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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. 

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Variety in Eating

It’s important to know how much variety you want in your eating. Some people are perfectly happy eating the same few dishes over and over. Other people would be bored to tears having the same meal more than once in a week. Recognizing your need for variety or sameness can make the difference between enjoying food and engaging in unwanted eating because you feel dissatisfied. I have a friend who rotates three different lunches every week—tuna, turkey or chicken salad. That’s what she enjoys eating mid-day. And she pretty much eats the same thing for breakfast and her evening snack because she loves having a routine of healthy, satisfying foods. I know other people who live on chicken or chicken and fish and others who don’t care what they have for dinner as long as it’s some type of red meat. Many people, in fact, find pleasure in eating the same...
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Expectations versus Experience

I confess. I’m fascinated by the endless contradictions we humans hold. Recently, an acquaintance was railing against politicians and religious leaders who fail to set a good example. I tried explaining that human beings are irrational, complicated creatures, but I was no match for her idealized expectations. As a disregulated eater, you, too, may become easily disappointed and end up turning to food to make yourself feel better. Why do you do this—ignore your years of experience with the human race and instead pin your hopes on some imaginary version of reality that never was and never will be? Why did this reasonably bright woman continue to hold the conviction that leaders should be moral exemplars, when every fiber of her 70-some-year-old being told her that often they are not? In this same vein, how can you binge eat the same foods in the same quantities day after day or week...
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I bet most of you don’t believe in ghosts and goblins. If someone were having a conversation with one, you’d probably roll your eyes and wonder what was wrong with them. But having interactions with something that isn’t real is exactly what you do every time you engage with irrational thoughts about food, eating, and weight. This may comes as a surprise, but you do not need to make a connection with and throw your energy into every thought that passes through your mind. Think of these wisps of biochemical energy as ghosts, as things of the past or products of your imagination that have no true substance. There are ghosts from your family—what your mother, father or other relatives told you that got stuck in your head. Maybe these messages served a purpose at the time or were wrong-headed even back then. Either way, they certainly have no relevance to...
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Pleasure versus Pride

If you’re an overeater or a binge-eater who’s learning the rules of “normal” eating, you may be a little worried about missing out on the pleasure of eating. In fact, it may be so difficult for you to conceive of not eating foods you love the way you do now that you end up eating more of them just to prove you can have them. Looking for something to “get” in return for “giving up” pleasure? Read on. First off, you don’t give up pleasure when you say no to food when you’re not hungry. Au contraire. Because food tastes best when you’re moderately hungry, your taste buds should perk right up if you’re hitting them at just the right hungry moment—and eating slowly and mindfully. In which case you’ll be extracting lots of pleasure from your food because you’re hungry, more than when you’re snarfing down large quantities in secret...
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Remembering "Normal" Eating

Most of us were born “normal” eaters and the process for responding to appetite is really more about relearning than starting from scratch. Let’s face it, we wouldn’t have gotten this far as a species if we didn’t automatically know how to feed ourselves well. What you remember about eating “normally” may help you return to it more quickly. Think back to when food wasn’t an issue for you, when you ate when you were hungry, knew exactly what you wanted to eat, and stopped when you were full or satisfied. When you didn’t seek comfort in food or obsess about calories and weight. Recall, if you can, the wonderful feeling of connection to yourself and your ease with food. What was it like for your body to be so naturally satisfied with food without you giving much thought to it? If you’re able to remember that experience, allow yourself to...
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Words to Combat Mindless Eating

Isn’t it amazing how faced with a food decision, all your finest motivation and most ardent desire to care for yourself often fly right out the window? To combat this problem, I recommend that you anticipate and write down what you want to say to yourself in potentially difficult eating situations so you won’t be at a loss for words and forget how abusing food is not what you really want to do. Here’s how. On one side of a file card, put the rules of “normal” eating. On the other side, develop a mantra or set of words or phrases that will reach you when you’re about to make decisions about eating or weight. Jot down some thoughts for the next time you think that weighing yourself would be a grand idea, even though you know that whatever the scale says will cause a negative ripple effect. Compose a few...
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Expand Your Skill Repertoire

If you think of your eating problem in a new light—as a coping problem—your goal will then be to improve your skills in order to reduce unwanted eating. To grow these skills, you need to understand what life skills are, which ones you’re already using successfully, and which ones need work. So, a little about life skills to get you started. Barring dumb luck, in terms of evolution, people with flexible, varied life skills do better than those whose are narrow and rigid. Makes sense: the rigid problem-solver uses the same strategy to no avail, while the flexible problem-solver tries this or that until something works. Most of us have a style, a preference for how we deal with difficulties—by turning to others or going it alone, focusing on a long-term goal or taking things as they come, jumping right in or cautiously circling around a problem, using our heads or...
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If You Didn’t Have an Eating Problem

People seek me out because they have eating problems—overeating, undereating, binge-eating, or some combination. Or they want help lowering their weight. Most clients recognize that they need to focus on and change their eating if they want to attain and maintain a healthy weight. What’s harder for them to acknowledge is that even if they didn’t have eating problems, they’d still lack critical life skills to enjoy a better life. I know that dysfunctional eating habits are what you’re focused on changing. But, think: If you were a “normal” eater at your target weight—changing nothing else about yourself—would you be mentally and emotionally healthy and living the life you want? My guess is that you wouldn’t be, even if that’s hard for you to acknowledge. Eating problems (other than metabolic, biochemical, or genetic based ones) don’t develop in a vacuum, but spring from irrational beliefs, trauma, stress, poor coping skills, inability...
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Happiness Is Hard Work

Over the summer, after watching a wonderful PBS program on happiness, a comment made by an interviewee stayed with me. The woman, a cancer survivor, remarked that being happy took a lot more energy and hard work than being unhappy. An interesting observation which might apply equally to recovering from eating problems. What do you think: Does being happy require more energy and involve more effort than it does to be unhappy? Is that what prevents you from making yourself happier? Granted, we each come into this world with a genetic predisposition for joy. Some babies are happy-go-lucky, while others are fussy from the get go. Add to that being raised by glass-half-full or half-empty parents, and we don’t have a whole lot of say as children about choosing happiness or not. But as adults, we’re in the driver’s seat to decide whether we want to be optimistic or pessimistic, complainers...
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Solo Eating

Dining alone—at home or in a restaurant—often triggers unwanted eating, but it need not be problematic if you can identify what’s bothering you and come up with effective solutions. Change your attitude and you may even learn to enjoy eating solo. If you’re uncomfortable eating alone, acknowledge this fact. Maybe you believe you should feel okay and therefore, try to deny your discomfort. Think about it: How do you feel about eating by yourself at home or in a restaurant? If you’re used to keeping busy, eating solo can be a jarring experience because you’re all alone with your thoughts—and your food. Although eating is often a social experience, in the end it’s an isolated me-with-me occasion because the socializing actually has nothing to do with the food (unless someone is feeding you!). First off, then, stop thinking that eating should be a social experience, because this is not necessarily true....
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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.  Privacy Policy