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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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How to Stand Your Ground Around Food with Other People

Do you know people who seem totally comfortable in their own skin around food? They eat whatever they want whenever they want in whatever quantity they feel like. If people comment on their feeding habits, you can tell they couldn’t care less. My guess is that these folks are this “self-focused” in many (if not all) areas of their lives. Let’s talk about how they tune out what others think and tune into themselves. Before going down this path, however, I need to point out that never caring what people think is not a healthy trait. Humans evolved to live in harmony with others and take their opinions and feelings seriously. We’re designed to live in community, which means not always following our own needs and wants.  That said, we’re also individuals meant to think for ourselves, especially when making decisions about how to feed ourselves. Just because your friends are...

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Struggling with food, we seek ideas from others on what and how to eat. On the merry-go-round of eating disorders, every diet is the brass ring, every person who seems to eat “right” is a model to imitate—both of which are exactly the wrong approaches. To have a positive relationship with food, instead look inward at your “eat-iosyncracies.”  My client Pru knew restrictive eating regimes weren’t the answer yet didn’t trust herself with food after decades of overeating and weight gain. To point her toward the path of “normal” eating, I shared some anecdotes about my evolution to enjoying a healthy relationship with food and my body along with my idiosyncratic ways of eating.  When I was first reading about appetite-driven eating, I took the concept of figuring out what I wanted to eat very seriously. One night in Boston, I threw on my down parka over my pj’s and headed...

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Movie Review: The Whale

The Whale is one powerful movie, yet I’m unsure whether to recommend it to people with eating disorders and weight concerns. As I’ve avoided reading any reviews about it, this blog is purely my reactions to a film about Charlie, (spoiler alert!) a man who literally eats himself to death, masterfully played by Brendan Fraser. If this film was disturbing to me, an ED therapist who’s fully recovered from decades of emotional and binge-eating, I wonder what it will be like for people in the throes of runaway eating. I worry it will be so upsetting they’ll head right for the cookie jar or feel revulsion for Charlie, or intense shame toward themselves for their eating or their size. My wish is that they’d feel so filled with compassion for him that they’d begin to soften and feel compassion for themselves. The film is about an online writing teacher carrying such...

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The Chemistry of Fullness and Satiation

In a very interesting article (NY Times Opinion, 6/4/23), “What Ozempic Reveals about Desire,” Maia Szalavitz explains how the brain works vis a vis food. As a fully recovered binge-eater and eating disorders therapist for 35 years, it would be almost impossible for me not to have a fascination with what goes on inside us (and went on inside me) when we’re out of control around food. I hope that writing about the science helps you understand your eating better. By discussing Ozempic and other so-called “weight-loss” drugs, I am in no way endorsing them or encouraging their use. One enlightening nugget in the article is that the brain registers two primary types of pleasure according to Kent Berridge, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan. One he labels “wanting,” about which he says, “The positive side of wanting is feeling empowered and focused on getting what...

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More on ADHD and Eating Problems

  Last year I blogged on the link between Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and eating problems (the diagnosis is now ADHD, not ADD) and I want to give you additional info on the subject from Is There a Link Between ADHD and Overeating. Here are some highlights, though I recommend you read the whole article if you have questions about whether you have ADHD or not or how it may relate to your eating. “ . . . research associates ADHD with eating disorders that involve overeating. There is also scientific evidence to support a link between ADHD and obesity.” “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental  condition that can produce a range of symptoms relating to the inability to focus, impulsive or hyperactive behavior, or both.” “As ADHD involves difficulty with staying focused, impulsive behavior, or both,  people with the condition may find it hard to...

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Neuro-divergence and Eating Disorders

Not only don’t many people know what neurodivergence means, they also may not realize that many neurodivergent people also have eating disorders. My guess is that you’re more likely to recognize the terms ADHD (yes, ADHD), autistic, autism spectrum disorder, and (the no longer in use) diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. You may even be neurodivergent and never have considered that you’re not what’s called neurotypical.  In fact, it’s much harder for neurodivergent folks to deal with food and food problems than someone more neurotypical. So, some facts about neurodiversity and eating disorders which will hopefully help you and anyone you know who fits into this category better manage their eating and their life. “Neurodiversity represents the idea that the ways that humans interact socially, mentally, and cognitively can vary drastically from person to person. This term is often used in relation to those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ASD...

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What’s Your Eating Frequency Footprint?

I know most of you are trying to eat intuitively, according to appetite by deciding when, what and how much to eat. This is a must-have skill to enjoy a positive relationship with food. Another important factor is your style and frequency of eating. Are you a nibbler, nosher, grazer, night snacker, 1 meal-a-dayer, or someone who eats by the clock? Do you eat when your tummy rumbles or hold out until a planned mealtime? The question of when and how often to eat—our eating frequency footprint, if you will—is something to consider as you move toward becoming a “normal” eater. If you’re to deepen your connection with your appetite, it’s vital to get a sense of when you’re hungry, how long you usually wait to eat between meals (or food interactions such as a piece of fruit, protein bar, or handful of nuts). We each have an eating frequency footprint,...

