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The counselors and therapists usually helped me, for the moment at least. And somehow I did go on. But I still didn't know why I couldn't stop binge-eating and why I kept making myself fat, over and over again.

Then one day several years ago, weighing well over 200 pounds, I again began working with a therapist. And this time something clicked. Slowly but surely, and then with increasing excitement, I began to "get it." And I started taking those first steps toward finally letting go of my need for emotional eating.

Of course, there were times when I felt scared about venturing outside my familiar ways of thinking about myself. And times when it took me a while to accept what I learned about what food and being fat meant in my life.

But I kept going. And to my surprise, I discovered that my emotional eating and my fat were actually choices I had made for myself. Yes, I'd needed to focus so much of my life on eating. And I'd needed to surround myself with something (my fat) that would protect me so I could get through life with less risk -- as I saw it for so long -- of being hurt by others.

What I just said seemed strange to me when I first began to realize it. After all, why would anyone choose to overeat and become fat? But the more I learned about what my emotional eating and being fat had been doing to help me get through the ups and downs of my long life, the more ways I saw to do those things for myself. At last. Slowly, I found I didn't need the food and my fat as much as I had before.

Armed with this new understanding, I began uncovering some of the actual benefits I'd been receiving from binge-eating and getting fat. The more I worked through my life of emotional eating from this point of view, the more I realized that the eating and being fat had taken the place of some important areas of living, areas I'd been unable to deal with in other ways.

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