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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. 

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Solutions, Not Resolutions

People love to make resolutions—to walk more and eat less, stop yelling at the kids, clean out the garage, find some interesting hobbies, or get a better job. We feel tremendous elation in making these kinds of energizing pronouncements, not just to ourselves, but to our family, relatives, co-workers and, of course, to our Facebook friends. We think that the more often we state our intentions, the more boldly we do it, and the larger the group we do it to, the more successful we’ll be. But, if that were true, you’d probably be off doing something else right now rather than reading this blog. Resolutions don’t work long-term because, as I’ve repeatedly said and human experience proves ad nauseam, we make them only for things we don’t much want to do and for changes we don’t much care to make. We cling to the flimsy belief that the act of...

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Follow Your Values for Better Eating

Values is a word I don’t hear much. Now, we’re all about liking and not liking, dividing the world into “good” and “bad,” and deciding what we should or shouldn’t be doing to live “right” (whatever that means). None of these terms hits the mark for me as well as values, an entirely different kind of animal. When we value something, we believe it’s worthwhile and matters more than lesser things. Our values are the foundation for our happiness and well-being. Valuing is far more than liking. Moreover, we can value something without liking it. For example, I value my health, even though I don’t enjoy having a colonoscopy or a mammogram. Many dysregulated eaters are hung up on being liked rather than being valued or valuing themselves, or needing to find immediate pleasure in activities rather than doing them because they are life-enhancing. Alternately, some people have no clue what...

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Forget Smart or Perfect and Shoot for Wise

As I age, I’ve been thinking a great deal about wisdom, a useful concept to reflect on in my business of helping people lead their best lives. What I’ve come to believe is that if I can teach clients and readers how to become wiser in order to make better choices for themselves—with food and all of life—I’ll have made an impact. Rather than hear my voice in their heads guiding them, I’d like them to develop their own internal Wise Woman or Man who knows what’s best for them. The word wise has many meanings: good judgment, discernment, prudence, sagacity,  the ability to discriminate, enlightenment and knowledgeable. It is not per se about happiness, success, achievement, love, power or healing. In my mind, it grows out of learning from your experience and that of others in order to make the best choice you can make in any given moment. It’s about...

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The Secret to Developing Goals

Ever wonder why it’s hard for you to reach your life goals? Maybe you don’t try hard enough and give up too easily. Maybe you’re low on frustration tolerance and delaying gratification and high on impatience. Or, maybe the goals you set simply aren’t right for you. Should you pursue goals which are easy to achieve which bring little satisfaction or should you set goals which are difficult and may bring greater pride in their accomplishment? All good questions with no easy answers. My reflections on this subject spring from a conversation I had with a client about how well she does in her job, yet how stressful she finds it. In sales, she works with large crowds of people and yet admits to being more of an introvert than a people person. She said she hates all the noise she encounters on her job and all the excess stimulation which, rather...

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Eating and Self Care

One of the worst things you can do when you’re in internal distress is to drop your self-care routine—eating regularly, getting enough sleep, exercising, and doing the daily activities that give life structure and embody extreme self-care. Emotional health includes keeping up with self-care no matter what is going on in life. This is exactly what many dysregulated eaters don’t do when they’re thrown a curve ball, endure a major change, or get walloped by something unexpected or unwanted. When your life is thrown out of whack—by illness (yours or someone else’s), job change or extra work, guests staying with you, or unforeseen travel—it can seem as if the world is spinning out of control. You may feel as if the pressure’s on, you’re routine is thrown off balance, and you can’t seem to find time for yourself. Pretty soon you drop all or most of the activities you’ve been doing to...

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Anchor Yourself in the Present

Try this simple question: Where does change happen—in the past, present or future? Of course, it can only happen in the present. Here’s a more complicated question: If change happens only in the present, why, then, do we spend so much time thinking about the past or the future which we can’t change in the present? Your reflections on and response to this question may be the key to your becoming a “normal” eater. In order to do things differently that will help you develop new, healthier behaviors, you need to be anchored securely to the present moment. You can’t learn how to practice new eating behaviors when you’re ruminating about the past or agitating yourself about the future. I don’t mean to imply that mental time travel happens only in the food arena; these unconscious shifts out of reality and into memory or anticipation may happen any time. Here’s what I mean....

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Why Saying You’re Sorry is a Most Valuable Life Skill

For many people, the hardest two words to say in any language are “I’m sorry.” Ironically, according to Harriet Lerner, psychologist and author of Why Won’t You Apologize?, these words might also be “the most healing words.” (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, “A healthy conscience depends on apologies” by Jane Brody, 2/17/17, E32,  34). Even for those of you who don’t find it hard to apologize when you’re wrong, here are some tips to help you improve at this crucial and beneficial life skill. Before explaining what’s best to say in an apology, let’s look at why saying “I’m sorry” can be difficult. First, maybe you grew up in a family in which you were blamed for everything that went wrong and neither of your parents ever apologized to you or each other. If you didn’t grow up hearing apologies, you might think they’re weird or not know what to say. Moreover, if you were...