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How’s Your Appetite Track?

Eating intuitively means keeping track of your appetite just as you sense other bodily functions. If I were to ask you any time during the day or night “Are you sleepy?,” my guess is that you’d be able to answer me without thinking much about it. Ditto if I were to inquire whether you felt warm or cold, high or low energy. At least one would hope you’d be able to give me a response fairly easily. This is because our bodies are built to track these kinds of physiological functions. How else would we survive? We need to be exquisitely in tune with our body’s needs or we would perish. Our need for food is one of those necessities. The way I think of appetite is that we are consciously or unconsciously tracking it all the time. For example, if I asked you right now what your hunger level is...

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Find Your Own Approach to Eating

Too many dysregulated eaters try to copy a particular style or approach to eating rather than develop one that’s evolves from their life experience and leads to embracing best practices for them. Their attitude is “tell me what to do and I’ll do it,” rather than “give me the information and I’ll make it mine in my own way.” I speak as a psychotherapist, author and recovered weight-obsessed dieter and world-class binge-eater, when I say there is no one right way to eat. There is only a best way that works for each of us.  My client Kara is an example of finding your way through the morass of information on what and how to eat. We’ve been working on healing her dysregulated eating for years and she’s read every book or podcast I’ve recommended and then some. She’s dieted and run marathons, been a gym rat and let her membership...

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Grief Eating

Grief eating is a term used when people over-rely on food to cope with loss of a loved one, even a pet. Of course, some people lose their appetite when they’re upset or sad, but many others turn to food—mostly those with fats and carbohydrates—to deal with distressing feelings. As my colleague and friend Mary Anne Cohen, director of the New York Center for Eating Disorders, says: “Emotional eaters are prone to derail, detour, and divert difficult feelings through food. And grief is the most difficult of feelings.” Grief is one of the most difficult feelings because of its permanence: What was will never be again. Grief can be due to the death of someone (or something) dear to you, losing a well-loved job or home, or leaving behind what you dearly loved. We grieve over lost youth and health, diminishing abilities, and irrevocable changes in our lives. All overeating due...

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10 Principles of Intuitive Eating

Looking for guidance on intuitive eating? Here are “10 Principles of Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S and Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDS-S, Fiaedp, FADA, FAND, authors of the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach.   1. Reject the Diet Mentality Throw out the diet books and magazine articles that offer you the false hope of losing weight quickly, easily, and permanently. Get angry at diet culture that promotes weight loss and the lies that have led you to feel as if you were a failure every time a new diet stopped working and you gained back all of the weight. If you allow even one small hope to linger that a new and better diet or food plan might be lurking around the corner, it will prevent you from being free to rediscover Intuitive Eating. 2. Honor Your Hunger Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy...

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Beyond Weight-loss Drugs

Warning: This blog is not trying to entice you to take a weight-loss drug. Nor is it meant to dissuade you from taking one. My purpose is to share what ED recovery and 35 years of experience as an ED therapist tell me about these hot new drugs.  For a while I’ve been working with two dysregulated eaters who are, respectively, on Ozempic or Mounjaro. Both have lost significant weight, suffer few side effects, and for the first time in recent memory are enjoying ongoing feelings of regulated hunger and fullness. To say their inner lives have changed dramatically is no exaggeration. Unless they don’t intend to rely on either drug for life because they don’t care to take medication they absolutely don’t need, or because the cost is prohibitive (or both), consider what might happen when they stop taking it. From what I’ve read, hunger and fullness and dysregulated eating...

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Interview with the Creator of the Term Emotional Eating

Interview with my good friend and colleague, Mary Anne Cohen, LCSW, Eating Disorders Expert Extraordinaire  1. Tell us a little about yourself professionally.      I have been a psychotherapist for 50 years! Forty years ago, I founded The New York Center for Eating Disorders to offer treatment for people with binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, chronic dieting, and body image dissatisfaction as well as help for couples and families. I hosted my own radio show on eating disorders for three years and have written three books on eating disorders. I am the professional book reviewer for and just completed my 90th review:     2. How did you get into the eating disorders field?      I struggled with binge eating on and off from childhood through my early 20s. Shame, isolation, dieting, and bargaining with myself did not help much! I began therapy and spent time in Overeaters Anonymous which was...

