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]

Your Poor Self-care Hurts Others

Your-Poor-Self-care-Hurts-Others
Here’s a letter I wish I could have written back in July. Instead I turned it into a blog.  Dear Woman Behind Me at CVS Pharmacy: Yes, you, the 30-ish woman with the dark hair and black-framed glasses standing behind me on line at the prescription pick-up counter. Remember me, the white-haired woman speaking to the pharmacy assistant about how COVID-19 cases were falling in upstate New York while rising like crazy here in Florida. You seemed to think it was fine to pipe up and contradict me, butting in with, “It’s because of more testing that numbers are going up.” If you recall, I turned around to face your mask-less self and insisted, “No, not really” (the truth at the time). I left it at that because I live in a state where it’s legal to conceal carry a gun and didn’t want to start an altercation which would leave...
Continue reading
0
  284 Hits
  0 Comments

Becoming Body-wise and Media Literate

Becoming-Body-wise-and-Media-Literate
When you look at images of women and men, what’s your response? Do you see them as more beautiful/buff/handsome/pretty/toned than you are and feel less than? Or are you media literate and know that most of them have been air-brushed into looking so perfect, and wonder what they really look like? If you’d like to learn how to recognize what the media does to images to make us feel badly about ourselves, read on.   In “Why teach media literacy to teen girls?” (About-Face, https://about-face.org/why-teach-media-literacy-to-teen-girls/?mc_cid=4a819dcb05&mc_eid=00a877d57d, 7/20, accessed 8/9/20), About Face Executive Director Jennifer Berger explains how we’ve gotten hoodwinked by the media and the damage it’s done to girls and women: “Sure, in the 1970s, airbrushed photographs made women’s skin poreless and ageless, setting an impossible beauty standard. But today, Photoshop not only banishes every “imperfection”, it also sculpts inches off celebrity thighs and waists – often without the women’s consent and against...
Continue reading
0
  272 Hits
  0 Comments

The Truth about Eating Disorders Recovery

The-Truth-about-Eating-Disorders-Recovery
Do you want to know why you still have your food problems after years of struggling to end them? You might not understand why, but I do, all too well. The answer is actually quite simple. As I write in The Real Reasons You’re Not Becoming a “Normal” Eater, you are not consistently doing all you are advised to do to recover.  To your credit, many of you are in therapy, attend regularly, and are changing in many areas of your life. You’re thinking and acting differently to generate the changes. Nearly all clients make interpersonal changes more easily than food ones. For instance, maybe you’re getting along better with your mother/colleague/son/spouse because you’re letting more of their remarks slide when you used to become defensive or challenge them more often.  Many of you have underlying anxiety or depressive disorders. Some of you are trauma survivors. And most have suffered from...
Continue reading
0
  372 Hits
  0 Comments

Why People Don’t Believe the Facts and Believe Falsehoods – Part 2

Why People Don’t Believe the Facts and Believe Falsehoods – Part 2
If you’re someone who leans toward believing falsehoods and lies in the news or those spouted from the mouths of ignorant people, you might not like the reason why this might be so. Of course, you not liking it might be the reason you tend to be so easily flimflammed. Humans, some more than others, want to believe we’re smart and can distinguish truth from fiction, which is part of the problem.    According to Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News, research on why people persist in believing fake news says, “a person’s cognitive ability reflects how well they can regulate the contents of working memory—their ‘mental workspace’ for processing information. This theory holds that some people are more prone to ‘mental clutter’ than other people. In other words, some people are less able to discard (or ‘inhibit’) information from their working memory that is no longer relevant to the...
Continue reading
0
  304 Hits
  0 Comments

Why People Don’t Believe the Facts and Believe Falsehoods – Part 1

 Why People Don’t Believe the Facts and Believe Falsehoods – Part 1
I spend a good deal of clinical time explaining to clients why things they’re doing or people they’re with aren’t good for them. Sometimes they even tell me that friends or family agree, and admit they ignore advice and still cling to the belief that all will be well.  Then, not long ago, I came across an explanation for this dynamic in “Bad Thinkers: Why do some people believe conspiracy theories? It’s not just who or what they know. It’s a matter of intellectual character” by Quassim Cassam, PhD. Bad thinkers include conspiracy theorists, Holocaust deniers, people insisting they’ve been abducted by aliens, and astrology adherents, to name a few. In my work, I’d throw in chronic dieters who’ve regained lost weight but continue to diet and people who stay with abusers. Cassam says that “Intellectual character traits that aid effective and responsible enquiry are intellectual virtues, whereas intellectual vices are...
Continue reading
0
  384 Hits
  0 Comments

