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 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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Weight and Mating

According to Amy Alkon, Sarasota Herald-Tribune “Advice Goddess,” men are hard-wired to assess women’s looks. From an evolutionary standpoint, they’ve used body weight to select mates to ensure survival of the species, hoping that someone who looked healthy was healthy. Alkon adds that “…research suggests that the body size men look for in a woman is inverse to the availability of food. Where eats are scarce, like in the Sahara, Lane Bryant ladies are in. Where there’s food-a-plenty, men go for slimmer women.” (When I emailed her, Alkon quoted the source as Shackleforth and Buss and I will try to track down their work and get more information on the theory). An interesting and unsettling observation. What the quote is saying is that at least one explanation for the fat phobia epidemic in the U.S. (and elsewhere) and males rejecting females for being overweight is due to a lethal combo of...
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Weighing Weight

A client of mine lost about 30 pounds by stopping dieting and bingeing and learning to eat more “normally.” Like many of the people I treat, she’d previously been hyper-focused on her weight rather than on her eating. This mindset must shift for intuitive eating to start taking hold: losing weight needs to take a back seat to gaining skills in eating and emotional management. I knew the shift had occurred for this client when she said she wasn’t sure if she could lose more weight or if she even wanted to, but that she’d decided, for now, to continue trying to eat “normally” and see where her weight stabilized. How many of you agonize over losing under 10 pounds: or 7 or 3 or 1? In your head the amount is huge—the difference between night and day. But in reality, what would change if you lost it? Go through every...
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Move Your Body

An article in the April issue of the Nutrition Action Health Letter on the correlation between moving your body more and weight loss intrigued me. James Levin, professor and researcher in the Division of Endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, heads something called the NEAT lab which studies the effect of body movement and expending energy on weight. NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which is any movement that is not exertion for the sake of physical fitness. Levin’s studies conclude that by keeping moving we can burn off calories without formal exercise. Not that he eschews the activity; rather he encourages people to use NEAT along with exercise, saying, “If you look at an average sedentary person, 60% of total daily energy expenditure is basal metabolic rate, 30% is NEAT, and 10% is the thermal effect of food—the calories you burn to digest, absorb, and store the food you...
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Eating with Others

Most of us can’t avoid eating with others and may harbor beliefs and feelings which negatively affect the experience. Whether we’re sharing a meal with family or friends, our history of and reaction to social eating can produce an enjoyable time or complete dysregulation of appetite. Understanding our responses to people-and-food situations can help adjust our perspective and make social eating occasions more comfortable. How do you feel when you know you’re going to be eating with people? Do you immediately feel excited about catching up with old chums or family members or are you filled with anxiety about food? If you don’t eat out much, do you find that scheduling dinner dates is difficult because you’re torn between enjoying social contact and fearing eating too much or “the wrong thing? No matter what your anxieties, you can address your distress beforehand by reframing irrational beliefs and practicing self-soothing behaviors. For...
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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.