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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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New Year, New Ideas

Because we associate the New Year with starting a diet, it may be hard to shake the idea. Come January first and you’re just itching to turn over that new leaf, write that next chapter in your eating or weight story, dump the old body and break out the new one. Although resolutions can seem artificial and silly, a new year seems the right time for a fresh start. This year make sure you’re not following the herd and behaving like a sheep. Make sure your resolutions are in your long-term best interest. Instead of setting goals on eating and weight and rushing to transform yourself into Ms. or Mr. America, how about focusing on which personality traits you’d like to hold onto and which ones you’d like to ditch in 2008. Forget about your appearance and consider how you might become what psychology calls your ego ideal—the person you would...

Holiday Eating

Many people have wildly conflicted feelings about the holiday season. My guess is that if folks felt more comfortable with eating, the holidays might be a more pleasurable and relaxing time. However, food aside, the period from Thanksgiving through New Year’s can be highly stressful—buying gifts, seeing family, get togethers with friends, or feeling very alone and apart from all the joy and celebrations. There’s pressure to be cheery and social, which is especially difficult for those who by nature (or nurture) are neither.Here are some tips for getting through the holidays. Notice that I didn’t say enjoying them. For some people, merely surviving them is enough.1. Make sure you have time for yourself. Don’t give up self time--playing with the cat or dog, reading, watching your favorite TV shows, and going to the gym. One of the hardest things about the holidays is that it feels as if there’s not...

Overweight and Death

For years Americans have been scolded for being fat because “evidence” has proven that being overweight increases the chance of developing serious illnesses and dying. However, we know that many Americans have not taken the message to heart because surveys report that about two-thirds of adults are considered overweight or obese. Part of the problem is the way the media and health community have approached the subject—mostly through trying to change behavior rather than thinking—and part is due to the don’t-tell-me-what-to-do-ness of the human spirit. Lately we’ve been hearing “news” that really isn’t new to people who struggle with overweight and those of us who treat them: that the subject of health and weight is far more complicated than previously thought. There have been a recent spate of books and headline articles that tell us that being fat does not automatically up the chance of developing life-threatening illness. Take a recent...

Abuse and Eating Problems

Recently I attended a seminar on Domestic Violence and have been thinking about its connection to eating problems. I suspect that a number of you may be victims of domestic violence and use food to turn negative feelings against yourself rather than toward your abuser, causing you to feel even worse about yourself. Domestic violence includes chronic anger, blaming, arguing, name calling, threatening violence and other verbal abuse as well as battering and sexual coercion (even between spouses). It is found in every socioeconomic class, race, and age and its victims are characterized by low self-esteem, dependence on a partner for self-worth or believing a partner is dependent on them, and isolation due to few or no emotional or social supports. Victims may suffer from depression or substance abuse and typically deny, minimize, rationalize, and/or defend a partner’s abusive behavior, accept blame and responsibility for it, fear and walk on eggshells...

To Carb or Not to Carb

Once more, a session with a client has got me thinking: if you don’t know whether or not you have difficulty metabolizing particular foods such as wheat or sugar, do you try to eat them “normally” or avoid them completely? Obviously, if you’ve been tested and diagnosed with a food allergy, you’ll want to steer clear. Remember, testing is the only way to know for certain that you have a bona fide food allergy (see my blog archive). Craving and having difficulty staying away from a food does not constitute a food allergy or addiction, so please don’t convince yourself that the problem is physical when it could be mental/emotional. That said, it’s difficult to know how to proceed if you react badly to a food. You could give it—sugar, fats, wheat or even most carbohydrates—up completely. However: OA members avoid food for decades, then sometimes try a bite and succumb...

Dealing with Hurtful Relatives

One of the great stresses of the holiday season is dealing with relatives who are hurtful, difficult or, perhaps, even emotionally abusive. Maybe you rarely see them and try to be nice when you do or are stuck with them all year long. There is no easy answer for how to deal with these kinds of family members, but you do have options. None will feel just right, but often you have to choose the best of the lot and live with the consequences. Newspaper advice columns often tell readers to ignore the bad things troublesome relatives do or say and look for the good in them. This is a viable option with a relative who is basically a decent person and only mildly annoying. You can usually tell if a remark is made with a benign or loving intent. Maybe your well-meaning, sweet aunt always asks when you’re going to...

Getting Past “The Past”

We can’t help, at times, getting stuck in “the past” and sometimes end up abusing food because of it—a new friend fails to invite you to a birthday bash and you feel slighted, a co-worker claims credit for a job you busted a gut doing and you lose it, or your child screams she hates you after a time out and you burst into tears. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and again!) that the bulk of our hurt is rooted in the past. Let’s look at the examples above. First, the birthday bash. If your reaction was overwhelming hurt that you weren’t invited, you may have had too many experiences in childhood—in your family, school or neighborhood—in which you felt left out and excluded. Maybe you often felt as if you were on the outside looking in. So, naturally, when you’re not included now, you feel stung....

Eating When and What You Want

When you begin to work on eating “normally,” especially giving up the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” of when and what is appropriate, you may find yourself eating food in times and places that surprise you. And you’ll begin to notice that this society has arbitrary rules about food which unconsciously govern eating. Most people go along with those rules without thinking, but you may need to break them for a while—or forever—to improve your relationship with food. For example, in this culture we’re told that there are breakfast, lunch and dinner foods. Advertisements and restaurant menus reinforce this message—cereal in the morning, a sandwich at lunch, and some kind of meat and vegetable for dinner (hurray for breakfast-all-day eateries). Soup comes before the meal and dessert after. Candy and sweets are snacks. Perhaps there was some sense to how these ideas originated and why they have lasted, but it’s important to question...

Nuances of Fullness

Eating a quantity of food that is just right is as much art as science. Using a number scale can teach over- and undereaters the nuances of hunger and fullness by making you aware of body sensations and allowing you to notice the subtle gradations of satiation.Think of 0 as hungry, 1 as no longer hungry, 2 as full, and 3 as beyond full. Zero means you have hunger pains and sensations that signal an empty stomach—growling belly, spaciness, lightheadedness, irritability, fatigue, or headache, to name several. An empty stomach is screaming for fuel. Because it takes about 20 minutes for food to move through your digestive system and register in your brain, you may feel hungry for a while as you eat. Eating slowly is a must so that you can notice when hunger goes away, but you don’t want to eat so slowly that you fail to get to...

Dwelling on Emotion

Many of my clients and students grumble about “dwelling” on painful feelings or traumatic memories, asking, “What’s the point?” Perhaps you’ve said or thought this yourself. Well, here’s the answer. According to the dictionary, to dwell means “to fix attention on” and “think about for a long time.” When you fear dwelling on things, my guess is that you’re not thinking of the first definition but of the words “for a long time” in the second one. You’re afraid that touching on or stirring up painful emotions will suck you down into them and that you’ll get stuck and won’t be able to climb out. However, your fear (due to experience or false anticipation) must be overcome to grow emotionally and overcome disordered eating. There are two ways to dwell on pain, one healthy and one unhealthy. The goals of healthy dwelling are understanding and releasing of emotion; unhealthy dwelling has...