I've discussed the thin line separating dieting from an eating disorder before. The process doesn't occur overnight. For me, it happened step by step. Negative thoughts about my appearance led to dieting. Dieting led to constant restricting. Constant restricting led to perceptions of "good" and "bad" foods.
By the time I realized my diet was controlling my life, the thoughts that influenced me were so instilled in my mind and accepted as fact, I couldn't recognize how illogical they really were. I didn't realize how irrational they were until actually spoken aloud to someone else. Have you ever found yourself thinking any of the following statements?
Everyone is this room is looking at me thinking that I'm fat.
He would like me better if I lost weight.
They're thinking that I shouldn't be eating this.
He's looking at my (face, stomach, whatever body part) because he thinks it's fat.
No one else cares about what they eat as much as me.
I don't want to go do something fun because I feel fat.
If I lose weight, some part of my personality will change as well.
If you've believed any of these ideas to be true, take a moment and imagine your best friend saying them to you. What is the likelihood of these thoughts being plausible? Is it really possible that everyone in the room is thinking that? Is it really true that no one else cares about food? Is your social life suffering because you don't want to be seen?
If your mindset mirrors this list, dieting won't make you feel better. Dieting is your effort to better yourself, and if the perceived excess weight is gone, poor self-esteem will still be there. Learn to love yourself, and it will be a natural progression to treat your body well.