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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. 

Why We Seek Food at Night

Most dysregulated eaters don’t do a lot of mindless eating in the morning or mid-day. Some find themselves food-seeking in the late afternoon (they’re probably fatigued due to insufficient nourishment earlier in the day), but the biggest problem time for troubled eating is in the evening. Although it may be caused by a need to relieve stress or because people eat when they’re bored and lonely, hormones may be the culprit.   “Hunger strikes harder after the sun goes down” by Roni Caryn Rabin (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, E14, 2/27/18) describes a small Johns Hopkins University study which “suggests that satiety hormones may be lower during the evening hours, while hunger hormones rise toward nightfall and may be stoked even higher by stressful situations. It’s not clear whether these hormonal patterns cause the binge eating behaviors or are conditioned by an individual’s eating habits. But, either way, you can get stuck in the...
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How Triangulation Can Harm Relationships

Do you know what triangulation is in a relationship? It’s exactly what it sounds like—pulling in a third party or a behavior to avoid direct interaction in a dyad. “Triangulation is a manipulation tactic where one person will not communicate directly with another person, instead using a third person to relay communication to the second, thus forming a triangle.” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangulation_(psychology) , accessed 2/27/18)   Although the Wikipedia definition says “person,” the third “party” can be the family dog, drinking, eating, work, hobbies, children, etc. It happens when two people don’t communicate directly with each other, but use someone or something else to convey their messages. It’s based on avoidance of direct conflict by pulling in a third party to speak for you. Sometimes the behavior is obvious (a spouse having an affair due to an unhappy marriage) and sometimes it’s more subtle (partners who pay more attention to the family...
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Do You Have Binge-eating Disorder

Half a lifetime ago, I only knew two other people, one in college and one in my mid-20s who binged on food the way I did. We all thought that there was something seriously wrong with us and never dreamed that this behavior had a clinical name. The good news is that we are all fully recovered. The bad news is that the number of people with Binge-eating Disorder is rising.   In 1959, Binge-eating Disorder (BED) was described by Dr. Albert J. Stunkard. It was included in earlier versions of the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but didn’t become an official eating disorder diagnosis until 2013 as part of the DSM-5. According to “How Common Is Binge Eating Disorder in the US?” (EatingDisordersReview.com, vol. 28/No. 1, http://edr.karunaconsulting.com/common-binge-eating-disorder-us/ , accessed 2/26/18), its recorded prevalence grew when its criteria were increased at that time.   Criteria include bingeing at least...
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Become More Than an Abuse Survivor

I work a good deal with women who’ve been abused emotionally, physically and sexually. When I meet them, they’re usually trying to leave or have just escaped an abusive relationship. Sometimes divorce fails to end the abuse, which continues because they need to have exchanges about finances or children. My goal for clients is to move from victim to survivor to thriver , to go from fractured to healing to whole. Note that though I use “him” for abuser, the “him” could easily be a “her.”   If you’re a victim or survivor of abuse, I hope that by laying out the elements of each stage, you’ll be inspired to move forward. If you’re not a victim, you may know someone who is, and through understanding the change process they need to go through, you’ll be able to give them hope and whatever support they need to cope, heal and prosper....
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Why You Focus on The Things You Do (Including Weight)

If you think that everyone with a high weight puts a strong focus on it, you’d be wrong. Yes, of course, society—from media to medicine—is obsessed with thinness. But, much of what we put our attention on in life is what our parents taught us is important. In reality, it may or not be. Only we can decide as adults what we want to spotlight.   Here are some fictional examples of what families may focus on: Parental Unit A loves nature and animals. Their idea of a stellar day is to traipse through deep woods identifying fauna and flora and to travel extensively to see the natural wonders of the world. What’s important to them is volunteering at a local animal rescue center and spending as much time as they can hiking. Their children receive high praise for their kindness to animals and for their knowledge of the natural world....
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Try Intentionally Adapting to a New Normal

I was watching the news when there was a shot of a man in a hospital bed. I don’t recall what had happened to him—Had he broken bones, lost a leg, or been badly burnt in a fire?—but his words were instantly etched in my mind, “I’m going to get used to a new normal.” I’d heard the phrase before (it’s around for a long time), but this time it hit me how we all need to do that because there’s really no other way to live well.   I specifically think of this man’s determination when I sit with clients who fight change. They’re in there mad as hell and come out swinging with both arms, as if by struggling hard enough against change, they can stop it from happening. Well, good luck with that. Heaven knows, we’ve all put up this fight at one point or another. I certainly...
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Do You Have Pre-Traumatic Disorder?

Yes, you read the title of this blog correctly: Pre -Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a condition I made up which in no way takes away from the serious and enduring effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (aka PTSD) which many of dysregulated eaters suffer from. I’m not in any way making fun of PTSD or minimizing it, I assure you.      The bona fide PTSD may happen when an external event dysregulates and overwhelms our nervous systems. The fictitious condition, which many of my clients also have, comes from catastrophizing external events and spending too much time thinking about future possible disasters. It’s a way of viewing the world as a glass that’s always half-filled, and not with water, but with poison. It’s a mindset that says, “Something terrible will happen to me and I’m positive that I won’t be able to cope with it. It will ruin my life and...
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How You Get Sucked Into Taking Care Of Others

Many of my clients who are dysregulated eaters have enormous stress from overdoing taking care of others. And, lopsided relationships are a top cause of their emotional eating. Although they may recognize that they shouldn’t be working so hard to take care of someone else, they don’t understand why they do it. Because our actions follow from our thoughts and emotions, it pays to work backwards to identify what’s going on. Lack of love. Clients may believe that making up for the love and care that’s been missing for someone who didn’t receive enough of it will transform him or her into a healthy, happy adult. While it’s true that in rare cases, love will make someone blossom, it’s not going to cure addiction or serious mental health problems. This is something that therapists learn early on. Simply showering clients with caring and going overboard doing for them is not therapeutic....
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Thoughts on Suicide

After a recent spate of high-profile suicides, I thought it important to talk about the subject openly because some of you reading this blog may be thinking about it. Or have thought about it. Or have attempted it. Or maybe you know someone who’s taken his or her life. Whenever necessary, I speak directly with clients about the possibility of their being suicidal, but it’s never an easy subject to bring up. However, it’s a lot more comfortable than what I would be feeling if a client attempted it.   I’ve had clients who’ve been passively or actively suicidal, and those who’ve had to be hospitalized or hospitalized themselves when things got too iffy for them or for scary someone else. I’ve known people, mostly acquaintances, who’ve killed themselves—a co-worker decades ago, a man I very briefly dated who lived in Canada, and two very wonderful elderly people who led full...
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Attachment Disorders Due to Parental Separation

I don’t wish to fall into the quagmire of politics here, but I need to speak out about the dire consequences that happen when children are separated from their parents. If you don’t believe me, read what British psychologist John Bowlby, American-Canadian psychologist Mary Ainsworth, or American psychologist Harry Harlow wrote about attachment disorders and separation. Their research is downright chilling. Better yet, look at your own young children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews and notice the profound distress they feel when they are—or even think they are—separated from you. Or think back to your early life and consider how enforced separations shaped how you relate to people today. You don’t need to be a therapist to understand how attachments and separations are likely to adversely affect mental health for a lifetime.   If you want to delve into some heart-breaking psychology to understand the primacy and legacy of attachment and separation,...
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