3 Triggers to Emotional Eating [Podcast]

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Today I explore the three triggers to emotional eating and explain why food is the solution to the problem and not the actual problem. Josh calls to explore loneliness and how that impacts his relationship with food. I give strategies on what to do instead of eating for comfort or distraction. Don't miss this eye-opening episode.


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You're listening to the Dr. Nina show with Dr. Nina Seville Rocklin only on LA talk radio.

Dr. Nina: Welcome to the Dr. Nina show here on LA talk radio and Instagram. I'm your host, Dr. Nina Savelle, Rocklin. And I am here to help you wake up and think about your day, not your diet, right? Because counting calories, being on a diet, counting fat grams, counting anything getting on a scale, that is not the way to heal your relationship with food. The way to heal for good permanently is to focus on why you're eating, not what you are eating. And I am here to help you do exactly that.

If you would like to call in and talk with me today, the number at the show is 323-203-0815. That's 323-203-0815. I would love to hear what is on your mind what is weighing on you because the only way to heal is to focus not on what you're eating but what is eating at you. 

So last week, and by the way, I'm going to start talking, but if you would like to join me, Feel free to interrupt. You do not have to wait for me to finish talking or anything like that, just call in and let's talk. So last week, I shared some of the common situations that lead to a vulnerability to emotional eating. And I wanted to talk about three of them. I ended up talking about one of them. And that was loneliness.

So just to recap, loneliness can feel like emptiness, right? We can experience in our body and in our soul as if there's something missing; we're empty, we're lonely, there's a void there. And often, we eat because we want to symbolically fill that loneliness, filling up the void inside with food to symbolically fill the void that is there. So that is one of the conditions that lead to a vulnerability to emotional eating. 

The key then is to address that loneliness to address that emptiness to first recognize it and not say oh my god, I can't believe I ate that. I can't believe I ate so much. What's wrong with me? No. And Josh is making the point that the loneliness was also felt in childhood for you, Josh, and many other people. So that's a good point, that when we feel something in the present, it can also take us back in time to an even more acutely painful place. 

So the key is, if you are lonely, the key is to reach out and connect with other people. If you are empty. If you feel unsatisfied in life, it's to recognize that it's to figure it out. And to find a way to have more of a satisfaction in your life. And that starts with what is the problem? What are you missing? What will make it better? 

And to respond to yourself because you can't always make it better. You can't fix it immediately. But you got to respond to yourself and acknowledge and validate. Yeah, I'm lonely, I'm empty, there's something missing. Something's wrong. And the power of acknowledging it actually helps diminish it when you tell yourself, Oh, this is not a big deal. I shouldn't feel this. And you know, there are people who are having such a more difficult time in life. What am, Why am I even bothering with this? All you do is make yourself feel worse. 

And Nikki is saying if it's not a possibility, reaching out if you're lonely. Yeah, I feel you, Nikki. And that's why there's so many wonderful sources out there. That's why I created my food for that community on Facebook. There are people there from all over the world, people there, all over the country in the United States and the world. So if you are feeling lonely, you can reach out on my Facebook page or maybe another one. 

There are ways that you can reach out to new people. Maybe you can't call your best friend at three in the morning, but maybe you can get online and join a group that way that there are ways they may not be satisfying, they may not be exactly what you want. If you want a really heartfelt conversation or relationship, you may not be able to get it in that instant, but you can take a step towards getting it. And that is, that feels good. It feels like you're doing something about the real problem. Food is the solution to the problem. It is not the problem.

I gotta say that again because it's so freakin important. Binge eating, stress, eating, emotional eating, any kind of problematic compulsive eating behavior is not the problem. It is the solution to the problem you are eating to get away from your main voice. You're eating to fill a void. You're eating to convert emotional pain to physical pain, eating to just numb, distract, comfort yourself, celebrate whatever it is. There is some reason why you are doing it. 

Josh is saying what about feeling like I can't get privacy. Josh, I can't tell you how many of my patients talk to me from my, from their cars. They talk to me from their cars. Sometimes, if you have a car, that is the only place where you can get privacy, especially in this last year of the pandemic, where so many people are at home. 

