05/09/2014 03:19 pm ET Updated Jul 09, 2014

Eating Gives Life

You eat from the moment of birth to the moment of death. Eating gives you life and sustains you. It brings you joy, zest, vitality, and builds relationships. It can also bring illness, sadness, chronic pain, isolation, and for some, a premature death. It all depends on your relationship with food.

Where does your relationship with food begin? Baby-food companies don't produce little jars named chocolate chip cookie or seven-layer cake. As I wrote in Body, Mind, & Mouth... Life's Eating Connection, "When babies are born, parents are instructed to feed them every three to four hours. They are never told: Give them a bottle when they feel happy or sad. When they are bored, feed them. If someone is mistreating them, offer them a bottle. Always give them one when they are watching television. Then, every time you take them to the movies, super-size their bottle." It's the adults in our lives who introduce us to these types of food and eating patterns. We, in turn, learn to use food for a multitude of reasons. How we eat indicates if food will bring joy and sustain life, or just the opposite, bring illness and pain.

I suggest that you start at the end and work your way back. Write your own obituary. Your obituary will state your life's accomplishments and your relationships with loved ones. If food gives you life, what does that life look like? If food causes you pain, illness, or isolation, what does that look like? Which do you choose?

I have had the privilege and honor to work with many outstanding clients. My clients enrich my life more than I ever expected. I learn different lessons from each. Sadly, I've lost some to terminal illnesses, where I've experienced tremendous grief.

One client I learned from was Ronnie. Ronnie spent most of her life battling a weight issue and struggling with eating. When I first began working with her, there were times I would just listen when she spoke, and say, "Ronnie you are so deep." The thoughts she had and the way she stated them were as if a "Divine Being" were speaking through her. Thankfully, I had the privilege of knowing Ronnie for years before she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, an illness that ended her life.

Before her treatments her husband took her on her first cruise. Her concern was the abundance of food. I suggested she take her focus off the food and put it on having a good time. Without skipping a beat her very next question was, "How many evening bags should I bring?" My answer was, "How many do you own? Take them all!" Of all the cruise advice, that was her favorite.

Ronnie bravely faced her cancer and during this time our relationship went from a business one to friendly visitations. I called them my "Wednesdays with Ronnie." It was during these visitations that Ronnie gave me her verbal obituary because she knew cancer was taking her life.

She told me she wanted to go back to using her given name, Veronica. This was something she always wanted to do but never knew how to ask for it. She thought Veronica was a beautiful name, and it was time for her to have a beautiful name because she had accomplished so much in her life.

She spoke to me about how food had taken too much away from her. She said at times throughout her life that her eating denied her and her family of fun experiences. She confessed that her weight often derailed her happiness. She blamed her cancer on her eating and weight. At the end of her life she felt sorry for all of this, because she realized her eating was always within her control.

Her family was most important to her, and she gave me details of her deep love for each family member. She knew her love for each of them would never cease to exist. She asked me to someday share her insights with others. I told her I would call it, "Veronica's Song of Victory." This was Veronica's verbal obituary, stating her accomplishments, her lessons, and her love.

So I am suggesting to you to write your obituary. Name each of your loved ones and what they mean to you. Own your accomplishments and the strengths you've used to achieve them. Learn lessons the first time they appear. If your eating is causing you illness, sadness, chronic pain, or isolation, redefine your relationship with food, now! Get help if needed. You did not come into this world learning to eat in a manner that causes excess weight or illness, you were taught. You have the time and the opportunity to start at the end and work backward. Change your relationship with food to one that sustains life, builds relationships, and brings you joy. Reap the benefits of "Veronica's Song of Victory," and eating will give you life.