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Focus More on What’s Inside, Not on What’s Outside

May 29 blog from inside out

Image by Debbie Digioia I hear the same story over and over from clients: I want or wanted to lose weight to find a date or mate. For some, it’s true that being more fit and trim would widen the potential partner pool, but ironically, more often than not, weight is not the problem. Rather, it’s the people they choose as dates or mates that makes relationships not work. The problem is more a statement about their self-esteem than their size. These clients are so preoccupied with looking attractive, looking thin, and looking for love and approval, that they never stop to ask themselves how they manage to unerringly find partners who treat them poorly, show little ability or desire for emotional intimacy, and who, to a person, end up causing them to feel inadequate and rejected. They pay so much attention to being attractive that they don’t think about making choices that...

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Guest Blog ~ You Become What You Think About

rainbow

Guest Blog by Paige O’Mahoney, MD  My favorite quote from the business literature is, “You become what you think about most of the time."* Focus on what you don’t like or don’t want in your life (fat, dieting, food rules, your least favorite body part (more on this later), your worst habit), and that’s exactly what you are likely to get more of. Have you ever noticed how the more you focus on restricting calories or avoiding certain foods, the more you want to consume? You get what you think about. On the other hand, focus on what you want, and you are more likely to get it. Focus on what your muscles need to feel strong and supple and you may find yourself in a yoga or stretching class and actually enjoying it. Focus on eating foods that feel good to you, and a zucchini frittata with goat cheese may be exactly what...

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Why I Like Making Mistakes With My Clients

May 18 why I like making mistakes

Image by Debbie Digioia Here’s a true story about a very good day I had at work. First, a client arrived when I didn’t expect her and kept apologizing for getting the session time wrong. I told her to come on in (the benefits of having a home office) because I happened to be free. Then, when we went to schedule our next session, I saw right in my appointment book that she’d arrived at the correct time and I had misremembered when her session was. After her, I had a difference of opinion with a client about owing me money. Knowing how notoriously poor I am in math, she patiently walked me through the amounts she’d paid, with check numbers and all, until I finally saw the light. A very good day, indeed. Why on earth, you might be asking yourself, would I consider making two bloopers in one day a good...

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Having Faults Does Not Mean You’re Defective

MAY 8 HAVING FAULTS DOES NOT MAKE YOU DEFECTIVE

Image by Debbie Digioia So many dysregulated eaters eat because they make mistakes and feel like failures. Are you one of them? Or maybe you fail at something and fall into depression or give up  taking pleasure in life. Or come down hard on yourself whenever you don’t live up to your lofty standards. Here’s a newspaper column about how not to do that—to take mistakes and failures in stride and, moreover, grow from them. This column is about a manager making some major blunders supervising an employee who manipulated him like crazy, admitting to and learning from his mistakes (“Manipulated manager learns to be firm” by Lindsey Novak, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 12/26/16, p. D17). The manager describes how he got wrapped around the finger of an employee, doing special favors for him and even giving him money, because the guy presented as a sad sack victim who needed help. When this manager happened...

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To Change Habits, Learn to Enjoy Rewards

MAY 4 2017 BLOG ART TO CHANGE HABITS LEARN TO ENJOY REWARDS

Image by Debbie Digioia While listening to an NPR radio interview with Charles Duhigg, the New York Times reporter who researched the scientific and social history of habits for his book, The Power of Habit, a remark he made struck me as particularly pertinent to why dysregulated eaters have such a deuce of a time not using food as a reward. To change habits, he said that we must be able to reward ourselves with something other than the original behavior—food, drink, gambling, drugs or sex. The key word here is reward. Many dysregulated eaters turn to food as a reward which creates problems on a few fronts. Food is nourishment and often pleasurable, but should not be used as a reward on a regular basis. This is how we get into trouble. If we think about food primarily as sustenance that happens to be tasty, then it won’t be our go to...

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How to Build Inner Resources

April 24th How to Build Inner Resources

Image by Debbie Digioia Here it is, four months into the new year and some of you continue to be preoccupied with becoming a “normal” eater and feeling better about your body. The media focus as the year starts, as always, was on “new year, new you” which is worth nothing unless you understand what exactly needs to be different or “new” about you. Rather than start a diet, check out Rick Hanson’s video, “Using Brain Science to Build Inner Strengths,” which lays out the characteristics which will help you grow and explains how to acquire them. (https://psychotherapynetworker.org/blog/details/1007/video-rick-hanson-on-using-brain-science-to-build-inner?utm_source=Silverpop&utm_medium=email7utm_ campaign=091016_pn_i_rt_WIR_throttled10am). As you read through the list, I urge you to practice several of these abilities—self-compassion, openness, optimism, self-respect, and patience. If you find yourself being judgmental about lacking certain characteristics, stop reading, comes to a place of self-compassion, and continue reading until you’ve digested the whole list. Here goes: Capabilities: mindfulness, insight, emotional intelligence, resilience,...