How to Reduce Anxiety about Getting Tasks Done

How-to-Reduce-Anxiety-about-Getting-Tasks-Done
Many of my clients describe seeking food when they’re not hungry to put off doing tasks or because they feel anxious that they haven’t done them. This is a habituated response to emotional discomfort, nothing more, nothing less. The way to break the habit is to attack the problem from both ends: do the tasks and not feel anxious if they’re not accomplished.  “The psychology behind to-do lists and how they can make you feel less anxious” explains how to-do lists can help you stop putting off tasks and actually get them done. Says its author, Lauren Kent, “The trick is to reframe your to-do list as a set of miniature goals for the day and to think of your checklist items as steps in a plan.”  E.J. Masicampo, associate psychology professor at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, adds, “Goals are interesting as they are almost these autonomous agents...
Continue reading
0
  392 Hits
  0 Comments

The Empowerment of Attention

The-Empowerment-of-Attention
Want to know what the key to recovery is? After 30-plus years of treating people with eating disorders, I can tell you that it’s in large part paying attention to what you say to yourself and changing your thinking and self-talk. On a more basic level, we might call it changing your neuronal connections. Although it may not be as easy as flipping an on-off switch, it’s also not nearly as difficult as you might think. This process is described by Daniel Siegel, MD, author of Aware: The Science and Practice of Presence—The Groundbreaking Meditation Practice (TarcherPerigee: NY, 8/18, p. 39): “Where attention goes, neural firing flows, and neural connections grow.” Another way of saying this is that the areas of your lawn which you water will sprout green, while the parts you don’t will go brown and die. Or consider this: If you had two hypothetical children and you paid...
Continue reading
0
  461 Hits
  0 Comments

Weight, Eating and Microaggressions

Weight-Eating-and-Microaggressions
Ever have someone say to you, “You’re not really going to eat that, are you, when you said you were trying to slim down?,” “You’re so handsome/pretty and you’d look even better if you lost some weight,” or “Whatever happened to that diet you were on a few weeks ago?” These are hardly unusual comments for higher weight people to hear. Many come into therapy sessions depressed or incensed about remarks that friends, family, co-workers or complete strangers have made about their eating or their weight.  Rather than being obvious attacks, these microaggressions can be just as hurtful and damaging to you. They’re sneaky devils that sound as if they’re not meaning to twist the knife and the people who utter them can be equally adept in feigning innocence and blaming others for their unkind utterances. Some great advice comes from an enlightening article about racism and microaggressions that explains the...
Continue reading
0
  443 Hits
  0 Comments

Relapse and Resume

Relapse-and-Resume
Want to guess my most common client complaint? It’s “How come I was doing so well for a while and then I just went back to eating like I used to?” Unfortunately, there’s no short and breezy explanation to that crucial question except to say that changing unhealthy habits generally involves a repetition of the pattern of relapse and resume. I usually feel resistance to using the word relapse and for many years I wouldn’t use it at all. But it feels right when we associate it with a lapse of better judgment or a lapse of doing what you know is best for yourself—like eating three pieces of leftover pizza when you come home from a dinner out or finishing off the pint of ice cream you’re saving for another night. Relapse means to lapse again, but implies the state isn’t permanent. The good news is that relapse is usually...
Continue reading
0
  457 Hits
  0 Comments

What Self Are You Trying to Curate?

What-Self-Are-You-Trying-to-Curate
I’ve been hearing the word curate a lot lately and, though I got the gist of it, I wasn’t exactly sure what it meant until I looked it up. It’s close enough to say it means to collect or arrange things to project a certain image. While essays lament how people are “curating” their images on social media to look a certain way or to create an online identity that has a particular luminous aura, the curation I worry most about is when we create a specific idealization of who we want to be and believe we’re nothing without it.  Rather than let ourselves evolve into who we might be, we grab onto an image and fashion ourselves around it. The process, of course, begins in childhood when the shaping is primarily done by our parents, relatives, teachers and culture taking a smidgen off here and adding a lot more on...
Continue reading
0
  429 Hits
  0 Comments

