It’s not unusual for a star of My 600-lb Life to use food as comfort. For Karina Garcia, 38, the unhealthy coping mechanism began as a child because she wasn’t receiving enough attention from her parents. The 633-pound woman admitted in a recent episode of the TLC reality show that she was often sick as a kid — due to extreme asthma — and turned to emotional eating to combat her loneliness.

“I had asthma really bad, so I was in and out of the hospital with asthma attacks and I was in an oxygen tent most of the time,” she explained. “I remember them holding me down, pinning me down, sticking IVs in me. I felt like I was suffocating. But my family was always there when I was sick. I remember looking over at my mom and seeing her sitting there crying and watching me suffer.”

karina garcia tlc

(Photo Credit: TLC)

Karina is the oldest of three children but never spent much time with her younger siblings because she was always sick. By the time she was old enough to attend school, her health began to improve. Unfortunately, the years she spent in and out of the hospital put financial stress on her parents forcing them to constantly work to pay the medical bills.

“I thought this would be a happy time, but my illness took a financial toll on my family, so my parents were always working,” she continued. “When I was younger and in the hospital, everyone paid attention to me, and now it was like I didn’t exist at all. But I really just wanted a little attention. I wanted a hug, but they were too busy to give it, so food was my hug.”

Karina admits that she probably weighed about 100 pounds by age 10. “Before school and with my allowance, I would buy junk food: chips, soda, cookies, cupcakes,” she added. “Food was always there to comfort me no matter what.”

Thankfully, she was able to make a change to improve her health. After a year, she dropped 235 pounds with help from a gastric balloon he already had in her stomach and a second gastric bypass surgery performed by Dr. Nowzaradan. She is now 398 pounds and continues to improve her health. “He [Dr. Nowzaradan] has helped me do what I need to do in order to lose weight, and he has helped me get my life back,” she told Newsweek. “My goal right now is to lose as much weight as possible this year so I can get skin removal surgery by the end of this year. I am hoping to be out of my parents’ house pretty soon and back to work.”

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