From the moment we are born food and emotions are intertwined. We get fed milk while being held and enjoy connection at the family table. But as time marches on, food can all too easily be used as a way to distract us from difficult emotions or fill an emotional void. This results in dysregulated eating — eating too much or too little, and spending way too much time thinking about food and weight.
The problem is our quick-fix culture searches for answers by making up food rules, tightly controlling goodies, and “thinking positive.” Our expert today says it takes both a mindful eating approach and tuning in to our emotions to get back to what she calls “normal eating.”
On episode 18 of The Healthy Family Podcast, we have on Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed., a licensed psychotherapist specializing in the field of compulsive, emotional and restrictive eating. She is the co-founder of the Greater Boston Collaborative for Body Image and Eating Disorders and a former member of the Professional Advisory Committee of the Multi-service Eating Disorder Association of Massachusetts. She is author of several books including The Rules of “Normal” Eating, Outsmarting Overeating and The Food and Feelings Workbook.
She will forever change the way you see food and emotions, and that’s a good thing.
Highlights from the Show
- How Karen’s journey from chronic dieter to normal eater lead to her career choice.
- The biggest myth of what it takes to eat a healthy diet, and why it’s so harmful.
- The difference between wanting more food and pleasure/taste.
- Why most people don’t think that much about their emotions (hint: we are never formally schooled in handling feelings).
- The true purpose of emotions and how they guide people to a healthy and happy life.
- Why food and emotions are hardwired into our brains as babies and the common mistake people make when eating.
- Why mindful eating and intuitive eating are helpful but not always enough to prevent or treat emotional eating.
- The most important thing parents should focus on to help prevent emotionally and dysregulated eating in their children
- The one thing every parent needs to do at the dinner table.
- Why it’s so important to label, connect, and reflect on feelings to make good choices.
- How to discover the important piece of information difficult emotions are trying to tell you or your child.
- Why so many people have an “enough disorder,” meaning they don’t know when to stop eating, exercising, drinking, working, etc. And how to learn how to recognize when enough really is enough.
- The 7 emotions most related to emotional eating (and the most common one according to Karen)
Emotions scare, puzzle and confuse us. They drive us to eat, shop, drink, starve, gamble, work, exercise, talk nonstop, live dangerously, and take drugs in order not to feel them…Although we receive training in everything from driving a car to taking SATs, nowhere are we formally schooled in how to handle feelings. — Karen Koenig, The Food and Feelings Workbook
Suzie Orbach “Fat is a Feminist Issue”
Tracy Mann’s “Secrets from the Eating Lab”
Bruce Perry’s “The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog”
Article on Attachment Theory
Maryann Jacobsen’s “How to Raise a Mindful Eater”
Podcast Music: Corporate Uplifting by Scott Holmes
Like the Healthy Family Podcast? Help spread the word by subscribing and rating/reviewing it on Itunes