So loneliness is the first situation that leads a vulnerability to turning to food to resolve it. Another one is the experience of sadness. Whoa, sadness is a difficult, painful, sad state to be in. If you are sad, if you are depressed, if you got the blues, you might find yourself turning to food for comfort. Specifically, if you guys know my food mood formula, and you're feeling sad, and you turn to ice cream to feel better. That is because ice cream is correlated with comfort. 

So sadness is related to feelings of rejection, lack of trust, shame, fear. And those are untenable, painful, awful states that you're going to do anything to get away from it. And hence, hence ice cream, hence other things that you might be eating for comfort. 

So there are three ways to deal with sadness. Studio is recognizing it, right? When you go, aha, that lightbulb moment, oh my gosh, that's what I'm doing. That's when you have to find a different way of relating to your experience of sadness. So there are three ways of dealing with sadness. One is to feel the pain and to cry. Oh, and that's hard. Sometimes we do not want to go there. Um, we have to experience it, though, we have to experience it. The second is to distract from it. I'm going to get to that in a little bit. But actually, the third way is to use food which is a form of distraction. 

So in terms of experiencing sadness until it is gone, how do you get rid of feelings by feeling them, but we don't want to feel them. First of all, we live in a culture that says it's bad to feel feelings. You're weak. If you feel feelings, don't feel feelings. Whatever you do, drop them positive, think them away. Think about everything you're grateful for. Feel grateful, but don't feel sad. Don't feel bad, don't feel anything upsetting. So we live in a culture that says, whoa, don't go there. And then what do we do with our feelings? 

And yes, I'm, and Josh is saying men are capable of crying also, of course, guys are always told not to cry. But you're a big boy. Big boys don't cry. Boys Don't Cry. Men don't cry. Yeah, well, they do because humans cry. So if you're using food not to feel not to feel sad, and you don't know how to access that sadness, the first thing you need to do is express it. So I've got some sentences here for you to finish. Okay, so whether you write them down now or listen to them later, or if you have my book The binge cure there on page 45. 

Start by finishing these sentences. I'm feeling down because and by the way, if you're on Instagram, write me a comment what's making you feel down. Like for example, I'm feeling down because I got a bad Review of my job. That would be an example of that. I'm unhappy because. I'm unhappy because why you know what's making you unhappy, I'm dejected. Notice how they're getting more intense. We start with feeling down, then unhappy, then dejected, then I'm depressed. I'm depressed about the, depressed about climate change. I'm depressed that our world is just in such a terrible state. 

It's so depressing. I am grief-stricken. I am grief-stricken. When I think about the person I lost from COVID, that brings me so much grief. You can do that, too. That's expressing what you feel. And notice that I go from very benign, relatively innocuous, feeling down to feeling grief-stricken, which is really powerful and intense. Because the other thing about feelings. The other thing about feelings is that if we don't, if we don't let ourselves feel something, any feeling feels like too intense. 

Examine self is saying she's sad because she's 44 and still has issues with her parents. Oh my gosh, I know people who are 74 who still have issues with their parents. Yeah, you know, we, we can leave the house but our parents, we still have issues with them, the actual parents, and then we also internalize, we can internalize our parents, and what was once relational between you and someone else, for example, a critical parent. So you know, you go, I can't get. I can't wait to get away from this critical parent. And then what happens is you become critical to yourself. 

So now you're not living with your parents. Maybe not for many years, but you can treat yourself as your parents treated you, and then you feel bad. And then guess what, there's ice cream for comfort. So um, I'm not saying that; that is the situation with this person on Instagram. But I'm just saying that that is also something that happens. And until we work through our relationship with people from the past, parents, siblings, anyone else who had an impact on our lives, they will continue to haunt us. We will, they will continue to haunt us, but the good news is that once you realize what you're dealing with, then you can address it. 

