really a very important part of performing your culture and experiencing your culture." This is why we enjoy certain ritualized foods—from birthday cake to Christmas pudding, Hebrew Sabbath challah, and Muslim couscous—and why we have strong associations to traditional or simply familiar foods from childhood. Two discussion points got me thinking. One was the difference between French and American eaters: Americans are focused...
Continue reading
0
  497 Hits
  0 Comments

Change Your Self-talk Around Food and Your Body

Change Your Self-talk Around Food and Your Body
Most of our self-talk about food and everything else is so ingrained that we don’t realize what we’re thinking or saying to ourselves. Self-talk comes in the way of directives or judgments and truly can be a silent killer (of self-esteem and positive motivation) or a life saver. Feelings and actions don’t just pop up out of nowhere. They spring from what we think and tell ourselves which leads to experiencing and doing this rather than that. I know that you have words, phrases and ideas lodged in your brain learned a long time ago which are damaging your attempts to be a “normal” eater and feel compassionate about your body at any size. But the fact that I know this doesn’t help you unless you know it as well. Moreover, you not only need to be aware of damaging things you say to yourself around food and about your body,...
Continue reading
0
  593 Hits
  0 Comments

Let’s Do Lunch

Let’s Do Lunch
At an airport waiting with an old friend for a flight, the topic of food planning came up. Seeing as it was about lunchtime, I pulled out my freezer bag containing my yummy lunch and snacks for later. My friend asked why I just didn’t eat airport food and wasn’t I being a bit obsessive about carrying food with me whenever I travel. As I munched on lunch, I explained that airport food didn’t strike me as nutritiously appealing. Clearly she thought I was crazy for schlepping food around and I thought she was unwise to depend on airport food for sustenance. An aside: I love to eat at restaurants and have no problem dining at the homes of others without knowing what they’re serving.  So, imagine my delight when I attended a clinical workshop with a therapist friend, bumped into a colleague, and the three of us pulled out our...
Continue reading
0
  562 Hits
  0 Comments

How One Client Stopped Bingeing

How One Client Stopped Bingeing
What would you give to be binge-free? Here’s how one of my clients, after 30 years of binge-eating, has been free of it for nearly two months, saying she doubts she’ll ever resume this behavior again. I asked what she’d been doing differently and if she minded if I shared her story. She was eager to share her thoughts and encouraged me to blog about her success. My client is a divorced, hard-working mom in her early 40s with a history of overeating, dieting, and hyper-focusing on food and weight. She came to me insisting that she could never change her eating. It was only in her third round of therapy with me (after two previous stints of a couple of sessions each time) that she began to make strides. Here's the advice she wants to pass on to you that has helped her not binge:  She has a strong commitment...
Continue reading
0
  657 Hits
  0 Comments

You Can Learn to Be an Intuitive Eater

You Can Learn to Be an Intuitive Eater
You can learn to become an intuitive eater. I know because I learned to do so and it changed my life. I went from restrictive and binge eating and bulimia to eating according to my appetite and health needs. And learned life skills I didn’t even know I needed. Dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch coined the term “intuitive eating” in 1995, referring to the “process of using internal cues rather than external rules to guide decisions about what to eat.” (“To eat intuitively, trust your instincts” by Carrie Dennett, Sarasota Herald Tribune, 10/15/19, E28, accessed 10/15/19). Their book has been a mainstay of the international intuitive eating movement ever since and undoubtedly helped me hone my ability to eating according to appetite. Their advice is to “honor your hunger” and “feel your fullness,” while stressing that these are only two of the 10 intuitive-eating principles. This is similar to the...
Continue reading
0
  583 Hits
  0 Comments

Is a 2-Year-Old in Charge of Your Eating?