How Being a Parentified Child Sets You Up for Eating Problems

-How-Being-a-Parentified-Child-Sets-You-Up-for-Eating-Problems
If you did a great deal of care-taking of siblings or parents in childhood, the patterns you developed may have set you up for having an eating disorder today. This type of child is called parentified, that is, you were the parent figure to younger brothers or sisters and maybe even to parents who had mental health or addiction issues. How being parentified makes you seek food for comfort is fairly easy to understand. First, if you were charged with taking care of a parent who could not care for themselves, a role reversal identity was being forged in you, that is, you began to see yourself as needing to care for others in order to get your needs met. This is not about blaming your parent but about understanding how early dynamics set the stage for later ones. Maybe you had to make sure your alcoholic dad got up and...
Continue reading
0
  537 Hits
  0 Comments

How to Evaluate Thoughts

How-to-Evaluate-Thoughts
Because humans do a good deal of thinking, we’re wise to spend substantial time considering our thoughts. Are they worthwhile? Are they helpful? What’s their purpose? How do we decide which ones are keepers and which ones to dump into the trash?  You might even wonder what thoughts are for in the first place. Many dysregulated eaters view thoughts as truth, believing they’re one and the same which they’re not. They are random impressions from the external world as well as reactions to our inner world and emotions. Thoughts come and go and circle around again.  Jon Connelly, PhD, LCSW, creator of Rapid Resolution Therapy (http://www.rapidresolutiontherapy.com), a treatment approach not only for trauma but for whatever ails you, reinforces the idea that we must be careful how we assess our thoughts. To our detriment, he insists that we overfocus on whether things are true or not to the exclusion of evaluating...
Continue reading
0
  509 Hits
  0 Comments

Do Your Tone and Body Language Match Your Words and Intent?

Do-Your-Tone-and-Body-Language-Match-Your-Words-and-Intent
Most of us have run into people who say they’re fine but their facial expression or other body language belies it. We sense that they’re actually unhappy or upset because it’s written all over their faces in spite of their protests to the contrary. My job is to help clients notice when they are out of sync with their emotions and their affect and help them be more congruent with what they feel and the emotion they’re showing. Especially if you grew up with family dysfunction that involved substance abuse, mental illness, or other kinds of emotional problems, you may wear a mask much of the time: you know how you feel, but you want to hide those emotions from others. Alternately, you may be fairly clueless about what you’re feeling, but express it through your tone and body language. To be authentic with yourself and others, it’s vital that your...
Continue reading
0
  448 Hits
  0 Comments

It Isn’t Real Recovery without Major Learning

It-Isnt-Real-Recovery-without-Major-Learning
I read a novel peripherally involving AA and came across a passage which explains the importance of learning what is necessary in any kind of recovery. Here’s the excerpt talking about someone’s struggles with the Twelve-Step Program.  “I’m not sure she’d actually reached Step Nine. I don’t think she’d done all the steps leading up to it.” “Does it matter? Do you have to do them in order?” “You don’t have to do anything, but it sure helps. What would happen if you took first year university then skipped to the final year?” “You’d probably fail.” “Exactly.” You see where this is going, don’t you? Recovery just doesn’t happen. It evolves by learning one thing after another in order. Have you accepted this truth yet or are you still trying to claw your way to a healthy relationship with food without bothering to be emotionally healthier along the way? That’s what...
Continue reading
0
  503 Hits
  0 Comments

Just the Facts, Ma’am

Just-The-Facts-Ma-am
While reading an article on people’s reactions to the corona virus, I came upon two statements that struck me as right on target about emotions. They perfectly describe what happens when we don’t view life objectively and accurately but insist on seeing it only through the lens of our experience. Of course, we can’t help but view life through our experience. What gets in the way of mental health is when people are unable to acknowledge that their view (based on emotions) runs against the facts and is purely subjective and often patently untrue. David Ropeik, retired Harvard University instructor on risk communication, tells us that, “Emotions are the filters through which we see the facts.” And Paul Slovic, University of Oregon psychology professor, explains that, “‘Hot buttons . . . ramp up our perception of risk, and sometimes make those perceptions different from the evidence-based conclusions.”  Examples of this process...
Continue reading
0
  558 Hits
  0 Comments