When you can't fight an invisible army, you just get beaten up. But when you make that army visible, then you see what you're fighting, and then you can fight back, and you could say, oh no, I see you; ah ah, Not today. And you can also heal and grieve the examined self. That's where you got the name. I love the name, by the way. You might want to read a book if you haven't already called The Examined Life. Yes, the examined life. 

So, that is it's really important to stay curious. Not critical. Not Oh my God, why am I doing this? Why do I still have this bad relationship with my parents? Why can't I stop eating this? Or that? It's important to say, okay, what's happening here? What's going on? How, you know, how did I learn to talk to myself this way? What is this food doing for me? And then that really can significantly change, hey, that can significantly change the way that you respond. 

So you know, the other way of dealing with sadness is to distract from it. That is where food comes in. Food is distracting. You all know about comfort food, right? Comfort food is a temporary distraction. And by the way, we say comfort food. But what we really want is to be comforted, to be comforted by another person. But here's the thing, if we have the experience of people, that people are unpredictable, unreliable, and unavailable.

Food is reliable, predictable, and available. And so we might turn to food for comfort, instead of to people, and if we never learned to comfort ourselves with words, because people were not comforting us in a way that was helpful. Then, of course, you can use food because it works. It works until you find a new way that also works and is even more powerful. Quick, quick, just thing that happened. I've shared this before, but it's good to hear this repeatedly. And some of you have not heard this. 

So some years ago, I was at the park. I was at the park with my daughter; she was playing with some friends. So I was just like, looking around. And there were these two little toddlers there. Like maybe 16 to 18 months old, just starting to walk, and they're digging in the sand. And they're digging and digging and digging and laughing and just having a great time, little boy, little girl, and all of a sudden, the little boy gets up, and he runs off. He toggles off quickly with the shovel with the little girl's shovel. 

So naturally, she starts to cry. Of course, little dude just took her shovel and left. Who doesn't know what that's like? So she starts to cry, and her mom comes running up. And mom's like, Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry, here, here here. And she's looking at her diaper bag, don't cry, don't cry. It's okay. It's okay. And the kid is crying. Of course, she's crying because she's sad.

And then mom takes out a cookie and says, Don't cry, have a cookie. Here, have a cookie. And I just thought, oh my god. Oh my gosh, I can't say anything. But I really, really, really want you because what I wanted to say to that mother was lady, you're teaching daughter that her feelings are too much. She shouldn't feel them. They might even burden other people. They make other people anxious. And if she can't, you know, if she can't stop feeling sad, she should eat a cookie. This is not good. This is not healthy. And then I realized, Oh, actually, that's exactly what the girl is going to grow up, and internally, she's going to feel sad, and she's going to tell herself, don't feel it. 

Don't feel it. Don't feel it, don't feel it. And then she will still feel it. So she will get a cookie for herself. That's how this starts. We need to learn to be with our feelings in a new way. What would have been the best way? If the mom had got went up to the little girl and said, Oh, honey, I know you're sad. Validate and acknowledge it. I know you're sad. Of course, you're sad. Your little friend just left you alone, and he took your shovel? Of course, you're sad? Of course, you know, you're gonna feel better soon. reassurance. But right now, it's hard. It's sad? Of course, it is. Right? That's how you get rid of feelings. You feel them, you acknowledge them, and you validate them. 

So what to do instead? Use sweet words instead of sweet. I cringe at parents' behavior on a daily basis. Well, yeah. And just, you know, it's, I want you to really be an absorber, and, and absorb. So the examined self is saying she cringes at her parents' behavior on a daily basis. You want to be kind of a social anthropologist. Oh, you know, what are they doing? And why? How did the way that they are how did that affect you? What did you learn from that? What did you learn about how to be in the world? How to be with yourself, how to be with other people. 

Okay, so comfort words sounds like, well, it's sweet. You know, I use that word purposefully. How do we talk to our friends? We're sweet. If our friends are crying, we don't say hopefully we don't say, Oh, stop that. Think of them something you're grateful for. It's not so bad. Well, hopefully, we say Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You know this is hard. Of course, you feel this way. This is hard. I'm here for you. I bet you say that to your friends. And if you do, say that to yourself, treat yourself the way you treat your friends. That is so important. Oh, Studi, I am so glad that this is helpful. 

