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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]

High Weight is NOT a Moral Failing

High Weight is NOT a Moral Failing
Sadly, because society is not giving up on stigmatizing higher weight people any time soon, if you are higher weight and want to live without feeling its oppressive impact, you’ll need to stop believing that being unable to lose weight or keep it off is a moral failing. There are people fighting to eradicate weight stigma, but change takes time. In the meantime, you can buy into the lie that there’s something dreadfully wrong and defective about you for being higher weight or you can stop internalizing this falsehood.  The results presented in “Living With Obesity: Expressions of Longing” or even reading the abstract describing this study (V. Ueland, PhD, RN, E. Dysvik, PhD, RN, B. Furnes, PhD, RN, 1/22/20, https://doi.org/10.1177/2377960819901193) are enlightening and provocative. They conclude that many higher weight individuals believe that their size is a burden to them and others. They’re “subjected to a cultural understanding that obesity...
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Can Optimism Help You Become a "Normal" Eater?

Can Optimism Help You Become a "Normal" Eater?
I’ve long written about how psychological traits—nuanced thinking, curiosity rather than judgment, persistence, patience, self-compassion and self-approval—affect eating. It turns out that optimism also can help improve your relationship with food.  “Dispositional optimism is defined as the general expectation that good things, rather than bad things, will happen in the future . . . It is a psychological trait that has been associated with positive health outcomes . . .” (“Optimism is associated with diet quality, food group consumption and snacking behavior in a general population,” W. Ait-hadad, M. Bénard, R. Shankland, E. Kesse-Guyot, M. Robert, M. Touvier, S. Hercberg, C. Buscail & S. Péneau, Nutrition Journal vol. 19, Article #: 6, 2020) This study concluded that “optimism was associated with better overall quality and less snacking. It was also associated with consumption of healthy food groups as well as unhealthy food groups typically consumed in social eating occasions. These findings suggest that optimism...
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No Good or Bad People

No Good or Bad People
Even while writing the title of this blog, I thought to myself, “Really, Karen, there are no bad people?” I could feel the pull of wanting to make that damning appraisal: He’s bad or she’s just no good. But, truth is, that approach is not a very effective, sophisticated or enlightened way of thinking about the world or ourselves. We are primitive beasts at heart, tribal and territorial: People are either friend or foe and to survive we’d better know the difference. Humans developed this approach when life was rife with danger. Sure, now, occasionally you hear footsteps behind you late on a dark night and feel frightened. But generally we don’t need to make snap judgments about whether someone will make us feel safe or sorry. Our lives are more nuanced. We learn this all-nothing way of assessing others in childhood. If our parents saw themselves as good or bad,...
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What Happens When You Have Too Much Pleasure?

What Happens When You Have Too Much Pleasure?
What kinds of pleasure do you seek? How do you know when you’ve had enough pleasure? What happens when you have too much pleasure? Pleasure is different for different people. Because you’re reading this blog, I’ll assume that food is pleasure to you. But I bet you know people who find food low on their list of delights. Instead they relish swimming laps, reading a novel, watching the NCAA finals, planting flowers or touring Paris. Whatever your choice, you likely anticipate doing it and get a buzz of dopamine thinking about it. Then while you’re engaged in the pleasurable experience, you’re anywhere from happy to ecstatic. And either later that day or sometime in the future, you look back on your enjoyment and smile and smile.  Does the above happen to you when you’re eating mindlessly or overeating? Perhaps in the first few moments pleasure soars but, as quickly, it wanes....
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Automaticity

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If you’re looking for answers to how to develop eating consistency, Brooke Mathewes and Scott Miller have some great answers. (“Meet You in McGinnis Meadows” (Psychotherapy Networker, Jan-Feb 2020, pp. 46-57) Miller describes what people are looking for as automaticity, or “…doing without having to think about everything we’re doing. Whatever we’re engaged in becomes smoother and with that, our comfort, confidence, and efficiency grows.” It’s performing actions automatically, naturally. Based on their experience training people in attunement, here’s their assessment of who succeeds: “What we can say for sure is that desire explains nothing. Everyone wants to improve their attunement, responsiveness, and outcomes.” I do think that desire is important—The more wholeheartedly and less ambivalently one wants something, the better they will do in achieving it—but I totally agree that simply wanting something, even really badly, won’t get you anywhere unless you follow Mathewes’ and Miller’s assessment of the “qualities...
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The (Paradoxical) Attraction to People Who Are Controlling

