I’ve always struggled with my weight. My mother had severe eating disorders, which became my eating disorders at an early age (thanks Mom!). Mom was a “foodie,” an amazing chef and a published NYC food critic. There was always delicious food around: free meals at great new restaurants, deliveries of trendy foods to try, endless samples and food-centric parties. There was a lot of happy emotion around eating! It was part of our life since it was part of Mom’s work.
When my parents’ divorced, food became our emotional coping mechanism for soothing negative relationship issues. Today there is a lot more that is known about emotional eating. As life’s stress turns up the heat, many people turn to food for comfort and stress relief. The food choices that typically tend to sooth the soul are the sweetest and fattiest foods available. When you are experiencing low emotional moments, food cravings seem to be at their strongest. It is now recognized that overeating has a similar effect on the brain as pain medication. It is an unhealthy cycle and a really hard habit to break.
There was another issue, my mother and I share a genetic inability to produce leptins. Leptins are hormones produced by fat cells and are responsible for the communication from the fat cells to the brain. When functioning properly, leptins send a message to the brain telling it to replenish fat cells because stored energy from those cells has been used up. But a diet that is routinely high in sugar and processed foods scrambles the message so you are constantly hungry. There is no shut off of that “I’m hungry” message. So portion control for me has to be totally conscious and focused.
The story moves on into adolescence, but there is a happy ending!