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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. 

Stop Making Food Your Enemy

More and more it has occurred to me that people, and not just dysregulated eaters, view food as their enemy. They use words like battle, struggle, war, and fight when talking about eating and their bodies. No wonder they’re having difficulty taking pleasure in eating. They’re generating so much negative energy toward food, eating, and their appetite that any efforts they’re making toward “normal” eating are being cancelled out.   If you’re one of these people, it’s time to change your attitude toward food and your body in order to become a “normal” eater. You can do this by examining and reframing your beliefs. Here are some of the irrational, unhelpful thoughts you may currently have. Do they sound like the foundation for a positive belief system for “normal” eating?   Food is the enemy. I need to fight my urges to eat junk food. If I struggle against my...
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Easy Exercises for Practicing Normal Eating

There’s no way to achieve “normal” eating without practice. Here are a few simple exercises toward that end. Although I note how often to do them, practice at least as often as I recommend, but feel free to do them more often to repattern your brain. To improve at identifying fullness and satisfaction, set a practice of taking three bites of food, then stopping and putting down whatever you’re eating and noting your hunger and satisfaction levels in numbers (0-10) or words (not hungry, a bit hungry, fairly hungry, very hungry). Do this exercise at least once a day. To get better at not finishing all the food on your plate, leave a tiny bit of it every time you eat—a slice, some crumbs, a spoonful, a bite. Do this exercise at least once a day. To assess how fast you eat, when dining with others, notice how quickly or slowly they eat...
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What’s Best Versus What’s Right For You

Many dysregulated eaters have an unhealthy preoccupation with doing what’s “right”— take the job offer, stay with the spouse, invite Betty Sue to the party, or go with low-fat over low-carb foods. Big and small decisions are focused on what the correct thing to do might be. Hope of being right and fear of being wrong underlies difficulty figuring out what and how much to eat along with being overly-oriented toward pleasing others.   What if there is no “right” answer to many questions, no “right” response to certain problems, no “right” way to eat or to live? In order to become a mentally healthy person, you need to consider this possibility. More often than not, there is no “right” way to do something, but there’s often a “best” way—and a world of difference between the two.   “Best” means making an informed choice by gathering all the evidence you...
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Beware of People Who Work Too Hard to Take Care of You

How could it be a problem when people wish to take really good care of you? Isn’t that a positive trait in a person? Doesn’t that make them ideal as a partner or friend? How could care-taking ever be something to be wary of?   Let me explain. Some people are looking to take care of you because they’re natural caregivers and others do it because they love you and want the best for you. But, there’s another aspect of a care-taker who has motives, albeit generally unconscious, that are neither benign nor healthy. That is the person who needs you to be sick or stuck because then you can be accountable to them and needed by them. These kinds of people create in you an unhealthy dependence on them that only keeps you from becoming healthy and empowered.   Here are some examples. One of my clients was seeing...
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What to Focus on While You’re Eating

I recently did an eating workshop for a local organization which included us eating lunch together. As I usually do, we spent half an hour having lunch. The first 15 minutes was an exercise of eating in silence and the second 15 minutes was a discussion about what participants observed during their silent meal. The discussion was pretty much the same one I’ve had with other groups doing this exercise.   I truly wished that I could have videoed those first 15 minutes and maybe someday I will, with the groups permission. What I’d really like to do (but won’t), because it would be far more beneficial for them, is to make a video without their knowing it to capture their natural style of eating. Granted that it’s likely that most participants were a bit self-conscious about eating with others and having me observe them, but I think that self-consciousness...
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Being Too Nice Can Ruin Your Relationship with Food

I taught an eating workshop this fall in southwest Florida to a wonderful group of women. They exemplified the positive traits of the “nice” girls I write about in my book Nice Girls Finish Fat: Put Yourself First and Change Your Eating Forever ), as well as the problems caused by having nice as a singular identity. I’m blogging about them for all the women and men (yes, there are men who are too nice for their own good) who tend toward being overly nice in any situation, then end up struggling with dysregulated or unhealthy eating because of it.      (An aside: When I came up with the book’s title in 2009, I thought it was catchy and my publisher, Simon & Schuster, loved it. Now I feel that it’s insulting to use the word “fat” so pejoratively. In truth, I would never choose that title now, but...
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Don’t Confuse Compassion with Over-Identification

Many people are confused about the difference between having compassion for someone and over-identifying with him or her. It’s a critical distinction, especially if you’re inclined to feel sorry for people and then end up losing yourself in the relationship and/or taking better care of them than of yourself.   According to self-compassion author Kristen Neff, compassion is meeting suffering with kindness—part empathy and part wishing to treat someone as kindly as you’d like to be treated. There’s nothing wrong with compassion, which I encourage you to feel toward others and yourself. But, there’s everything wrong with over-identification. The Oxford Living Dictionaries defines it as, “The action of identifying oneself to an excessive degree with someone or something else, especially to the detriment of one's individuality or objectivity.”   ( https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/overidentification , accessed 9/16/17) When we have compassion, we feel for someone. When we over-identify, we feel someone’s emotions to...
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How Our Food is Losing Nutrients

You may think that eating lots of vegetables, fish, and plant-based foods means you’re getting all the nutrients you need to stay healthy. That may have been the case decades ago but, according to Irakli Loladze, Ph.D., the quality of our food is decreasing because of the quality of what it is fed or feeds on due to climate change. (“The great nutrient collapse,” Helena Bottemiller Evich, 9/13/2017, Politco, accessed 9/16/17, http://www.politico.com/agenda/story/2017/09/13/food-nutrients-carbon-dioxide-000511 ) There is a complicated answer to what’s been going on, but I’ll try to keep it simple.     Loladze explains that “Plants rely on both light and carbon dioxide (CO2) to grow” and that scientists have known for decades that CO2 levels have been rising in our atmosphere. “Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising…We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere...
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The Critical Importance of Emotional Health

How is it that so few people understand the purpose of emotions and how essential and valuable they are to us? The answer lies in our culture, especially its Puritan aspect, and in our ego-driven attachment to things rather than ideas and inner wisdom. Considering this off-base perspective, I was delighted to read what former US Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, MD, had to say about the relationship between physical and emotional health (“What it means to be healthy,” National Geographic, 9/2017, p.3).   Reporting that he realized the importance of emotional well-being while traveling around the country, Vivek says that “people were experiencing a high degree of emotional pain. I think of emotional well-being as a resource within each of us that allows us to do more and perform better. That doesn’t mean just the absence of mental illness. It’s the presence of positive emotions that allows us to be...
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Blogging about Weight and Weight-Loss

I love to blog because I love to write. However, I find it daunting to talk about weight and weight-loss because I’m concerned about my comments may come across. Aside from being scrupulous about not using weight in a stigmatizing way, I also want to address readers’ concerns on the subject and be careful not to bum them out by what I say.   Every time I post a blog or an article describing scientific evidence that weight is strongly genetically based, I get a pang of discomfort. If I write that obesity is highly heritable, I worry that readers will feel pessimistic and lose interest in taking care of their bodies, thinking “What’s the use?” If I write that most people who lose weight regain it or, often, regain more than they originally lost—I fear that I’m blowing someone’s day and that they’ll feel frustrated and helpless to ever...
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