Outsmarting Overeating: A Guide to Life Skills That Help End Disordered Eating [Book Review]

Outsmarting Overeating: A Guide to Life Skills That Help End Disordered EatingIn her book Outsmarting Overeating, Karen Koenig offers strategic methods for improving the areas of our lives that are often contributing factors to eating struggles.

The main premise is this: Food is not the problem, but rather that we’re going to food for comfort, for companionship, or to ‘solve’ our problems, for example. By improving various life skills, these root causes of disordered eating will begin to improve, allowing for gradual positive changes in eating behaviors.

Essential Life Skills That Can Improve Eating Struggles

Outsmarting Overeating provides a detailed review of the essential life skills that can improve eating struggles.

In Chapter 1 Koenig explains why the need for specific life skills, as well as the definition and purpose of these skills with supporting information from the World Health Organization. This information is then translated into how the skills relate to disordered eating.

The life skills covered are physical wellness, managing emotions, conscious living (or mindfulness), relationships skills, self-regulation, problem solving, goal setting and work/life balance.

Each chapter provides concrete strategies, tips, tools and concepts as to how improving the life skill will enhance and improve eating related difficulties.

Managing Emotions & Living Consciously

In Chapter 3 Koenig discusses emotions in great detail, offering an understanding of how emotions function in the brain. She suggests waiting through short-lived emotions rather than acting and reacting to them by avoiding or holding onto emotions, which often leads to eating for comfort or distraction.

Suggestions for managing emotions include stimulating the senses, physical activities, using mantras or humor, as well as many more.

I particularly enjoyed chapter 4, Living Consciously, in which Koenig provides a detailed explanation of mind-less vs mind-ful living and relating this mindlessness/autopilot mode to disordered eating.

Koenig explains that when we make a conscious choice to shut off our minds and our lives for a period of time, this purposeful (mindful) stance allows for intentional reconnecting with the present moment, which in turn allows us to gain perspective and manage situations more effectively.

The Why, How & Wow

Outsmarting Overeating provides a well-thought-out, methodical perspective on specific strategies for overcoming eating difficulties.

Readers can find not only an understanding of the ‘why’ related to disordered eating, but realistic measures towards making positive changes. The book offers a great balance of theory and practice with an understanding of how specific life skills are related to disordered eating, and how to improve these areas of life.

Additionally, subtitles offer a funny and refreshing perspective on how each of the life skill areas relate to disordered eating. For example, Chapter 9 on balancing work and life is subtitled “All work and no play makes Jack…Crave a snack!” With this humoristic approach, it’s easier to relate and relax into reading about a topic that often feels uncomfortable.

This book would make an excellent read for participants here at Green Mountain at Fox Run, providing a continued in-depth look at the same areas of focus that our program offers. The non-diet philosophy within our retreat’s integrated health model fits very closely in line with the concepts discussed in Karen Koenig’s book, and it will provide a perfect resource for our participants as they continue healing their relationship with food.


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