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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]

How Envy Hurts You


In these days when it’s hard to avoid knowing everyone else’s business, especially if you spend time on social media, it’s easy to fall into the trap of envy. The goal is not to avoid envy, which is a natural, human feeling, but to avoid immersing yourself in it and being swept away by yearning for something someone else has and hurting yourself in the process.  Envy comes in all shapes and sizes: desiring others’ appearance, success, talents, status, brains, or popularity. It’s no surprise that the envy I hear about most often in my practice is of people’s thinner bodies and smaller appetites. What I’ve observed is that the habit of being envious when you see something someone else has that you don’t does nothing to make anyone healthier or happier. In fact, the clients I serve who are most envious, are also the most unhappy. This point is underscored...

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From Busy to Bored to Binge-eating


If you go from bored or bustling to binge-eating, it’s time to understand and address the root of the problem and respond effectively. Boredom and busy-ness are normal emotional states that may be trying to tell you something, but sometimes they’re pure habit. The goal is to manage them.  I see us as having four emotional/physical energy states: 1) nothing to do, 2) some stuff to do, 3) lots to do, and 4) more than you want to do. Having nothing or something to do is just that—neither good nor bad, just a description of being.  Every situation is unique and, therefore, our environment dictates the general energy level required of demands and available options. If you’re a recently widowed person living alone in a new city, you might feel bored a lot. Or, as a single parent working full-time and raising three children, you may rarely have a spare minute. ...

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Stop Being a Victim of Fat Phobia


There is absolutely no doubt that fat phobia is alive and well and thriving in our culture. The question is whether it has to take root in your mind and make you miserable. Do you even know of anyone who’s of higher weight and pays no attention to fat phobia? My guess is that you don’t and that’s one of the reasons you fall prey to it. So, let me introduce you to Shannon Walton who finally got tired of being bullied about her weight. “Battling obesity—and telling bullies to ‘Kiss it!’” tells her story and shows how she took charge of her life and fought back. Says Walton who lives in Sheffield, England, “I’ve always been overweight, from a very, very young age.” At 14 she was 196 pounds and at 15 she was 210. Later, she discovered that she had both premature adrenarche which made her develop early and...

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Which Childhood Feelings Are You Haunted By?


It’s long past Halloween but many of us are haunted by childhood feelings. They may not visit us every day or even every week, but we may sense them lurking behind the scenes ready to jump out and unnerve us at any moment. Here are emotions I’ve found commonly distressing in my practice and from my years of living on the planet. Vulnerability/fear. If you grew up, say, in a military type of household, you might not have been able to show fear or vulnerability without being shamed or reprimanded. Yet, these are every day, normal emotions all humans have. Maybe Dad made fun of you when you got scared going out in a canoe for the first time or Mom yelled at you when you shared with your first-grade class that you didn’t like to be alone in the house. What you learned from the tiny sampling of your family...

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From an Unhealthy to a Healthy Relationship


Having a healthy relationship doesn’t mean that both people are poster children for perfect emotional health. It means that how you respond in the relationship is appropriate and functional. So, the good news is that you often can have a healthy relationship with someone who’s still in the process of getting it together—just like you. In my blog Stages of Relationship Health, I explore how to go from being abused in a relationship to having anger about your mistreatment to leaving the relationship altogether. What I’m blogging about here is a different take on that situation: how to go from being passive about being abused to becoming angry to learning how to detach.  So many of my clients who come from dysfunctional family backgrounds took the mistreatment for far too long because they were dependent on their parents. Although some children do run away from egregious abuse, most remain in the...

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How to React When People Give You Advice—Eating or Otherwise


It’s not always true that, as my client Penny said to me, “No one likes to be told what to do.” Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. It depends on several variables. What’s being said. People who are already highly sensitive to hearing comments about eating or weight, might be more touchy about being told about what to eat and not eat, than “normal” eaters. They often ignore advice givers because they know in their heads and hearts what’s better or worse for them to do around food.   Who’s saying it. If a beloved friend says she’s worried about your eating because she knows you have type 2 diabetes and she’s someone who’s always had your back and your interest at heart, you’ll likely react differently than if your doctor, whom you just met and who doesn’t even look you in the eye, makes the same comment.    How...

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Frequently Asked Questions


Many questions and topics come up repeatedly in therapy that you may want answers to, so here they are. Where possible, I’ve directed you to read more about them.  Am I a bad person because I judge and feel critical of others? Rather than thinking others are bad people, use critical thinking skills (based on cognition and rationality) along with your honest emotional reactions to determine someone’s worth and appeal by weighing their pros and cons. You’re supposed to use these skills to know who’s emotionally healthy and who isn’t.  How do I know if I’m normal?  That’s an easy question to answer: there is no normal for everyone for everything. What you’re really asking? Usually, when clients ask this question, they want to know if their thoughts or feelings are healthy/unhealthy or common/unusual. In my book, it’s more important to be healthy than common. Lots of people do awful things...

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What If People Don’t Like You?


Are you someone who believes that if people don’t like you there’s something wrong with you? Many dysregulated eaters who think this way interpret rejection as meaning they aren’t likeable or lovable. To curry favor, they therefore become people-pleasers. Emotionally healthy people have a less personal, more reality-based take on the issue.  The goal is not to never feel hurt if you’re not someone’s cup of tea, but to avoid taking every brush off as an assault on your personhood and proof of your unlikability. It’s okay to feel a ping of hurt or even an occasional sting of serious ouch when people aren’t interested in you. But if you believe you’re defective and unlovable just because someone doesn’t ask you on a second date, won’t go for coffee with you, or doesn’t invite you to their 20th anniversary party, you’re in big trouble.  Better to learn why rejection happens to...

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Body Shame Is In Your Head


Checking out after a medical appointment, I was trying to write a check on a (to me) high counter and remarked to the nurse that I wished I were taller. She said, “But you’re so tiny, so petite.” I replied to all 5 feet 1 inch of her—an attractive, slightly higher weight woman—"Well, you’re not exactly tall. There’s not much difference in our height.” Then came the kicker when she said, “Oh, no, but you’re thin. I wish I were thin like you.” Though I’ve had these conversations before, they still stun me and I never know what to say. There wasn’t much I could say with people around us and me being in a bit of a rush, so I said something like, “You look fine. Focus on your health, not your weight.” She looked at me like I was clueless about her situation, so I added, “I know about...

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Conflicted Thoughts on Whether to Eat or Not


If you’re someone who regularly eats without being hungry or past full or satisfied, you’ll want to read, “The goal conflict model: a theory of the hedonic regulation of eating behavior,” which nails why you engage in this behavior. The argument of its author Wolfgang Stroebe is simple: “reduced responsiveness to hunger and satiation cues is not due to a lack of ability to recognize such cues, but to a more powerful motive governing the food intake of people with a weight problem, namely eating enjoyment.” Of course, everyone who is higher weight does not have a “weight problem.” People have differing genetics, body structure and metabolisms. But the conflict Stroebe describes is exactly what I felt when I was an overeater: I wanted both to enjoy food and lose weight, which led me to doing neither very effectively. How can you enjoy food when you’ve been brainwashed to obsess and...

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