Welcome to Deliberate Life Wellness’ Health Care Professionals’ page. I am delighted you’re here. The purpose of this site is to provide support, information, and resources to doctors, nurses, medical assistants, therapists, coaches, dieticians, technicians and other health care professionals who dedicate their careers to helping patients care for themselves well.
If you would like to learn more or join the conversation, sign up here. You’ll receive 3 master recipes that make adding more nutrient-rich veggies to your diet both simple and delicious.
You can find out more about me on the About page. To summarize, I am a retired pediatrician, now working full-time as a Certified Health and Wellness Coach, Intuitive Eating Counselor, Lifestyle Medicine educator and champion, and author. My new book, co-authored with respected eating disorders therapist and author Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed.), is entitled Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating: Psychological Strategies for Doctors and Health Care Providers. The book’s mission is to inform providers about success strategies for overcoming overeating, negative body image, and weight concerns, and to help you educate and support your patients.
Regardless of a patient’s current state of health, he or she looks to you for understanding, acceptance, and advice on how to live well and make the most of his or her situation. Your impact is tremendous, and although you may not hear it often enough, your presence in the lives of your patients makes a difference every single day. I hope that this website will provide you with useful perspective, inspiring ideas, and access to empowering resources that will enhance your life as you care for your patients.
I am passionate about supporting health care professionals who care for patients with overeating and weight concerns. As you well know, stigma related to weight concerns abounds in our culture, and particularly in the medical community. Hospital-based health care providers are confronted with the consequences of and risks related to patients’ weight-related struggles every day. A significant percentage of us also live with overeating and weight-related concerns ourselves, and we know from experience that the commonly held belief that people with high weights or high BMI's are lazy or unmotivated is dead wrong. The truth is that the vast majority of higher-weight patients have tried repeatedly to lose weight in the interest of better health. Many are frustrated that their sacrifices and best efforts do not yield lasting results. These same patients often feel a deep sense of failure and shame, which can damage self-esteem and undermine ongoing efforts to stay active, eat well, and manage stress. Our patients are often caught in a vicious cycle of deprivation, frustration, and shame, and this does nothing to improve their health.
Those of us who have experienced the suffering of chronic dieting understand that very often weight problems are actually eating problems, and that eating problems often represent our well-intentioned efforts to care for ourselves and maintain balance in our busy lives. By starting from a place of empathy and compassion for our patients who suffer with eating, weight, body image, and self-care struggles, we can help them to see things differently. By knowing how to approach uncomfortable topics, how to refer to experts who have the time to work on the skills that our patients may need to cultivate, and how to serve as a resource along the way, we empower both our patients and ourselves, enhancing their quality of life and ours.
As this site evolves, it will contain blog posts on topics related to eating and success psychology, Lifestyle Medicine, and strategic meal planning. Additional topics will include useful relational skills for you to consider incorporating into your practice, book reviews, interviews with experts, meal planning strategies and great recipes for busy people who want to eat delicious, nourishing food amidst the hustle and bustle of careers, family, and other responsibilities. You can join the list by subscribing here.
It is my sincere hope that this site will be useful and empowering for you as your care for your patients, yourselves, and your families. If there are topics that you would like to see covered in the blog, or if you would like to organize a workshop or have me speak to your practice or organization, feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Best wishes to you, and thank you for your dedication to helping patients live well!
Paige O’Mahoney, M.D., CHWC
Check out my recent interviews
about my book "Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating: Psychological Strategies for Doctors and Health Care Providers"
Interview with All Sides with Ann Fisher
Gürze - Salucore Eating Disorders Matters podcast
Interview with Heidi Godman at WSRQ
Childhood Casualties of the War on Obesity
From a quick check of the mainstream medical literature, the “War on Obesity” appears to be in full swing.
The alarm is audible everywhere, at our medical conferences, in our offices and hospitals, from government leaders, within our schools, and for many of us, within our own households.
We, as health care providers, are trained to believe that fat is the enemy, and that, beyond a certain BMI, we must recommend weight loss (or at least maintenance of a stable weight during periods of growth) in order to promote health.
