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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]

Your Own Worst Enemy

Fat phobia is rampant, as we know, across this country and worldwide. Naturally, I’ve heard average- and low-weight people make negative comments about those of high weight. But, more often, it’s high-weight folks who hate fat the most. They’re not only hurting themselves but hurting other high-weight people as well. Here are some myths that fat phobia and weight stigma support, whether you’re projecting your feelings onto others or applying them to yourself.  High-weight people are undisciplined and have no self-control. The truth is that there are many accomplished people of high and highest weights—in business, the arts, politics and every day life who do their jobs well and care for their families. They are, in fact, highly disciplined in many or most areas of their lives. High-weight people don’t care about themselves. It’s true that some have all around poor self-care, but many don’t. They go to the doctor, try to...
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Beware of Projection

You can’t know enough about projection if you want to live your best life. It’s a nasty little defense mechanism that humans employ to make themselves feel good and others bad. I’m pretty sharp at spotting when a client is projecting onto me, and I try to use my expertise to take note when it happens in my personal life. If you make it your business to recognize projection, you’ll improve your relationships and self-esteem exponentially. If you feel bad about yourself much of the time—defective, unworthy, unlovable—there’s an excellent chance that you have many people in your life who project their emotional garbage onto you. Projection happens when people tell you that you’re X (close-minded, uncaring, stupid, etc.) when they are describing a trait they possess. You know the kind of person I mean: Someone who could pinch a penny til it screams while complaining about the lousy tip her...
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So What If Change Takes Effort

Lately it seems that more clients than ever are complaining about how hard it is to change. It’s likely that the stress of the pandemic is a contributor to life being more arduous and generating a larger chorus of frustrations. But there’s more to it than that. Thinking about this issue brings me back to when I was getting my Masters degree in Education. I had some minor problem and asked to see my professor about it. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it boiled down to my insisting that something was unfair. As if it were yesterday, rather than the late 1970s, I clearly remember her response as she looked at me in astonishment and asked, “Whatever made you think life was going to be fair?” Her comment was a game-changer for my life. Why indeed? A similar question could be asked about why many of us feel...
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What I Wish I Knew During My Eating Disorder

My days as a chronic dieter, emotional/binge/over-eater and person with bulimia were more than half a lifetime ago. At 73, that’s more than three decades gone by and it seems like it. The eating patterns I have now are chosen consciously and with an eye toward health and well-being. I’m both a “normal” eater and a nutritious eater.  Some background. A chubby child, I had to finish all the food on my plate as per my father’s edicts and snuck food whenever I could. I dieted and binged my way through adolescence and my 20s. After discovering purging, I did that for about 18 months. In my early 30s I discovered that I could, with effort, become a “normal” eater.  Here’s what I wish I’d known when I was in the throws of my food and body struggles.  No therapy or therapist or program would do the work for me. I...
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Choices Beyond Abuser or Abusee

I feel fortunate that I learned so much in social work school (thank you Simmons College in Boston) that I use now. One of the concepts is about abuse and it’s very simple. I hope it helps you see the relationship dynamics around abuse differently. The child and parent form a dyad which is the smallest social unit. When a parent abuses a child, the child makes sense of it in a certain way. And try to make sense of it we do, as humans are meaning-making creatures. We think that there are only two positions in life: abuser and abusee. Not a pleasant thought, but one that helps us understand the relationship between people.  The abused child then perceives they have two choices. They have no reason to believe there are any others. There are actually four choices, but we’ll come to them in a minute. The first choice is...
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On Rugs, Anxiety and Eating

One day I had two sessions in a row in which clients expressed fear that the “rug would be pulled out” from under them. One talked about how anxiety about things going wrong drove her straight to the cookie jar and the other shared that it made her go over and over things she’d done and planned to do to make sure things would work out. If you ever have constant fear that a rug will be whipped out from under you, read on. I also recommend that you read my blog Are You Often Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop. When either Mom or Dad is poorly attuned to their child’s needs, there may be loss of consistency, stability, security and predictability. Sometimes this is due to parents being narcissistic or ill-suited to having children. They tire easily with and become frustrated from having to meet the demands of...
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Are You (Unconsciously) Acting Out Childhood Conflicts in Adulthood?

We all, to greater or lesser extent, are trying to work through old conflicts in adulthood. That’s fine when we’re conscious of our issues and working to stay in the present and heal old wounds. That’s not so fine if we don’t realize that we’re playing out the same old tug of war that we engaged in growing up. Take this couple I treated. John and his husband Terrence argued constantly about doing household chores. John worked off a rigid schedule and was proud when the house sparkled. He missed out on the happy childhood he deserved after his father died when he was nine and he was put in charge of his two younger siblings. As an adult, even after his chores were done, he felt uncomfortable sitting down to relax without feeling downright guilty.  Terrence was used to having things done for him, raised by a mother who barely...
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Your Poor Self-care Hurts Others

Here’s a letter I wish I could have written back in July. Instead I turned it into a blog.  Dear Woman Behind Me at CVS Pharmacy: Yes, you, the 30-ish woman with the dark hair and black-framed glasses standing behind me on line at the prescription pick-up counter. Remember me, the white-haired woman speaking to the pharmacy assistant about how COVID-19 cases were falling in upstate New York while rising like crazy here in Florida. You seemed to think it was fine to pipe up and contradict me, butting in with, “It’s because of more testing that numbers are going up.” If you recall, I turned around to face your mask-less self and insisted, “No, not really” (the truth at the time). I left it at that because I live in a state where it’s legal to conceal carry a gun and didn’t want to start an altercation which would leave...
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Becoming Body-wise and Media Literate

When you look at images of women and men, what’s your response? Do you see them as more beautiful/buff/handsome/pretty/toned than you are and feel less than? Or are you media literate and know that most of them have been air-brushed into looking so perfect, and wonder what they really look like? If you’d like to learn how to recognize what the media does to images to make us feel badly about ourselves, read on.   In “Why teach media literacy to teen girls?” (About-Face, https://about-face.org/why-teach-media-literacy-to-teen-girls/?mc_cid=4a819dcb05&mc_eid=00a877d57d, 7/20, accessed 8/9/20), About Face Executive Director Jennifer Berger explains how we’ve gotten hoodwinked by the media and the damage it’s done to girls and women: “Sure, in the 1970s, airbrushed photographs made women’s skin poreless and ageless, setting an impossible beauty standard. But today, Photoshop not only banishes every “imperfection”, it also sculpts inches off celebrity thighs and waists – often without the women’s consent and against...
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The Truth about Eating Disorders Recovery

Do you want to know why you still have your food problems after years of struggling to end them? You might not understand why, but I do, all too well. The answer is actually quite simple. As I write in The Real Reasons You’re Not Becoming a “Normal” Eater, you are not consistently doing all you are advised to do to recover.  To your credit, many of you are in therapy, attend regularly, and are changing in many areas of your life. You’re thinking and acting differently to generate the changes. Nearly all clients make interpersonal changes more easily than food ones. For instance, maybe you’re getting along better with your mother/colleague/son/spouse because you’re letting more of their remarks slide when you used to become defensive or challenge them more often.  Many of you have underlying anxiety or depressive disorders. Some of you are trauma survivors. And most have suffered from...
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