Um, most people never think about food this way. Because I think about it this way, not only because of my personal experience and my personal experience of liberating myself from all eating disorders but then as a psychoanalyst, learning that it is the hidden reasons it is the relational reasons. It is. There are all these reasons why we use food for ways that we are not cognizant. We don't realize why we're doing what we're doing. It's hidden from us. But once we know it, then we can do something differently. 

So if you're if you're friend says she or he is depressed. You don't say, Oh, just get over it, stop feeling that way. You have nothing to be depressed about. You might say that to yourself, right? If you wouldn't say it to a friend, a child, or someone you love, don't say it to yourself. 

Hey, I have a caller. Welcome to the show.

Josh: Hi Dr. Nina, it's Josh. How are you? 

Dr. Nina: Hey, Josh, hold on, let me raise the volume here. Good to hear from you. What is going on?

Josh: Not much. Hopefully, my connection is good. But I wanted to say hi, and I enjoyed what you were saying about crying. And I think I made the comment that men can cry too. And it's kind of interesting to try to figure out why we wouldn't be sad. To it gives, that can also help to bring out the feeling, right.

Dr. Nina: Yeah, I mean, you don't just burst into tears for no reason. It might feel like no reason. But something is happening to make you feel sad. I just have one thing to say, though, about sadness and anger. Some people and Josh, this is sort of an aside. Some people have a really hard time feeling sad. So it goes right to right to mad. And they find they find it easy to get mad, but they really have a hard time accessing their more vulnerable sadness. And some people have a hard time being mad.

Josh: Yeah, that's interesting because we were just talking about on Instagram about the examined life. And one of the chapters in the examine is about how it can prevent us from feeling sad. And I remember that chapter was about a little boy who was so angry all the time because he couldn't access these feelings of sadness. And he was just angry.

Dr. Nina: Sadness is a passive emotion, right? Sadness is a passive emotion. Anger is an active emotion. Boys are socialized to be active and not passive. And that's why so many guys have a lot of trouble with those more vulnerable feelings.

Josh: Yeah, and, and I think anger is really, really toxic. I mean, if we're just walking around or doing what we're doing angry, we're basically crazy at that point, I think I mean,

Dr. Nina: No, no, I absolutely disagree. Anger is a reaction to a situation. It is not a character flaw. If someone is walking around being angry all the time, that's then you know, something's going on. They're not processing something. But it doesn't mean you're crazy. It doesn't mean anything is wrong with you. It means you're leading with anger for a reason. But anger is just it's just a feeling. It's just a reaction to circumstances and situations, just as sadness is just as anxiety and fear is just as happiness is. And we as a society say, Oh, that's a negative emotion. Don't feel that that's negative, you're being negative. No, you're being human. It's just a feeling. It's what people do with their anger. That becomes problematic.

Josh: Yeah, okay, that makes a lot of sense. I like exactly what you took with. You made my comment a lot, make it sound a lot better. I think that just get to the sadness, then. It would be great because then we maybe wouldn't feel angry. We feel liberated, we feel liberated from our anger and our frustration.

Dr. Nina: When we express it, that's how we get rid of feelings, right? As counterintuitive as it sounds. The only way to get rid of feelings is to feel them. And by the way, people will tell me about anger that they Oh, they went for a run and they got rid of their anger, or you know, they tried to get rid of their anger they punch something punching bag or a pillow or something, and they try to get rid of it their anger. Well, that's getting rid of the physical manifestation of anger, but it is not getting rid of. It's not working through the prop, the thoughts, and processing, the feeling of anger. If that's just the discharging the sensation in your body that anger creates. You still have to go with the thought.

Josh: bad. Is it possible that I'm feeling sad for other people, or is that just a projection? I feel like I'm feeling sad for people that I see that our staff does that possible.

Dr. Nina:  You're feeling sad for people that you see who are repressing their sadness?

Josh: Maybe, yeah.

Dr. Nina:  And are you? Well, in that way you can feel sad for other people. But what if you were filled to feel sad about something in your own life?

