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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]

Fears That Prevent "Normal" Eating

Fears That Prevent "Normal" Eating
If you live in terror of food cravings and weight gain, you won’t learn to become a “normal” eater. It’s simply not possible. Something has to give: the fear or the desire. This is a major conflict for people who ping pong between restrictive eating (restraint via self-control) and going hog wild with food. I often see this process played out in therapy. Here's what happens. A client comes in saying she (it’s usually but not always a she) is sick and tired of dieting and wants to learn how to eat “normally.” She provides her diet history and explains why and when she binges and how she is physically and mentally so done with this cycle. She recognizes that neither behavior serves her and comes to me to help her find the alternative, saner approach to eating. All is well and good so far. At some point, after talking at...
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Trash versus Treasure Self-talk

Trash versus Treasure Self-talk
My book on how self-talk heals our relationship with food and our bodies isn’t due out until 2021, but it’s never too soon to learn healthy self-talk. One way to think of it is whether it’s rational or irrational. Rational means it’s based on fact, evidence, reason and logic. Rational self-talk is sensible, settles you down and supports your goals. Irrational self-talk has no logical or reasonable basis. It’s like a bully. It seems to erupt out of nowhere, then tries to overwhelm you with its ferocious emotional intensity and persistence all the while undermining your goals and stomping on your reason.  To separate irrational from rational self-talk, think of them as trash or treasure. We take out the trash so that it’s gone from our lives. We don’t set it in the middle of the living room and worshipfully live our lives around it. When we treasure something, we hold...
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An Easy, Transformational Method to Connect to Your Body

An Easy, Transformational Method to Connect to Your Body
Off the top of your head, how connected are you to your body? I don’t mean to your appetite, but how synced you are with the pain and pleasure you feel in your entire corporeal self. Your disconnection is both a cause and result of dysregulated eating. The hopeful news is that, with practice, you can tap into sensing exactly how your body is feeling any time which will help you enormously in making wiser decisions about food. You do this by performing a body scan (“Oh, Hello There, Body” by Greater Good (11/26/19, Lion’s Roar, https://www.lionsroar.com/oh-hello-there-body/, accessed 2/1/20) in which “we systematically focus our attention on different parts of our body, from our feet to the muscles in our face.” The goal is to experience our body as is without doing anything to or for it and to find and relieve tension caused by stress.  You can do a scan...
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The Joys of Intuitive Eating

The Joys of Intuitive Eating
“Intuitive Eating: The anti-diet, or how pleasure from food is the answer, says its creators,” a CNN Health article, makes it sound as if intuitive eating (IE) is making a comeback, when it’s never gone away. Back in the 80s IE taught me how to eat intuitively after decades of dieting and binge-eating and the movement has only grown stronger nationally and internationally. (Sandee Lamotte, 1/31/20, accessed 1/31/20, https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/31/health/intuitive-eating-no-diet-wellness/index.html). Since then there have been hundreds of books written about appetite-attuned eating. Here’s some how-to advice straight from the mouths of its creators and the authors of Intuitive Eating: An Anti-Diet Revolutionary Approach, Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, both well respected registered dieticians. “The scientific mechanism behind intuitive eating is called ‘interoceptive awareness,’ or the ability to perceive physical sensations that arise within the body. Intuitive eating is really instinct, emotion and thought," Resch said. "It's the instinct, hunger, fullness. What we...
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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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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