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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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What’s So Hard about Facing Reality?

A client told me this anecdote. Her first therapist helped her to see that we can live quite well without controlling everything in our world and she was excited to share this enlightened insight with her mother. But when she told Mom that “anything can happen to anyone anytime,” Mom freaked out and quickly changed the subject. This story reminded me of a former boyfriend to whom I was complaining about my mother when suddenly he slapped his hands over his ears (in a restaurant, no less) and kept repeating “no, no, please stop.” My complaints must have stirred up a helluva storm inside him that he needed to shut out the pain my words were triggering in him. I’ve accepted that life can turn on a dime ever since my father died suddenly in the summer between my junior and senior years in college. Ever since then, I wince when...

Let People Take Care of You and You’ll Improve Your Eating

I’ve noticed this phenomenon over my 35 years of being a therapist: many clients who are great at giving care are crummy at receiving it. These are people who become uncomfortable when someone wants to do something for them—give them a gift or do them a favor. These are often the same people who rely on alcohol, food or other obsessive habits to deal with life rather than turn to people. Take Astrid who is finally accepting now in her late 50s that there’s a cost to perpetual giving. Doing for all her neighbors, colleagues, and family members exhausts her but it also makes her insist, “It makes me feel good about myself, you know, worthwhile.” Of course, anyone can see that by saying this, she’s also saying that the opposite is true: if she isn’t giving or taking care of someone, she’s of no value. Worse, if she’s taking care...

Why Keep Blaming Yourself for Your Childhood?

If you’re still carrying around some terrible story about being a bad, defective, unworthy person, please take a minute to read this blog. Our culture is big on individuals taking responsibility. Sure, it makes sense that at some point in your life you stop blaming your current problems on your history and become accountable for your actions. But what actually makes us who we are as adults?  No one as a child decides to become an angry drug user. Or a thief. Or an abusee. Or an ignorant person. So much of who we are started before we were born. For example, when you were a fetus in your mother’s womb and kept fidgeting and moving around so much that it prevented her from sleeping night after night. Was that your fault?  What happened was that a particular sperm and egg randomly got together and spawned you. It was an act...

Feeling Understood

There are two ways clients let me know or at least cause me to suspect that they weren’t listened to and validated in childhood. They exhibit habits they’ve picked up unconsciously and don’t realize how they come across to others now.  The first is when clients frequently ask, “Does that make sense?” Or, alternately, “Do you know what I mean?” We all ask these questions occasionally, but when people regularly or often make these inquiries, there’s something else going on. My client Taylor had a dysfunctional childhood in which she was strictly raised, rarely got to do her thing, and had parents who were demanding and narcissistic. In session, she’ll explain something to me that’s clear as can be, then ask, “Does that make sense?” I recently commented on her repeatedly asking this question and we discussed how she’d always felt a need to clarify herself and use overkill to be...

How Envy Hurts You

In these days when it’s hard to avoid knowing everyone else’s business, especially if you spend time on social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of envy. The goal is not to avoid envy, which is a natural, human feeling, but to avoid immersing yourself in it and being swept away by yearning for something someone else has and hurting yourself in the process.  Envy comes in all shapes and sizes: desiring others’ appearance, success, talents, status, brains, or popularity. It’s no surprise that the envy I hear about most often in my practice is of people’s thinner bodies and smaller appetites. What I’ve observed is that the habit of being envious when you see something someone else has that you don’t does nothing to make anyone healthier or happier. In fact, the clients I serve who are most envious, are also the most unhappy. This point is underscored...

From Busy to Bored to Binge-eating

If you go from bored or bustling to binge-eating, it’s time to understand and address the root of the problem and respond effectively. Boredom and busy-ness are normal emotional states that may be trying to tell you something, but sometimes they’re pure habit. The goal is to manage them.  I see us as having four emotional/physical energy states: 1) nothing to do, 2) some stuff to do, 3) lots to do, and 4) more than you want to do. Having nothing or something to do is just that—neither good nor bad, just a description of being.  Every situation is unique and, therefore, our environment dictates the general energy level required of demands and available options. If you’re a recently widowed person living alone in a new city, you might feel bored a lot. Or, as a single parent working full-time and raising three children, you may rarely have a spare minute. ...

Stop Being a Victim of Fat Phobia

There is absolutely no doubt that fat phobia is alive and well and thriving in our culture. The question is whether it has to take root in your mind and make you miserable. Do you even know of anyone who’s of higher weight and pays no attention to fat phobia? My guess is that you don’t and that’s one of the reasons you fall prey to it. So, let me introduce you to Shannon Walton who finally got tired of being bullied about her weight. “Battling obesity—and telling bullies to ‘Kiss it!’” tells her story and shows how she took charge of her life and fought back. Says Walton who lives in Sheffield, England, “I’ve always been overweight, from a very, very young age.” At 14 she was 196 pounds and at 15 she was 210. Later, she discovered that she had both premature adrenarche which made her develop early and...

Which Childhood Feelings Are You Haunted By?

It’s long past Halloween but many of us are haunted by childhood feelings. They may not visit us every day or even every week, but we may sense them lurking behind the scenes ready to jump out and unnerve us at any moment. Here are emotions I’ve found commonly distressing in my practice and from my years of living on the planet. Vulnerability/fear. If you grew up, say, in a military type of household, you might not have been able to show fear or vulnerability without being shamed or reprimanded. Yet, these are every day, normal emotions all humans have. Maybe Dad made fun of you when you got scared going out in a canoe for the first time or Mom yelled at you when you shared with your first-grade class that you didn’t like to be alone in the house. What you learned from the tiny sampling of your family...

From an Unhealthy to a Healthy Relationship

Having a healthy relationship doesn’t mean that both people are poster children for perfect emotional health. It means that how you respond in the relationship is appropriate and functional. So, the good news is that you often can have a healthy relationship with someone who’s still in the process of getting it together—just like you. In my blog Stages of Relationship Health, I explore how to go from being abused in a relationship to having anger about your mistreatment to leaving the relationship altogether. What I’m blogging about here is a different take on that situation: how to go from being passive about being abused to becoming angry to learning how to detach.  So many of my clients who come from dysfunctional family backgrounds took the mistreatment for far too long because they were dependent on their parents. Although some children do run away from egregious abuse, most remain in the...

How to React When People Give You Advice—Eating or Otherwise

It’s not always true that, as my client Penny said to me, “No one likes to be told what to do.” Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. It depends on several variables. What’s being said. People who are already highly sensitive to hearing comments about eating or weight, might be more touchy about being told about what to eat and not eat, than “normal” eaters. They often ignore advice givers because they know in their heads and hearts what’s better or worse for them to do around food.   Who’s saying it. If a beloved friend says she’s worried about your eating because she knows you have type 2 diabetes and she’s someone who’s always had your back and your interest at heart, you’ll likely react differently than if your doctor, whom you just met and who doesn’t even look you in the eye, makes the same comment.    How...