Josh: Well, that's what I think. I think it might just be my own life. I might just be not so much projecting, but sort of just confused about emotion.

Dr. Nina: Displacement, yeah displacing it, yeah. So what about that? What, what's? Well, you know, how would you answer the question? Like, what would you say about would you finish the prompt if I'm feeling down?

Josh: I would say I'm feeling down. I mean, I don't have a problem with feeling down. But I would say I would be very happy to feel down because of what we just talking about, the anger. So I'd be feeling good about feeling down. But I'd be feeling down because I just, again, goes to other people that I feel like maybe other people, they don't like the way other people are treating me. Now that the pandemic is over. I think that possibly could it.

Dr. Nina: No, wait. The pandemic is over what? What world are you living in? It's less intense, yes.

Josh:  No, yes. That's getting back to normal. And I don't want them to get back to normal so much, and I feel like that's the pain that I'm feeling.

Dr. Nina:  Well, is it pain, or is it anger? Or is it anxiety? Or is it all three? Right?

Josh:  I think it's anger, but then the anger really just sadness.

Dr. Nina: No, no, no, sometimes I said sometimes anger covers sadness, and sometimes sadness covers anger, but it's not a that's not an all size fits all situation. It's not always the opposite of what you're feeling. You have, though, that is when people are really old, always go to anger. Or always go to sadness.

Josh:  Yeah, I'm angry. I'm angry.

Dr. Nina: I think so. Tell us more. Tell me more.

Josh: I'm angry because I have this pandemic, or I just say, quarantine, the really strict quarantine. I was like, Oh, this is this could be great. I mean, I usually think positively about unfortunate circumstances, but then it turns out that maybe it's not so great that you know. That, in fact, it might have even been a horrible, you know, the quarantine might have just hurt me or hurt people that I like, you know, a lot of loss jobs then. So coming back, it's like a whole new group of people I'm seeing, you know, out, and I don't particularly like them so much, and I feel sad for the people that may have not, you know, who knows what, where people have gone and the changes that have occurred.

Dr. Nina: So it sounds like you have a lot of different reactions that there's a part of you that's upset, a part of you that may be lonely, a part of you that may be uncertain, a part of you that might be you know, sad did I already say that? So you have a range of different feelings, and you want to honor each of those expressions to it.

Josh: I'm angry, and I'm sad because I'm lonely, I think you. Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Nina: Yeah, And having compassion for that loneliness it's it's a lot easier to talk about, oh, I'm in order to go I'm following this diet plan, or I'm not eating this, or I'm only eating that or, you know, focus on food, it's, it's easier to focus on food, and sticking to a plan and a workout plan and all of that, it is a lot harder. And I just want to acknowledge you, Josh, for being able to speak your truth. And it's a lot harder to talk about your loneliness, and how painful and upsetting that is, your maybe people who let you down or aren't who you thought they were, or whatever is, is going on there. So yeah,

Josh:  yeah, we just say, you know, it's, the loneliness feels like it's a never-ending spiral. Like, I feel like it could just spiral out of control, that I would be glad to my holiness. That's how it feels.

Dr. Nina: And that's when you have to remember this is how you feel now. You might have felt it in childhood. You've certainly, in previous calls, really talked about a sense of being very alone and lonely in your childhood and being feeling disconnected from your family in certain ways.

Josh:  yeah. 

Dr. Nina: Well, so yeah. It's loneliness and maybe a sense of alienation of long-standing.

Josh: Yeah. And that's not to be the worst feeling we can feel as humans, because the reverse, feeling connected and enjoying people's company and having relationship is one of the best things we do. So, you know, it's pretty bad. It's a pretty bad feeling. Yeah,

Dr. Nina: Painful. It's a it. And again, you can see how food fills the void and then gives you something to think about other than how disconnected and lonely you may feel. So what

Josh: I said I would. Go ahead.

Dr. Nina: No, you go ahead.

Josh: Okay, no, I was just gonna say in food is like, makes us think we're doing something good for ourselves. Like we're, we're loving ourselves because did I, because what I did for you. I brought you this huge meal. I was like, maybe that's not exactly what I need, you know.

