THE BLOG

Transform Bad Eating Habits and Body Image for Good

01/13/2014 11:24 am ET | Updated Mar 15, 2014

One of my favorite things about blogging on The Huffington Post is asking people in the know what they know about changing bad eating habits and body image for good. These last few years, I made it my special mission to ask everyone from Victoria's Secret models and Hollywood celebrities to research psychologists and bestselling authors for their best advice on boosting body image.

Surprisingly, most everyone said essentially the same thing: accept yourself. Oh, and while you're at it, change yourself.

That's what Victoria's Secret model Doutzen Kroes said: "Women have to accept their body but be the best they can be."

That's essentially what Wheel of Fortune star Vanna White said: "You don't have to be thin. Be healthy. Don't obsess. Just feel good about yourself."

That's even what the voice of disheartened dieters, New York Times health writer Tara Parker-Pope, said: "You have to accept yourself as are. You have to accept that if you don't change, you're OK the way you are right now. That's the starting point."

All this talk about self-acceptance and positive change got me thinking: What's the simplest, most effective way to follow this seemingly-contradictory advice?

After combing through the cutting-edge research and current psychological theory, I'm happy to report I found my answer. Actually, what I found is a powerful antidote to America's epidemic of food and body issues.

Body compassion. If you were expecting the answer to be quite the opposite of treating your body with compassion, you're probably more than a little taken aback. The very idea of treating your body like a friend or a loved one, with love and kindness, may sound more like a recipe for overeating and body dissatisfaction than anything else.

Truth be told, body compassion is exactly what the diet doctor should be ordering. Why's that? Because a little body compassion goes a long way toward changing bad eating habits and body image for good. According to a growing body of scientific evidence and the unfolding experience of my therapy clients, thinking kind thoughts boosts body image, curbs emotional eating, and helps one and all eat and live more mindfully.

If you'd like to discover what compassionate minds have already discovered -- a relatively quick and easy way to eat better, feel better and look better -- you're in luck. My new Body Compassion video series distills the latest psychological research and theory into five easy lessons in accepting and changing yourself at once. Yes, you actually can do both.

Watch and learn why body image matters more than you think, then take a distress test and find out if your body image is causing you serious psychological distress. Keep watching and learn the very same guided meditations and visualizations I teach my clients with food and body image issues.

It couldn't be easier to start accepting and changing yourself for the better. Just sit back, relax and hit the play button.

Jean Fain is a Harvard Medical School-affiliated psychotherapist specializing in food and body issues, and the author of "The Self-Compassion Diet." For more information, see www.jeanfain.com.

For more by Jean Fain, L.I.C.S.W., M.S.W., click here.