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. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

Getting Ready to Be a “Normal” Eater

Getting-Ready-to-Be-a-Normal-Eater
Many clients have dieted and binged for so long that they can’t believe they could really eat “normally.” I don’t care how long you’ve had dysregulated eating; you can learn to eat according to appetite. In order to do this, you need to be ready for all the journey entails. Readiness doesn’t come in one fell swoop but grows gradually over time. Why is readiness important? If you’re not at the point where you really want to eat intuitively, you won’t be able to sustain motivation for the process this entails. Too many clients approach intuitive eating as they would a diet: I’ll do this for a while, and I’ll lose weight. That kind of thinking is antithetical to becoming a “normal” eater. It won’t work. Intuitive eating is nothing like a weight-loss diet which you feel rah rah about and do until you shed the pounds you want. It is...
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Something Better Than Hope

Something-Better-Than-Hope-
One of my clients was aghast when I suggested she might want to stop relying on hope as much as she did. Her initial reaction was, “If I give up hope, how will I move forward? There’s nothing left without it. I could never give it up.” This is an unfortunate mindset, because, as she now realizes, “Hope can be deceiving.” Hope is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen” (Oxford Languages Dictionary), and therein lies the problem. We think of hope as making something happen, causing it, when all it does is act as a space holder until other things we do, think and feel deliver a specific outcome. Hope makes us feel good and is fine if we understand that, in itself, it does not deliver results. Hope also has a substantial downside. Think of all the times you’ve hoped that someone...
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Biases Beyond Weight

Biases-Beyond-Weight
I’m occasionally taken by surprise that in one breath clients complain about being stigmatized for their higher weight and in another show prejudice against a variety of human differences. They don’t see their biases based on skin color, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation, but complain about others being biased against their size.  Here's an example. One of my clients, whom I would describe as sweet and kind, went on an unexpected rant about “letting illegal aliens into this country.” Rather than get into a political debate on the subject of immigration, I was curious about her making negative judgments and lumping together all “illegal aliens” (the correct term is immigrants, not aliens, as they do not come from another planet, only another country!) and asked her if she knew any. She admitted she didn’t, but that she “didn’t like the looks of them,” at which point I asked if her...
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Put Attention on Your Intentions

Put-Attention-on-Your-Intentions
I think I know why some of you don’t succeed, including in overcoming your eating problems: your intentions and where you put your attention are not a matched set. Not even close. That is, your stated intentions are heading you in one direction while what you focus on is pulling you in another direction completely. For example, I have a client who wants to eat better, be healthy, and lose weight. Although he makes sporadic attempts to do all the above, where he puts his energy is in getting ahead at work. I suggest he do a weekend workshop on mindful eating, and he says he can’t take time away from some big work project. Then he tells me the following session that he spent most of the weekend eating in front of the TV and barely got his work project done late Sunday night. See what I mean? His intentions...
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Still Looking for What You Didn’t Get in Childhood?

Still-Looking-for-What-You-Didnt-Get-in-Childhood
I had a middle-aged client decades ago in Boston who grew up smack in the middle of seven siblings. She never could get a word in edgewise and was trying to make up for lost time by talking nonstop as an adult. When she didn’t have the floor, she took it and when she did, she kept it. I understood her intense need to be heard and listened to, but her behavior only pushed others away, leaving her in the same boat as she was in childhood: no one wanted to listen to her, and this made her feel invisible. Here's another example. I have a lovely client who can’t recall a time when she didn’t have suffocating, overwhelming anxiety. Her grandmother and aunts who also suffered from it because it ran rampant through her family, would tell her not to make a big deal of it and that she was...
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Talking about Weight Loss in Therapy

Talking-about-Weight-Loss-in-Therapy
Some of my most difficult moments as a therapist come from discussing weight with high-weight clients who continue to hold fast to yearning to shed pounds. It’s a touchy subject which I wrote about recently in the Gurze-Salucore newsletter in an article entitled “Navigating Weight-loss Discussions with Higher Weight Clients”:   “I confess: Although I’ve been an eating disorders therapist for 30-plus years, have written eight books on eating, weight and body image, posted more than 1,600 blogs, and am recovered from binge-eating disorder for half a lifetime, I still find it daunting to talk about weight-loss with higher weight clients. These discussions rarely seem to go well, no matter that I’ve had hundreds of them.  Here are two examples. When Leann, in her late fifties, called me for help managing her eating, she was in the midst of moving abroad where she’d also be deepening a serious romantic relationship. During...
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Are You a Goal-a-Holic?

Are-You-a-Goal-a-Holic
If you’re like some of my clients, you race from one goal to another without stopping and use checking off accomplishments as a way to fuel pride and boost self-esteem. The problem is that when throwing yourself headlong into the next task to reach your goals is the most important endeavor in life, experiencing down time becomes something deemed bad and wrong and to be avoided at all cost. Does this scenario sound sadly familiar? If so, you may be a Goal-a-holic, someone who gets their biggest buzz from keeping busy setting up goals and meeting them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to have and meet goals. Goal setting is an important life skill, but it’s only one half of the equation, the other half being knowing how to enjoy life and feel good about yourself when you’re not creating and pursuing goals. This other half of the equation is...
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Stop Following the Herd

Stop-Following-the-Herd
Maybe because I’m an only child and didn’t have siblings to influence me, I’ve found myself generally averse to the herd mentality. You know, when you feel a need to do or not do something because of what others are doing. I’m quite happy with this facet of my personality, as it led me to stopping dieting in my late twenties when it was all the rage with friends while putting me on the path to “normal” eating. For example, I’ve always been slow to take up the latest fashions and, when at last I do, they’re often long gone by. By the time I finally decided I did like bell bottom pants after all, they were out of style and tapered legs were in. By the time I got around to having my hair cut a la Sassoon, my friends were all growing their hair long again. I’m struck with...
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Really Free Up Your Time

Really-Free-Up-Your-Time
It’s ironic how so many dysregulated eaters rush around and complain about how much they have to do, but always make time for a binge. I hadn’t realized how ironic this phenomenon is until I was talking to a client who was wildly excited that giving up binge-eating had freed up her time to do activities she enjoyed. She said, “I can’t believe all the free time I have now that I don’t spend all those hours scouring my kitchen cabinets for something to eat—and then eating and beating myself up afterward.” I understand: I’m a recovered binge-eater. It’s true how our lives and minds get filled up with what we’ll eat, shopping for it, cooking it, spending hours gorging until we’re sick—not to mention the clean up and precious minutes post-binge raking ourselves over the coals for “being bad.” Did you ever try adding up the precious time you’ve wasted...
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Hurry Up and Wait

Hurry-Up-and-Wait
My mother had a saying, “hurry up and wait,” which I’m reminded of working with my dysregulated eating clients. I confess I looked the phrase up recently and chuckled at how true it is. Humans spend an inordinate amount of time pushing ourselves to move quickly to get something done, only to find that when it is, we’re still stuck waiting. The best example is rushing to get to the doctor’s office, only to find yourself sitting in the aptly named waiting room for a good long time before being escorted into their office. This phenomenon happens on the road to any kind of recovery: alcohol, drugs, food, etc. In the case of eating disorders, people place an undue amount of pressure on themselves to get where they want to go, which is, more often than not, to a number on the scale. Occasionally, it’s a clothing size, but generally clients...
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