Valerie Bertinelli discusses her complicated relationship with food in the latest issue of People.

The 60-year-old, who put on a bikini for the first time in almost 30 years back in 2009 to pose for the magazine’s cover, says of her previous shoot when she was about to turn 49: “There’s a lot of pride and a lot of shame associated with that cover. I worked really, really, really hard. Physically, definitely. I wish to God I had worked just as hard on my mental shape.

“But when I don’t work on what’s eating me, I’m going to start eating.”

Credit: People
Credit: People

RELATED: Valerie Bertinelli Opens Up About Her Journey To Find ‘True Joy’ In 2020

The “One Day at a Time” actress reveals when her issues with food started, saying, according to “Today”: “The very first time I became really aware of my body, I remember my fifth-grade teacher patted me on the belly and said, ‘You might want to keep an eye on that.’

“How dare he? At that age we’re so full of joy, and then to have someone slap you for nothing. For just standing there.

“Now I can be angry for that little girl,” she continues. “It feels like so much time wasted.”

RELATED: The Competition Is Stacked For Food Network Canada’s New Culinary Competition ‘Wall Of Chefs’

Bertinelli also says how she was constantly feeling “big” next to her “One Day at a Time” co-star Mackenzie Phillips, telling the mag: “I wasn’t. I was 15 years old. But I was made to feel I could stand to lose a few, like, ‘Let’s see if we can get you into a smaller size.'”

From then on, the star says she “was always trying to be better. Thinner. Nicer. Prettier.”

Bertinelli insists she no longer puts as much pressure on herself: “I don’t weigh myself as much anymore. I’ll put on some jeans once in a while to see how they feel. Why do I have to know the number I am?”

The actress’ candid interview also sees her talk about her 17-month-old brother’s tragic death. He died after accidentally drinking poison.

Admitting she didn’t always have an easy time talking about her feelings, Bertinelli says: “When I came into the world, my mom was grieving. She was pregnant with me when my brother Mark died. He was only 17 months old. He died in the most horrible way. They were visiting a friend’s farm and he wandered off unsupervised and drank poison out of a soda pop bottle that wasn’t supposed to have poison in it.”

Click to View Gallery
Star Spotting