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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Learning to Let Loose

One pattern I’ve noticed over the decades is how many overeating problems there are among very successful women. You might even be one of them, an amazing, overachieving, talented female who holds a high-powered job, has an exciting, satisfying career, and/or is a leader in your field. You can’t help but impress people with how much you’ve achieved in your lifetime and what you get done in a day. Well respected and admired, you nevertheless frequently feel you’re not doing enough and have difficulty taking care of yourself as well as you take care of others.

When I delve into the histories of women like you, I find first borns, only children, or sole females among brothers. Maybe you spent too much of your childhood taking care of parents who were physically or mentally ill or addicted, or being similarly responsible for siblings. The concept of putting your needs aside to tend to someone else’s was instilled in you so early that you may never have known another way of thinking or acting. To play, take time off, goof around, let go, get wild, cut loose, and delegate are alien concepts. Get it done now, stay in control, take charge, and do it yourself are your mottos. Not surprisingly, you may have used food to cope with the major stresses of premature caretaking responsibilities growing up so that eating became your primary stress reliever and emotional comfort.

Now that you’re an adult, you’re in a job which gives you a great deal of responsibility or in which you supervise a substantial number of people. You’ve swapped your role in your family of origin for a similar one in your work “family,” and are likely convinced that you’re indispensable and cannot let others down. You think you have to stay in control and on top of things or your world will fall apart. Perhaps you want to let go but are terrified of the consequences. You may even realize that you’re abusing food because it’s the least shameful way you know to let loose. Unfortunately, your shame about food (and often weight) is exacerbated because of your rigid standards and how hard you come down on yourself when you don’t live up to your impossibly high expectations.

If you recognize yourself in this description, take heart: you can change and learn how to start putting yourself first and stop abusing food. Begin by examining your beliefs about being responsible and in charge, about letting others down and giving up control. Try to understand how your upbringing set you up to be the way you are today and vow to get help in (re)learning how to play and let yourself go. The more you can give up control and loosen up in non-food ways, the less you’ll need food to do the job for you.

Riding the Brakes
Why Do You Think You Won’t Recover?

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