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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Eating Disorders Awareness Week

The fact that it’s National Eating Disorders Awareness week means different things to each of us. It might be a reminder that you’re not alone and that millions of other women and men also struggle with food and weight issues. It might bring to mind loved ones battling with or lost to anorexia or bulimia. It might finally help you break your denial and admit that you have a dysfunctional relationship with food. This week is a good time to focus on and rethink your goals regarding eating and your body. What attitudes and behaviors are you working on that will bring you closer to “normal” eating? Are you making progress? If not, why not? If you’ve been coasting along, hoping magically for transformation, what prevents you from making a commitment to buckle down and make changes? If you’re still caught between dieting and acknowledging how it can promote food problems,...
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10 Ways to Change Your Eating

Although there are a host of things you can do to work toward “normal” eating, here are 10 ideas that are tried and true. Some will be easier than others, but all are necessary if you want food to stop being a hassle and to have a positive place in your life.1. Take a step back and reflect on the way you relate to food and how you could improve the relationship. Reflecting is a good way to break denial. Stay relaxed and don’t pressure yourself to change. Just identify a few changes you could make.2. Consider whether your eating patterns are simply bad habits or whether you have major underlying issues to work through—ie, are you used to munching while watching TV (habit) versus using food to avoid emotional pain (underlying issue).3. Develop compassion for yourself. Replace harsh judgments with being forgiving when you do something you perceive as wrong,...
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Improving Self-care

It’s not unusual for people with eating difficulties to have problems with self-care in other areas as well—drugs, alcohol, hurtful/damaging relationships, or simply treating yourself poorly. It’s common for folks in their teens, 20s and 30s to struggle with issues of self-worth and self-care due to rebellion against family or culture or from plain ignorance and poor role modeling. In fact, it’s often a rite of passage into adulthood; improved judgment comes with experience and maturity. What of those of you who continue to harm yourself into your 40s, 50s and beyond—drinking, drugging, eating, smoking and treating your bodies as if they were disposable? In these decades, you’re no longer struggling to form an identify. Yours is solidified, but your values and actions regarding self-care haven’t evolved from your early years. You may climb a career ladder as high as you can go, but you probably never feel deserving of your...
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Are You a Sheep?

Perhaps because we’re heading deeper into an election year, I keep hearing the word “sheep,” as in “we need to stop thinking like sheep and start thinking for ourselves.” Sadly, many people possess a sheep mentality and don’t even know it. The only way to wake up and realize that you’re making choices like someone who’s brain dead is to pause and reflect on why you think and act the way you do. But how many of us put in the time or make the effort? Self-reflection is an essential part of good mental health. In fact, without it, there’s no way you will achieve it. Kicking back and thinking about the why’s and wherefores of your behavior gives you breathing space to make objective assessments as in Boy, I really didn’t think that through very well or I can’t believe I just went along with the gang and now I’m...
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Body Grievances

Often times I run into women—in my practice, in my life—who have everything going for them, look great, seem full of pep and energy, yet are stuck on losing weight—they insist—in order to be happy. Maybe it’s three pounds or fifteen or 100. Sometimes it’s enough that people would notice and sometimes no one ever would. Anyway, the point is that I wonder what would happen if these women let their weight loss dreams go. The “excess” weight doesn’t necessarily inhibit their being attractive, healthy, or successful, so what is it really all about? My guess is that there are a couple things going on. First is that we have few if any role models of women feeling okay about their bodies. When was the last time you heard someone, a female someone, say she liked her body just as it is? I don’t honestly recall ever hearing that comment. Even...
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Clutter, Hoarding, and Overeating

We used to think of overeating as an isolated behavior divorced from the rest of personality—she can’t say no chocolate, he never met a burger he didn’t like—but science is connecting the dots between saying “no” to food and other self-regulatory malfunctions. Consider hoarding, an inability to deny yourself new items and let go of old ones, which is a disorder of sufficiency, a glitch in the felt sense of enough. It’s obvious what this condition has in common with overeating. When we cannot turn from or throw away food when we’re stuffed, we are making choices from faulty wiring in our brain. Our mouths water in anticipation whether we are hungry or not; we are so attached that we cannot stop eating although another mouthful is clearly not in our best interest. Why is that? Are we merely weak-minded and a little crazy? Studies on hoarding tell a different story:...
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Limits to Change

When you read books like mine and other authors trying to help you become a “normal” eater, do you wonder if everyone can become one or just some people? Ever think about whether you’re spinning your wheels with this intuitive eating stuff or how long you should try it before giving up? Based on posts I read on eating message boards and what clients and students say, my guess is that these are red hot questions for you. I’d like to tell you that I have definitive answers, but I don’t. Here’s what I do know. Biology plays a huge part—some 50-70%—in determining your weight. Genetic loading inclines you toward fat or thin. A traumatic childhood or stressful life may predispose you to food regulation problems or eating disorders. Depression and anxiety impact metabolism on a biochemical level and also may exacerbate appetite problems. Your eating habits begin in the womb...
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Change the World, Not Yourself

Women are taught to change themselves to fit into the world—get a new hairstyle, learn some tricks to dazzle your guy in bed, do what you can to make people comfortable, try an exotic recipe, forge a perfect body—but how often are we encouraged to create a better world, one in which we can be just ourselves? Rarely. We could do more with the Sixties mentality which prodded us to question authority, fight back, and be part of a revolution. In fact, one of the best antidotes to an eating disorder or problem is to practice saying yes to what’s right with the world and changing what’s wrong. Although disordered eating seems like a personal problem, it affects us all. It’s generated by unhealthy cultural attitudes towards women’s beauty and bodies (sorry, guys) and is a major cause of health problems—undernourishment and overweight. Not to mention how miserable women feel about...
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Failing Forward

An artist friend of mine used the term failing forward while talking about a student of hers who was making mistakes learning how to paint but was nevertheless progressing. I immediately fell in love with the term. It captured everything I believe about this thing we call failure. Working in the field of drug addiction for years, I avoided using the term relapse, with its connotation of back sliding. Clients were terrified of relapsing, as if it were a bad thing, but I never saw it that way. In my mind, relapse (see archived blogs on the subject) is a learning opportunity, a chance to stop and examine what is unknown and needs to be known in order to achieve recovery. The term failing forward captures the way I view returning to old behavior—be it starving, stuffing or picking up the crack pipe again. It’s an occasion to look at what...
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Stop Fixing on Food

In this culture, it’s hard not to get fixated on food (never mind weight), from ongoing bombardment of TV advertisements, supermarkets circulars, magazine recipes, and doctors’ advice. What really can get you hooked is how we seem to be talking food all the time (I know it really isn’t all the time, but it sometimes feels that way). Recently, I’ve started to pay extra attention to how often the subject comes up. Please don’t take this blog the wrong way. Some of you have had secrets about eating issues for decades and have finally come out of the closet and begun to talk about bingeing, starving, purging, and night eating. Please continue to share and learn from one another other. But I do think we’re influenced by culture and, to become healthy, we must be careful not to fall into the trap of spending our lives focused on food and eating.Think...
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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.