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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. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

The Good Body

Last night I saw Eve Ensler’s The Good Body here in Sarasota. If Ensler’s name rings a bell, it’s because she’s the creator of The Vagina Monologues. From its title, you might guess that The Good Body is about women’s quest for one and you’d be right. In fact, perhaps the show should have been called The Perfect Body. However, the word “good” works because many of these women are struggling desperately to be good girls as well. Sound familiar: trying to be good woman and have a good body? The show’s main character, Eve, is overweight and obsessed with her fat stomach. We meet her critical father, in the ice cream business of all things, and come to see how her disturbed relationship with food and body came about. Eve diets and overdoes it on the treadmill, but can’t get rid of her round mound of a belly. She even...
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Control Issues

Eating problems are about nothing if not control. Exerting too much control around food leads to desires bursting out which causes us to clamp down again—and round and round we go. Rather than micro-manage food intake or let loose completely, “normal” eaters focus on regulation. Regulation connotes flexibility and an appropriate response to internal and external forces to regain balance. Sure “normal” eaters occasionally cut back on food or go overboard, but the thought doesn’t lodge into a permanent attitude. Control is a major issue for us all: around safety, security, happiness, success, etc. These issues go way back to childhood. If yours had a great deal of unpredictability and chaos from abuse, neglect, arbitrariness and unfairness, abandonment, etc., you may try to avoid feeling helpless because it sends you into despair. Having little or no control in childhood over basic needs—including love, affection, and attention—creates adults who either give up...
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Some folks readily do what’s advised to help them recover (from anything) without much flak and fuss. They feel cared for rather than lectured to when a doctor suggests they exercise, enlightened rather than annoyed reading an article on the dangers of fried foods, grateful rather than coerced when a therapist recommends that they join an emotional eating support group. Lacking a negative reaction, they take advantage of new ideas and at least try what’s advised. Do you? Or do you feel resentful? Chronic resentment is a serious road block to “normal” eating and emotional health. Are you someone who resents the hard work you have to do to reach your eating goals? Do you act as if tried-and-true suggestions offered by professionals are for everyone but you? Do you ignore or try to find a way around them? If so, you’re bound to stay stuck in your eating problems until...
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Default Settings

One of the ways to view human programming is that we each have default settings, ones we return to over and over unless we are able to override them. Overriding takes a great deal of effort and can only happen when we realize that we’ve slipped back into default and that functioning in this mode is not in our best interest. The good news is that when we recognize and reprogram automatic responses, the sky’s the limit. We all have to pay attention to our reactions 24/7 (yeah, it’s a drag, but it’s a must do) in order to identify what our default settings are, to assess whether they enhance our lives or we need to change them. For example, say you generally don’t have faith in people helping you with distressing feelings because your parents weren’t exactly there for you and you pretty much had to lick your own emotional...
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Eating Habits

An article in the May/June 2008 issue of AARP’s magazine called “Eat Smart” provides interesting information about ways to change your eating if you’re looking to lose weight. My purpose in blogging about these ideas is not to emphasis a weight focus, but to help you pay more attention to your eating habits and dining environment. One area mentioned in the article is the amount and kind of noise around when you’re eating. According to studies in Northern Ireland and Canada, people eat more when there’s background noise, and loud, fast music increases consumption. It makes sense that eating would accelerate to keep pace with the music. Alternately, these studies conclude that slow, soft music isn’t optimum for eating either because it encourages us to eat slower than what we need for healthy digestion. Unconsciously, our eating either slows down or speeds up to the beat. Slow music also keeps people...
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Being Bad

“Being bad” is an attitude that runs rampant in eating situations and is bound to get you into a heap of trouble. The behavior is so common and accepted that you might not realize its destructiveness and that it lies at the heart of acting out and self-sabotage. This kind of immature rebellion—using “being bad” to feel good—arises in all sorts of realms: shopping, money, work, chores, and living by rules in general. The attitude is summed up in the words, “I’m being bad” accompanying behavior that flaunts rules or principles or any perceived set of “shoulds.” Such as...Although your bank balance is low, you buy that new cell phone because of its bells and whistles, and while forking over the plastic smirk and think, “I’m so bad.” Angry at your boss, you sneak an extra 15 minutes on your lunch break as, “I’m being bad, but so what?” flashes across...
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A Fat Rant Video

A client recently told me about a great YouTube video called A Fat Rant by Joy Nash. You can find it at
. For all of you—fat, thin or in between—who simply cannot imagine feeling good about yourself at a weight society deems unacceptable, it’s a must-see. Frankly, it’s a must-see for everyone on the planet because it says what Gürze (and other) authors have been maintaining for decades: fat is neither a sin nor a crime. It’s nothing more than a descriptive term. I suggest you view the video and return to read the rest of this blog. So, what did you think? I bet some of you felt terrific, seeing this self-admitted big (though she doesn’t look 220 pounds on the video), beautiful woman oozing self-confidence and self-love. We need more role models like her who are willing to put themselves out there and say, “Yes, I’m fat. So...
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Microbes and Obesity

Because people with food disorders are so hard on themselves about their eating, it heartens me to read about biological underpinnings of weight issues. The 4/5/08 edition of Science News shares some fascinating insights about intestinal microbes and overweight children. Microbes are small organisms like bacteria that inhabit the gut. A new study from Finland concludes that overweight and normal weight children have different kinds and amounts of intestinal microbes, and that while some of these microbes may actually protect children against developing obesity, others are linked to chronic low-grade inflammation which is associated with it. Normal weight kids in the study had twice the number of one specific bacterium and fewer of another than overweight kids. Moreover, the microbe which was more abundant in the normal weight children is also associated with an effectively functioning immune system. How does this information relate to your struggles with eating, weight and health?...
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Intuitive Eating Works

Sometimes when I hear about someone going on yet another diet or notice a “revolutionary” new weight-loss book topping the best-seller list, frankly, I feel a little blue. I’ve been teaching the “normal” eating model for 30 years and it often seems as if very little has changed in our culture in all that time regarding sensible eating (in spite of Weight Watchers new no-diet spin). I wonder and wonder when people are going to wake up and smell the coffee. Then I have an experience like one I had recently with a teletherapy client I’ve worked with for nearly a year. After decades of dieting and bingeing, he’s finally turned the corner and started to “get” what he needs to do to become a “normal” eater. He always thought weight loss was just about food and that he was a failure because he fell off the OA wagon repeatedly over...
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A report in Prevention magazine (5/10/08, page 10) has got me going—“Research shows that typically half of all women drop out of exercise programs within the first 6 weeks of starting one. Most women say having little free time, a lack of confidence when exercising, and supportive friends and family are the main reasons they stop short of achieving their goals.” Superficially reasonable answers, sure, but based on my years of professional experience, researchers need to dig deeper to get at the real issues. Yes, many women are pressed for time. Working in and out of the home, trying to live up to cultural expectations, they’re overworked, overextended, and exhausted. But women with an all-or-nothing mentality generate an inner pressure to do everything and do it perfectly which prevents them from exercising—if they can’t do it all, they do nothing, if they can’t do it well, they don’t even try. So...
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