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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. 

More Benefits From Meditation

I confess that it took me a while to see the value of meditation. When it was first touted as a stress reducer, there weren’t a whole lot of studies to back it up. But now, the more I read about it, the bigger fan I’m becoming—especially since so many anxious clients ask me, “Can we really change our thinking? Is it truly possible to change our brains?” Science tells us that the answers to these questions are yes and yes.   According to “Meditate on this: a mindfulness practice promotes better health” (Healthy Years, vol. HY16H p. 5), a practice of meditation has health benefits beyond simply reducing anxiety and stress, not that that’s any small feat, particularly for emotional and stress eaters. The article states that “Science is still not clear how meditation influences the brain,” but that it helps in “decision-making, planning, abstract thinking, and regulating emotions.”...
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How to Gauge What You Should Weigh

I had a long discussion with a client about what a comfortable weight for herself would be. Having spent time years before engaged in anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating, it made sense that she didn’t know, now that she was eating more “normally,” what a healthy weight would feel like. I understood. This is an issue for many women I treat. Honestly, it doesn’t seem to be as much of a quandary for my male clients.   We looked at this issue from several angles. First, we talked about cultural pressure to look a certain way. For those of you who are young, please know that it wasn’t always this way, and that now there’s almost no escaping it. My grandmother, who was considered a great beauty in her day and who buried two husbands and then had a boyfriend in her eighties, would have been told she had a too...
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Book Review — “This Messy Magnificent Life”

I have a special place in my heart for Geneen Roth’s books. Back when I was in the throes of my emotional and binge-eating, she was there to teach me that food wasn’t love, that I could honor my needs rather than gobble them away, and that I could enjoy a comfortable body weight without dieting and deprivation. And now she has a new book out that’s just as wise, witty, and inspirational as her others, the aptly named "This Messy Magnificent Life: A Field Guide."   As a writer myself, I’m a sucker for beautiful prose and Geneen’s liquid, lyrical style doesn’t disappointment. As a therapist, I’m thrilled that she’s finally stopped seeking answers from outside “experts” and now recognizes that she is her own font of considerable, ever-flowing wisdom. By writing from that point of view, she encourages us all to look inward to learn, as she says,...
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Not Everyone is as Nice as You Are

Some dysregulated eaters set themselves up for disappointment and heartbreak and turn to eating for comfort because they believe that everyone is as good, kind, nice, caring, trustworthy, reliable and honest as they are. This perception often leads to emotional eating. If this is an issue for you, it’s time to recognize and accept that there are malicious, callous, cruel people in the world who are very invested in staying that way. Here’s are some of the reasons you might not be able to see them clearly. Maybe you were raised to see only the good in people and told never to be judgmental. As a child, when you said something critical about someone, you were told that, “You need to be understanding” or “You shouldn’t say things like that.” In this way, you came to believe that you were wrong or bad if you acknowledged traits in people that...
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Do You Know the Signs of Emotional Abuse?

I treat many clients who’ve been or who are being emotionally abused. Some have eating problems and some don’t. Most are or were partnered to individuals suffering from Psychopathy and or the less dangerous Narcissistic Personality Disorder. None of them expected to become victims of emotional abuse and many stayed too long in their destructive relationships. Fortunately, the majority are now on their way out—for good.  One type of abuse called “coercive control” is used to dominate partners. It is described in “The domestic abuse that leaves no mark” by Abby Ellin (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8/2/16, Wellness, p. 6) as “a pattern of behavior that some people—usually but not always men—employ to dominate their partners.” It is “an ongoing and multi-pronged strategy with tactics that include manipulation, humiliation, isolation, financial abuse, stalking, gaslighting and sometimes physical or sexual abuse.”   “Coercive” individuals make a constant effort to control their partners: where...
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It’s Not Your Job to Make Everything Okay

As children, we often turn ourselves inside out trying to make things go well for us. If Mom yelled a lot when she was stressed, you gave your all to being nice and behaving better. If Dad frequently acted disappointed in you, you tried harder—and harder—to gain his approval. If your brother ignored you, you did all you could to get his attention. If your sister teased you for being a baby, you redoubled your efforts to act grown up.   When we’re mistreated as children, intentionally or not, we attempt to fix the situation by changing ourselves. That’s all we can do and we fervently hope that doing so will improve our lot. If we do just what she says, Mom will stop yelling at us; if we raise our grades, Dad will be proud of us; if we pretend to like our brother’s interests, he’ll be more attentive;...
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When Parenting is a Foreign Language

If your emotional and mindless eating is often caused by the stress of parenting, you’ll want to read "When Parenting Is A Foreign Language: A Child Therapist’s Guide to Speaking Your Child’s Language" by Diane Ross-Glazer, PhD. This gem of a book provides a quick study that gets right to the heart of effective parenting and is written in a casual, humorous style to engage and enlighten any frustrated mother or father who is ready to learn some simple guidelines for improving their relationship with their children.   Whereas most child-rearing books focus on what to do to prevent and respond to misbehavior, "When Parenting Is A Foreign Language" addresses the missing connection between many mothers and fathers and their children, one that is felt from and made with the heart. The book gets you to put aside your thinking and zero in on what you and your child are feeling...
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When a Breakup Sends You to the Cookie Jar

I was surprised to read in an article that breaking up is like kicking a bad habit until I thought a bit more about it. It can be like giving up alcohol or your drug of choice, which in this case happens to be a him or a her. Unfortunately, the plethora of emotions that we feel after a break up can seriously dysregulate our nervous system and it makes sense that some people would re-regulate by making a beeline to the cookie jar.   In “Why a romantic breakup is like kicking a bad habit” by Danielle Braff (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8/8/17, E18), Kinsey Institute researcher and author, Helen Fisher, describes love as “an addiction biologically designed so that we can mate successfully.” This makes sense when we recognize that many of our behaviors are dedicated to promoting evolution. She says that the same region of the brain that is...
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It’s All in How You Frame Your Eating Decisions

Most dysregulated eaters have difficulty switching from the diet/weight-loss mentality to a “normal” eating mindset. If you find this shift a challenge, you’re not alone. It will take time and an understanding of the process to reach your goals. If you don’t give up and, instead, keep at refining your thinking, you’ll get there—most likely not in the time frame you wish, but gradually and eventually. This is how change works for all of us.   Take my client who was “struggling” with not thinking about calories and the scale, and who was unsure of how to frame her thoughts when making food decisions. She said several times in a session that although she wished to be a “normal” eater, she also still wanted to lose weight—as if we both didn’t know this after years of working together (on eating and family issues). I finally asked why she kept repeating...
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How Are Your Thoughts Like Bananas?

Why is it that so many people try to control so much in life, but let their thoughts run rampant every day? How come people can be such super managers of their time, workplace or households, yet don’t even consider the fact that they can also manage their thoughts? What is it about our thoughts that make us believe we’re at their mercy, when we actually have the power to manage them in a gently empowered way?   If you wish to learn to master your thoughts, recognize that they are electrical impulses in our brain—not truth, not fact, not reality—that come and go. Some thoughts are constructive and others are destructive. Some will take us where we want to go, such as to achieving our goals or generating pleasant emotions, while others will do the exact opposite and ensure that we fail to reach our goals, keeping us in...
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