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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. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

How Transference Distorts Reality

You may not know exactly what happens during a negative transference reaction, but I guarantee that you’ve had oodles of them during your lifetime. We all do. The term, coined by Dr. Sigmund Freud, involves the unconscious process of viewing someone negatively in a current situation the way you would important people, usually your parents, in the past. This happens often with people in authority, intimates and in instances that are similar to your childhood experiences. Say, your sister Andi received the lion’s share of family attention due to her learning disability. You did well in school and didn’t begrudge her needing assistance but missed having your parents’ attention and hated helping Andi when you had things you’d rather do. Fast forward to you at 36 when your co-worker breaks his arm and can’t do his share of the work. You feel badly for him but resent having to pick up...
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From Secrets to Sharing

There’s an AA saying that says “our secrets keep us sick.” It’s true. Personally and professionally, I’ve seen how they harm us. You know it too, how they burrow deep and slowly eat away at emotional well-being. Why do we keep secrets and how can we break free and start sharing them? There are several reasons we keep secrets: We’re ashamed of what we did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say. Because we’re ashamed we believe that other people will see our actions as shameful, and we can’t bear heaping other people’s shame onto our own.We’re afraid of retaliation. Sometimes our secret actions (or inactions) put other people in harm’s way, and they may be angry or retaliate if they find out. We don’t want the punishment they may mete out. We were brought up that what we do is private and no one else’s business. Perhaps we don’t even know...
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Is Analysis Paralysis Driving You to Eat?

Analysis paralysis (AP), which sounds like a cute, catchy phrase is actually a dangerous, mentally destructive, unconscious habit which many dysregulated eaters engage in. Also known as overthinking or rumination, it happens when your mind goes into overdrive about what you “should” or “shouldn’t” do. After a while, all that obsessing can make you so anxious that you run to food to calm you down. Someone with analysis paralysis is stopped dead in their tracks by all their overthinking which they continue to do in the hopes of coming to a decision and reducing anxiety. Sadly, it only promotes more agita. According to “Do You Have Analysis Paralysis?”, people with AP wrongly consider all decisions as equal and give them all great thought. For example, the question of “Do I want to pick up my shirt at the dry cleaner today or tomorrow?” is given the same weight as “Is it...
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Change Your Beliefs and Rock Your World

I’d wager that most of your problems, eating and otherwise, are due to having erroneous beliefs you don’t even realize are underpinning your emotions and actions. Here’s a checklist of beliefs you want to have in order to live your best life. Moreover, you must believe them unequivocally, with no waffling, to get you where you want to go. I am lovable and worth caring about.I deserve the best that life has to offer.My job is to take excellent care of myself.Everyone doesn’t need to love or like me for me to love myself and be okay.Everyone struggles with emotions from time to time.I can take care of myself and others too.There are many people who will love and cherish me, but I need to seek them out. What happened in my childhood does not define me because I define myself now.Everyone has regrets and wishes things about the past were different.With...
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Slow Down Your Life to Slow Down Your Eating

I’ve blogged about slowing down eating, but it’s hard to do if you’re someone who generally races around at warp speed. If you tend to be productivity oriented, you may unintentionally zip through life—cleaning, putting away groceries, paying bills, driving, brushing your teeth, walking, and gassing up the car. And you might have a hard time slowing down eating because you’re accustomed to doing everything in fast forward. I know this because, though I taught myself to eat slowly, I used to do most other things quickly. When I worked at my first job after social work school, my colleagues would see me zipping toward them and flatten themselves against the wall yelling, “Watch out, here she comes.” And I’ve had more black and blue marks on my body than most people from bumping into things I wouldn’t have bumped into if I’d been moving at a more reasonable pace. I...
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The Difference Between Emotions and Moods

Many clients complain about being happy or fine for a while, then losing that feeling. Although some of these shifts are due to depressive or anxiety disorders, others are simply the nature of emotions and misthinking we should feel “good” all the time without experiencing the pain of living on this earth. If you’re wondering what is reasonable to expect from emotions and moods—or what the difference is between the two—read on. Without turning to the dictionary, I would describe an emotion as fleeting, lasting for 90 seconds or so, if I recall correctly. Emotions evolved over the millennia to call attention to themselves in order to prompt us to do something. Occurring in response to the environment, affective memories are stored in our brains to remind us of how best to survive. Moods, on the other hand, last longer. We can be on a high or in a funk lasting...
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How Stress Can Harm You

Many of us feel stressed so often that we don’t realize what it’s doing to us. The fact is that stress is a mind-body response that not only triggers food-seeking to de-stress but may also cause all sorts of major physical and mental damage. According to Dana Sparks in Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body, stress is a way of protecting us from bodily harm and other threats. Ironically, in this day and age, we are more likely to be harmed by the stress itself. Our bodies evolved the stress response when we lived in a time of near constant peril and we still use it, though most of our lives are not fraught with danger lurking around every corner. Says Sparks, when you encounter a perceived threat, “your hypothalamus, a tiny region at your brain’s base, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a...
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Make Recordings Work for You

Many clients value hearing what their therapist has to say to help them get over rough spots. “Just the sound of your voice” is what some have said when I’ve made recordings for them. Before cell phones, clients and I would develop a short script and I’d record it on a cassette which they’d play as needed. This is an old therapy tool, and certainly nothing original to my practice. There are other ways to use recordings, especially now that we have cell phones which are easy to use. One is to make one yourself. You’d be surprised how supportive it feels listening to the wise person within you offering advice, providing self-soothing, or reminding you of what’s important in your life. You can make a recording in the first or second person depending on which you think will work best.  Here's an excerpt of a recording my client Charlotte made...
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Evaluating Hurt Feelings

I had a great email conversation with a therapist friend about hurt feelings and I want to share some of our thoughts. Of course, we both suffer the same slings and arrows that our clients do—feeling left out, undervalued, invalidated, blamed, blind-sided, rejected, abandoned and more. We talked about things like having a doozy of a blow-out with a decades’ old friend and what it’s like to manage feelings in a dysfunctional family.  We agreed that, when it comes to emotions, it’s best to experience what’s going on inside you and let nature take its course. Naturally, this isn’t the best path when your perceived hurt is based on being in recall and perceiving insult when none was intended. That is an entirely different animal. What we were discussing is when someone does something intentionally or unintentionally that hurts you. Another shared viewpoint—though some might disagree—it’s not helpful in the long...
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How We Learn Beliefs

I talk a voluminous amount with clients about beliefs—where they come from, why they persist, and how to change them. Much of our discussion is about them insisting they must believe something in order to say it to themselves and can’t say anything unless it’s true, aka faking it til you make it, and me explaining why they’re flat out wrong.  To understand what’s going on, it’s important to know the process of how we learn to believe: from how people treat us and what they say to and about us. Take my client, Forrest, whose father was emotionally abusive to him, his sisters, and their mother who was sweet and passive. They were all afraid of him. Dad treated them as if they were there only to serve and agree with him. He did little for them and dissent provoked cruel punishment. From Dad’s behavior, Forrest came to believe that...
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