COVID and Beyond—It’s All about Self-Care

Wear-A-Mask
I haven’t blogged much about these days of living with the COVID-19 virus, though I’ve written two pieces, one about eating during the pandemic and another on why people ignore or defy taking //medium.com/@kkoeniglicsw/give-me-liberty-or-give-me-death-599abaf9f0ba">virus precautions. I haven’t written more virus-related blogs because I thought I’d be straying off course and that my writings would be more beneficial to my audience of troubled eaters if I stayed with my expertise.  Then I realized that deciding what or how much to eat and social distancing while wearing a mask all fall under the same umbrella of self-care. It’s wonderful if you’re using pandemic time to focus on staying connected to appetite and minding your portion sizes. Be proud if you’ve put away the scale, are making more of an effort to eat healthier foods, and have gotten into an activity routine that feels right for you. But, honestly, if you’re not wearing a...
Continue reading
0
  511 Hits
  0 Comments

Train Your Brain to Be More Optimistic

Train-Your-Brain-To-Be-More-Optimistic
A major trigger of emotional eating is worry or despair. It turns out that pessimism not only feels crummy and is harmful to your relationship with food, but also may impact longevity. If you’re looking to become more optimistic, you can retrain your brain to think more positively according to “Want to live longer? Be an optimist, study says” by Sandee LaMottte (CNN.com, 8/26/19, accessed 8/27/19,  https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/26/health/optimism-live-longer-wellness/index.html). Says LaMotte, “Optimism doesn't mean ignoring life's stressors. But when negative things happen, optimistic people are less likely to blame themselves and more likely to see the obstacle as temporary or even positive. They also believe they have control over their fate and can create opportunities for good things to happen in the future.” Two key concepts are going on here. First, when things go wrong, stop blaming yourself. Pessimists tend to be blame oriented—hard on themselves or others for causing problems. Second, get...
Continue reading
0
  587 Hits
  0 Comments

What and Where Is the Mind?

What-and-Where-Is-the-Mind
When we say, “I’m going out of my mind,” where is it exactly that we’re going? When we insist that, “Food’s on my mind all the time,” where is it? “Scientists Say Your ‘Mind’ Isn’t Confined to Your Brain, or Even Your Body” by Olivia Goldhill provides some answers along with a definition and general description of “the mind.” (Quartz, 12/24/16, https://getpocket.com/explore/item/scientists-say-your-mind-isn-t-confined-to-your-brain-or-even-your-body?utm_source=pocket-newtab, accessed 2/10/20). Dan Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine and the author of the 2016 book, Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human, defines the mind as “the emergent self-organizing process, both embodied and relational, that regulates energy and information flow within and among us.” He says that the mind contains our perception of our experiences as well as the actual experiences themselves. “Borrowing tenets from mathematics, Siegel explains that the mind is a complex system and, as such is “optimal self-organization is:...
Continue reading
0
  568 Hits
  0 Comments

How Science Advises Overcoming Procrastination-Part 2

How Science Advises Overcoming Procrastination-Part 2
Here are more tips on how to overcome putting things off from “Why Your Brain Loves Procrastination” by Susannah Locke (https://getpocket.com/explore/item/why-your-brain-loves procrastination?utm_source=pocket-newtab, 4/18/16, accessed 2/5/20). Make sure you’ve read part one of this two-part blog which explains why you need to engage in self-compassion rather than self-criticism if you put things off—then, read on. Tim Pychyl, psychologist and Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada professor explains recent research that makes a good deal of sense: “. . . what’s happening with procrastination is that ‘present self’ is always trumping ‘future self’ . . . Some people see these selves as completely distinct, and some people see them totally overlapping. The people who see the present and future self as more overlapping have more self-continuity and report less procrastination.” After reading this article I spent a session with a client who keeps stalling on taking walks that she swears she wants to take....
Continue reading
0
  520 Hits
  0 Comments

How Science Advises Overcoming Procrastination-Part 1

How Science Advises Overcoming Procrastination-Part 1
All week in therapy I hear the following, “If I know what to do, why do I keep putting it off?” or “I can’t get myself to go to the gym even though I really want to” or “What’s wrong with me that I can’t get started on better self-care?” We all procrastinate a little at times, but if it’s a habit, it’s time to understand why we put things off and how to stop. According to “Why Your Brain Loves Procrastination” by Susannah Locke (4/18/16, accessed 2/5/20, https://getpocket.com/explore/item/why-your-brain-loves procrastination?utm_source=pocket-newtab), about 5% of the population has a serious problem with it. Rather than being rooted in a moral deficiency, science views chronically putting off doing things we wish to do as a psychological issue: We simply don’t want to do things that make us uncomfortable or that we think will make us uncomfortable. Explains Locke, “When people procrastinate, they’re avoiding emotionally...
Continue reading
0
  513 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