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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Setting Intentions

As many of you already realize, one of the reasons you don’t consistently engage in behavior which will help you reach your eating or weight goals is that you don’t follow through with intentions—activities you want to do, successes you wish to achieve, goals you desire to reach. Some of you have difficulty establishing intentions, while others set, then forget, about them or allow themselves to be derailed. Perhaps you don’t know how to set an intention. Start by reflecting on what you’d like to change about your eating, including thoughts or behaviors. Would you like to stop grazing when you’re not hungry, clear your head of negative chatter, be kinder to yourself after a binge or a purge? It doesn’t matter what your intention is. Just make sure it’s clear, doable, realistic, and measurable (that is, you know when it happens or doesn’t). After identifying an intention, say it aloud...
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Regulating Anger

Some time ago I was talking with a client about her tendency to sit on her anger until it ignites like fireworks. Difficulty with anger is another aspect of disregulation which people with eating problems often have, a manifestation of ineffective emotional management and acting in extremes. Learning to express anger appropriately takes practice, but it can make an amazing difference in your life. The extremes of cutting off angry feelings or letting them rip are learned in childhood. It’s not even always a question of suppressing anger; some people don’t even realize when they’re furious. Maybe you had a parent who stuffed her feelings or one who never thought twice about blowing his top. Or did your parent go from silence and withdrawal when hurt to uncontrollable outbursts? If these were your role models, you’re following in unhealthy footsteps. Lacking appropriate skills, not only could your folks not help you...
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React or Respond

Although it’s not all you have, the moment is where the work is at regarding changing thoughts about and behaviors around eating. Hopefully, you’re engaged in ongoing information gathering about food, yourself, and the world to influences your choices at any given time and continually assessing whether you’ve been staying on course or straying from it. Even so, what you choose to do in the moment is what counts most. Two postings last month on my Food and Feelings Message board HYPERLINK "http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings" http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings got me thinking about ways to ensure that we make effective decisions. One comment described the difference between reacting and responding. To paraphrase, the commenter described reacting as taking action from the emotional part of the brain and responding as taking action based on higher order think, ie, from our cognitive abilities. Impulsively refusing or accepting food without thinking is reacting. Deliberating about choices, reflecting about what...
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Barriers to Exercise

Not a week goes by without someone I know commenting on disliking exercise. Although it’s likely that certain folks are born with more of an inclination move their bodies, that’s not the whole story. What’s important is to understand your story, you know, the one you tell yourself (and others) about why you don’t exercise. You probably have the best of intentions and recognize that exercise contributes to health and longevity, so knowledge isn’t the problem. How could any adult in this society not have gotten the 30-minutes-a-day message by now? Well, then, if you recognize the benefits of exercise and have the intention of doing it, what stops you? Although there are general answers, exact barriers are unique to each of you. Make a list of what stops you from exercising or regularly, intentionally keeping your body moving by walking, dancing, gardening, going to the gym, gyrating to a DVD...
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Different Kinds of Food Problems

Linda Moran, moderator of the Diet Survivors message board at HYPERLINK "http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/dietsurvivors" http://www.groups.yahoo.com/group/dietsurvivors, often reminds members that some folks can diet and lose weight more or less permanently—the 5% of dieters who are successful and make everyone else feel like failures. They have simpler food-related issues than the multitude who have complications. In fact, some folks have eating problems, others have weight problems, and others have eating and weight problems. People who have simple eating problems are pretty well set when they attend more to nutrition, discipline themselves better around food, and trim down portions. They find dieting relatively easy without feeling especially deprived, don’t have all-or-nothing thinking about food, and do fine with a style of eating that helps them shed pounds and feel healthier. They don’t have to white knuckle it to stick to a food plan, aren’t emotional binge-eaters, and find that healthier eating makes them feel better...
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Healthy Eating As Hardship

On occasion when I’m dining with people and happen to be eating something nutritious such as salad, brown rice or a plate of veggies, someone will tut tut about what a terrible hardship it must be to eat healthily all the time. Huh? Generally, I first correct them and tell them that every morsel of food that enters my mouth is by no means super nutritious. Then I (tactfully) ask where they got the erroneous idea that treating your body to wholesome food is some kind of hardship. This is one of those times I recognize right off that someone else’s words are more about them than about me. For people who wish to take care of their bodies, remain relatively disease free, and increase life expectancy, eating for health is, well, hardly a hardship. It’s natural, it’s essential, it’s a given. It’s the way to get from here to there....
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Magic Words

To break old, ingrained habits you must remain aware. Using a few words to click on that light bulb can go a long way toward helping you make conscious decisions around food. How many times have you said to yourself, If only I’d realized what I was doing when I grabbed for that Dove bar? or I snarfed down three rolls before I even knew I was eating! Conjuring up a few magic words can stop you dead in your tracks and give you pause to think. When you have the urge to eat, think: Hunger or Feelings? Let the words run through your head to see which registers. When you start or continue to eat when you’re not hungry, ask yourself, “What’s going on?” or “What do I want more than the food?” Maybe it’s to lower your Cholesterol, wear a different Clothing style, or feel more Sexual or comfortable...
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Gratitude versus Appreciation

The concept of gratitude is much in vogue, but it doesn’t sit right with me. I hear clients express how grateful they are for good things that happen to them. In fact, many feel gratitude for practically everything positive that comes their way. The dictionary defines gratitude as, “A kindly feeling because of a favor received, ”and favor as, “A kindness.” Nothing hinky there, but I’m left feeling that the word has come to mean getting something you’re not completely sure you deserve. Although there’s much to be said for humility, gratitude comes from a different internal place, and I’ve recently found myself suggesting that clients try feeling appreciative instead of grateful. Okay, maybe I’m reading too much into the word. Here’s why: the people who use it most are the same ones who have low self-esteem, struggle to feel worthy, don’t believe they deserve much in life, and suffer a...
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I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about crying. Such an important, misunderstood, under-rated function. Crying, what a hot button for young and old, men and women. The word itself might make you want to stop reading this minute and go change the cat litter or get a jump on doing your taxes. Crying has that kind of power. Too bad it’s gotten such a bum rap when it’s just the activity that might stop you from abusing food. A good amount of crying goes on in therapy. Some clients walk into my office and burst into tears and my work is to teach them to understand and modulate their feelings. Or they don’t cry at all or enough and my job is to help them understand why and let loose the tears. Either way, I end up explaining the benefits and necessity of crying. Like feelings, most people think of tears...
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Book Review: What Every Therapist Needs to Know about Treating Eating and Weight Issues

Ever wish your therapist could help more with your eating and weight issues? Wonder why a counselor doesn’t pick up on your distress over food or body image or minimizes these issues when you start talking about them? Feel angry that the only response a therapist has to your being overweight is to tell you to go on a diet? Love working with your therapist, but wish he or she had a better understanding of your eating and weight frustrations? My new book, What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Treating Eating and Weight Issues, has the answers you’re looking for—and much, much more. Published by Norton Professional Books in September, 2008, What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Treating Eating and Weight Issues was written for general practitioners who have little or no training or experience working with these problems. Maybe they specialize in treating depression or anxiety or family...
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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.