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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]

Moving from the Diet Mentality to Attuned Eating

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So many dysregulated eaters have dieted and obsessed about food for so long that it’s hard for them to imagine how they need to think, feel and act to have a healthy and sane relationship with food. Thanks to Judith Matz, LCSW (http://www.judithmatz.com) for laying out the path in this terrific chart which shows where you’ve been and where you’re going on the journey to become a “normal” eater. (“Body and Mind” by Alison Laurio, Social Work Advocates, Apr-May 2020, p. 24). DIET MENTALITY ATTUNED EATING External rules →→→→→→Internal cues Rigid→→→→→→→→→→Flexible Deprived →→→→→→→→Satisfied Guilt →→→→→→→→→→Pleasure Fear →→→→→→→→→→Trust Preoccupied→→→→→→→Empowered Weight loss →→→→→→→Nourishment Shame →→→→→→→→→Compassion Judgment→→→→→→→→Acceptance Oppressed  →→→→→→→Freedom In Control →→→→→→→→In charge Look over the chart and consider how much you want the qualities listed in the Attuned Eating column. How much do you wish to feel free, that you trust yourself, that you’re empowered and in charge? Are you willing to give...
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Do Your Tone and Body Language Match Your Words and Intent?

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Most of us have run into people who say they’re fine but their facial expression or other body language belies it. We sense that they’re actually unhappy or upset because it’s written all over their faces in spite of their protests to the contrary. My job is to help clients notice when they are out of sync with their emotions and their affect and help them be more congruent with what they feel and the emotion they’re showing. Especially if you grew up with family dysfunction that involved substance abuse, mental illness, or other kinds of emotional problems, you may wear a mask much of the time: you know how you feel, but you want to hide those emotions from others. Alternately, you may be fairly clueless about what you’re feeling, but express it through your tone and body language. To be authentic with yourself and others, it’s vital that your...
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Measure Progress by How and What You Eat

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No matter how hard I try to shift clients away from a weight focus, they often come back to it as a way to measure progress. Although I’ve blogged on other ways to assess forward movement (https://www.karenrkoenig.com/blog/measuring-progress-in-recovery) and (https://www.karenrkoenig.com/blog/ways-to-measure-progress-without-weighing-yourself), clients are so used to the ultimate culturally-approved standard, that they keep drifting back to it. The goal is to evaluate what and how you’re doing, from thoughts and urges for food when you’re not hungry to how compassionate you are with yourself when you overeat. Rather than write down or chart what you weigh or eat, instead, each day answer these questions about your eating and related issues. Urges: How often did I… feel the urge to eat when I wasn’t hungry? _____refrain from eating when I wasn’t hungry? _____eat when I wasn’t hungry? _____ Hunger: When I was hungry, how often did I . . . wait until I was...
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It Isn’t Real Recovery without Major Learning

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I read a novel peripherally involving AA and came across a passage which explains the importance of learning what is necessary in any kind of recovery. Here’s the excerpt talking about someone’s struggles with the Twelve-Step Program.  “I’m not sure she’d actually reached Step Nine. I don’t think she’d done all the steps leading up to it.” “Does it matter? Do you have to do them in order?” “You don’t have to do anything, but it sure helps. What would happen if you took first year university then skipped to the final year?” “You’d probably fail.” “Exactly.” You see where this is going, don’t you? Recovery just doesn’t happen. It evolves by learning one thing after another in order. Have you accepted this truth yet or are you still trying to claw your way to a healthy relationship with food without bothering to be emotionally healthier along the way? That’s what...
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How We Become Who We Become

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It will help your emotional and social development to recognize the stages you’ve gone through to get to be who you are emotionally today. More importantly, it will help you understand that you can, within obvious limits, pretty much be whoever you want to be now and in the future. The point is that you can change, so why continue to struggle and suffer. Why not invent the self and life you want? Stage 1: Your thoughts and actions are determined by your parents and other adults—by what they say and don’t say and do and don’t do      When we are children, our parents and other adults seed our minds and the seeds simply, naturally grow into something we accept as us. They believe that people aren’t to be trusted and we believe it too. They act as if their needs are more important than ours and we accept...
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Why You Get Stuck with the Wrong People

