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]

Memory, Appetite and Mindful Eating

If you do nothing else to improve your relationship with food, practice mindful eating. C’mon, now, it’s not that difficult to do. Trust me, it will speed your recovery faster than you’d ever believe. Think: more mindfulness, less food abuse.According to Appetite may be driven by your memory by Melissa Healy (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 12/25/12), “Too much distraction, too little attention, food presentation—such as large dishes that distort our assessment of portion size—can play havoc with our food memories. And eventually…with our waistlines.” This conclusion comes from a study on actual versus perceived portion size in the journal Public Library of Science One. In the study, unbeknownst to participants, the researchers manipulated the amount of food they received. When questioned about their hunger later, after eating, “subjects’ memories of the meal they saw—not the one they ate—seemed to be most influential.” Even a day later, participants’ memories of what they’d seen themselves...
Continue reading
0
  545 Hits
  0 Comments

Chaos, Meaning, and Eating Test

One feeling that drives disregulated eaters towards food is not being in control of a situation. That’s a difficult position for all of us to be in and our perspective informs our attitude toward how we handle it. The more rational your views on what you can and can’t control, the more likely you won’t eat when control is out of your hands.The world is a chaotic place—nature does its thing, world events impact us socially, culturally and financially, people push their own agenda’s, accidents befall us, and our bodies get sick and grow old. Inescapably, helplessness is at its worst when we’re very young or very old. Of course, the more we rail against it, the worse we feel.The world can be indifferent, unfair, and cruel. It is a peculiarly human notion, part of our egocentricity, however, that life throws things at us. It really doesn't. Life just happens, tooling...
Continue reading
0
  603 Hits
  0 Comments

Learning to Connect with Appetite Takes Focus

Here’s a snippet of dialogue I have at least once a week with clients. They say, “It’s hard to eat without distraction. It’s weird and I don’t like it.” And I say, “Understanding how you’ve changed in other areas will help you form a new habit in this one.”I vividly recall one such conversation with a client who insisted that it felt intolerable not to watch TV/read/play computer games/answer emails while she was eating, but agreed that the discomfort was probably more habit than anything else. I explained that neurons that fire together wire together, and that her eating while doing other things for decades had fused the two together though they don’t rationally belong that way. Remember, any activities you repeatedly do concurrently will became habitual.What makes disregulated eaters expect that they can learn to eat “normally” while doing another activity? I asked one client, a yoga instructor, if she...
Continue reading
0
  825 Hits
  0 Comments

More on Food as Addictive

The debate about whether or not sugar and fat are addictive has gone on for decades. When it began and for long after, the evidence, though inconclusive, leaned toward the negative. Now, according to Laura Beil in “The snack-food trap” (Newsweek, 11/5/12), consensus may be tipping toward the affirmative. Although there are strong, credible challenges to the concept of food as addictive, it seems that “especially in studies of rodents, the brain appears to uniquely draw us to high-calorie, low-nutrient foods…”Mark Gold, chairman of psychiatry at the University of Florida, has done studies which “point to the possibility that eating may satisfy the same brain cravings that drive a person to addictive tobacco, alcohol, and drug use.” The article underscores, however, that not everyone who is “overweight” may suffer from addiction, just as some people drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and experiment with drugs like cocaine and oxycodone, but do not develop...
Continue reading
0
  555 Hits
  0 Comments

Different Takes on Binge-Eating

I was talking with a client a while ago who had done a great deal of binge-eating on vacation. Although I kept asking her about how she’d enjoyed her trip, she would not stop talking about her awful eating and how ashamed she was of ruining her vacation. Clearly, we were not experiencing her binge-eating in the same way.The problem was that repeatedly “eating herself into oblivion,” as she described it, had totally overshadowed the fact that she’d been touring a part of the country she’d never seen with her close friends, a trip she’d long anticipated. We discussed how excited she’d been about the vacation and her plan not to let anything get in the way of enjoying it. In fact, she reported having eaten fairly “normally” the first few days away, then overeating one night which continued nonstop. Every day she’d awakened vowing to eat mindfully, and every evening...
Continue reading
0
  721 Hits
  0 Comments