Dr. Nina:  And I want to. I just want to point something out how you switch pronouns. Look at how, look at what I did for you. I brought you this huge meal. Now you're talking from yourself to yourself. But the pronouns, you're not saying I gave myself this huge meal, you create this the idea or the presence of another person, but you're lonely, and someone has someone, even if it's you, who's brought you it, and you're looking at it, like, I brought you this, you're talking to yourself, you evoke this notion of not being alone.

 Oh, I see. Yeah. So it's yeah, yeah, I think that's exactly what it is. And also, I noticed today, I was feeling a little paranoid. And when I feel paranoid, I know from the examined life, that book, he makes a very good point, that paranoia is a defense against loneliness. You feel paranoid when we would rather feel paranoid that someone's actually paying attention to us when actually no one is actually paying attention is. It's much worse to feel lonely than it is to feel paranoid.

Dr. Nina: Exactly. I mean, and that is not true for all people. But for many people, yes, it is easier to feel paranoid, which is a sense of, I'm on to you, you. I see what you're doing to me and feel under threat than to feel the end to feel like you have some sense of control. I'm I know, I know what's going on, then to feel lonely, which is like an absolute lack of sense of agency in that, In terms of helping you feel less lonely. It's just such a, again, it's a passive feeling. Whereas, 

Josh:  Yeah

Dr. Nina: Paranoia is an active state.

Josh: Yeah, so um, it goes back to my childhood. And it probably goes back to my dad, who worked all the time. He's a surgeon. And he basically is, you know, he's still working. And he was working when I was a little boy, who really needed his dad and really wanted to see his dad more so more often. So. You know, it's tough.

Dr. Nina: Yeah. Yes. So you got to put one foot in the past and one foot in the present. People say to me all the time, why Oh, you're a psychoanalyst. You talk about the past. Who cares about the past? It's over. And my answer to that, as you have just beautifully articulated, is it's not over; it's alive in the present. The work is to put the past in the past so it doesn't keep haunting your present. So here you were, this little boy with a father who was unavailable, and maybe you know, a mom who couldn't make up for the non-presence of your father. And now you're still wounded by that, and maybe don't trust people because, you know, how can you trust people when the original people are not there? So you have to heal the past.

Josh: Yeah. And it's clearly making me paranoid. It's causing me to be very angry. It's causing me to be quite miserable in my current life.

Dr. Nina: I'm very sorry to hear that, Josh, and I'm glad that you feel safe enough to call me and talk with me about this and share this and start to challenge it. And to see that our you know, we form our expectations of relationships. By our earliest experiences, and so if you have the experience of feeling rejected or abandoned, then you might avoid people because you are afraid to be rejected or abandoned. But then you feel lonely. And there's then yeah, and enter food.

Josh: And that would be a transference. Like, if people don't know what that word transference means. It means I think you're my dad, and you're gonna not be there for me when I need you, Dr. Nina. And that's how I would transfer my earlier relationship on to this relationship. Even though it really has nothing to do with this relationship. I can't help but to do it.

Dr. Nina: Yes, and we do that in so many different areas of our lives. We Anaïs Nin, the writer, once wrote, after she went through analysis in the 20s, whatever. She wrote we do not see people as they are, we see them as we are. We see them through the filter of how we experience people and kind of impose of like other people on them, but quick example; my analyst, I always thought she was my height. So I would go into her office four times a week when I was training. When I was training, I had to go four times a week when I was training to be an analyst. And I would she would open the door, and I would pass her. I'm 5'7. I wore heels. I was close to six feet tall, in heels. She, I thought she was my height. I would pass her and thought she was my height. 

