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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]

Stop Letting Weight Stigma Hold You Back

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We’re all used to seeing successful people, mostly women, paired with low or average weights. This is what the media shows us, what society promotes as reality, and what we come to believe. But watching a documentary, Surge, on aspiring Democratic legislators, it dawned on me that some of these women were role models not only as females but as women who would be called “higher weight” in this culture and weren’t stuck sitting around telling themselves they couldn’t do this or that because of it. Actually, I’d had this thought when I first learned of Stacey Abrams, former member of the Georgia House of Representatives and candidate for Governor of Georgia. The fact that we notice other people’s weights at all in this country—never mind judge them for it—both drives me crazy and saddens me. But then I considered what it took for her as a Black woman in the...
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The Difference Between Manifest and Latent Problems

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Problem-solving is hard enough when you know exactly what you’re looking to fix. It’s impossible when you’re trying to fix things that you’re not able to. For example, my husband and I were trying to figure out what was wrong with an old TV on which the picture kept flickering on and off. We failed at every way we tried to stabilize it. Then a friend suggested it might be our cable connection and Comcast came to the rescue.  This shows the difference between a manifest and a latent problem. Manifest problems are what’s visible to us and what seems evident. Latent ones are generally hidden and underlie what we think of as obvious. In this case, what we thought was the apparent problem—the TV—was, in fact, an incorrect diagnosis. The underlying problem was the cable connection. Who knew? The point is that no matter how much we fussed with the...
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Don’t Believe Everything You Think

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I love this quote by author Robert Fulghum: “Don’t believe everything you think.” So succinct, so direct, so true. Whether you take this statement as truth or not will make all the difference in how well or poorly you live your life, so take a moment to consider on which side of the divide you stand.  If you don’t believe it, well, then you’re stuck with your false thoughts til you die and that’s that. This means you’ll be at their mercy to make you miserable and do things that aren’t remotely in your best interest. Sadly, you will think you’re a victim when you’re actually choosing to not develop and use the powers which will transform your life. If you do believe that you can manage your thoughts, great. That brings us to not believing everything you think. If we don’t need to believe every thought that wanders across our...
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What’s Missing From Your Life?

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If you’re drawn to food when you’re not hungry, something may be missing in your life. Or maybe more than some thing, but several somethings. You might be lacking: People Many dysregulated eaters are lonely and don’t realize it. They tell me, “I’m private and like to keep things to myself,” “I don’t want to be a burden,” or “I don’t trust people because I’ve been stabbed in the back too many times.” They believe that they should bear all of life’s hardships themselves and that they’re weak if they reach out for help. They engage in activities with people, but fear sharing authentic feelings. Some prefer the role of listening to others’ problems to opening up themselves. Some have lots of “friends” who are really only acquaintances and others don’t have even that. They yearn for intimacy but, fear it as well, and so remain disconnected, alone and lonely.  Purpose...
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What Do You Want More Than Food This Year?

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I hope you understand by now that food is not what you really want whenever you’re not hungry and grab something from the fridge or swing by the fast-food drive-thru window. Food only meets your needs when you’re hungry. Whatever else you want is something important to you, essential for your well-being and living your best life, and foundational to your happiness.  Make this the year that you finally find out what’s driving your food obsession, what’s underneath your need to clean your plate, what’s causing your secret and sneak eating—whatever you’d be doing if you weren’t focusing on food and weight every minute of your life. The question is not only what you really want, but what you want more than food. What will satisfy you more than any sweet or treat ever could? Stop reading for a minute and answer this question.  Here’s another: What are you afraid to...
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Do You Suffer from Ostrich Syndrome?

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It’s easy to think we know a good deal about problems because we have so many of them, but it’s common to see things as problems that aren’t and ignore things that are. “Admitting you have a problem, and the ostrich syndrome” by Dennis Zink (Sarasota Herald Tribune, 7/20/20, D8) helps us true valid problems and find solutions. Zink lays out five types of problems: those you 1) know about and are trying to improve, 2) are aware of and ignore, 3) don’t realize exist, 4) want to solve but lack resources or the ability to do so, 5) want to solve but aren’t solvable. He says that type #1 problems are the most common, for example, recognizing that you overeat and paying attention to eating more mindfully. He suggests that if you know you have a problem, say, drinking too much alcohol, and don’t put attention on it, “you may...
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The Difference Between Force and Power

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One of my favorite mystery writers, the Canadian author Louise Penny, brilliantly captures why some people fail and others succeed by differentiating between characters who merely exert force against and those who harness power from within. In A Great Reckoning, one character says of another, “He was more powerful than anyone she’d ever met because he wasn’t at the mercy of the elements.”  In order to avoid being at their mercy, one must have a firm moral core, a rooted center that is strong, resourceful and resilient. Power draws from deep within by formulating intention and sticking with it, strategizing about your best shot, and not self-indulgently reacting to people or situations, not falling for cheap tricks or grabbing onto quick fixes.  Then there’s force. I bet that each of you has tried to force something open (a bottle, a drawer, a key in a lock). Maybe you’ve been lucky and...
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The Problem with Wishful Thinking

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Here’s one more reason to become strong and rational of mind: “When we indulge in wishful thinking, we make ourselves vulnerable to exploitation” (Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition by Patricia S. Churchland, p. 181). By wishful thinking, I don’t mean enjoying a fleeting yearning during a nor’easter to live in the Bahamas or fantasizing about having a fling with George Clooney or Beyoncé. There’s little psychic energy invested in either example because you aren’t planning on moving any time soon and recognize that celebrities are a bit out of your league. I’m talking about persisting in obsessing about something being one way when every fiber of your being (and everyone you know) is insisting that it’s the other way. Wishful thinking can hijack reason and lead you to believe that somehow, some way, you can live in the alternate universe of your making. It has no substance, no factual backing;...
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Beware of These Traits in People

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Whether we like it or not, we all have what’s called a dark side, when we’re not putting our best foot forward and resort to irrationality and immaturity. But for some people this side is their only side. Their personality is composed of mostly unhealthy traits. “The Dark Core of Personality” highlights ones to watch out for and steer clear of in people. A team from Germany and Denmark calls these traits the General Dark Factor of Personality or D-factor. Morten Moshagen, professor at ULM University, describes it as “the basic tendency to maximize one's own utility at the expense of others, accompanied by beliefs that serve as justifications for one's malevolent behaviors.” These people are anywhere from selfish to narcissistic to psychopathic. The nine factors that compose the D-factor are: “Egoism. The excessive concern with one's own pleasure or advantage at the expense of community well-being.Machiavellianism. Manipulativeness, callous affect and...
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When You Need More Than Therapy

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Although I value psychotherapy tremendously, both personally and professionally, sometimes it’s not enough to heal clients from eating disorders. Therapy is certainly a “cornerstone” or “lifeline” for building a better life, but by itself may not produce the successes clients seek and deserve. Here are some adjunctive activities that are enormously helpful for a true and full recovery from eating and body image disorders. Group Therapy “involves one or more [psychotherapists] who lead a group of roughly five to 15 patients. Typically, groups meet for an hour or two each week. Some people attend individual therapy in addition to groups, while others participate in groups only. Many groups are designed to target a specific problem, such as depression, obesity, panic disorder, social anxiety, chronic pain or substance abuse. Other groups focus more generally on improving social skills, helping people deal with a range of issues such as anger, shyness, loneliness and...
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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