02/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How to Free Yourself From Dieting - Step 2

Seeking Help and Support is step #2 in ending the battle of chronic dieting. It's also the second step in recovery from an eating disorder. If you've been dieting all of your life in order to attain thinness, then you may not be able to achieve body satisfaction and meet the need for self-acceptance alone. If this is you, the greatest gift you can give to yourself is to enlist others...friends, family or professionals to help you achieve healthy body weight (your body's natural "set point") without extreme caloric restriction.

Seeking Help and Support might look like:
• Calling a friend when you're feeling like restricting food, or the opposite, eating past the point of hunger. Sometimes meeting the need for connection takes the place of binging.
• Find a "self acceptance" buddy, someone to remind you of all your wonderful qualities that have nothing to do with your body weight, shape or size.
• Be your own "self acceptance" buddy. Make a list of all your unique gifts and qualities that have nothing to do with your weight. Look at all of the ways that you contribute to the lives of others. Don't forget to list all of the wonderful things your body accomplishes for you every day despite the years of deprivation or over-indulgences. I.e. carrying and birthing a baby, running a 5K, sitting upright at your computer for hours, fighting off a cold, dancing, singing, hugging, etc. You get the picture? Post these on your bathroom mirror so that when the critical voice of dieting tells you "Your thighs are too big", you are reminded that you are far more than just a body part.
• Remind your family and friends that body "trash talking" is no longer on your agenda. It's so commonplace to put ourselves down and rip others apart piece by piece, that unless you are conscious of it, you may not even notice it.
• Make up your own body-loving affirmations. You don't love your body?? No problem, the affirmation can go something like "I am learning to appreciate my body every day." Pick something that works for you. This is mental from within.
• Recognize all of the ways that thinness and dieting are being marketed to you every day. It's estimated that as Americans we see 3,000 advertisements a DAY! You can't honestly believe that you are aware of them all, and what you aren't consciously aware of gets stored into the sub-conscious. That is why advertising is so powerful.
• Make an appointment with a professional dietician. This is someone who has an RD (registered dietician) after their name. They can help you to understand healthy eating and balanced nutrition, safe weight loss for obesity, the role of hormones and metabolism, and can develop a customized daily food plan until you can begin to eat "intuitively" again. Many people have trouble maintaining a healthy weight due to hormonal dysregulation. Conditions like hypothyroidism, PCOS, and even diabetes can influence your weight.
- Consider hypnotherapy for releasing your unconscious blocks to healthy eating and moderate exercise.
-Don't be afraid to talk to a professional therapist if you need more support. Ingrained patterns can be very difficult to change. With individual or group therapy you can:
-Improve upon relationships with self, friends, family and others
-Learn new ways of dealing with depression, anxiety and stress
-Handle situations and food without feeling out of control
-Learn how to have a healthy relationship with food
-Explore beliefs about your own body
-Eliminate feelings of resentment and guilt

It's important to ask yourself if there is more going on than just body dissatisfaction. What I mean by that is could you be masking depression with the drive for thinness or by over eating for comfort? Often, chronic dieting or the development of an eating disorder is a mask for feelings in your life over which you sense you have no control; depression, anxiety, or loss. Your body, then, becomes a battleground...something over which you need to exert control. Often by treating the anxiety and depression, or doing grief work resolves the underlying drive for control.

If financial challenges stop you from seeking out a professional, here are several good books to help you overcome your body dissatisfaction and chronic dieting:
Full Lives - Lindsey Hall
Overcoming Overeating: When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies - Hirschmann and Munter
When Food Is Love - Geneen Roth (anything by Geneen Roth!)
Fed Up-Free Yourself From the Diet Trap- Wendy Oliver Pratt
Breaking Free From Food Jail - Jean Antonello
Eating In the Light of the Moon - Anita Johnston
You Can Heal Your Life - Louise Hay (anything by Louise Hay)

For more resources, please email me at I look forward to contributing to your journey toward health. You don't have to go through this alone.