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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. 

The Realities I’ve Learned About Eating at 71

Having turned 71 in April, I’ve been a “normal” eater for more than half my life. I also know a lot about what causes dysregulated eating and what turns it around. My knowledge is scattered in the writings of my books and blogs. Here are seven simple (but not always easy) success principles:   Stop focusing on weight-loss. There is simply no other way to become a “normal” eater. Said another way, it will not happen if you continue focusing on losing weight. You can wish to lose it, but it can’t be “the” goal or something you often dwell on. Wanting good health is great. Couple it with a desire to be a “normal” eater and you’ve got the two most powerful forces to improve your relationship with food.   Don’t ever give up. You can give up for a few hours or days, but don’t let surrender drag into...
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Setting Firm Boundaries with People to Improve Your Relationship With Food

A major problem I run into in treating dysregulated eaters is an inability to set firm boundaries with people. They get taken advantage of, walked on like doormats, ignored and neglected. And, then, when they feel hurt, they turn to food for comfort.   Make no mistake, setting and maintaining firm boundaries is a skill. I’ve written about it in many of my books, including Outsmarting Overeating and Nice Girls Finish Fat . It’s a learned behavior, like most of our life skills, from childhood. Either we learn that it’s okay to have needs and say no, or we learn that it’s unacceptable through love or approval being withdrawn when we assert ourselves. Often our same gender parent role models poor boundaries—Dad can’t refuse a request for help no matter what else is going on in his life or Mom keeps on doing for others until she’s depleted and depressed.  ...
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Selfish Versus Self-Care

Many people confuse selfishness and self-care. This mix up crops up often among dysregulated eaters. Is saying no to visiting a sick friend selfish or self-care? Is not answering your phone after a long day self-care or selfishness?   This dilemma arises often with clients because distinguishing between the two is far from clear cut. My thoughts on the subject are not meant to give you rules for making a determination between selfish and self-care, but are to get you to think before you say yes or no to anyone so that you don’t do it automatically and are making an intentional choice. My goal is to get you to stop flagellating yourself (and eating to quash misplaced guilt), when you feel selfish but are actually engaging in self-care. Knowing dysregulated eaters as well as I do, my hunch is that much of what feels selfish to you might actually fall...
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Is a Psychopath Triggering Your Emotional Eating?

Although psychopaths (aka sociopaths or malignant narcissists) comprise only about 1% of the population, we’re bound to meet some of them during our lifetime. I have had a psychopathic boss and am acquainted with several psychopaths in the form of current or former husbands of several clients over the years. We also often see them in power positions in politics or business and, recently, as sexual harassers and predators.   They are the kind of people who turn your nervous system upside down and could certainly trigger dysregulated eating. They may make you feel, among other things, on guard, giddy with joy, frightened, in awe, or as if you need to walk on eggshells. Before you say that you couldn’t possibly have a psychopath in your life, read over the list of psychological traits below and, then, make up your mind. Along with the 1% statistic above, these characteristics were taken...
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A Client Faces Her Fears – And You Can Too

What keeps us from having romantic partners? Our childhood histories, genetics, life circumstances, trauma or abuse? These factors do play a part in reaching this goal, but most of all, we have our fears to thank for holding us back. I was so moved by a client’s blog on how she’s facing her fears of being a higher weight woman managing the dating scene, that I wanted to share her wisdom with you.         For awhile now, I have been become increasingly aware that, although I have said I don't want to be alone romantically, I have been doing several things to remain that way. Now I could absolutely point my finger at the people who said the painful comments to me growing up and that blame could honestly be justified. However, just like any other situation, after the blame has been cast, you have to find a way to...
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Why We Need Both Intelligence and Knowledge to Make Healthy Choices

An author I enjoy noted in passing the difference between knowledge and intelligence. Though I recognized this truth, the statement stuck in my head because I’d just had a session with a distraught father who was struggling with his teenage son. Several times during the session, I’d suggested that the father read books on child development and, specifically, on parenting an adolescent but, each time I raised the subject, this client more or less let me know that he wasn’t interested.   This client is a good provider and passionately loves his son, wanting the best for him. I’ve assumed that this father is fairly intelligent, yet was struck by his determination to avoid the knowledge that he desperately needed to get along better with and help his son. I’ve come across other people like him in my professional and personal life who absolutely refuse to acquire fairly easily accessible knowledge...
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Adverse Childhood Experiences May Affect Your Life and Eating Today

Many dysregulated eaters are affected by traumatic events and may not realize it. These events, called “adverse childhood experiences” or ACEs, are, unfortunately, so commonplace in some families and sub-cultures of society that it may not occur to you that they could have a huge, negative impact on your life—or your eating. Though these events happened long ago and you may have minimized, suppressed, rationalized, or repressed (unconsciously forgotten) them, by recognizing them, you can better understand your emotional (and eating) dysregulation and reactivity today.   ACEs include: “being sworn at, insulted, or humiliated by parents; being pushed, grabbed, or having something thrown at you; feeling that your family didn’t support each other; having parents who were separated or divorced; living with an alcoholic or drug user; living with someone who was depressed or attempted suicide; watching a loved one be physically abused.” (Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and...
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Which Type of Happiness Makes People Happiest

Josh Humi, author of “Life Guide”, asserts that there are two kinds of happiness: experiential and reflective (“A Living Humanist Document,” The Humanist.com, 9/28/17, accessed 9/29/17, https://thehumanist.com/ ). He explains the former as “the enjoyment of a present-moment experience (for example, eating a tasty meal or sharing a laugh with friends),” and the latter…”as one’s belief that he or she has lived a valuable life, to the extent that one reasonably believes he or she could have lived a valuable life (for example, via personally meaningful accomplishments).” He describes reflective happiness as having a “long-lasting ‘background’ impact on one’s happiness,” that is, that “all else being equal, pursuing the latter will likely have a greater positive impact on one’s happiness over the long run.” I would add that reflective happiness adds depth and breadth to who we are, while experiential happiness is limited to what we did.   I’m blogging about...
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Anger is an Essential Part of Self-Care

Many of my clients have difficulty tolerating their anger and, not surprisingly, with self-care. That’s why I write about anger a good deal. They get into relationships or take jobs in which they’re mistreated. They’re all about forgiveness and compassion and shy away from feeling wronged—even when they are. Sadly, one of the major reasons that they get into unhealthy situations is that they are not in touch with and fear their anger.   Here’s an example. I was talking with a client about standing up to people and she said that she kept feeling badly for others and didn’t want to be angry at them. I hear this a lot, as if anger is a bad thing. We feel anger automatically when we’re being, were or will be harmed. That’s healthy. That’s how things are supposed to work because recognizing that we feel endangered is vital to surviving and thriving....
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What’s Wrong With Being Wrong?

Whether I’m working with couples or families, I find that too many people absolutely hate being wrong. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here and say that any relationship you’re in, including those at work, will improve dramatically when both parties become more comfortable with being in the wrong. This improvement will automatically decrease stress and the urge to comfort yourself with food, so you’re getting a two-fer with it.   What is it about being wrong that makes people feel so uncomfortable and defensive? It’s a strange phenomenon, this attachment to a state of correctness. Do you recognize what upsets you when you’re wrong? Is it the actual experience of it or is it what others say to or about you when blame is being thrown around?   Here’s my take on the subject based on working with (most) couples who are all hung up on who’s right...
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