Attraction-to-Controlling-People
Ever wonder why you or people you know choose controlling, demanding, full of themselves bullies, particularly for mates? The answer is more complicated and paradoxical than you might think. The people who make these choices generally grew up with a parent or parents who dominated their lives. The parent had to always be in charge, brooked no arguments, was critical, and dominated the relationship. One might think that children who endured this behavior would have had enough of it growing up and be turned off and shy away from controlling intimates in adulthood. Instead, they often seem drawn to them. This attraction goes beyond the behavior simply being familiar or clients disbelieving they deserve better, beyond being used to people treating them poorly and expecting this will always happen because there’s something defective about them.  Another reason is that being cared for by domineering people, particularly coupling up with them, makes...
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Don’t Call It Exercise

Don’t Call It Exercise
Many people balk at what they call exercise. I was recently talking with a client who felt she “should” exercise but mentioned that she was excited about a new line-dancing class that was starting in her community. That same week I had a conversation with a friend who, due to being a child of higher weight who was pushed to be fit to slim down, dislikes the concept of aiming for fitness rather than health. Many people seem to have feelings about words that have to do with moving our bodies, so it’s worth taking a look at what you’re telling yourself to do and how you’re feeling about it. The concept of “exercise” can be a turn off to people, especially if they’ve never been particularly active yet have felt pressured by intimates or society to be so. Exercise has both the denotation and connotation of being active to attain...
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Committing to the 100% Rule

Committing to the 100% Rule
Both Jack Canfield, author and motivational speaker, and life coach Susie Moore, (https://www.jackcanfield.com/blog/take-100-responsibility-for-your-life-starting-today/) (https://susie-moore.com/writer/best-advice-have-ever-received/) write about “The 100% Rule” to achieve success. Talking with clients about this “rule,” important questions arise about what’s enough effort to put in to reach goals. So, some clarifications on it.   Here's what Canfield writes: “Take no less than 100% responsibility. Successful people take full responsibility for the thoughts they think, the images they visualize, and the actions they take. They don’t waste their time and energy blaming and complaining. They evaluate their experiences and decide if they need to change them or not. They face the uncomfortable and take risks in order to create the life they want to live.”  Canfield is talking specifically about taking responsibility. He’s not saying that you can’t ever make mistakes or fail or that you need to be right 100% of the time. This is the error in thinking...
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Eating and Mental Health Disorders

Eating and Mental Health Disorders
Certainly not all, but many people with dysregulated eating suffer with underlying Depressive and Anxiety Disorders. Even if they don’t have full-blown disorders, they experience sub-clinical distress that is enough to contribute to eating problems. It’s not uncommon for me to hear about panic attacks, excessive worrying, isolation due to social angst, low energy, apathy toward beneficial activities, low self-esteem, a shame-based mindset, and over-focusing on controlling life.  What is of interest here is how clients are much more likely to be aware of and wish to talk about their eating problems than the emotional distress which drives them. I am not saying that depressive or anxiety disorders (or any other mental health problems) cause dysregulated eating. All three are biopsychosocial conditions concurrent with eating disorders. But focusing solely on eating better, without attending to underlying issues of anxiety and depression, will derail even the best therapeutic efforts. Here’s why this...
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Why Updating the Meaning of Old Events is Crucial to Mental Health

Why Updating the Meaning of Old Events is Crucial to Mental Health
Until you make correct meanings of old, distressing events, you’ll be stuck in a mental time warp and at risk for emotional eating because you won’t feel in control when you’re triggered by them. Triggers are no more than old perceptions that something is wrong. Nothing need actually be wrong, but we think it is. Here are two examples. You were the middle child among five siblings. Your older brothers were close in age  and hung around together, your younger sisters were bubbly extroverts, and you were and remain an introvert. Your siblings teased you (though lovingly) about your shyness and mostly left you alone, and you grew up feeling invisible as if you weren’t interesting or important. When you socialize now, you view every rebuff as proof that people don’t want to talk to you or find you likable. You mostly do things alone but yearn for friends.  You could...
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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.  Privacy Policy