Eating After the Holiday

Not on, but after Thanksgiving, members of my "Food and Feelings"  message board were struggling with having overeaten. Many ate fairly “normally” on the holiday itself, only to find themselves bingeing and engaged in unwanted eating later that night or the next day. If you engaged in this eating pattern, you can make sure it doesn’t happen again.Two thoughts. First is that holidays are often doubly stressful for troubled eaters. Not only are you faced with family, travel, unstructured or differently structured time, and perhaps less chance to exercise, but you have your eating problem to contend with, which includes being around varied and challenging foods and feeling thrown off your eating schedule. Many of you work very hard to eat healthfully and mindfully with family on a holiday—and do a great job of it. You come away from a holiday meal proud of your success, knowing it was no mean...
Continue reading
0
  433 Hits
  0 Comments

How Destructive Is Binge-eating?

I often speak with clients after they’ve had a whopper of a binge. Even days or weeks afterward, they can usually recall every painful detail of what they consider to be a major act of self-destruction. But is bingeing really so harmful?Now, before I receive hate mail insisting that bingeing on fat and sugar can’t be anything but unhealthy, I’ll agree with you. A little fat and sugar, okay, but gobs aren’t good for our bodies. Then again, neither is overeating this same amount of calories spread over days or weeks. But many regular overeaters pay scant attention to consuming more food than their bodies need as a matter of habit and don’t get down on themselves. They think, “Oh, I just have a big appetite” or “So what if I ate past full?”My point is that if you generally eat “normally” or healthfully (which may or may not mean overeating...
Continue reading
0
  1250 Hits
  0 Comments

Eating at Home versus Dining Out

I often hear clients and "Food and Feelings" message board members complain that they do fine eating at home, but that everything falls apart when they go out to eat. This is likely due to failing to manage what you can when dining out. So here are my ideas for being mindful and proactive when you’re eating outside your home.First off, give yourself credit for improving your eating at home. Too often, disregulated eaters forget that they do many things well because they’re too busy focusing on what they’re not doing as well as they’d like. So, stop and recognize the progress you’ve made. Next, consider that it makes sense that you’d do better where you perceive yourself in charge of all the elements in a situation—you’re the one doing the food planning, marketing, cooking, meal scheduling, and serving which makes it easier to make sure at each step along the...
Continue reading
0
  780 Hits
  0 Comments

Gender and Binge-eating Disorder

Most of my clients for binge-eating disorder are and have been women, but that doesn’t mean men don’t have similar problems. Women enter therapy more often and are more appearance conscious than men. But, take note, males can be binge-eaters too.After reading “Binge Eating Among Men Steps Out of the Shadows” by Abby Ellin (NY Times, 8/13/12), I wondered how many of you have male partners, colleagues, brothers, spouses, friends, or fathers who binge. As the article points out, men are expected to eat a lot and aren’t as self-conscious about it as women. In fact, chowing down may be seen as a manly thing to do. However, when you’re consuming many hundreds or even thousands of calories at one sitting and feel out of control around food, that’s nothing near normal eating. As therapist and former binge-eater Andrew Walen points out in the article, that’s about “numbness and self-loathing.” He...
Continue reading
0
  806 Hits
  0 Comments

More on Buffet and Party Eating

At a party this summer, I ended up engaging in a hazard of my profession, observing people eat. There were a variety of party-goers at the event—mixed gender, from all classes and walks of life. An interesting crowd but, sadly, not a mindful eating one.My table was close by the buffet, so I was able to watch the party-goers shuttling back and forth seeking food. I was struck by the size of the portions taken. Plates were medium-sized and most folks heaped them so high and full that all I could see was food, no plate. There was variety on each one, a bit of everything—or, rather, more than a bit.Nearly all those at my table cleaned their plates when the food was only so-so--a self- confessed non- foodie, I know a tasty dish from a ho-hum one and most of these were passable at best. There were lots of carbs...
Continue reading
0
  714 Hits
  0 Comments

