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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]

Eating Fast and Overweight

For 30 years I’ve been teaching people to slow down while they’re eating. It seems like common sense. After all, what’s the big rush? How often are we really (really, really) so harried and hurried that we can’t take time to enjoy food? Fast eating used to be just a bad habit. Now science is ringing the alarm bell and warning us that eating quickly and past full puts us at risk for becoming overweight. According to a study published October 21, 2008 in the British Medical Journal, folks who both eat quickly and until full have a three-fold risk of becoming overweight compared to people who eat more slowly and stop before fullness. The study included 3,000 Japanese adults, males and females ages 30-69. It focused on the speed with which they ate and whether they stopped before or after fullness, then correlated these activities with their BMI (Body Mass...
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Book Review: Will I Ever Be Good Enough?

I read as many psychology and self-help books as time permits to keep expanding my knowledge base and make targeted suggestions when clients need help. Some books relate directly to eating, others have a peripheral link. As you probably know by now, food and weight problems are connected to many facets of life. Here’s a review of a relatively new book about mothers and daughters which has been helpful to my clients. Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride, Ph.D., is a terrific addition to the literature written about the clinical diagnosis of narcissism and how having a narcissistic parent can detrimentally affect you throughout life. Written by a psychology professional and daughter of a narcissistic mother, the book explains: what a narcissist is (and isn’t), the underlying causes of narcissism, why and how daughters of narcissistic mothers suffer, and what they can...
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Genes and Your Sweet Tooth

Ever wonder how some people easily pass up sweets while you can’t seem to say no? Part of your response is from the way you were raised and your beliefs about food, eating and weight, but there also may be a physiological component to your problem. Nothing about food is ever simple, is it? An article entitled “Sweet Tooth” from February 2009 on Self.com explains: “Some of us really can’t have just one sugary treat. A gene that tells our brain when we’ve had enough is less sensitive to glucose in certain people, so they may overindulge, a study from the University of Toronto reveals. People with this gene variation are more likely to have a higher body-mass index than those without it, but they aren’t doomed to be overweight. ‘Factors you can control, like the snacks you eat, have a bigger impact on eating habits,’ says study author Ahmed El-Sohemy....
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Thinness and Lovability

If you believe you must be thin to be lovable, I’m sorry to burst your bubble. Two interesting things happened during a recent afternoon which prove my point. First, there I was on the supermarket checkout line gawking at trashy magazine headlines and photos of unhappy looking, but thinner than thin, celebrities. Some of these sad souls were being ditched because their spouses or partners had found someone new, while others were being abandoned because their lovers had had enough of their nasty dispositions, bizarre behavior, or running around. Second, later that day, I was thumbing through a Sarasota magazine and saw this positively glowing overweight couple on the wedding announcement page. Although the groom was bit pudgy in his suit and the bride was definitely chunky in her white wedding dress, what stood out was that they were beaming and obviously gaga in love. I was so thrilled to have...
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Diligent Joy

Here’s a phrase I came across and fell in love with instantly, more so when I found out what it means: “Diligent Joy.” It makes me smile to say it aloud, and comes from the book EAT, PRAY, LOVE by Elizabeth Gilbert (which had positive and negative points and which I’m not recommending). The phrase, however, is a keeper because it hits the nail so squarely on the head. Sure, we have genetic tendencies and formative experiences in childhood, but, thankfully, chemistry is far from the whole story when it comes to whether we’re smiley faces or not. Diligent Joy, if I’m interpreting Gilbert correctly, means working to forge a happiness mindset every minute of every day. A lot of work? You betcha. But it also takes a heap of effort to make—and keep—yourself miserable as well. You have to repeatedly focus on life being unfair and how no one can...
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Satisfying Food Choices

One night as I was heading for the kitchen cabinet containing the fat-free chocolate chip meringues I usually enjoy while watching the 11:00 news, I realized they weren’t what I was in the mood for. Usually they hit the spot and I was surprised that my body was saying, “Sweets, yuck. Go get yourself some protein.” So I had a yummy chunk of cheddar cheese and boy did it ever hit the spot. Those moments reminded me that we can become so stuck in food routines that we tune out what our bodies really want. Although we don’t know exactly what factors go into producing a strong craving for a particular food or food group, we have a pretty good idea of the influences: hunger level, hormones, foods eaten earlier in the day, activity level, mood, blood sugar, and what’s available, to name several. It’s natural to slip into food routines—a...
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A Negative Attitude Can Be Addictive

Did you know that a negative attitude can become addictive? Of course, you won’t go into withdrawal without it and won’t have to join a 12-step program to recover, but regularly underestimating and putting yourself down is an attitude you’ll keep returning to again and again (mostly unconsciously) if you’re not careful. At best, it’s a bad habit that guides your thinking and promotes ineffective decision-making. At worst, it’s a mindset that shuts out hope and creates a lifetime of unhappiness and despair. It’s natural to think poorly of yourself if your caretakers chronically maligned or neglected you. You probably believed what they said about you at the time. However, you now know that what your parents and relatives taught you about yourself is simply untrue. You now understand that they put you down to make themselves feel better or because they didn’t know how to be better care-takers. You recognize—don’t...
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Spirituality -- Or Not

An interesting discussion went on a while ago on my Food and Feelings message board (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings) regarding the role of spirituality in helping people change their relationship with food and their bodies. Obviously, change can happen with or without being a spiritual person. I’ve seen amazing transformations by folks who are highly religious and those who are total non-believers. What’s important is for you to identify and utilize what works for you. The dictionary definition of spirituality is, “devotion to spiritual things instead of worldly things,” with spiritual defined as “having something to do with the spirit or soul.” People who are spiritual usually think of themselves as having a part of themselves that is not physical, a divine soul or essence. They may look for a “greater” meaning or purpose in life and see themselves as guided by and in the hands of God or a higher power. They might use prayer...
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Fear of Failure

I was talking to a phone client about her stuckness and she admitted that behind it is a giant fear of failure. You, too, may believe that your history is your future, especially if you’ve struggled with food for decades and gained and lost weight repeatedly. Dread of once again not achieving or maintaining your goals may keep you from pursuing them. Fear of failure stems from experience. You’ve tried and never gotten very far with “normal” eating or have shed pounds only to see them creep back on. When this has happened, you’ve been ashamed of your inability to maintain a healthy weight or of the fact that you’re still struggling to have a positive relationship with food after all these decades. You don’t want to get your hopes up (again), don’t want to put all that energy into thinking you dreams might come true (again), don’t want to face...
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Difficult People

We all have difficult people in our lives—family members, neighbors, co-workers. Notice that I didn’t mention friends or romantic partners because we can choose them and shouldn’t be cozying up to folks who are regularly hard to deal with and don’t bring us oodles of joy and pleasure. One of the triggers that provokes you to abuse food might be the difficult people in your life, so it pays to learn to how to handle them effectively. Let me say straight off that VDPs—Very Difficult People—are just that. They rub many, if not most, folks the wrong way. Sure, they may have a few die hard fans who defend and embrace them out of fear, warped loyalty, or entrenched dysfunction, but most mentally healthy people steer clear of them. Unfortunately, shutting them out of your life isn’t always possible, particularly if one is a boss, sibling, parent, business associate, or next...
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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