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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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Why Cognitive Flexibility Is a Must Have for Mental Health

I’m forever challenging clients who say, “I always” and “I never” or who tell me they’re a certain way, such as insisting, “I hate parties” or “I try never to hurt anyone.” These statements are a sure sign that someone is lacking cognitive flexibility or the adaptive ability to make judgments about what’s necessary or effective situation by situation.  One of the biggest mistakes that dysregulated eaters make is holding on for dear life to old ways of thinking, rather than make decisions based on current reality. For example, my client Tonya grew up in a family in which she was sexually and emotionally abused. No wonder she didn’t trust people and took pride in relying only on herself—except that no man or woman is an island and we need to depend on others to live our best lives. Her response to others was adaptive in childhood but is maladaptive now....

The Chemistry of Fullness and Satiation

In a very interesting article (NY Times Opinion, 6/4/23), “What Ozempic Reveals about Desire,” Maia Szalavitz explains how the brain works vis a vis food. As a fully recovered binge-eater and eating disorders therapist for 35 years, it would be almost impossible for me not to have a fascination with what goes on inside us (and went on inside me) when we’re out of control around food. I hope that writing about the science helps you understand your eating better. By discussing Ozempic and other so-called “weight-loss” drugs, I am in no way endorsing them or encouraging their use. One enlightening nugget in the article is that the brain registers two primary types of pleasure according to Kent Berridge, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan. One he labels “wanting,” about which he says, “The positive side of wanting is feeling empowered and focused on getting what...

More on ADHD and Eating Problems

  Last year I blogged on the link between Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and eating problems (the diagnosis is now ADHD, not ADD) and I want to give you additional info on the subject from Is There a Link Between ADHD and Overeating. Here are some highlights, though I recommend you read the whole article if you have questions about whether you have ADHD or not or how it may relate to your eating. “ . . . research associates ADHD with eating disorders that involve overeating. There is also scientific evidence to support a link between ADHD and obesity.” “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental  condition that can produce a range of symptoms relating to the inability to focus, impulsive or hyperactive behavior, or both.” “As ADHD involves difficulty with staying focused, impulsive behavior, or both,  people with the condition may find it hard to...

What Is a Felt Sense?

Here are some of my recent musings on noticing enoughness or feeling something isn’t enough. With food, we talk about the terms and sensations of fullness and emptiness. Sometimes our stomachs growl and we recognize we’re hungry or feel sickeningly full when it’s uncomfortably distended. Of course, sometimes we sense but ignore signals of hunger and satiation. And, what of the times we don’t even realize our body is giving off cues about wanting food or being done with it?  These last two reactions indicate a disconnection from self. I remember binge-eating and feeling stuffed only after the fact. Where was my attention when I was fast approaching and had reached fullness? How could I miss this major body event?  Here's how. I was aware and also unaware, unplugged from my appetite cues during the binge. I’d also unplugged myself from whatever was making me want to consume so much food...

Think of Yourself as Your Home

During a session with a client who’s rapidly progressing (though it doesn’t always feel that way to her), I asked if she could think of herself as a home, actually a new home she’s moving into. I admit that one of the joys of my job—and there are many—is watching the “becoming” process from dysfunctional to functional. The idea behind the house analogy is that my client is moving into herself or into being her best self. Think of what a home represents. First off, you own it. It’s yours, which brings you both freedom and responsibility for it. For example, the joy of owning your home and living there means you can do whatever you want with it within legal limits. There’s no one there to tell you what to do. If you’re self-motivated, that’s not a problem because you want to be in a place that puts your health...

Stop Being so Self-effacing and Claim Your Victories

Are you someone who’s so humble you never claim credit for anything and brush off compliments? This quality is characteristic of many dysregulated eaters. It’s one thing to be appropriately self-effacing—modesty and humility are laudable qualities—but it’s quite another when doing something well feels so unbearable that you can’t tolerate feeling proud that you achieved a personal goal or make a difference in the world.  Many people are raised to eschew boasting and bragging and that’s fine, but how do you ever build a healthy self without incorporating positives into it? A perfect example is when I tell a client, “Wow, you really spoke up to your boss this time and you did it in a very effective way. Good work!” and they insist, “Well, it’s all thanks to you. You’re the one who taught me how to stand up for myself.”  What’s wrong here? My client was brave and moved...

Neuro-divergence and Eating Disorders

Not only don’t many people know what neurodivergence means, they also may not realize that many neurodivergent people also have eating disorders. My guess is that you’re more likely to recognize the terms ADHD (yes, ADHD), autistic, autism spectrum disorder, and (the no longer in use) diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. You may even be neurodivergent and never have considered that you’re not what’s called neurotypical.  In fact, it’s much harder for neurodivergent folks to deal with food and food problems than someone more neurotypical. So, some facts about neurodiversity and eating disorders which will hopefully help you and anyone you know who fits into this category better manage their eating and their life. https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/blog/neurodiversity-eating-disorder-treatment-patients “Neurodiversity represents the idea that the ways that humans interact socially, mentally, and cognitively can vary drastically from person to person. This term is often used in relation to those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). ASD...

Connectedness versus Closeness

Talking with a client about a session we’d had with her mom, I realized how often we use the terms “feel close” and “feel connected” nearly interchangeably when discussing relationships, especially those with family members. While the terms are both a felt sense, they’re not the same. Here are some examples to help you through the holidays. Middle-age Nico is radically different from his family who are straight, highly religious, ultra-conservatives. He’s an out gay atheist and LGBTIQA+ activist. You might assume he’d steer clear of family and vice versa. But you’d be wrong. Way back in his teens, Nico knew he’d always be an outsider in his family, but felt connected to them because of their history: His parents brought him and his two brothers to the U.S. from Greece when he was a toddler and other relatives soon followed. His deep family connection is from shared homeland rituals, adoration...

Do You Eat Due to Social Anxiety?

Ever go to a social event and find yourself so anxious you can’t imagine having a good time? Or feel so worried about what you’ll say and who’ll talk to you that you decide not to go at all? Many people who are socially anxious choose food over socializing because it feels more predictable and safe.  If any of the above describes you or your situation, “How to overcome social anxiety” by Fallon Goodman will help you understand and manage your distress more effectively. She covers a great deal of ground in the article, starting with what social anxiety is: “At its core,” she says, “social anxiety is a fear of negative evaluation and rejection. When you feel socially anxious, you worry about what others think of you and hope you are making a good impression.” This mindset is very common in dysregulated eaters who are often more concerned with what...

What’s Your Eating Frequency Footprint?

I know most of you are trying to eat intuitively, according to appetite by deciding when, what and how much to eat. This is a must-have skill to enjoy a positive relationship with food. Another important factor is your style and frequency of eating. Are you a nibbler, nosher, grazer, night snacker, 1 meal-a-dayer, or someone who eats by the clock? Do you eat when your tummy rumbles or hold out until a planned mealtime? The question of when and how often to eat—our eating frequency footprint, if you will—is something to consider as you move toward becoming a “normal” eater. If you’re to deepen your connection with your appetite, it’s vital to get a sense of when you’re hungry, how long you usually wait to eat between meals (or food interactions such as a piece of fruit, protein bar, or handful of nuts). We each have an eating frequency footprint,...