More on Beliefs of Parents of Dysregulated Eaters

Too many disregulated eaters try to change their eating behavior before they’ve examined their beliefs and, therefore, fail to make progress. In fact, I bet most of your frustration with your recovery is due to not having a rational belief system. To create one, here are some irrational beliefs passed down from generation to generation.Where is it written that you must be busy and doing something meaningful every minute of the day or you’re not living up to your potential? Is this true? Where is the evidence? Why can’t you take a break and relax and feel good about it? It’s time to throw out that old belief your parents taught you about productivity and factor in some time to chill out. Why must you always succeed and do the best you can? Success is all well and good but, frankly, failure will teach you as much about life and give...
Continue reading
0
  369 Hits
  0 Comments

Different Takes on Binge Eating

I was talking with a client a while ago who had done a great deal of binge-eating on vacation. Although I kept asking her about the sights and people she’d seen, she would not stop talking about how awful her eating had been and how ashamed she was. Clearly, we were not experiencing her binge-eating the same way.It seems that her having spent a great deal of time “eating herself into oblivion,” as she described it, totally overshadowed the fact that she was touring a part of the country she’d never seen with dear friends. We discussed how excited she’d been about the vacation and her plan not to let anything get in the way of enjoying it. She said that she’d eaten fairly “normally” the first few days away, then overate one night, and hadn’t reregulated her eating after that. Every day she’d awakened vowing to eat mindfully, and every...
Continue reading
0
  788 Hits
  0 Comments

When Food Isn’t Satisfying

Dissatisfaction with food may happen for any number of reasons. Understanding the your feelings when this happens can lead you to choosing a healthy response.. You don’t have to be satisfied with food, but you can be satisfied with your actions around it.It’s not unusual for disregulated eaters to feel dissatisfied with a meal and later binge on food they enjoy. Or even binge on the food you’re not enjoying! This behavior sounds bizarre, but makes lots of sense when you realize that for many disregulated eaters eating is the way they deal with uncomfortable feelings. So, say, you’re out to dinner and order some dish you think you’ll like but it doesn’t hit the spot, or you are a dinner guest and have to eat what you’re served which is about the last thing you like to eat. How does that lead to a binge? What happens is that in...
Continue reading
0
  4444 Hits
  0 Comments

Practice, Changing the Brain, and Better Eating

An article about changing the brain (The brain set free by Laura Sanders, SCIENCE NEWS, 8/11/12) offers more evidence for some of my most persistent advice: If you want to eat differently, you have to keep practicing new behaviors. You can’t just do something a few times and decide you’re a failure. Practice changes your brain.Before getting to how your brain changes with practice, here’s a description of how it begins laying down neural pathways in your earliest days. At first there is a rush of information into our newly formed brains. Slowly connections start to form and strengthen between nerve cells. “In time, these brain connections crystallize, forming indelible patterns” and “In a fully set brain, signals fly around effortlessly, making commonplace tasks short work” as the brain becomes “a master of efficiency” and what scientists called “petrified.” They talk about “The potential for this metamorphosis” as the brain having...
Continue reading
0
  583 Hits
  0 Comments

Buffet and Party Eating

At a party this summer, I ended up engaging in a hazard of my profession, watching people eat. There were a variety of celebrators at the party—mixed gender, from all classes and walks of life. An interesting crowd but, sadly, not a group of mindful eaters.First, I noticed the size of the portions taken from the buffet. Plates were medium-sized and most people heaped them so high and full that all I could see was food on them, no plate. I will say that there was plenty of variety on each plate, a bit of everything. Seated at large tables (mine happened to be right by the buffet), I was able to observe what my table members did and those going back and forth seeking more food.Almost to a person, every person at my table cleaned their plates, which surprised me. The food, truth be told, was okay but nothing special,...
Continue reading
0
  742 Hits
  0 Comments

