Making Changes
By Abigail Natenshon
Author of When Your Child Has An Eating Disorder

Many people believe that if you do not acknowledge a problem, it doesn’t exist, that if you do not talk about it, it will go away or will get better on its own. This is not how life works.

  • Recognizing a problem is the first step towards finding a solution.
  • Acknowledging the problem is the next step.
  • Determining your plan of attack is the third step.

Making your plan

Habits take time to change. If your attempts to change haven’t worked well for you in the past, you may have been confused about what changes were right for you, or you may have tried to do too much too fast. Perhaps it would be helpful to think about making changes that are smaller and easier to accomplish.

Try to focus on taking one step at a time. Taking small steps will help you see more clearly what may be going wrong with your attempts at change and will give you a chance to find more and effective options for change. Small steps are the best way to insure success and gratification in your efforts. Small steps will help you be in charge. If each step you take feels good to you, you are more likely to want to stay with the project.

If a step is not working, simply try something else. There is always another way. You just have to keep looking till you find it. The important thing is to take steps that feel good to you so that you will want to make them a lasting part of your lifestyle.

Let’s look at how to create a successful plan:

1. I will recognize my strengths and attempt to capitalize on them. Here’s what I plan to do to appreciate myself better.

2. I will integrate exercise into my lifestyle. Here’s what I plan to do to become more active.

3. I will assess how healthfully I eat. Here’s what I can do to eat in a healthier way.

Psychotherapist Abigail H. Natenshon has specialized in the treatment of eating disorders with individuals, families, and groups for the past 28 years. She is the author of When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder: A Step-by-Step Workbook for Parents and Other Caregivers, Jossey Bass Publishers, San Francisco, CA. October 1999. Based on hundreds of successful outcomes, this book shepherds concerned parents step-by-step through the processes of eating disorder recognition, confronting the child, finding the most effective treatment for patient and family, and evaluating and insuring a timely recovery. A guide to eating disorder prevention, this book is useful to parents, health professionals and school personnel alike in countering the pervasive epidemic of unhealthy eating and body image concerns, and destructive media and peer influences. Her work can be reviewed further at her web site at To order visit

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