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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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Fat Cells and Hunger

More proof that appetite, metabolism and weight loss don’t function the same way for all of us. I make this point as often as I can to drive home your uniqueness and to encourage you to quit comparing your process and progress to other people’s. Comparison is one of the worst aspects of dieting—you know, that “What do you eat and how much did you lose?” discussion—and the reason that “normal” eating works because it respects your individual appetite. So, on to the scientific evidence. Studying appetite, Terry Maratos-Flier, M.D., an obesity researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and her team have reached this conclusion: ”Fat cells produce leptin, a hormone that at low levels suppresses appetite. But excess and full fat cells make so much leptin that the ‘I’m full’ signal doesn’t work well any more.” This is one explanation for overweight people who say they honestly...
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How to Stop Rebellious Eating

The last time I blogged about a rebellious food attitude, a reader said she appreciated my insights into the underlying problem, but wanted to know what to do about it. Good point. Although I can’t give you a step-by-step outline to follow, I can give you a general game plan. You will need to change your beliefs about your rights as an adult, alter your reaction of anger toward “shoulds” by separating the concept of control from caring, and do whatever you can in the moment to make mature and rational decisions about food. First, examine whether the shoe fits. Do you eat (or refuse to eat) from anger, habitually challenge healthy guidelines about food in order to prove something or to hurt or defy someone? Do you feel entitled to food or can’t stand for anyone (even yourself) to tell you what to eat? Understand why your upbringing makes you...
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Making Judgments

Are you someone who goes out of your way to not judge others? Do you go overboard trying to avoid being critical and thinking badly of those you meet and know? This behavior is laudable in theory, but works poorly in a world in which we must make assessments about whether people will be helpful or hurtful to us. The problem comes from confusion over the term judgment. Many people who make a point of not judging others suffered childhoods in which they were verbally abused, invalidated or unfairly criticized on a regular basis. They are acutely sensitive to criticism and uncomfortable visiting it upon others. Although they’re generally hard on themselves, they back off from thinking poorly of others and prefer to think warmly of all humankind. They dislike acknowledging that their parents mistreat or mistreated them and defend spouses, partners, colleagues, and friends who are rude, unkind or even...
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More on Sugar Addiction

There’s always new information coming out on eating and weight. Here’s recent evidence which indicates that sugar might very well might be addictive. Study Suggests Sugar May Be Addictive, by Amanda Gardner. WEDNESDAY, Dec. 10, 2008 (Health Day News) -- Science is verifying what many overeaters have suspected for a long time: sugar can be addictive. In fact, the sweetener seems to prompt the same chemical changes in the brain seen in people who abuse drugs such as cocaine and heroin. The findings were to be presented Wednesday at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology's annual meeting, in Nashville.  “Evidence from an animal model suggests that bingeing on sugar can act in the brain in ways similar to drugs of abuse,” lead researcher Bart Hoebel, professor of psychology at Princeton University, said during a December 4 teleconference. "Drinking large amounts of sugar water when hungry can cause behavioral changes and even neurochemical...
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Beat or Treat Yourself

Although there’s truth in the adage, “You are what you eat,” there’s also a whole lot of evidence that you are what you tell yourself you are. Or rather what others insisted you were in childhood and what your self-talk confirms about you today. We become, then remain, whatever we believe ourselves to be. Think you’re lovable, then presto, you are. Think you’re not and, well, you know what kind of feelings and behaviors that leads to. You’ve probably read enough of my blogs to know that how your parents and other caretakers treated you in childhood is a major factor in determining whether you feel lovable or not. Sure, genes play a role (although I’m not sure what role on the lovability issue), but what we’re told and how we’re treated literally changes our brains and drives thoughts and behaviors. The classic tale is the child who’s constantly berated for...
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Fat Cells and Weight

There is so much amazing scientific information out in the world about weight these days. As an evidence-based person, I’m a big fan of science and love to understand the workings of the mind/body. Another scientific bonus is that it helps keep our heads on straight by disproving myths about fat and thin, and gives us a fact-based reality from which to set our goals. So, heads out of the clouds and feet on the ground. A May 24, 2008 Science News article entitled “Fat Cells Gain Weight” is a case in point. It’s short, so I’ll share it here: “Even when people lose weight, they don’t lose fat cells. The cells just shrink. Kirsty Spalding of the Karo-Linkska Institute in Stockholm and her colleagues figured out the birth dates of fat cells in adults. The team reported online May 4 in Nature that, in adults, as fat cells die, the...
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Be Yourself

I get a kick out of the expression, “Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.” What a hoot! But the last time I read it I got to thinking about how difficult it is for some of you to, well, actually be yourselves. Doing so means knowing what you feel and think and savoring your uniqueness. So many disregulated eaters hate themselves one minute, then love themselves the next or chameleon-like, change their opinions depending on the people they’re with. So, here forth, it’s time to know yourself so that you can be yourself. If you had a childhood in which what you felt or said was frequently pooh-poohed, were told you shouldn’t have certain emotions, and needed to watch what came out of your mouth 24/7, you learned not to trust your feelings and opinions. Unfortunately, self-trust is where self-knowledge begins. Instead of sticking to your guns, to get approval and...
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Different Types of Unwanted Eating

It’s essential to understand exactly which of your eating behaviors is off the mark. Okay, I hear some of you saying, All of them. Yet many of you do fine in one kind of eating situation and are plagued by dysfunction in others. Because you can’t fix a problem until you identify it, it’s time to target which specific eating behaviors get you into trouble. You may engage in binge-eating or consuming large quantities of food regardless of hunger and satisfaction, whether you start out hungry or not. In either case, you eat with little consciousness and total abandon and keep going until the food is gone or an outside event intervenes. A binge usually generates shame and remorse—and often a stomach ache. During binges you consume thousands of calories. Then there’s garden variety overeating in which you ignore satiation signals and regularly chow down way past full. Maybe the food...
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Nature or Nurture

Do you believe that “normal” eating means you never have to engage your brain and make hard choices with food because your appetite will automatically do what’s right by you—signal the perfect time to feed your hunger, flash a bulletin about what food will satisfy you, focus on eating well while your mind is elsewhere, and fling out its arms like a crossing guard to warn you to put down your fork because you’re done? If you believe your appetite needs no help from your better judgment, think again. It’s the old nature versus nurture debate. Are “normal” eaters born or raised? The answer is a little of both. We have evidence that genetics and biology play a major role in appetite regulation, as does stress and trauma in early childhood. We also know that the role models we pattern our eating after and how we’re trained to relate to food...
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Believing in Your Rights

What are your rights? I don’t mean regarding voting or free speech. Rather, what are the unalienable human rights you believe you have? My hunch is that you aren’t convinced you have very many, and that’s why you spend so much time trying to establish that you do—with food, your emotions, with people, and engaging in behaviors which are nothing but self-destructive. Sadly, all your chronic efforts to prove to yourself and others that you have rights only attests to the fact that you’re not convinced. I see this behavior all the time in the food arena. You eat something you really don’t want when you’re not hungry to prove it’s your choice and that you can. Of course it’s your choice. As an adult, who else’s would it be? If you’re frequently/always in “prove it” mode, you’re reacting against the past. Okay, your parents were controlling, rigid, invalidating, and undermined...
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