karen header 3

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. 

Do You Have Pre-Traumatic Disorder?

Yes, you read the title of this blog correctly: Pre -Traumatic Stress Disorder. It’s a condition I made up which in no way takes away from the serious and enduring effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (aka PTSD) which many of dysregulated eaters suffer from. I’m not in any way making fun of PTSD or minimizing it, I assure you.      The bona fide PTSD may happen when an external event dysregulates and overwhelms our nervous systems. The fictitious condition, which many of my clients also have, comes from catastrophizing external events and spending too much time thinking about future possible disasters. It’s a way of viewing the world as a glass that’s always half-filled, and not with water, but with poison. It’s a mindset that says, “Something terrible will happen to me and I’m positive that I won’t be able to cope with it. It will ruin my life and...
Continue reading

How You Get Sucked Into Taking Care Of Others

Many of my clients who are dysregulated eaters have enormous stress from overdoing taking care of others. And, lopsided relationships are a top cause of their emotional eating. Although they may recognize that they shouldn’t be working so hard to take care of someone else, they don’t understand why they do it. Because our actions follow from our thoughts and emotions, it pays to work backwards to identify what’s going on. Lack of love. Clients may believe that making up for the love and care that’s been missing for someone who didn’t receive enough of it will transform him or her into a healthy, happy adult. While it’s true that in rare cases, love will make someone blossom, it’s not going to cure addiction or serious mental health problems. This is something that therapists learn early on. Simply showering clients with caring and going overboard doing for them is not therapeutic....
Continue reading

Thoughts on Suicide

After a recent spate of high-profile suicides, I thought it important to talk about the subject openly because some of you reading this blog may be thinking about it. Or have thought about it. Or have attempted it. Or maybe you know someone who’s taken his or her life. Whenever necessary, I speak directly with clients about the possibility of their being suicidal, but it’s never an easy subject to bring up. However, it’s a lot more comfortable than what I would be feeling if a client attempted it.   I’ve had clients who’ve been passively or actively suicidal, and those who’ve had to be hospitalized or hospitalized themselves when things got too iffy for them or for scary someone else. I’ve known people, mostly acquaintances, who’ve killed themselves—a co-worker decades ago, a man I very briefly dated who lived in Canada, and two very wonderful elderly people who led full...
Continue reading

Attachment Disorders Due to Parental Separation

I don’t wish to fall into the quagmire of politics here, but I need to speak out about the dire consequences that happen when children are separated from their parents. If you don’t believe me, read what British psychologist John Bowlby, American-Canadian psychologist Mary Ainsworth, or American psychologist Harry Harlow wrote about attachment disorders and separation. Their research is downright chilling. Better yet, look at your own young children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews and notice the profound distress they feel when they are—or even think they are—separated from you. Or think back to your early life and consider how enforced separations shaped how you relate to people today. You don’t need to be a therapist to understand how attachments and separations are likely to adversely affect mental health for a lifetime.   If you want to delve into some heart-breaking psychology to understand the primacy and legacy of attachment and separation,...
Continue reading

The Realities I’ve Learned About Eating at 71

Having turned 71 in April, I’ve been a “normal” eater for more than half my life. I also know a lot about what causes dysregulated eating and what turns it around. My knowledge is scattered in the writings of my books and blogs. Here are seven simple (but not always easy) success principles:   Stop focusing on weight-loss. There is simply no other way to become a “normal” eater. Said another way, it will not happen if you continue focusing on losing weight. You can wish to lose it, but it can’t be “the” goal or something you often dwell on. Wanting good health is great. Couple it with a desire to be a “normal” eater and you’ve got the two most powerful forces to improve your relationship with food.   Don’t ever give up. You can give up for a few hours or days, but don’t let surrender drag into...
Continue reading

Setting Firm Boundaries with People to Improve Your Relationship With Food

A major problem I run into in treating dysregulated eaters is an inability to set firm boundaries with people. They get taken advantage of, walked on like doormats, ignored and neglected. And, then, when they feel hurt, they turn to food for comfort.   Make no mistake, setting and maintaining firm boundaries is a skill. I’ve written about it in many of my books, including Outsmarting Overeating and Nice Girls Finish Fat . It’s a learned behavior, like most of our life skills, from childhood. Either we learn that it’s okay to have needs and say no, or we learn that it’s unacceptable through love or approval being withdrawn when we assert ourselves. Often our same gender parent role models poor boundaries—Dad can’t refuse a request for help no matter what else is going on in his life or Mom keeps on doing for others until she’s depleted and depressed.  ...
Continue reading

Selfish Versus Self-Care

Many people confuse selfishness and self-care. This mix up crops up often among dysregulated eaters. Is saying no to visiting a sick friend selfish or self-care? Is not answering your phone after a long day self-care or selfishness?   This dilemma arises often with clients because distinguishing between the two is far from clear cut. My thoughts on the subject are not meant to give you rules for making a determination between selfish and self-care, but are to get you to think before you say yes or no to anyone so that you don’t do it automatically and are making an intentional choice. My goal is to get you to stop flagellating yourself (and eating to quash misplaced guilt), when you feel selfish but are actually engaging in self-care. Knowing dysregulated eaters as well as I do, my hunch is that much of what feels selfish to you might actually fall...
Continue reading

Is a Psychopath Triggering Your Emotional Eating?

Although psychopaths (aka sociopaths or malignant narcissists) comprise only about 1% of the population, we’re bound to meet some of them during our lifetime. I have had a psychopathic boss and am acquainted with several psychopaths in the form of current or former husbands of several clients over the years. We also often see them in power positions in politics or business and, recently, as sexual harassers and predators.   They are the kind of people who turn your nervous system upside down and could certainly trigger dysregulated eating. They may make you feel, among other things, on guard, giddy with joy, frightened, in awe, or as if you need to walk on eggshells. Before you say that you couldn’t possibly have a psychopath in your life, read over the list of psychological traits below and, then, make up your mind. Along with the 1% statistic above, these characteristics were taken...
Continue reading

A Client Faces Her Fears – And You Can Too

What keeps us from having romantic partners? Our childhood histories, genetics, life circumstances, trauma or abuse? These factors do play a part in reaching this goal, but most of all, we have our fears to thank for holding us back. I was so moved by a client’s blog on how she’s facing her fears of being a higher weight woman managing the dating scene, that I wanted to share her wisdom with you.         For awhile now, I have been become increasingly aware that, although I have said I don't want to be alone romantically, I have been doing several things to remain that way. Now I could absolutely point my finger at the people who said the painful comments to me growing up and that blame could honestly be justified. However, just like any other situation, after the blame has been cast, you have to find a way to...
Continue reading

Why We Need Both Intelligence and Knowledge to Make Healthy Choices

An author I enjoy noted in passing the difference between knowledge and intelligence. Though I recognized this truth, the statement stuck in my head because I’d just had a session with a distraught father who was struggling with his teenage son. Several times during the session, I’d suggested that the father read books on child development and, specifically, on parenting an adolescent but, each time I raised the subject, this client more or less let me know that he wasn’t interested.   This client is a good provider and passionately loves his son, wanting the best for him. I’ve assumed that this father is fairly intelligent, yet was struck by his determination to avoid the knowledge that he desperately needed to get along better with and help his son. I’ve come across other people like him in my professional and personal life who absolutely refuse to acquire fairly easily accessible knowledge...
Continue reading

shelf new


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