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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. 

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Words to Measure Progress


The words you use to describe your progress are key, so you’ll want to know which ones will move you forward and which will keep you stuck. Here are ways to think and talk about how well you’re doing. I’m guessing they might be quite different than the thoughts and self-talk you’re using now. Small steps. Describe progress as modest changes rather than looking for success in one fell swoop. The discussion of how to phrase progress came up with a client who said that she’s not doing any big things differently but is making small changes which are adding up. She’s going to the gym when she can, pacing her work to be less stressful, encouraging her children to be more active, not keeping juice easily accessible to them, and giving them more responsibility for thinking about consequences and taking care of themselves. Recognize success. I’ve written how the word...

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So What If It’s the Truth


I sometimes know what clients will say before the words are out of their mouths. This happened with my client Antoinette. After doing well in many ways, she succumbed to an urge to binge which led to a “medical” diet, weight loss, and rebound eating. After discussing what she’d learned, she lamented, “But, I’m fat again. It’s the truth.” The phrase, “but it’s the truth” is the one I want to call your attention to as I did to her. I believed her. It was the truth: she had regained a portion of the weight she’d lost and now her clothes were tight again. I couldn’t argue with her, but—here’s the point—since when does something being true mean we need to dwell on and obsess about it? I reminded her it also was no lie that there’s a horrible war going on in Ukraine; poverty, guns and COVID continue to kill...

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Why It’s Okay to Waste Food


Teaching Clients Why It’s Okay to “Waste” Food (reprinted from Gürze-Salucore Eating Disorders newsletter, July 29, 2023) A client and I had an interesting chat about wasting food. She was raised on a shoestring budget, with her grandmother insisting that everyone finish the food on their plate. I understood: My father would sit with me and read the New York World-Telegram until every morsel on my plate was in my stomach. He acted as if unfinished food was reason enough for the major crimes unit to haul me away. Though he was raised during the Depression when money was tight, by the time I came along he’d become a successful Manhattan podiatrist. I understand how old habits die hard, if at all. Now, I go out of my way to explain to dysregulated eaters that what we came to believe as children when we were told not to waste food was...

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Thoughts About Food That Make No Sense


Did you ever stop and analyze what drives your dysfunctional eating? Specifically, whether your thoughts about food are rational? I bet not. Irrational thinking is the major cause of dysregulated eating. Here’s one common example. My client Jonah described how he always wanted to eat or buy two of everything. We hadn’t talked about this issue before and he explained that, for example, getting two hamburgers for a bit more than the price of one felt so right. For example, he thought the idea of paying $6 for two burgers when he’d have to pay $4 for one was terrific.  I told him that would work if he were buying them in a store and was planning to have two meals for the six bucks. He said, no, he ate whatever he bought at once, whether he was hungry for the second one or not and was tickled pink knowing how...

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Better to Be Concerned Than to Worry


Because I believe that self-talk determines our mood and actions, a while ago I started replacing the word “worry” with “concern.” So, instead of thinking, “I’m anxious we may need a new roof” (which we do), I’ve turned it into, “I am concerned we may need a new roof” or even “I have a concern we may need a new roof” which brings more detachment from my thoughts because it’s something I “have,” not something I “am.” Concern shows that something is important to you and you want to put attention on it. It matters enough to think about; it’s on your mind. It’s on one end of a continuum whereas, “worry” or “anxiety” is on the other. It’s a mental note of something to consider. Worry ratchets up concern to a higher level. It’s concern on steroids. Whereas concern shows fleeting and mild attachment to a thought, worry makes it...

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When and When Not to Care What People Think


A common discussion I have with clients concerns their worries about what people will think of them. It’s a general attitude they carry around, rather than picking and choosing to care about what certain people think about specific certain things. While caring too much can get folks into trouble, you also don’t want to slide over to the other extreme and not care what anyone thinks about you. The goal is to figure out who’s important and why. We care what people think of us because it’s hard-wired into us. If people don’t think well of us when we are young and we can’t fend for ourselves, we might die. Ditto when we’re old or sick. We need people to think well of us if we’re to survive and thrive. So, when we hear people say, “I don’t care what anyone thinks,” assuming they really mean anyone, there’s something gravely wrong....

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Why We Lie to Ourselves


All of us lie to ourselves at one time or another, some of us more than others. Here’s one example you’ll recognize instantly: You’re stuffed to the gills but there’s still a slice of pizza left, so you snarf it down, thinking, “I’ll skip dinner tonight or start a diet tomorrow.” The truthful thought would be, “I’ll feel awful if I eat this slice of pizza and I’ll probably eat a big dinner tonight and eat the same way tomorrow.” This type of lie has a kind of magic to it. It flies against our knowing better, our experience and what we understand about reality. It’s different than the lie you tell your boss that your project is almost done when you’ve barely started it or the one you tell your sister when she asks if you like her expensive new hair cut which she’s wildly excited about but you think...

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Mistakes Help You Win, Not Lose


I recently read a great quote which had no attribution, “I’d rather make mistakes than do nothing, I’d rather mess up than miss out completely.” How true, how true. It seems that people are either on one side of this divide or the other: willing to mess up in order to win or succeed or, at the other extreme, living in fear of erring and surrendering a chance to reach their goals. Sad, huh? Whether we’re talking missteps or major failures, what’s the secret the person quoted above knows that people who fear messing up don’t? It’s really no secret at all, just an entirely different mindset than believing you must do everything right that causes you to live in terror of doing things wrong. The idea is to accept that missteps are an essential part of life that we can’t escape and not be ashamed when you do something that...

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Defending Yourself Is Not the Same as Being Abusive


I could swear I’ve blogged about victims of abuse thinking that defending themselves against mistreatment constitutes abuse. So here are my thoughts, perhaps again. My client Judy’s wife, Dee, blows up at the least little thing. She has a whole litany of criticisms about Judy and demands she listen patiently to every last one of them. If Judy tries to leave in the midst of Dee’s tirade, she’s accused of being self-absorbed and ignoring Dee’s needs. Finally, one night when Dee started screaming at Judy the minute she came home from work, Judy yelled back, “Shut the f*** up.”  In our next session, though, rather than be proud of speaking up, Judy felt awful, insisting, “I’m just like Dee. I can’t believe I cursed her out. Shame on me.” A generally soft-spoken person, it’s hard to even imagine Judy cursing, so she clearly had been pushed to the brink. Her retort...

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What’s the Difference Between a Friend and a Therapist?


Some people say they don’t need a therapist because they have friends, while others rely heavily on family alone. Relatives may be helpful, but we can’t rely on them to support what’s best for us because they’re often invested in themselves, in us as is, and lack distance and perspective to advise what’s in our best interest.  That’s what a therapist is for. I thought about the friend/therapist divide one day talking with an old friend. The friend in me wanted to be empathic, while the therapist in me knew that the healthiest response to what she presented as a problem was to challenge the slanted picture she was painting. Unfortunately, the therapist in me was first out of the gate until I reined her back in and, instead, switched hats (apologies for mixed metaphors) and simply offered compassion for what she was feeling. This is exactly why therapists can do...

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