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From Mortified to Moxie

FROM MORTIFIED TO MOXIE April 17 2017

Image by Debbie Digioia Nearly all of my eating dysregulated clients are highly shamed-based folks. Shame infects not only their eating and their weight, but their entire lives. Doing well makes them feel ashamed because they fear that they might cause envy in others. Doing poorly generates shame because of their belief that they’ve seriously failed themselves and others. Sometimes I believe that my most important job with clients is to help alleviate their shame and support them in moving forward proudly without it. If you’re ashamed of your eating, size or shape, my hunch is that you were a shame-based person long before you had food problems. You felt inadequate, defective, or unable to meet your lofty standards and believed people’s self-serving negative comments about you. Shame is at the core of your being, and you may not even realize it. You may think that everyone feels mortified when they make mistakes,...

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A Proven Way to Become More Resilient

SOMETIMES IT IS NICE DOING NOTHING A proven way to become more resilient

Image by Debbie Digioia We don’t all experience and survive trauma the same way. Though genetics play a part, there are commonalities among adults who come through traumatic childhood or adult experiences and bounce back relatively quickly. Building resilience is one more way to move toward reducing internal distress in order to become a “normal” eater. In “Resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure” (Harvard Business Review, 6/24/16, https://hbr.org/2016/06/resilience-is-about-how-you-recharge-not-how-you-endure) authors Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan lay out a sadly convincing explanation of how our American lifestyle reduces our ability to be resilient. They describe our “militaristic, ‘tough’ approach to resilience and grit,” saying, “We believe that the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefor the more successful we will be.” This adage may work for the Marines, but not for the general public. The authors tell us that, at least in scientific terms, this approach to building...

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Persistence Leads to Success

Persistence March 20 blog

 Image by Debbie Digioia Do have persistence to reach your eating and health (and other goals)? Or do you either give up easily? Do you persist for a while, then slack off, and keep up this on-off cycle until you stop trying? If you’ve ever wondered about why persistence is difficulty for you—but gave up seeking to figure it out before you found an answer!—here are some questions to ask yourself about what you learned about persistence as a child:Were one or both of your parents/caretakers persistent or did they cave without a fight or try to reach a goal, stop, resume, then give up their efforts? If you didn’t have role models who persisted in attempting to reach realistic goals, you may have a hard time doing it because you likely picked up the bad habits and patterns of your parents. If they didn’t have stick-to-itiveness, you never saw effective skills...

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The Silo Effect and Resolving Eating Problems

March 23 Silo Blog

 Image by Debbie Digioia I was listening to a talk on the dangers of “the silo effect” on U.S. climate change policy and thought about how we compartmentalize our eating problems in a similar way—to our own detriment. According to Wikepedia, “The Silo Effect refers to a lack of information flowing between groups or parts of an organization. On a farm, silos prevent different grains from mixing. In an organization, the Silo Effect limits the interactions between members of different branches of the company, thus leading to reduced productivity (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_silo). In a similar way, we have silo ways of thinking about ourselves that inhibit our efficiency. We think of having eating problems, unhealthy beliefs, emotional problems, or skill deficits, but rarely consider how they impact one and other. For what feels like forever, we’ve regarded problems with overeating and mindless eating as being due solely to lack of self-discipline or self-control. We’ve viewed...

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Eat Better by Aligning Behavior with Your Values

What do you value in life? Whatever it is can help you change your thinking and behavior around self-care, including food and fitness. Success psychology (yes, there is such a thing) and motivational inquiry both tell us that an effective approach to improving behavior is to tie it to what you hold dear and think important above all else, because then what you value becomes the generator for the behaviors you engage in. Don’t confuse values with goals. We may or may not meet goals, but we generally keep our values no matter what happens. Losing weight specifically for your son’s wedding is a goal (not one I’d endorse), whereas valuing health so you can stick around as long as possible is a value. For instance, if you value staying physically active, even if you can’t do what you used to do (whether from age or injury), you find ways to keep...

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You Can’t Solve a Problem Until You Label it Correctly

One of the biggest and most costly mistakes people make is expending mega energy trying to solve a problem they’ve totally mislabeled. Of course, most of the time, they don’t realize that they’ve made a major blunder in how they’re viewing the problem. They just keep on trying one solution after another or the same one over and over, but never get anywhere. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about: Say, Joanie has been struggling for decades to get her husband Ben to understand how hard she’s been trying to lose weight but can’t seem to stay on a diet. She wants his support and he just keeps telling her that she lacks self-control and that something must be wrong with her if she can’t stick to a diet. He shares his happiness about her losing weight and his disappointment when she puts it back on. She defines the problem as,...

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Manage Your Mind, Manage Your Eating

Being unable to manage your thoughts can add substantial difficulty to managing your eating. Said another way, by learning to employ power over mental chaos, you can learn how to make wise choices that guide your food cravings. The interrelationship between the two came to me as I awaited a client who’s a troubled eater and I began thinking about several interactions I’d had with a friend I was doing a project with. I kept emailing her a question that related to the project, and she kept emailing me back without answering it. This happened four times. Each time I tried to be clearer about what I wanted to know, but to no avail. The question wasn’t greatly important to finishing the project, but her lack of response was bugging me no end. I’m usually pretty good with scotching ruminations before they start by immediately filing non-essential issues in my Unimportant...

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