And I also thought that she was cold and critical. And I knew she wasn't, but I felt like she was total transference. Now, growing up, my mother was quite cold and quite critical and, judgmental, depressed as I look back on it. But anyway, so I experienced my analyst as if she was my mother, transference. One day, I walked in, and I passed her, and I looked at her, and I said, you seem shorter than I. You seem shorter today. I don't remember you being this short. And I just saw you yesterday. And she said, Well, how tall do you think I am? I said, Well, you're five, six and a half. Coincidentally, or not the same height as my mother. And she just looked at me, and she laughed. And she said she was 5'1. I passed a person who was 5'1, and my mind turned her into someone who was my exact height. That is how powerful transference can be. Isn't that amazing?

Josh: Yeah. I mean, there's no way for me not to see you as my dad. There's no thing not for me to see you as my dad. My mind can't do it. I mean, right?

Dr. Nina: Well, I mean, I'm so I'm Dr. Nina, your father was a doctor. So I, you know, that's understandable. Hopefully, I'm getting to people's core conflicts with surgical precision, but I hate the sight of blood. So that's, that's as close to surgery as I can do emotional surgery. But it's understandable. I mean, and you and I have never met. We have only talked on the radio. And yet still, because you have been vulnerable on the show. It doesn't matter that we've never actually met in person. That transference is there. Right. So here, the,

Josh: Yeah, the boy who, yeah, the boy who left to his left, you know, the boy who was abandoned, or just because the father really had to go to work, can't tell the difference between you and his father, the boy can't tell the difference, but I can tell the difference. And that's sort of how we can resolve the transference.

Dr. Nina: And the boy, so the boy, the boy needs to heal. So too, we have to heal our original wounds from the past. So that we don't continue those same dynamics in the future. If you have a critical parent or an abandoning parent as you had or felt abandoned, then, of course, that's going to affect your present life because you're not going to want to connect with people. They could abandon you. They could reject you. They could judge you. But when you heal that relationship with your father and really come to terms with it, and I don't mean with your actual father of today, I mean, that like your childhood experience to really heal that. Then you're healed. You do not you don't you feel safer. You don't need to repeat or fear repeating that dynamic because you're able to have a different experience with people other than see them as rejecting and abandoning. 

Josh: Yeah, and I think what I probably would have done with you is I would have said, we're going to abandon me, so I'm going to abandon her, and I'm going to be too busy for her for you. And so that's probably how I would have mitigated by fear of events. I would say, well, I'm too busy for you, like my dad was too busy for me. For something

Dr. Nina: Reverse, you reverse the trauma. So instead of oh my gosh, she's going to reject me and abandon me, you become the rejecting and abandoning one, and then that, that you're safe. But you have no connection. And I don't mean to speak of me personally. But anybody in your life, if you become the rejecting one, you're safe, that you haven't been rejected, but you're lonely. And that's where of course, you know, food can serve many purposes. You can turn away from it. I don't need that. You can turn to it, oh, I'm lonely. I need to. I need something fulfilling, right? Look at our language. We talk about fulfilling relationships, hungry for love, starving for attention. We even talk about food in the way that we talk about relationships. They are intrinsically connected in our psyche. But you're challenging this notion that all people will be like your father, right?

Josh: Yeah, I'm going to, I'm going to challenge it, and I'm also going to. Yeah, I'm just not going to put up with it. And but I will also understand that blaming you or also abandoning you is not actually the way to heal the loneliness that the boy felt. It's a maladaptive, you know, thing that won't actually help anything.

Dr. Nina: Yes, that is very true and very logical, but so often we are you psychological, not logical. And being able to respond to yourself, you didn't have anyone to be there to nurture you. Take your site doesn't sound like your mom did or didn't do it in an effective way. But you now the adult you can be there for yourself. That's how we turn loneliness to solitude. By the way, loneliness is being alone, horribly alone, with no part of you there for you. Solitude is being alone but with a supportive, loving, attentive, encouraging part of you. And when you turn around.

Josh: It's very interesting that you say that because I like solitude. But for some reason, I was feeling bad. Now the sadness could have just bubbled up from childhood. And I could have put the two and two together and said, Well, I must be lonely, but I may not actually be lonely. I might enjoy my solitude and just be feeling sad because I haven't had the therapy.

Dr. Nina: Maybe you're feeling sad because you don't have relationships in your life that are that feed using that word purposely. Feed your soul.