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Clients often ask why they have so many emotionally unhealthy people in their lives. “I’m like a magnet to jerks,” one client insisted. Another asked, “How do all the ass-wipes in the world find me? What’s wrong with me?” If you think this way, you can heave a sigh of relief: There’s nothing wrong with you. But there is definitely something wrong with the way you select people to be in your life.  Here's what’s going on. There are a multitude of unhappy, mentally unhealthy people in the world. Are there more of them than of their opposites? I doubt it, but sometimes it seems like that. My own estimation, with no scientific basis whatsoever, is that about one-quarter of people are absolutely terrific, about one-half are okay, and one-quarter are those we need to watch out for. Mind you, I’m not judging people in this quarter. They turned out how...
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To Sit Quietly in a Room Alone

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According to French philosopher Blaise Pascal, "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." “All” is an overstatement in my estimation, but I do believe that some of our problems stem from an inability to be comfortable by and with ourselves. This seems especially true of many dysregulated eaters. An only child, I spent a great deal of time alone and sitting quietly in an adult world. I never thought much about doing so until I began to hang out with “Joyce” in junior high school. She had to keep busy whenever we were together. If she wasn’t with me, she was out with other friends doing something. When we had sleepovers at her house, she kept the radio on in order to fall asleep. When we did homework together, she needed the TV on in the background, which made it hard for me...
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Just the Facts, Ma’am

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While reading an article on people’s reactions to the corona virus, I came upon two statements that struck me as right on target about emotions. They perfectly describe what happens when we don’t view life objectively and accurately but insist on seeing it only through the lens of our experience. Of course, we can’t help but view life through our experience. What gets in the way of mental health is when people are unable to acknowledge that their view (based on emotions) runs against the facts and is purely subjective and often patently untrue. David Ropeik, retired Harvard University instructor on risk communication, tells us that, “Emotions are the filters through which we see the facts.” And Paul Slovic, University of Oregon psychology professor, explains that, “‘Hot buttons . . . ramp up our perception of risk, and sometimes make those perceptions different from the evidence-based conclusions.”  Examples of this process...
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COVID and Beyond—It’s All about Self-Care

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I haven’t blogged much about these days of living with the COVID-19 virus, though I’ve written two pieces, one about eating during the pandemic and another on why people ignore or defy taking //medium.com/@kkoeniglicsw/give-me-liberty-or-give-me-death-599abaf9f0ba">virus precautions. I haven’t written more virus-related blogs because I thought I’d be straying off course and that my writings would be more beneficial to my audience of troubled eaters if I stayed with my expertise.  Then I realized that deciding what or how much to eat and social distancing while wearing a mask all fall under the same umbrella of self-care. It’s wonderful if you’re using pandemic time to focus on staying connected to appetite and minding your portion sizes. Be proud if you’ve put away the scale, are making more of an effort to eat healthier foods, and have gotten into an activity routine that feels right for you. But, honestly, if you’re not wearing a...
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Make Mealtime Family Time

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For those of you who are raising children, what messages are you giving them about mealtimes which include when, what, where and how much to eat? “7 tips to make every family meal count” by Cara Rosenbloom (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 12/2/19, E24) has some basic ideas for cohering and educating your family. I’m blogging on this subject because I fear that some dysregulated eaters don’t know the value of sharing structured meals and what they can teach children about our relationship with food.  Clients tell me that because they are stressed out, they feel overly taxed by food shopping and preparing. So they order take out, go out to dinner, or let their children grab whatever is in the refrigerator. All of the above is acceptable once in a while, but what does it teach your children if it’s a regular pattern? It says that food is incidental or even irrelevant to...
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