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    But it was time. And so, as I made progress in understanding my emotional eating, I happily discovered I wasn't "bad." I was just me, a person who had made certain choices for getting along in life that worked, yes, but at a cost I no longer wanted, or had, to bear. I found I could make other choices now that would work better.

    And I did. Slowly, sometimes painfully, I became able to envision a happy, satisfying life without my "love relationship" with food. A life without my love! The idea of it scared me until I realized that by not letting other people get close to me, I'd been living a kind of "life without love" all along.

    Oh how I wanted a real life once I opened my eyes to it! As my wanting grew stronger, I began a gradual but lasting shift away from wanting food to wanting closeness with others as well as love and respect for myself.

    But I needed to consider something else along the way: When I came to realize how much my fat had meant to me over the years, I couldn't just turn off my feelings about it. One evening I found myself actually talking to my fat. I did something I've heard people sometimes do when a dying loved one is holding on to life out of concern for the feelings of those who will be left behind: I gave my fat permission to leave me. I thanked it for being there when I didn't have other ways to take care of myself. I told it that leaving me now was okay, I'd be all right. And I told my fat I loved it, as an important part of myself, and would continue to love it and myself after it was gone.

    As time passed, I steadily lost weight. My formerly uncontrollable cravings went away, and I experienced a sense of peace I hadn't known in all the years of my life.

    Just one little (ha!) food-related problem remained: I still needed to eat. How was I going to keep a former love interest around without drifting back into its dangerously passionate embrace?

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