As an overeater or undereater struggling to become a “normal” eater, you’re in for a bumpy ride. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Oh, no, I can hear you say, Things are already terrible. How could they get worse? Here’s how. By stopping old behaviors and ways of thinking and trying on new ones, you’re entering unchartered territory which is scary and strange. Plan on feeling frightened, frustrated, hopeless, overwhelmed, helpless, and impatient. Plan on wanting to give up and go back to your old ways. Plan on feeling like a stranger to yourself and thinking and acting in unpredictable ways.

There is no way to achieve “normal” eating without going through this process. It is impossible. Everyone who has worked through their eating problems has felt similar to the way you do. No one had a good time, no one was thrilled with the process. But everyone who learns to become more or less a “normal” eater is happy that they endured what they did because of the rewards they’re experiencing now. As a matter of fact, everyone who’s given up an addiction goes through the same process. Imagine all those people out there who’ve recovered from gambling, sex, alcohol, and drug addictions. They’re proof that if you want it badly enough and are willing to go through the change process, you can do it.

Some tips to make it easier. Accept that you’re in for a bumpy ride and stop struggling against it. Every time you think about taking the easy way out and giving up or returning to dieting for its comfy structure and rules, tell yourself you deserve better. Call on your resourcefulness, fortitude and I’m-gonna-lick-it- spirit. Remind yourself that you can do what other people have done: recover. You only have to go through what they went through to get there. If you want to be a “normal” eater badly enough, you’ll keep pushing through whatever is in your way, keep falling down and getting up, go through periods when you want to throw in the towel and moments when you want to climb to the top of the mountain and shout, “Hey, world, I just ate “normally.”

There are many delightful surprises on the road to “normal” eating, but the roughness of the road shouldn’t be one. Knowing what to expect can make you feel less alone. And reminding yourself that you will get to the other side provides you with hope. From wherever your standing right now, look down that road and notice the bumps. Now notice what’s beyond them—you as a “normal” eater.