Getting Life Right Will Improve Your Eating


If you’re having difficulty resolving your eating problems, perhaps you’re not managing the rest of your life very well. So many troubled eaters consider their eating problems to be separate from everything else in their lives. They say, “Thing are great—except my eating” or “Life would be terrific—if only I could lose 10 (or 50) pounds.” While I’m glad that so many people think that life is going swimmingly, I fear they’re not connecting the dots between what’s wrong in their lives and what’s wrong with their eating.

Maybe it’s easier for them to think about what they perceive as their dysfunctional relationship with food than to admit having problems in other parts of their lives. Maybe they’re uncomfortable acknowledging that: they’re having trouble with their job or boss, having kids isn’t the joy they expected it to be, they feel burdened taking care of their elderly parents, their marriage isn’t working out, or that although they were miserable when they were married, but it’s not so hot being divorced either.

Almost everyone complains about eating or “weight” problems, so these areas have become an okay place to dump our frustrations. If you were raised to not complain or fear “burdening” others with your problems, you may be unhappy with your life, but feel it’s not okay to kvetch about it. Moreover, the problems you do have that you’re denying to others—and maybe even yourself—may be causing you so much stress that it makes a sane, healthy relationship with food nearly impossible.

Think about how other areas of life impact your eating. For example,

  • Do you love your job, except for the fact that you have so much to do on a daily basis that you rarely have time to eat or take a break?

  • Are you the one doing all the cleaning and childcare in the family, so that you’ve built up a head of resentment about being stuck with it while your partner takes it easy?

  • Are people so used to you saying yes to their requests for help that you have no time to take care of yourself and feel like you don’t dare say no?

The truth is that nearly every decision you make in life can affect your eating. Decide to take more time for yourself and create a more balanced life, and I bet you do less mindless eating. Ignore feelings that you don’t believe you should have or express, and my hunch is that you’re going to do a great deal more emotional eating. Nearly every aspect of life has the potential to add or decrease stress, give you more or less self-care time, and increase or shrink your happiness. Consider that you may not have an eating problem, but may be suffering from life problems that negatively affect your eating.

(This blog is a reprint from


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About Karen R Koenig LCSW

Karen R. Koenig Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed., is a psychotherapist, international author, eating coach, national speaker, and expert on the psychology of eating—the why and how, not the what, of it—with 30-plus years of experience teaching chronic dieters and overeaters the skills that “normal” eaters use naturally to maintain a comfortable, healthy weight for life without dieting and food restriction. She is the author of six books: Outsmarting Overeating—Put Yourself First and Change Your Eating Forever Starting Monday—Seven Keys to a Permanent, Positive Relationship with Food Nice Girls Finish Fat—Put Yourself First and Change Your Eating Forever What Every Therapist Needs to Know about Treating Eating and Weight Issues The Food and Feelings Workbook—A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health The Rules of “Normal” Eating—A Commonsense Approach for Dieters, Overeaters, Undereaters, Emotional Eaters, and Everyone in Between! Among three of her books, there have been 10 foreign language editions. Her seventh book, Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating—Psychological Strategies for Doctors and Health Care Providers (Rowman and Littlefield) is due out in early 2017. Ms. Koenig teaches and practices psychotherapy in Sarasota, Florida. Learn more about her at