Beliefs of Parents of Dysregulated Eaters

Most of us grow up believing what our parents believe, but we don’t think of these belief as belonging to our parents. We think they belong to us. In truth, they belonged to our parents and were passed down to us automatically. Many of these beliefs are healthy and rational, but an equal number may be detrimental to our health and mental health.Many dysregulated eaters have a set of beliefs which simply are not useful or beneficial in life, however they keep on believing them—and acting based upon them--as if they were truths. Sometimes these beliefs worked for your parents and sometimes they didn’t. You adopted them even though they were helpful and didn’t make you or your folks happy or successful.Here are some I’ve come across in my clinical travels. One is about productivity, that you must be busy and be doing something meaningful every minute of the day or...
Continue reading
0
  414 Hits
  0 Comments

Satiation and Your Brain

There are times when I read new, scientific theories about the brain and food that I struggle about whether to blog about them or not. Quite frankly, more and more of the research these days indicates that eating and weight are biologically based. So, I think to myself, is it better to have the latest scientific observations even though they prove that our biology strongly underlies eating difficulties, or might it generate feelings of stuckness and hopelessness in readers. Fair warning, this is one of those blogs.According to an article in SCIENCE NEWS (10/22/11), Brain may subvert efforts to diet by Janet Raloff, “In obese people, even when the brain knows the body isn’t hungry, it responds to food as if it were. In normal-weight people, a neural reward system that reinforces positive feelings associated with food turns off when levels of the blood sugar glucose return to normal after a...
Continue reading
0
  397 Hits
  0 Comments

Slow Down Your Eating to Eat Less

One of the most effective changes you can make to stop overeating, is to s-l-o-w down. Compared to slow eaters, fast eaters recall less about what they’ve eaten, want to eat again sooner, and are more prone to weight gain. In fact, there’s evidence for a correlation between the pace at which we eat and the quantity of food eaten.Two University of Rhode Island studies prove this point. One compared eating rates and calories consumed for men and women. Rapid eaters ate “about 3.1 ounces of food per minute, versus 2.5 ounces per minute for medium-speed eaters and 2 ounces per minute for slow eaters.” Which category do you fall into? If you’re a fast eater, aim to become a medium-paced eater and if you’re already one, set your sights on becoming a slow eater. More news—it seems that, on the whole, men consume more calories at a sitting than women...
Continue reading
0
  684 Hits
  0 Comments

Ten Eating and Food Beliefs to Live By

If your beliefs about eating and food are unhealthy, your attitudes and behaviors will be too. That’s a fact. This means that if you want to be a “normal” eater, you have to think like one which involves sorting through your beliefs about food/eating/weight to make sure that they’re rational and healthy. Ten or so healthy core beliefs will do you just fine.To create a new belief system, read my book, THE RULES OF “NORMAL” EATING, which teaches you how to distinguish between rational and irrational beliefs and turn the former into the latter. Use the beliefs in the book to create your own set of 10 for eating. If you already know how to reframe beliefs, make a list of your own about eating/food/weight to form the operating system for your relationship with food and your body. Look for beliefs which underlie others, ones that program you to do what...
Continue reading
0
  1572 Hits
  0 Comments

New Facebook App by Karen R. Koenig

One of my recurrent fantasies has been to have daily contact with my clients, book readers, message board members, and blog audience, and I’m excited to share with you that I’ve finally found a way to do it. I’ve created a confidential, free Facebook-only app called APPetite which will keep a virtual me near you every minute of every day. Well, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but APPetite will place my ideas, suggestions and advice within easy reach whenever you want them.APPetite is the first Facebook application to help you create a positive relationship with food through a private Facebook journal and scheduled coaching prompts. There are three components to APPetite. First, in-the-moment advice is emailed to you daily via Facebook to keep you motivated and get you over the food bumps in your day. After completing a confidential profile about your eating habits, challenges and goals, you will...
Continue reading
0
  473 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