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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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Oh, Go Take a Walk

Learn to enjoy walking, not for weight loss but for brain growth and mood elevation.  “Think on Your Feet” by award-winning writer Martha W. Murphy (AARP Bulletin, 5/23, p. 20) lays out five ways walking can help your mind and body. “Walking may help you grow new brain cells.” Who wouldn’t want new brain cells, especially as you’re aging? Brain cell increase occurs because walking “likely helps facilitate the growth of new neurons.”“Walking may boost your creativity.” It “increases the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain, which can open gates to enhanced creativity.” This is true of other aerobic activities as well. I’m sold: When I started swimming each morning, I began hearing songs in my head (note: I got a D in high school music). The songs simply wouldn’t stop coming. Try noodling (not worrying) a problem when you walk, run or swim and see what happens. “Creativity...

How’s Your Appetite Track?

Eating intuitively means keeping track of your appetite just as you sense other bodily functions. If I were to ask you any time during the day or night “Are you sleepy?,” my guess is that you’d be able to answer me without thinking much about it. Ditto if I were to inquire whether you felt warm or cold, high or low energy. At least one would hope you’d be able to give me a response fairly easily. This is because our bodies are built to track these kinds of physiological functions. How else would we survive? We need to be exquisitely in tune with our body’s needs or we would perish. Our need for food is one of those necessities. The way I think of appetite is that we are consciously or unconsciously tracking it all the time. For example, if I asked you right now what your hunger level is...

Emotional Smothering Is a Type of Abuse

I blog a lot about abuse: how to recognize it and deal with it. Somehow I haven’t written much about one particular type of abuse and that’s called emotional smothering. It begins when parents stifle your wants by trying to make their desires yours and vice versa. They often don’t do this intentionally but, nevertheless, smothering literally takes your breath away. And along with your breath go your rights and power to make your own decisions and take pride in them or suffer the consequences. Children and adults in this situation may become so used to the blatant and subtle ways parents smother them that they fail to realize what they’ve given up until they have no voice left to govern their lives. When this occurs, they may act out in anger at others  or themselves because they feel robbed of making choices. Or they may become depressed that they’re defective...

Expand Your Emotional Repertoire

I can often predict how clients will react to something emotionally because I know their usual pattern. I’m not always right and wish many would have a wider range of responses for their own good. Remember, humans are programmed to react but not the way to react. Here are some possible responses to various situations.  A Massachusetts relative of mine was all set to go on vacation to Bermuda with her husband for two weeks, but a hurricane kicked up in the Atlantic and the cruise-line cancelled the trip. I sympathized with what I thought would be her disappointment, but she surprised me by saying brightly, “Oh, we’ll go another time. Now we’ll be home to enjoy the start of spring.” At a summer party I attended, raucously loud music was playing outside the building which reverberated through the apartment, nearly drowning out all conversation. It annoyed me so much, I...

Time to Let Your Feelings Out

A client and I had a fun session brainstorming types of communication used to express emotions to others. The discussion began when she mentioned complaining to someone and we began delving into the meanings of that word versus, say, unburdening to or sharing with others. If you think of yourself as a complainer rather than a venter, you’ll likely have different views about being one rather than the other.  Here are the verbs we came up with—and some additions from writing this blog: vent, complain, whine, gripe, unburden, share, get feedback from, reach out to, vomit out, seek solace, solicit advice, or have verbal diarrhea. Reread this list and pay attention to how you feel about doing each one. Refrain from being judgmental and simply observe your reactions. My guess is that these words might make you wince: complain, whine (note my different take on it), gripe, vomit out, and have...

How to Have Your Best Family Visits

It’s that time of year again, you know, the time of increased contact with relatives. That thought puts a smile on some folks’ faces. To others, it brings a frown or an eye roll. In truth, managing family visits (you to them or them to you), is all about expectations and accepting family members as they are and not who you want them to be.  The first step is to decide how long you want the visit to last and how much time you want to spend with family during the visit. If you have a terrific relationship with relatives, then the sky’s the limit time-wise. Maybe a month wouldn’t be long enough! At the other extreme, when you’re visiting out of obligation, a day may be too much time to spend with your highly dysfunctional tribe. In between are families in which you adore and can’t wait to see some...

Book Review – Polyvagal Practices

Consider the level of emotional safety you experience around people and in the world. Do you tend to feel edgy and reactive and use anger or anxiety to protect yourself? Or does reactivity cause you to withdraw and isolate to avoid wounding? If you use these coping strategies more often than you’d like and want to feel more in tune with yourself and in balance with the world, Polyvagal Practices: Anchoring the Self in Safety by Deb Dana, LCSW will help you reach your goals. Dana seeks to help you find your “way to the rhythm of regulation that brings you safety, connection, and joy.” She explains how, outside of our awareness, the autonomic nervous system controls bodily functions through three hierarchical response pathways: ventral, sympathetic and dorsal. “Each pathway brings its own set of thoughts, feelings, behaviors and bodily experiences.” At the top of the hierarchy is the ventral state...

Find Your Own Approach to Eating

Too many dysregulated eaters try to copy a particular style or approach to eating rather than develop one that’s evolves from their life experience and leads to embracing best practices for them. Their attitude is “tell me what to do and I’ll do it,” rather than “give me the information and I’ll make it mine in my own way.” I speak as a psychotherapist, author and recovered weight-obsessed dieter and world-class binge-eater, when I say there is no one right way to eat. There is only a best way that works for each of us.  My client Kara is an example of finding your way through the morass of information on what and how to eat. We’ve been working on healing her dysregulated eating for years and she’s read every book or podcast I’ve recommended and then some. She’s dieted and run marathons, been a gym rat and let her membership...

Why You Feel Worse than Other People Do

Many dysregulated eaters are very good at feeling bad. In an exhausting effort to avoid hurting people, they often make themselves miserable. I only wish they’d be as fearful of hurting themselves as they are of causing pain to others. Two client examples:  Cal decided to leave his job as board president of a local non-profit and was dreading telling his board of directors. He’d discussed his desire to leave (for healthy reasons) in many therapy sessions and the deadline of his two-year term was fast approaching. To say he agonized over writing his resignation letter is no exaggeration. He feared letting down the agency, whose mission he was passionate about, and that board members would be upset with him for moving on. This led him to procrastinate resigning and setting himself up for not giving as much notice as he could have. Then there’s Renata who couldn’t bring herself to...

Are You a Super-helper (Not Always a Good Thing)?

Many people who grew up to become co-dependent go overboard helping others to their own detriment. They’re all give and no take, which puts them in a position of relying on food for comfort rather than the support of others. The 4 Most Important Things You Need to Do to Recover From "Super-Helper Syndrome" provides some spot on advice for reversing this behavior and taking better care of yourself. “Super-helper syndrome” is a term coined by psychologists Jess Baker and Rod Vincent to describe people who have a compulsion to help others while failing to meet their own needs.” Sound familiar? Their goal in life is to please and help others which is how they garner feelings of self-esteem and self-worth. Sure, we want to feel good about doing unto others, but we also want to feel as good about doing unto ourselves. Baker and Vincent want to teach “super helpers”...