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I write a lot about feeling helpless around food and lacking inner conviction that says, “I can do this. I can change my eating.” At the core of this problem is that many of you feel powerless to change much of your life—partners, jobs, friends, etc. Well, yesterday I went to a spirited political rally where people were about nothing but change. By rallying, these folks were not only fighting to make things better, but were empowering themselves. What does politics have to do with healing food problems? Lots.

Self-empowerment is contagious. Start in one area and it will spread to another, maybe even to your eating. Being with people who whole-heartedly believe they can create change rubs off on you. Hang around them long enough and you gain faith in yourself. Too many people who feel like victims pal around with like-minded folks who bring each other down. But spend time with impassioned souls who glory in asserting their power and you soon begin to think like them, ie, change is possible, why not give it a try, nothing lost, nothing gained. Their spirit lifts you up.

Does your attitude about changing the world mirror your attitude about changing yourself because you’re used to thinking, “I can’t,” rather than “I can”? Remember, the victim mentality is an acquired mindset, whether about the personal or the political. If you grew up with parents who encouraged you to think freely and critically, wanted to hear your opinion even if it was different from theirs, and didn’t sit around complaining but took action to improve their lives and yours, you learned that what you think, say and do makes a difference to yourself and to the world. However, if you were raised by parents who whined and commiserated, focused on problems rather than solutions, put down your passions and positions, or invalidated or ignored you, you probably learned you don’t count and shouldn’t even bother to try.

If you’ve never been political, this election is a good time to jump in because passions are high. Start by allowing yourself to feel angry about injustice, inspired, spirited, deserving of something better. Remind yourself of your right to your own thoughts and your own voice. Often—very often—you have to change many other things about yourself before you can improve your relationship with food and your body. More than anything else, getting involved politically makes you feel as if you count and deserve more. It is this combination of feeling worthy and entitled to a better life that you need to overcome your eating problems. It is this dual experience of wanting and believing you can have what you want that can transform your thoughts of and behavior around food.