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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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Pretzel Logic

Sometimes as a dysregulated eater you just have to have a good laugh at what goes on in your mind. Maybe listening closely also will give you a new perspective on your irrational thinking. Here’s some stinkin’ thinkin’ I hear from clients and students—and friends and family—which seems logical on first hearing, but should give you a chuckle when you realize how truly illogical it is. I hear binge-eaters insist that they had to eat the whole whatever (fill in the food item) because they didn’t want to keep it in the house. What you’re really saying is that you felt compelled to eat the food at that moment so that you wouldn’t eat it later. Now, sad to say, any disordered eater would totally understand that logic, right? But I doubt it would make much sense to a “normal” eater who might innocently ask, “What’s the difference if you eat...

Learning to Contain and Comfort Yourself

During a telephone therapy session, a client expressed frustration about what to do about his binges. He knew he needed to do something to stop them, but was at a loss regarding exactly what was needed. My response took him back to what we often require in childhood to thwart unwanted and wanton impulses: to be contained and comforted. We really do need both; either one is not quite enough. The goal of containing an impulse is to not let it move from thought or intention into out-in-the-real-world behavior. When driving, I might want to do something nasty to the driver of a car that has just cut me off, but I refrain. I contain or hold back the impulse because I know it is not in my best interest to convert my wish into action for good reasons. We learn containment in childhood when adults do it for us—they yank...

One Change

Going against the grain of trying to change too many things at once, how about doing things differently this year and picking one thing about yourself to work on. I can hear the groans already—only one?…but I have so many…one won’t make a difference… etc. The problem with making a number of changes at once is that it can spread your energy too thin. Moreover, overdoing often contributes to an all-or-nothing mentality. You know, you have to change everything, but if you can’t, you won’t change anything. This year pick one behavior to work on. Maybe not even an action, but a particular thought which prevents you from getting healthy around food—or getting healthy period. We only change when we do the new behavior (thinking is a behavior) more than the old one and when that happens often enough, we create new neurobiological pathways which causes us to act differently. Remember,...

Mirror, Mirror

A recent blurb in the newspaper has me agog. According to an online survey by Transformulas, a British beauty company, women look at themselves in the mirror every 30 minutes on average daily when they’re awake (Did they really need to add “the awake” part?) and men check themselves out every 27 minutes. My guess is that statistics in the US are about the same, but I fear they may be even more outrageous. The Transformulas survey says that when women are mirror-gazing, they’re reapplying makeup—11 times a day. Obviously this is not the case for men, so what is it that draws us repeatedly to our own image. I’m wondering, when we look in the looking glass or pass a reflective store window, are we looking at or for? Are we checking to see if there is something out of place that needs to be fixed—we’ve left a roller in...

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...