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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What You Need to Overcome Eating Problems

I attended a lecture a while back given by a social psychologist on assessing teacher performance which included a set of simple criteria which are’ surprisingly relevant to recovering from eating problems. Although we know that recovery is a complex process, a point I can’t underscore strongly enough, using these criteria will provide you with excellent tools to gauge your potential for success.

The factors that impact and can be used to measure performance include 1) motivation, 2) ability, and 3) constraints. Obviously, we’re not measuring your success as a long-distance runner or a professional educator here, but we can still say you’re working to perform at a certain level, ie, as a “normal” eater. That is your motivation. Without a doubt, you need to have unilateral motivation to succeed. Said another way, mixed feelings (conscious or unconscious) about eating more intuitively or losing weight, will derail success. To achieve optimum motivation means identifying fears and conflicting feelings about eating better and getting fit, resolving them, and holding only positive intent. Fears include losing the use of food as your main comfort, dealing with intimate or competitive issues when thinner, shifting to a more positive identity, and eliminating the ambivalence you have about deservedness and taking good care of yourself.

Now, let’s look at ability. You may have unconflicted motivation and still not succeed if you don’t possess the skills necessary to manage life without turning to food or a weight obsession. These competencies include, among others, skills for: strong, intimate relationships; setting and maintaining boundaries; kicking back and turning off your thoughts; balancing work and play; using only evidence-based problem-solving and critical thinking, and excelling at emotional management. When you have competence in these areas, it’s far less likely that you’ll abuse food or obsess about it or weight.

Finally, it’s vital to assess constraints on performance. Are there people close to you who are unsupportive of your “normal” eating goals or trying to sabotage your progress? Is there so much true stress in your life (not simply the perception that you have a lot to do) that it’s nearly impossible for you to break the habit of turning to food to unwind? Do you have unrealistic expectations of the change process, including the time and effort it takes? Do you have all-or-nothing or perfectionistic thinking?

Assess yourself using these three criteria and see which ones you can beef up to improve performance. No, self-judgments, please. Just evaluate and get to work.

The Brain in Childhood and Adulthood
Releasing Childhood Shame

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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.