Successful dieting requires knowledge about nutrition and exercise and, more importantly, the right frame of mind. Ladies' Home Journal offers a few suggestions for reshaping thought patterns to help make healthy, permanent changes in eating habits.

"It's a matter of getting a positive attitude and turning it into positive action," explains Dr. Ronna Kabatznick, a psychological consultant to Weight Watchers. Don't "go on a diet." This seemingly innocent phrase is emotionally loaded, because it implies it's possible to eventually go "off" the diet. Instead, it's more important to improve eating habits permanently.Think "thinner" rather than "thin." Anyone who has a long-standing weight problem may find it difficult to envision a much slimmer body. Instead of aiming for a complete, immediate transformation, it is better to create a mental picture of oneself 10 pounds lighter. It's possible to lose more weight, but make that decision after reaching the initial goal.

Accept lapses, and avoid relapses. A single lapse is a small, temporary slip-up. Relapses, on the other hand, happen when a single lapse turns into many. It's best to forgive oneself for lapses and get back on track. The important thing is to use them as learning experiences.

Be aware of binge triggers. Seemingly uncontrollable urges to overeat do not appear out of the blue. Learn what people, activities or feelings trigger overeating situations and develop constructive responses to them that don't involve food.