An Interview with
Paige O'Mahoney, M.D., CHWC
Why did you write Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating: Psychological Strategies for Doctors and Healthcare Providers?
Karen and I decided to collaborate on this book to help doctors and health care professionals understand three things: why patients overeat, why our “diet and exercise” advice fails to deliver either permanent weight loss or lasting health improvement, and how eating and success psychology can help patients overcome dysregulated eating and achieve lasting, self-directed wellness. We also wanted to highlight resources and experts that health care providers can leverage to improve patient care in this area.
What is dysregulated eating, and why is it important for doctors and health care professionals to understand?
Dysregulated eating refers to eating for reasons unrelated to hunger and satiety signals. Patients with eating dysregulation will eat when not hungry or continue to eat past physiologic satisfaction or fullness. They may use food to cope, avoid or suppress feelings, distract themselves from unwanted thoughts or tasks, or simply to try to manage life. This is important for several reasons. First, patients with eating dysregulation are often living above their bodies’ preferred set point, or natural weight. Second the dieting mentality and behaviors that health care professionals are trained to prescribe for patients with “weight problems” exacerbate this pattern, putting patients at risk of restrained eating, bingeing and weight-cycling. These behaviors can promote suffering and compromise patient well-being, rather than helping patients to become healthier and improve their eating habits long-term.
What is weight stigma and why does it matter when it comes to patient care?
Weight stigma refers to negative assumptions, attitudes and/or behaviors toward a person based upon his or her weight. Weight stigma is damaging to patients and health care professionals for several reasons. First, it can prevent providers from taking a holistic view of a given patient’s health picture. For example, if the provider starts by making a negative judgment about a patient’s level of motivation or interest in his or her health based upon the patient’s size, weight or BMI, that judgment may interfere with curiosity about what is really going on with a patient, and thus appropriate evaluation and treatment. Weight stigma can also reduce every patient complaint to an issue of weight or BMI and prevent providers from searching for other possible causes. For example, shortness of breath can be attributed to excess weight, rather than being viewed as a symptom with a variety of possible causes that must be considered and investigated in order to reach an appropriate diagnosis and treatment plan. Finally, research demonstrates that patients may delay or avoid seeking needed medical care as a result of experiencing weight stigma in the health care setting. This experience is, unfortunately, all too common, for reasons that we discuss in the book.
Do some patients experience weight stigma toward themselves as well?
Yes! This is called “internalized weight stigma,” and it is particularly harmful because it undermines patients’ self-worth and self-confidence and can lead to despair. If patients attribute their weight problems to personal shortcomings, such as laziness or lack of motivation, they are less likely to consider other treatable causes, such as dysregulated eating, unexamined irrational beliefs about food, eating, weight, health and life, and inadequate self-care and life skills. This lack of awareness of important, valid contributors to their eating problems leads to stagnation, rather than progress, sometimes for decades or even a lifetime. Once internalized weight stigma is addressed in a constructive way, patients can choose a more constructive, empowered course of action, acquire learnable self-care and life skills and develop the increased self-efficacy needed for lasting change.
What 5 lessons from the book would you like patients and health care professionals to know?
- That weight and BMI are not necessarily reliable or complete indicators of health or fitness. Plenty of normal and lower weight people suffer from metabolic dysfunction, dysregulated eating and compromised health related to genetics, a poor diet, stress, or sedentary lifestyles, and many higher weight people enjoy an excellent level of fitness and health. There are many factors, besides weight and BMI, that contribute to overall health, and much that patients can do to improve their own wellness, with or without weight-loss.
- That dysregulated eating is an important, largely unrecognized contributor to weight concerns in the medical community, including “overweight,” “obesity,” and yo-yo dieting. Many eating disorders therapists and intuitive eating counselors are trained to help patients who struggle with dysregulated eating learn “normal” eating (Koenig, The Rules of Normal Eating, Gürze Books, 2005). Doctors and other health care providers can help patients by seeking out appropriately trained medical and mental health providers to work with these patients between office visits.