Josh: Yeah. Well, thank you very much, Nina. I'll let you go and let someone else chime in. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Nina: Josh, I really appreciate your call. As always take good care of yourself.

Josh: I will thank you very much. 

Dr. Nina: Okay. Bye for now. Yeah. So point it to see how the past haunts our present. We don't just outgrow things. We don't. The past does not heal with time. Time does not heal all. We have to work through it. We have to go through a grieving process, a mourning process of what happened and what didn't happen. And that's how we heal so that we stop, like, seeing the world as it was, and we find a new way to experience the world and other people as it is, as it could be. 

If you have a judgmental, critical parent. Then you become judgmental and critical to yourself, and you meet people in the world, and they're judgmental and critical of you, you're going to be like, Oh, you know me, so well. Be my friend. Yes. And you know, the cycle will continue. But if you, if you say, No, I am going to heal that relationship, I am not going to continue to be harsh with myself. I'm not going to be critical, I'm not going to be judgmental. And then you meet someone who's critical and judgmental; you're going to say, I see you critical, judgmental person, no, thank you, you're going to be able to find people who are also on your same level of being encouraging and connect in the way that you want to connect. 

So that is why it's so important to really heal the past because it does dramatically change your experience and expectations of your present and your future. And of course, when you have that, food becomes less of an answer to the loneliness, the sadness, the pain, the anger, the whatever, you know, food is a solution to the problem, it is not the problem. So today, I actually ended up talking about all three of the primary situations that lead to binge eating, stress eating, emotional eating, loneliness, sadness, and anger. Because Josh, you know, called about sadness, and we ended up talking about, we ended up talking about anger. 

So those are all situations. You have to express your sadness, express your anger, and then respond to yourself. Validate, Acknowledge, Reassure Yourself. That's why I came up with my little acronym. I'm a big fan of making up funny acronyms. It really should be acknowledged, and then validate. But that didn't work for the acronym, I want you to VARY, get it VARY the way that you respond to yourself. Validate, Acknowledge and Reassure Yourself, instead of turning to food, give yourself what you need, treat yourself as you would treat a friend or anyone you love. 

So remember that feeling lonely, sad, mad. These are all triggers that lead to eating for comfort, for distraction, to numb yourself to fill the void. All these different reasons why those are the triggers, the food is not the trigger, the food is the solution to the trigger. And when you relate to yourself in a kind and supportive way, you don't need food to help you escape, to numb, to comfort, to do any of the things that it does. You won't need anything to distract from your feelings, because you're actually feeling them and processing them and responding to them. 

And that's how you feel better without food. And eventually, that works better than any food really does. When you're actually there for yourself instead of abandoning yourself by turning by eating. And by the way, when I talked about, I also talked about the food mood formula. So smooth and creamy is related, as you know, as I spoke before, to need for comfort. And when you feel sad, same thing, anger is correlated with crunchy foods, anything with a bite with a crunch. 

And, of course, loneliness is associated with filling foods, anything that takes up space within you and then symbolically fills the void. Now with this food-mood formula, believe me, this is only when you are using food to resolve something emotional, something conflictual. It is not like it's a hot summer day, and we're gonna go get ice cream. No, that's different, or Hey, I'm having chips with my sandwich that's different, or I'm gonna get a burger for lunch. It's filling, but I'm hungry. That's different. These are the food mood formula is specifically for when you are using food to resolve something that feels just untenable emotionally. 

If you would like to know more about the food mood formula, go to my website, Dr. Nina Inc, Dr. Ni Na I nc.com, and get your copy of the food mood formula. I have a guidebook that helps you delve a little deeper into that. And you can also join my food for thought community which I referenced earlier. It's talking about loneliness. Join the community. It's Dr. Nina's food for thought community outsmart emotional eating. And I would love to see you there. Have a wonderful week Everyone, be safe. Be kind to yourself and stay curious. Not critical. I'll see you next week. Bye for now.

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You're listening to the Dr. Nina show with Dr. Nina Savelle Rocklin only on LA talk radio.