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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. 

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Counting Calories and Fat

A while ago a question came up on my Food and Feelings Workbook message board about whether counting calories and fat grams makes a person a dieter. Do “normal” eaters never count calories? Do they ever think about the amount of fat contained in food in making choices? Merely because a person considers caloric or fat content, does that automatically make them a dieter rather than a “normal” eater? Does eating intuitively preclude eating intelligently?

This subject is complex and requires letting go of black-and-white thinking. Attending to nutritional information is not a question of always focusing on calories and fat or never noting them. The difference between dieters and “normal” eaters is how the information is used to make satisfying, healthy eating decisions. In a nutshell, dieters and restrictive eaters base food decisions exclusively on whether a food is high or low in calories or fat. If it’s high, they avoid it even if they crave it. “Normal” eaters, on the other hand, consider the fat or calorie value of foods, but only as one factor among many, including what they’re in the mood for, how hungry they are, what they ate earlier in the day, when and what they might eat later, and the quality and cost of food.

Not only do “normal” eaters factor in other considerations, they don’t always finish everything that’s in front of them. They might have full-fat ice cream, but eat only half the dish or order lasagna and take the equivalent of another meal home with them. Because a food is high in fat and, therefore, more filling, there’s a good chance they’ll consume less because they’re ready to stop eating more quickly. This approach serves them better than dieters who make low-fat and low-calorie choices, but feel deprived and unsatisfied and, consequently, eat more. Remember, our satiation mechanism, developed through evolution to respond to fat and calories, sends us a signal that when we ingest enough of them, it’s time to shut down appetite.

Another difference between dieters and “normal” eaters is that the former don’t generally derive genuine pleasure from food. They feel guilty or feel false pride due to the “virtue of healthy eating”; conversely, most “normal” eaters eat with joy and gusto. No matter how you look at it, “normal” eating beats chronic dieting hands down any day of the week. Dieting fosters rigidity, deprivation and dependence on external appetite cues. “Normal” eating reinforces body centeredness, flexibility, and enjoyment. The goal is to be calorie- and fat-wise (as well as nutrition savvy), but to use the information in a way that makes eating more pleasurable, healthy, and satisfying.

Honesty About Eating
Fear versus Self-loathing

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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