- That there are learnable life skills that can help patients radically and permanently improve the way they approach their health and care for themselves. These learnable skills can not only improve a patient’s level of wellness, they can also spill over into other areas of a patient’s life, leading to greater happiness and life satisfaction.
- That a weight-inclusive approach promotes health and wellness, much more than a judgmental, weight-focused approach. For more information on the Weight-Inclusive approach to Health, refer to Tracy L. Tylka, Rachel A. Annunziato, Deb Burgard, et al., “The Weight-Inclusive versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss,” Journal of Obesity, vol. 2014, Article ID 983495, 18 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/983495
- That health care professionals’ own food issues and weight struggles can impact patient care, and that understanding their own struggles can make professionals more effective when taking care of and advocating for patients within the medical system.
What are some of the personality traits and skills deficits of dysregulated eaters?
The most common personality traits include perfectionism, all-or-nothing thinking, and people-pleasing. We discuss these and others in the book, as does Karen in her prior books.
Interestingly, some of these traits are common to both dysregulated eaters and high achievers, including many health professionals. This may explain why some patients who struggle with overeating, higher-than-comfortable weights, and yo-yo dieting report that this seems to be the only area of their lives where they “can’t seem to reach their goals.”
How can doctors and health care professionals help?
First, doctors and health care professionals can help by being aware that weight problems are often eating problems, and that eating problems often reflect a patient’s well-intentioned attempt to cope with life or manage internal conflict. By practicing non-judgmental awareness, seeking understanding, and expressing empathy, health care professionals encourage patients to be curious and self-compassionate, which can start to move them toward healing. Taking a weight-inclusive approach (see Tylka, et. al. citation above), where the focus is on promoting overall health, rather than on a specific weight outcome, can be a great way to empower patients toward improved wellness. And, of course, referring patients to eating disorders therapists, Intuitive Eating Counselors, or appropriately trained health and wellness coaches, depending upon the patient’s individual situation and needs, can help patients make progress between medical appointments through a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach.
How can doctors and health care professionals get additional help for their patients?
- By reading the book, including the Resources section at the end of the book
- By learning about and referring patients, as appropriate, to Karen’s prior books and the other books, articles and websites in our resource list at the back of “Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating.”
- By visiting Karen’s website at www.karenrkoenig.com and Paige’s website (including the Health Care Professionals’ page, including the “Resources” section) at www.deliberatelifewellness.com.
Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating
2017 Independent Publisher Book Silver Award Winner in the Health/Medicine/Nutrition Category
Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating: Psychological Strategies for Doctors and Health Care Providers
by Paige O’Mahoney, M.D., CHWC and Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed.
Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating, written by an eating disorder therapist and a physician, offers a new paradigm for doctors and health care providers who treat patients with eating and weight concerns. It describes how both parties are frustrated by weight-loss plans and programs that fail in the long term, and presents a science-based explanation for why diets fail and how they, in fact, may adversely impact patients’ mental and physical health. The authors illustrate how providers can truly help patients by using empathy, compassion, and motivational interviewing. They explain how helping patients strengthen skills related to self-awareness, emotional management, stress reduction, appetite attunement, perseverance and effective self-care can improve self-efficacy and support sustained motivation in improving health and wellness promoting behaviors. The issue of weight stigma is addressed, along with how professionals’ view of their own eating and weight affects the patient-provider relationship. This book introduces clinicians to tools from eating and success psychology, Intuitive Eating, Lifestyle Medicine, and Health and Wellness Coaching, within a weight-inclusive paradigm. It also details a collaborative model for working with ancillary disciplines to give patients and providers the comprehensive support needed for lasting success. If you order through Rowman.com use discount code RLFANDF30 to save 30%.
