College Student Seeking Help and Support for Chronic Dieting

By September 6, 2012

I have struggled with chronic dieting for about 5 years now. I found “Life Inside the Thin Cage” and was extremely happy. I am having trouble though figuring out how to eat right. For so long I haven’t eaten properly and now I want to change but I am confused about how to know how much to eat and when? I have been debating about finding a nutritionist but I am at college and don’t know if I would able to find one. Can you please help me figure out how to determine how to eat?   I have another question. About three years ago I was diagnosed with depression and anorexia and got help and got back to a normal weight so my parents knew I struggled with my weight at that time but they don’t understand that this struggle goes much deeper and it still haunts me. They don’t realize that I live with this obsession about weight and food everyday. I want to share with them about this book and how it has helped me realize I need help and support but I am scared of their reaction. Do you have any advice into how I should go about doing this? I don’t know if I can explain it properly. How do I make sure they understand this disorder? I really need some advice in how to go about talking to them. Thanks, L.

Dear L.,

It’s wonderful that you recognize your eating struggles and are now ready to make some changes. After five years of chronic dieting, it’s easy to understand why you feel overwhelmed as to how to pursue healthful eating. It can be hard to break free of the restrictive eating mindset that dieting promotes.

As you continue to heal however, you’ll soon find out that healthful eating need not be complicated. But it’s not “one size fits all” either. We are all uniquely created, with diverse body types and metabolisms. Seeing a nutritionist to help you work through your individual needs is an excellent idea. Check with your college’s health clinic, and they should be able to refer you to one (ask to see a registered dietitian).

That said, I can give you some general guidelines for healthful eating. A good place to start is to be sure you eat three balanced meals a day, with healthy snacks in between if needed (to stave off hunger and keep your blood sugar levels steady). Strive to include plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as a lean protein source at each meal. As you become more confident about your choices, start to build in a few treats, in moderation. You don’t have to eliminate your favorite not-so-healthy foods, and will eventually learn to include them in your overall healthy eating lifestyle. Check out the “Eat Well, Live Well” section of our articles library for more details.

As you begin to incorporate these kinds of changes, healthy eating will become a way of life for you, not another diet to go on and off of. You will once again learn to listen to your body in selecting appropriate portions


Dear L:

To follow up on the second part of your question, I just wanted to encourage you that you are doing a great thing by reading my book and taking to heart the important questions it raises.

When it comes to talking to family, as I discuss in chapter 26 “Opening the Closet Door,” you really need to think through how/when/what is best for you in doing this. Some families are very supportive, instinctively knowing the right thing to say (or not say). But most people may have a hard time understanding where you’re coming from, so you need to be prepared for that.

One thing that might help is to have them read “Thin Cage” too, especially Part 1, so they can have a better understanding of how this thinking works. Another helpful step is if you can all talk to a counselor together at some point, though you should feel free to do this alone until you are ready for that. I also recommend asking God to prepare you and them to hear your news. This may sound simple, or crazy, depending on your background, but from my own experience it has provided much comfort to know that there is a God out there who can help “smooth out” some of the rough edges of life.

The important thing is that you’re on the right track – just keep taking one step at a time forward, and before you know it, this will become much easier.