Hosting a cooking show like Valerie’s Home Cooking means getting to eat the delicious meals prepared on set each day. But the Food Network show’s host Valerie Bertinelli, whose weight has fluctuated since she lost 40 lbs. on the Jenny Craig program, has discovered a happy medium between consuming all the food she cooks and skipping out entirely.
“I’ve learned to respect food and I’ve learned to not look at it as my enemy,” Bertinelli, 57, tells PEOPLE. “And I’ve learned that food is love and to treat it respectfully and to really nourish your body with it, as opposed to abuse my body with it.”
The chef admits she’s had to work at having a healthy relationship with food since hitting a rough patch two years ago. “I was unconsciously and emotionally eating,” she says. “Now that I’ve woken back up, it’s about finding balance and the forgiveness for when the scale doesn’t say what you want it to say.”
Bertinelli continues, “I’m still tying to find that common ground and that comfort zone. The perspective is it’s not that important as long as you’re healthy and then you can get back into whatever size jeans you want as long as you stay aware of what you’re eating.”
RELATED VIDEO: You Won’t Believe What Valerie Bertinelli Learned From Watching ‘Breaking Bad’
“To this day, I am still working to feel comfortable in my ever changing body,” she captioned a throwback photo on Instagram Oct. 6. “But, I’m finally starting to realize, it is what’s in my heart that matters most, no matter what that stupid number on the scale tells me.”
This sweet little 16 year old girl was very uncomfortable growing into her womanly body. To this day, I am still working to feel comfortable in my ever changing body. But, I’m finally starting to realize, it is what’s in my heart that matters most, no matter what that stupid number on the scale tells me. #workinprogress • • • • • #thoughts #compassion #selflove #courage #valeriebertinelli
A post shared by Valerie Bertinelli (@wolfiesmom) on Oct 6, 2017 at 5:57pm PDT
If the Hot in Cleveland alum had to choose one last meal, it’d be a no-frills take on a beloved classic. “Pizza!” Bertinelli continues to PEOPLE. “Just good pizza. The crust has to be thick but chewy and puffed up.”
Her latest cookbook, Valerie’s Home Cooking: More Than 100 Delicious Recipes to Share With Friends and Family, is out now.