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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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Short- versus Long-term Stress

To become more resilient, you’ll want to think about stress differently, starting with recognizing that not all stress is created equal. If we treat every stressor as major, we’ll either spend our lives being anxious or burn out (or both) If we view stress in a more nuanced way, we have a chance to maintain our sanity while moving through it. Think of stress as either short- or long-term and accept that we have both in our lives. During the same week, as my client Taylor’s parents were visiting from out of town, her car suddenly needed new brakes and she chipped a tooth. She expected she’d be stressed by her parents’ desire to be catered to and feel like they were on vacation, but when the brakes on her car went after she’d made a dental appointment, she felt as if she’d lost any and all control of her life. ...

Are You Desperate to Be Liked or Loved?

Are you desperate to be liked or loved? I feel a frisson of discomfort even posing the question, aware that it will pain some of you to accept this truth. However, I also know that if you don’t relinquish this desperate yearning which shapes and consumes your life, you’re bound to seek love in all the wrong places and end up miserable. So, please take a deep breath and read on knowing I have your interest at heart. Humans are hard-wired to want to be liked and loved; there’s nothing wrong with this desire in itself. However, the downside of an insatiable quest for love, connection or approval that colors your every decision is that people will sense and react to it. For example, narcissists and sociopaths who are abusers and master manipulators will consciously or unconsciously take advantage of this dire need by showering you with faux love—the only kind their...

Watch Out for Guilty Pleasures

What is it about “guilty pleasures” that make them so enticing to some people? To both improve mental health and enjoy life, it’s time to stop engaging in this self-abusive concept. Guilt and pleasure are miles apart, at either end of a spectrum, and don’t belong together. Guilt makes us feel bad, inadequate, and selfish because we think we’ve done something wrong. Pleasure, on the other hand, makes us happy, even joyful, and often gets our dopamine popping because something feels so right. One of my clients is the king of guilty pleasures, often starting a session by asking with a sly grin: “Can I tell you about my guilty pleasure weekend?” It almost always involves dining at an upscale restaurant (which he can barely afford) and eating too much. In fact, most weekends, he does just that—with friends, his significant other, or alone. He tortures himself: if he eats at...

How to Be Yourself

Growing up, my mother would often ask me, “Why do you care so much about what others think?” It was a fair question, although she seemed to care a good deal about others’ opinions herself. Perhaps by continually posing the question to me, she hoped I’d turn out less like her. Who knows? Whatever her motivation, her question stuck with me over the years and helped shape my life. I think of her question often because it seems these days many adults are stuck in childhood or adolescence. In the former, they’ve been groomed by parents to obey rules in fear of punishment or rejection. After all, even in the best of childhoods life’s about pleasing the powers that be. As teens, it was all about peer pressure because bonding with folks who’re not family is how we separate from family. Acceptance by our peer group provides connections when we reject...

What Are You Looking for in Friends?

Friends can be a wonderful addition to your life, but you must know what you want in friendship for it to be beneficial. Because so many dysregulated eaters didn’t have great relational role models or healthy parental attachments when they were younger, they may seek attributes in friends that are not realistic. Moreover, not everyone wants the same thing in friends. It works best when you know what you’re looking for. Activity friends. I know people who have little capacity for deep intimacy but are loads of fun to do things with. They have a vibrant interest in what’s going on around them and like nothing better than an adventure. They love to go to shows, movies, museums, lectures, and events that immerse them in and teach them about the world.  These may not be the folks to complain to when you’ve had a bad day or turn to when you...

Assimilation versus Accommodation

Knowing the difference between the processes of assimilation and accommodation will help you make conscious, healthy choices rather than act on what might be your impulse to stay with old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. For example, a client had a cousin who’d recently changed sex from female to male. Sadly, my client was the only person in the family who supported and accepted this change. Her description of how she managed to get another relative to be more open-minded and accepting of their (now) nephew is a perfect example of how these psychological processes work. According to Kendra Cherry, MSEd in What is Assimilation in Psychology?, “Assimilation is the cognitive process of making new information fit in with your existing understanding of the world. Essentially, when you encounter something new, you process and make sense of it by relating it to things that you already know. Through assimilation, we...

Why People Don’t Like Anyone Feeling Bad for Them

On the same day I was thinking about a client who always said he was fine because he “didn’t want anyone to feel bad for him,” another client said she felt very uncomfortable when people treated her with compassion and caring, especially after she messed up. Both examples reminded me of a kindness I’ll never forget. Working as an office manager for a small non-profit in Cambridge, MA back in the 1970s, I was in charge of putting together our training flyers. One day, I inadvertently switched the dates and  facilitators’ names under the descriptions of two seminars. Imagine my horror when I saw my error in print by the thousands and realized the magnitude of what I’d done.  Fortunately, I worked with two wonderful women who reacted to my acute distress and unending mea culpas by closing the office (it was a Friday) and taking me for a drink. Those...

Dangers of the Diet Cult(ure)

Last fall I was interviewed by the National Eating Disorders Association in conjunction with an article I wrote for them about holiday eating. It was a brief interview and there wasn’t time for everything I wanted to say. Hence this blog to add to the many other anti-diet blogs I’ve written.  Diet culture is a cult. It’s a society-approved and encouraged distortion of the purpose of eating primarily for nourishment to survive and secondarily for pleasure. It provides rigid rules to keep people in line and to see food, bodies and themselves as either “good” or “bad.” It exclusively values thin, lean and toned bodies and eating restrictively.  If you follow diet culture rules, it promises good health, happiness, lovability, cultural approval, and self-worth. If you don’t follow the rules, it suggests you’ll end up with poor health, no control over your eating, unworthiness, and being an outcast in society. It...

Do You Have a Can-Do Mindset?

Decades ago, I heard the Henry Ford quote “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't – you're right.” It’s true because our thoughts propel our actions, that is, what we think and tell ourselves is exactly what we do. Not a week goes by without a client insisting they can’t do something: get to work on time, say no to their children, sit with feelings, attend AA meetings, etc. And each time I hear them say “I can’t,” I know they won’t, no matter how much they yearn to change. For example, Portia tells me she can’t stop fuming at her husband who has a very different temperament than she does. She’s Type A and he marches to his own inner drum, getting things done when he feels like it. Every session, she comes in and complains she “simply cannot accept his scattered behavior.” How could repeating these...

Where Did You Learn That Suffering Is Good?

I’ve had several clients over the years with the daft idea that suffering for its own sake is a beneficial experience. I say daft because I thought so myself in my early days. I remember as a child refusing my father’s offer of a window air conditioner (a big deal in the 1950s!) to show how strong I was. But all I ever did was sweat and lose sleep and wish I’d said yes. I was too ashamed to tell my father I’d changed my mind and, luckily, somewhere down the line, he simply installed the unit. Ah, sweet relief. Another example occurred when I was skiing with a (so-called) friend. We agreed that he’d drive up to the mountain and I’d drive back. But on our last run, I fell and badly hurt my hand (which later turned out to be broken), yet I insisted on driving home as per...