01/05/2013 11:54 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Food Is Love!

Hi friends! I wrote to you in August about my journey in weight loss and had lost 115 pounds at that time. I'm happy to tell you that the journey continues! I'm still losing weight (at this point, 140 pounds). However, far greater in importance to me is this: I'm learning an incredible amount about nutrition, cooking, and exercise, and I finally feel I'm developing a healthy relationship with food.

(As a reminder, here's a before pic)

(And here's a more recent one, of myself and the boyfriend)

I feel I'm constantly learning new things; some are practical (cook this, not that), and some more intrinsic (think this, not that). Some are proving incredibly helpful in shifting my perspectives, behaviors, weight, and relationship with food, so I thought I'd share some here for your consideration.

"Hunger" Isn't Always What It Appears to Be

The idea that the hunger I so adamantly and often felt might only be perceived was a profound one I had not yet honestly considered. The concept came to me via what has become one of my favorite books (Clean by Alejandro Junger, M.D.). For me at the time, the heart of the book was this: Hunger can be far different than our body crying out for nutrition. More often, it can be the result of some other unmet need (peace, understanding, forgiveness, closeness, excitement, etc.).

Reading Clean felt like having a light turn on in my brain. I saw some of the flaws in my eating habits and changed them immediately, and overall the amount of food I was taking in during the day decreased substantially. However, far more helpful to me was the fact that eating became much more relaxed! For the first time in my life, I was able to eat slowly and mindfully, and these have truly been gifts beyond measure.

Fat Is Not the Enemy! (Less Is More)

Changing my connotation with the word "fat" and shifting toward the idea that with food, "less is more" was very challenging. I had conditioned my body (and mind) to want a lot of food -- that tasted great -- yet, I so desperately wanted to be thin. For a long time I'd been using "fat-free" products, not realizing they're usually high in sugar and often have ingredient lists a mile long!

Eventually, I found these products left me feeling unwell, unhealthy, and unsatiated. Gradually easing from "no fat" to "low-fat" to "fat" has been awesome. I currently eat about six servings of fat a day, like coconut oil, avocado, nuts, salmon, and raw almond butter, and I highly recommend incorporating healthy fats into your diet.

Food Is Sacred

We live in a country where food is plentiful. I know everyone vaguely knows this, but to put it in perspective, the U.N. says that more people die of hunger than they do from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined! How incredibly lucky are we to have access to all the nutrition we need to sustain ourselves and then some?

These days, I enjoy putting more gratitude, thought, energy, and love, into food. I like thinking about where it came from, who grew it and harvested it, and how thankful I am to have it. Thinking about these kinds of things and taking a little more time than is necessary to prepare the food all helps to make each meal a rich experience that I thoroughly enjoy.

Failing to Plan = Planning to Fail

I believe planning ahead could quite possibly be the greatest tool in my "weight loss tool box." If you're not used to cooking at home, I suggest first doing a bit of research. As always, I say start small so as not to get overwhelmed! Look up a couple of recipes you could actually see yourself making, or simply figure out a few food combinations that you would find desirable enough to eat: for instance, a piece of fish, a serving of rice, and a few servings of vegetables is an excellent dinner! Everyday meals do not need to be masterpieces. They simply need to sustain you and, ideally, taste pretty good too.

This might not be for everyone, but I believe it is difficult to make good choices when consistently eating take-out, and unfortunately that's what's likely to happen if one waits until the last minute to cook. If this resonates with you, I strongly suggest giving serious consideration to cooking ahead of time.

"Peer Pressure" Is Not a Legit Reason to Eat

You're not in high school anymore! For many adults, "peer pressure" is simply a matter of perception. Ultimately, the people you're changing your behavior for don't take your body or sense of peace home at night -- you do.

You are taking care of yourself! What a beautiful thing! Any acquaintance who gives you a hard time based on declining food is quite possibly dealing with a similar issue or something unrelated to you, and I'd encourage you to keep this in mind and try not to let it bother you too much. However, if someone you care about is giving you a hard time, and you feel frustrated (this has happened many times to me), I recommend pulling them aside and briefly telling them something that feels comfortable for you. ("I'm watching what I eat." "I have nutritional allergies." "It's none of your GD business.") Tell them whatever you like, or nothing at all.

Social situations can be tricky and continue to provide me with many challenges and opportunities for growth, but at the end of the day the choice is yours. Do what you want and feel good about it.

And that's all she wrote for now, folks. Wherever you are in your journey, I wish you much love, light, strength, and success -- whatever that means for you!

For more by Allison Berkowitz, click here.

For more weight loss success stories, click here.