Resources for Health Care Professionals by Topic
Updated January 2017
Eating and Weight Issues
Books for Eating and Weight Issues:
Body Respect – What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, BenBella Books, 2014
Breaking Free From Emotional Eating, by Geneen Roth, Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1984
Eating Mindfully: How to End Emotional Eating and Enjoy a Balanced Relationship with Food by Susan Albers, New Harbinger, 2003
End Emotional Eating: Using Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Skills to Cope with Difficult Emotions and Develop a Healthy Relationship with Food by Jennifer Taitz, New Harbinger, 2012
Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease by Robert H. Lustig, M.D., Hudson Street Press, 2013
The Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full course Meal on Emotional Health by Karen R. Koenig, Gürze Books, 2007
Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon, BenBella Books, 2008
Helping Patients Outsmart Overeating: Psychological Strategies for Doctors and Health Care Providers by Karen R. Koenig and Paige O’Mahoney, M.D., Rowman & Littlefield, 2017
Intuitive Eating (3rd ed.) by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2012
The Intuitive Eating Workbook by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, New Harbinger, 2017
Motivational Interviewing in Health Care: Helping Patients Change Behavior by Stephen Rollnick, William R. Miller, and Christopher C. Butler, Guilford Press, 2008
Nice Girls Finish Fat: Put Yourself First and Change Your Eating Forever by Karen R. Koenig, Fireside/Simon & Schuster, 2009
Outsmarting Overeating: Boost Your Life Skills, End Your Food Problems, New World Library, 2015
Overcoming Overeating: How to Break the Diet/Binge Cycle and Live a Healthier, More Satisfying Life by Jane Hirschmann and Carol Munter, OO Publishing Ed., 2010
The Rules of “Normal Eating:” A Commonsense Approach for Dieters, Overeaters, Undereaters, Emotional Eaters, and Everyone in Between! by Karen R. Koenig, Gürze Books, 2005
Secrets from the Eating Lab: The Science of Weight Loss, The Myth of Willpower, and Why You Should Never Diet Again by Traci Mann, HarperCollins, 2015
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Kristin Neff, William Morrow Publishing, 2011
Starting Monday: Seven Keys to a Permanent, Positive Relationship with Food by Karen R. Koenig, Gürze Books, 2013
What Every Therapist Needs to Know about Treating Eating & Weight Issues by Karen R. Koenig, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2008
When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies: Freeing Yourself From Food and Weight Obsession by Jane Hirschmann and Carol Munter, Ballantine Books, 1995
Websites for Eating and Weight Issues:
Journal Articles on Eating and Weight Issues:
“The Weight-Inclusive Versus Weight-Normative Approach to Health: Evaluating the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being Over Weight Loss,” by Tracy L. Tylka, Rachel A. Annunziato, Deb Burgard, Sigrún Danielsdóttir, Ellen Shuman, Chad Davis, and Rachel M. Calogero, Journal of Obesity (2014):1-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/983495.
Burnout, Business Transition and Personal Development
Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by Brian Tracy, MJF Books, New York, 2003
Psychology of Success: Finding Meaning in Work and Life, 6th ed., by Denis Waitley, McGraw-Hill Education, New York, 2016
Feel the Fear… and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers, Ballantine Books, 2007
Goals: How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible (2nd ed.) by Brian Tracy, MJF Books, 2003
The Psychology of Winning: Ten Qualities of a Total Winner by Denis Waitley, Berkeley Books, 1984
Public Speaking for Success by Dale Carnegie and Arthur Pell, JMW Group, 2005
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey, Simon & Schuster, 2004
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Ballantine Books, 1960
Transformations: Growth and Change in Adult Life by Roger L. Gould, M.D., Simon & Schuster, 1978
Coaching and Success Psychology
Coaching Psychology Manual by Margaret Moore and Bob Tschannen-Moran, Wolters Kluwer, Philadelphia, 2010
Coaching Psychology Manual, 2nd ed., by Margaret Moore, Erika Jackson, and Bob Tschannen-Moran, Wolters Kluwer, Philadelphia, 2016
Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ by Daniel Goleman, Bantam Dell, 2005
Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life (3rd ed.) by Marshall B. Rosenberg, Puddledancer Press, 2015
Organize Your Emotions, Optimize Your Life by Margaret Moore, Edward Phillips, MD, and John Hanc, William Morrow Pub, 2016