I have always had relationship issues. Not with people, but with food. They say a bad relationship can kill a person. I think my bad relationship with food came close to killing me. This is the story of my relationship with food and how I’ve started to look at my emotions differently. I never thought of myself being like my mother until recently. The over exaggerated portions of food, the too-many-selections of vegetables laid out for company to choose from at dinner. And of course the several-different-desserts to choose from. After all, what if someone didn’t like apple pie and wanted a fruit pie instead? What if there were those who preferred cake to cookies or ice cream to sherbet? Growing up in our home was interesting to say the least. We had a small house. No more than 900 square feet at the most. Three bedrooms – one for the boys, one for the girls and one for my parents. There wasn’t a lot of money but there was always drama. I’d say there was a lot of “action” but the truth is, drama is a better word for what went on in our home. Like the day there was a fire in the basement and my brother picked up the burning mattress and ran upstairs with it and threw it in the snow, jumping in after it to put out his own smoldering t-shirt. Or the time another brother hid the dog under the quilt and when questioned if the dog was in his room he cried out “No! He’s not here,” as the dogs tail poked out and wagged at the sound of my mom’s voice. Or the time the…well, you get the point. I think all families are full of drama in one way or another. There always seemed to be a lot of food in our house and an event or reason to eat – and eat – and eat! Good report card? Have a cookie. Have a bad day? Have some pie. Relatives in town? Throw a buffet! It was always this way. Emotions, whether high or low, were compensated by food. As an adult I made a lot of friends and grew to love socializing. Good times, great conversation and, of course, great food, were things I loved. Once again food became a center of most events and gatherings. Ever the hostess (my mother would be so proud) I learned to cook the most extravagant dishes and serve plenty. I would wait with anticipation for the “oh my, this is so good,” and the, “this is the best lasagna I’ve ever had,” comments from around the table. It suited me. It identified me as a valuable person, I thought. I had done good. Mom would be proud. Over the phone I would tell her all about my dinner parties as she listed intently to exactly what I served, how much and what each person would say in response. I was a good girl. I did make mom proud – and she would get on the phone and tell relatives about her fabulous cook of a daughter and of course, how she had taught me everything I knew. Over the years I started to put on weight. Surely it was due to genetics and hey, I’ve always been a chubby girl, right? Look at the pictures! There’s me at my birthday party with the giant birthday cake. There’s me at the family picnic, in front of 6 different kinds of potato salad. There’s me….all of me. I tried going on several diets. One restricted me to 500 calories per day. Now anyone can do this for a day, but forever? I did lose weight and suffered from excruciating headaches and so little energy I was in bed by 7:30pm every night just to avoid living this way. I tried living off hotdogs and cottage cheese for a summer. I lost weight, but really, can you imagine that life? After breaking up with a boyfriend and vowing to make him feel sorry for ever leaving me for Skinny-Ms. Perfect, I decided to join a popular weight loss program where I had to eat so much protein, so many vegetables, so many bread products and so much dairy every day. I had lost 60lbs in 8 months and I loved every second of it. It was easy, I felt good and I felt alive. I was still technically overweight, but I looked great and my health was fantastic. My ex-boyfriend saw me, I had my revenge and the chance to say “fat chance” to his renewed advances. Then something happened. Why we regain lost weight is a mystery to me. In the course of 9 years I regained my 60 pounds, plus 70 on top. Shocking, but true. Work was at its most stressful. I wasn’t exercising. I was out with friends who also ate for comfort. We were The Enablers. If one friend was down, we’d all take her out for cheesecake. This way it wasn’t really cheating on a diet, you see. It was doing something special for a friend. If another friend had a good review at work we would go out and celebrate. After all, isn’t that what friends do to support each other? I managed to support my friends and drown my stress in enough calories to bust my way out of most of my clothes. The other interesting problem was that as I gained weight from over socializing and eating out, the less I wanted to eat out because I didn’t want the world to see this large person eating in public! The change came when I woke up one day for work. The alarm went off and I went to get up. I had to roll onto my side and then get up. Every bone in my body hurt. WHY, I don’t know. I hadn’t exercised or moved for ages, so it’s not like I should be sore from activity. I got up and walked into the washroom. As I showered and shampooed, I could feel my heart racing. “You’re going to die!” I quickly got out of the shower and huffed-and-puffed as I dried off and got dressed. If I was going to drop dead of a heart attack it was NOT going to be naked in the shower. No way! I left for work and on the 1hr commute I could feel myself sinking into a depression. I felt bad. And what do we do when we feel bad? Do something to make us feel good! And what is that something we do? Hit the drive through!! I pulled up at the window and ordered a breakfast sandwich…and that was it. It became clear to me. I was an emotional eater. It’s been a year since I went to that drive through and had the light go off in my head. I have stopped attaching emotions to food and making food a center of my life. I eat food to live, I don’t live to eat. So far I’ve lost 70lbs following a food plan based on moderation and Duromine and I have a new relationship with food and myself. I now walk three times per week. Do I still cook too much food for guests? You bet. I’ll always be a fabulous cook and always be my mother’s daughter – but I’ll never again be hostage to this body or my relationship with food. This story is to let everyone know that while sure, we can’t always change where we came from and our environment, we can change our relationships with food and ourselves. Celebrate who you are.