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Your Gut Microbia May Make You Eat Sweets

I hoped this blog title would catch your interest. It’s big news, really big news that your gut microbia might be what’s making you eat the whole bag of Oreos and not just one, or an entire bar of Godiva chocolate rather than two tiny squares. Of course, the studies on sweets’ bingeing and microbia is only being done on mice, not people. But what if their conclusions are correct and something physiological rather than a moral failing has been causing you to binge on sweets?  Before I give you the science behind this theory, let me share my fear with you: that even if you’re given proof that your sweets’ bingeing or part of it may be caused by your gut microbia, you’ll still cling to the idea that it’s your fault that you overdo with food. You’ll still blame yourself for lack of self-discipline, no willpower or poor self-care....

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I can’t be the only person on the planet who objects to the word “treats” when referring to food, can I? A treat is defined as being “an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure” My problem is that by putting certain foods in the category of “treats” we might be doing more harm than good.  I’m thinking that eaters might do better embracing theses foods—yes, the ones high in sugar, fat or salt and often all three yummily mixed together—rather than keeping them at arm’s length. Seeing them as “out of the ordinary” might mean to some folks that they’re rarely eaten or eaten only on special occasions. My fear is that many dysregulated eaters might see treats as restrictive to only certain occasions. During the holidays, I often hear clients talk about family foods that are treats—anything from soups to breads to desserts....

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Conflicted Thoughts on Whether to Eat or Not

If you’re someone who regularly eats without being hungry or past full or satisfied, you’ll want to read, “The goal conflict model: a theory of the hedonic regulation of eating behavior,” which nails why you engage in this behavior. The argument of its author Wolfgang Stroebe is simple: “reduced responsiveness to hunger and satiation cues is not due to a lack of ability to recognize such cues, but to a more powerful motive governing the food intake of people with a weight problem, namely eating enjoyment.” Of course, everyone who is higher weight does not have a “weight problem.” People have differing genetics, body structure and metabolisms. But the conflict Stroebe describes is exactly what I felt when I was an overeater: I wanted both to enjoy food and lose weight, which led me to doing neither very effectively. How can you enjoy food when you’ve been brainwashed to obsess and...

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How I Learned Not to Be a “Normal” Eater

In the interest of helping you understand how you developed dysregulated eating habits, I thought I’d share my story with you. All our stories, of course, will be different but will also have themes and threads in common. It’s important to remember that not just one thing derailed your eating. Rather, it was a combination of factors beyond your control. It’s nothing you did and it wasn’t your choice to have a dysfunctional relationship with food. It’s something you learned from circumstances and now must unlearn. First off, my father was not a great role model with food. He was an overeater, in part likely from growing up during the Great Depression. And perhaps his sense of food deprivation was also due to how his parents related to food. I don’t know because his mother died before I was born and his father died when I was a toddler. At any...

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Why It’s Okay to Waste Food

Teaching Clients Why It’s Okay to “Waste” Food (reprinted from Gürze-Salucore Eating Disorders newsletter, July 29, 2023) A client and I had an interesting chat about wasting food. She was raised on a shoestring budget, with her grandmother insisting that everyone finish the food on their plate. I understood: My father would sit with me and read the New York World-Telegram until every morsel on my plate was in my stomach. He acted as if unfinished food was reason enough for the major crimes unit to haul me away. Though he was raised during the Depression when money was tight, by the time I came along he’d become a successful Manhattan podiatrist. I understand how old habits die hard, if at all. Now, I go out of my way to explain to dysregulated eaters that what we came to believe as children when we were told not to waste food was...

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Thoughts About Food That Make No Sense

Did you ever stop and analyze what drives your dysfunctional eating? Specifically, whether your thoughts about food are rational? I bet not. Irrational thinking is the major cause of dysregulated eating. Here’s one common example. My client Jonah described how he always wanted to eat or buy two of everything. We hadn’t talked about this issue before and he explained that, for example, getting two hamburgers for a bit more than the price of one felt so right. For example, he thought the idea of paying $6 for two burgers when he’d have to pay $4 for one was terrific.  I told him that would work if he were buying them in a store and was planning to have two meals for the six bucks. He said, no, he ate whatever he bought at once, whether he was hungry for the second one or not and was tickled pink knowing how...

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One Week Will Change Your Eating Habits

Here’s a 7-day plan to connect with your appetite and emotions. For one week, follow the guidelines below to learn and practice a different aspect of connecting to yourself. Each day you’ll have one experience to focus on for that whole day. If you like what you learn in a week, try it for another. It will help move you closer to “normal” eating. Day 1: How do I feel in my body? Don’t critique your body. Just neutrally notice how you feel in it. Which parts move well and which don’t? Connect to your body, observing how it feels sitting, standing, walking, dancing, resting. Stay away from the mirror. Repeat, stay away from the mirror. You’re seeking a view from the inside out, not the outside in. Day 2: How hungry am I? When you think you want food, note your hunger level using a 0 (none) to 10 (very)...

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