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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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How to Stand Your Ground Around Food with Other People

Do you know people who seem totally comfortable in their own skin around food? They eat whatever they want whenever they want in whatever quantity they feel like. If people comment on their feeding habits, you can tell they couldn’t care less. My guess is that these folks are this “self-focused” in many (if not all) areas of their lives. Let’s talk about how they tune out what others think and tune into themselves. Before going down this path, however, I need to point out that never caring what people think is not a healthy trait. Humans evolved to live in harmony with others and take their opinions and feelings seriously. We’re designed to live in community, which means not always following our own needs and wants.  That said, we’re also individuals meant to think for ourselves, especially when making decisions about how to feed ourselves. Just because your friends are...

Were You Emotionally Abused as a Child?

Many people are surprised when they learn they were emotionally abused as children. Maybe they kind of knew it but didn’t want to believe it or maybe they truly had no idea that what was done to them is considered maltreatment. It’s important to recognize if you were emotionally abused growing up because that understanding will help you resolve your current emotional issues, not to mention your eating problems. An article on how adults shouting can be harmful to children’s development really hit home for me. My parents frequently argued and it wasn’t so much their loudness that got to me but the upset behind their disagreements. It felt like they were shouting even when they weren’t because I could feel the anger gushing out of them. Raised voices are disconcerting and make children feel frightened. Even today, I feel myself immediately emotionally dysregulate when people are arguing loudly around me. ...

Eat-iosyncracies

Struggling with food, we seek ideas from others on what and how to eat. On the merry-go-round of eating disorders, every diet is the brass ring, every person who seems to eat “right” is a model to imitate—both of which are exactly the wrong approaches. To have a positive relationship with food, instead look inward at your “eat-iosyncracies.”  My client Pru knew restrictive eating regimes weren’t the answer yet didn’t trust herself with food after decades of overeating and weight gain. To point her toward the path of “normal” eating, I shared some anecdotes about my evolution to enjoying a healthy relationship with food and my body along with my idiosyncratic ways of eating.  When I was first reading about appetite-driven eating, I took the concept of figuring out what I wanted to eat very seriously. One night in Boston, I threw on my down parka over my pj’s and headed...

What You Need to Know About Friends and Friendship

What do friends have to do with eating? Well, friends help you turn to people, not food, when you want to celebrate or have fun, pour your heart out, or share your deepest confidences. They provide unconditional love and support. Friendships are essential to first-rate mental health—assuming the friends you pick are mentally healthy themselves and add to, rather than detract from, living your best life.  According to How Many Friends Do Americans Have?, social connections not only benefit your mental health, but can “change your cardiovascular system, your immune system, how you sleep, your cognitive health. . . It's about this mix. It's about connecting with people who are close to you, who are maybe less close to you, who connect you with other people, who provide different kinds of support. Essentially, the idea is that the more diverse your social portfolio, the happier you are and the higher your...

When People Lean Away from You

It happens to all of us: a relationship is merrily rolling along and suddenly we’re ghosted, someone doesn’t return our calls or texts, or they’re unavailable for lunch, dinner, a walk, or a drink. When you first realize there’s a shift in the relationship, it’s natural to think you might have done something to offend someone, so you wrack your brain for having failed them in some way or a remark you may have made that came off wrong.  If you think you’re responsible for a relational breach or can’t pinpoint a specific instance but wonder if you hurt someone without knowing it, speak up. Say, “I notice you’re not returning my texts. Is there something I did to hurt you?” or “Did I do something wrong that you don’t want to take our Saturday morning walks any more?” Warning: do not sit and stew. Instead, initiate discussion if you feel...

You Don’t Have to Live in Shame

I often write about shame because it’s such a misunderstood, potentially debilitating emotion. Recently, I took a webinar on shame resilience through the Relational Life Foundation, an outstanding presentation about both personal and cultural shame.  What increases shame’s insidiousness is well framed by therapist and author Terry Real as a view of the world in which people are either one up or one down from each other. From this perspective, people lack the same innate worth and are valued only by societally agreed upon standards of beauty, achievement, courage, self-discipline, talent, wealth, etc. This view is so ingrained in us by our families, educational systems, and the media (especially social media nowadays), that we grow up thinking it is the only (and undeniably correct) way to measure ourselves and others. This invalid one-up/one-down construct is both rooted in and results in shame. Clients routinely come to therapy overly focused on their...

Not Everyone Is as Highly Sensitive as You Are

We all want to be sensitive to other people. Sensitivity greases the wheels of relationships as you empathize with what others are feeling because you’ve felt similarly yourself. Ditto compassion which makes you hurt for people’s suffering. Where some dysregulated eaters get into trouble, however, is when they assume everyone is as sensitive as they are. There is no universal sensitivity standard. Instead, it runs the gamut from highly sensitive to highly insensitive with mentally healthy in the middle. My client Coz, a musician, assumed that everyone got hurt as easily as he did, which put him at a disadvantage in relationships. He couldn’t throw a party without inviting everyone he’d ever met, even briefly, in fear of hurting someone’s feelings, though many invitees were surprised to receive an invitation and told him so. Raised in a family where abuse and neglect were rampant, he was easily wounded and projected this...

See Your Family with an Adult Mindset

The most common topic raised by clients in sessions after eating, weight and body image, is the insulting and outrageous behaviors of their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandmothers, and grandfathers. I’ve blogged a lot about unhealthy, dysfunctional family connections and want to make sure I’m not soft pedaling the damage they can do to you as an adult if you let them.  The truth: If you want to be emotionally healthy, you cannot let family members emotionally abuse you. If they’re only mildly mentally unhealthy or only slightly annoying, you can turn a deaf ear and ignore their bad behavior. They talk and you hear blah, blah blah because you have no interest in what they’re saying, especially if they’re complaining or blaming you unless there’s a legitimate reason for it. If they’re insulting, humiliating, controlling, demanding, demeaning, invalidating, mean, or refuse to listen to you—or engage in...

Book Review: ADHD for Smart Ass Women

(originally written for and posted on NYJB) Whether you have ADHD or are close to someone who has it, are female or male, young or old, this book will brighten your outlook on it. Rather than focus solely on how to remedy its disadvantages, certified ADHD coach, attorney, and podcast host, Tracy Otsuka—who carries the diagnosis herself—offers an upbeat view of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and shows how understanding its brain-based causes and managing them effectively will set and keep you on the road to success.   Otsuka’s goal is to make this book for women with ADHD “fun and easy so that you feel good reading about it—and keep reading it.” Encouraging curiosity rather than judgment about what she views as this spectrum condition, she advises that those with it find their own unique ways of managing it rather than copying what works for others. She writes from the stance...

Movie Review: The Whale

The Whale is one powerful movie, yet I’m unsure whether to recommend it to people with eating disorders and weight concerns. As I’ve avoided reading any reviews about it, this blog is purely my reactions to a film about Charlie, (spoiler alert!) a man who literally eats himself to death, masterfully played by Brendan Fraser. If this film was disturbing to me, an ED therapist who’s fully recovered from decades of emotional and binge-eating, I wonder what it will be like for people in the throes of runaway eating. I worry it will be so upsetting they’ll head right for the cookie jar or feel revulsion for Charlie, or intense shame toward themselves for their eating or their size. My wish is that they’d feel so filled with compassion for him that they’d begin to soften and feel compassion for themselves. The film is about an online writing teacher carrying such...