Is a 2-Year-Old in Charge of Your Eating?
One of my clients joked that it sometimes feels as if a 2-year-old is in charge of her eating. A highly competent teacher, she also does an excellent job taking care of her elderly parents. She’s a can-do person and a great problem-solver like many of the dysregulated eaters I treat. With all her maturity and capability, why, then, would she hand over the reins of her eating to a toddler? Think of 2-year-olds you know. Maybe you’re trying to tame one right now. Or have heard tales of how you ran your parents ragged at that age or remember what it was like raising your little hellion. You know enough to recognize that you don’t want to put a 2-year-old in charge of anything, never mind your eating. Would you let one drive your car, pay your bills, or pick out your clothes? Of course not. A child at that...
Continue reading
0
  502 Hits
  0 Comments

What Kind of Overeater Are You?

What Kind of Overeater Are You?
I attended a workshop entitled “Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food” which had a section on Binge-eating Disorder or BED. (CE International, www.ceinternational.com, Ginger Schirmer, PhD, RD). It included a description of five types of overeaters that I found interesting, although I’m not sure I agree with them being all that different. I’m blogging about them because doing so may help you identify why you overdo with food and develop strategies to avoid doing so. First, consider what Dr. Schirmer had to say about food addiction: that no food is addictive, but that we can form an addiction-like relationship to foods that changes our brain and body chemistry much as it would if we were dependent on drugs or alcohol. I’ve heard others describe this dynamic as having an eating addiction. At any rate, when you read the categories below, remember that Dr. Schirmer isn’t talking about the food being addictive...
Continue reading
0
  759 Hits
  0 Comments

My Interview from Eating Enlightenment

food
“30 Years and 7 Books of Eating Disorder Recovery Wisdom,” is an interview of me by Jared Levenson. Below is a bit about my crazy eating days. To hear more of my story and recovery, listen to this podcast at https://eatingenlightenment.com/2019/12/01/eating-disorder-recovery-interview/.  I talk some in my books and more in my sessions with clients about how I went from being a chronic dieter and world-class overeater to a “normal” eater. They are often amazed when I tell them that I’ve been recovered for half a lifetime which, at 72, sometimes seems like it was just yesterday and sometimes seems like my warped relationship with food happened to another me and not the one I am today. I was a deprivational eater who weighed myself several times a day. I counted calories to know what and how much to eat. You could have slapped on me any other label that applied to...
Continue reading
0
  634 Hits
  0 Comments

Recovery Works—Just Not as Fast as You Want

Recovery Works—Just Not as Fast as You Want
Many pieces of recovery need to come together to reach your goals. If you’re focused on looking in the mirror or down at the scale, you’ll miss them. You want quick change, like now! I get it. But for success, instead of measuring progress in pounds or inches, you’ll need to shift your focus to how you’re making small attitudinal and behavioral adjustments in other aspects of life that will eventually move you toward recovery. Recently a client was lamenting the “bleepin’ lag time between learning how to have a better relationship with food and her body” and actually doing better around food and improving her health. It’s true, the lag time can be frustrating and seem daunting. That’s because there’s generally a good deal for dysregulated eaters to learn in order to manage life in a healthier manner. For the umpteenth time: It’s not just about the food. Clients start...
Continue reading
0
  589 Hits
  0 Comments

The Importance and Value of Treats

treats
Many dysregulated eaters crave and overeat “treats.” But, guess what: If you’re eating them all the time, they are no longer treats. That’s because a treat is something pleasurable, out of the ordinary, and not in your daily routine. It’s meant to be an occasional pleasure to the palate or boost to the spirit, but many dysregulated eaters ruin their purpose by seeking and consuming them excessively. From my own bingeing history and 30-plus years of working with troubled eaters, my take is that they often don’t enjoy life very much and seek food to increase its pleasure. That’s just plain sad. You cannot have a healthy relationship with food if you’re overly reliant on it and it’s your singular go-to for pleasure and a bounce in your step.  I’ve had clients who use vacations the same way. They’re anywhere from unhappy to miserable in their lives and seek travel to...
Continue reading
0
  653 Hits
  0 Comments

shelf new

EBProfessionalBadgeLarge

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.  Privacy Policy