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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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Don’t Believe Everything You Think

I love this quote by author Robert Fulghum: “Don’t believe everything you think.” So succinct, so direct, so true. Whether you take this statement as truth or not will make all the difference in how well or poorly you live your life, so take a moment to consider on which side of the divide you stand.  If you don’t believe it, well, then you’re stuck with your false thoughts til you die and that’s that. This means you’ll be at their mercy to make you miserable and do things that aren’t remotely in your best interest. Sadly, you will think you’re a victim when you’re actually choosing to not develop and use the powers which will transform your life. If you do believe that you can manage your thoughts, great. That brings us to not believing everything you think. If we don’t need to believe every thought that wanders across our...

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What’s Missing From Your Life?

If you’re drawn to food when you’re not hungry, something may be missing in your life. Or maybe more than some thing, but several somethings. You might be lacking: People Many dysregulated eaters are lonely and don’t realize it. They tell me, “I’m private and like to keep things to myself,” “I don’t want to be a burden,” or “I don’t trust people because I’ve been stabbed in the back too many times.” They believe that they should bear all of life’s hardships themselves and that they’re weak if they reach out for help. They engage in activities with people, but fear sharing authentic feelings. Some prefer the role of listening to others’ problems to opening up themselves. Some have lots of “friends” who are really only acquaintances and others don’t have even that. They yearn for intimacy but, fear it as well, and so remain disconnected, alone and lonely.  Purpose...

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What Do You Want More Than Food This Year?

I hope you understand by now that food is not what you really want whenever you’re not hungry and grab something from the fridge or swing by the fast-food drive-thru window. Food only meets your needs when you’re hungry. Whatever else you want is something important to you, essential for your well-being and living your best life, and foundational to your happiness.  Make this the year that you finally find out what’s driving your food obsession, what’s underneath your need to clean your plate, what’s causing your secret and sneak eating—whatever you’d be doing if you weren’t focusing on food and weight every minute of your life. The question is not only what you really want, but what you want more than food. What will satisfy you more than any sweet or treat ever could? Stop reading for a minute and answer this question.  Here’s another: What are you afraid to...

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The Difference Between Force and Power

One of my favorite mystery writers, the Canadian author Louise Penny, brilliantly captures why some people fail and others succeed by differentiating between characters who merely exert force against and those who harness power from within. In A Great Reckoning, one character says of another, “He was more powerful than anyone she’d ever met because he wasn’t at the mercy of the elements.”  In order to avoid being at their mercy, one must have a firm moral core, a rooted center that is strong, resourceful and resilient. Power draws from deep within by formulating intention and sticking with it, strategizing about your best shot, and not self-indulgently reacting to people or situations, not falling for cheap tricks or grabbing onto quick fixes.  Then there’s force. I bet that each of you has tried to force something open (a bottle, a drawer, a key in a lock). Maybe you’ve been lucky and...

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When You Need More Than Therapy

Although I value psychotherapy tremendously, both personally and professionally, sometimes it’s not enough to heal clients from eating disorders. Therapy is certainly a “cornerstone” or “lifeline” for building a better life, but by itself may not produce the successes clients seek and deserve. Here are some adjunctive activities that are enormously helpful for a true and full recovery from eating and body image disorders. Group Therapy “involves one or more [psychotherapists] who lead a group of roughly five to 15 patients. Typically, groups meet for an hour or two each week. Some people attend individual therapy in addition to groups, while others participate in groups only. Many groups are designed to target a specific problem, such as depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety, chronic pain or substance abuse. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness and...

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So What If Change Takes Effort

Lately it seems that more clients than ever are complaining about how hard it is to change. It’s likely that the stress of the pandemic is a contributor to life being more arduous and generating a larger chorus of frustrations. But there’s more to it than that. Thinking about this issue brings me back to when I was getting my Masters degree in Education. I had some minor problem and asked to see my professor about it. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it boiled down to my insisting that something was unfair. As if it were yesterday, rather than the late 1970s, I clearly remember her response as she looked at me in astonishment and asked, “Whatever made you think life was going to be fair?” Her comment was a game-changer for my life. Why indeed? A similar question could be asked about why many of us feel...

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What I Wish I Knew During My Eating Disorder

My days as a chronic dieter, emotional/binge/over-eater and person with bulimia were more than half a lifetime ago. At 73, that’s more than three decades gone by and it seems like it. The eating patterns I have now are chosen consciously and with an eye toward health and well-being. I’m both a “normal” eater and a nutritious eater.  Some background. A chubby child, I had to finish all the food on my plate as per my father’s edicts and snuck food whenever I could. I dieted and binged my way through adolescence and my 20s. After discovering purging, I did that for about 18 months. In my early 30s I discovered that I could, with effort, become a “normal” eater.  Here’s what I wish I’d known when I was in the throws of my food and body struggles.  No therapy or therapist or program would do the work for me. I...

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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...

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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,, 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...

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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...

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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...

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 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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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 (, 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...

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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...

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