How To Get Through Thanksgiving Without Gaining Weight

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Irreverent, entertaining, cool. You’re listening to LA Talk Radio. You’re listening to the Dr. Nina Show with Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin, only on LA Talk Radio.
Hey, there. Welcome to the Dr. Nina Show here on LA Talk Radio. I am your host, Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin, and I am here to help you stop counting calories, carbs, and fat grams so that you can easily get to a healthy weight without dieting and get on with your life. That is my goal for you. I want you to wake up and think about your day, not your diet. If you’d like to call in and talk with me today, the number is 323-203-0815. That is 323-203-0815. I would love to hear what is on your mind, what is eating at you, what is weighing on you, because the real problem with binge eating, stress eating, and any kind of emotional eating, the real problem is not food. The problem is what is eating at you. Food is the solution to the problem, not the problem.

Okay, so I have a few questions from listeners. Jamie wants some tips on how to survive Thanksgiving, and Maya also says, “Food is the biggest stressor and fear for me during the holidays. How do I deal with that?” So actually, let me just address Thanksgiving, which is coming up next week if you’re in the US. If you’re in the UK, as I know a lot of you are, this won’t pertain to you, but it’ll pertain to other holiday meals and just basically the holidays. So Jamie says that, “The holidays start out okay, but then it’s too much family, too much noise, kids, then it’s too much pie.” Although she says, “Perhaps not this year. No house full of people due to COVID.” So at least for you Jamie, I would say that perhaps the noise and the kids and the feeling overwhelmed, that eating is a way of managing anxiety and of relaxing. Maybe it’s an escape. It’s all too much and you get anxious. Eating can cause you to just sort of … It’s a way of almost sedating your body at times, and that might be what’s going on with that.

But tips to survive Thanksgiving, I’ve got tips for you. Okay. So, look, when it comes to the holidays, here’s what nobody wants to admit: that they are not always so sparkly and snow globe happy. They’re not so Hallmark holiday perfect, are they? Every Hallmark holiday movie or commercial or whatever, it’s like, love and cheer and celebration and happy families. And hey, if that’s your life, good for you. That’s amazing. For most of us who live in the real world, not so much. That is not our reality. And by the way, I just had a total flashback to the first holiday that I came back from college. And a family member told me to go easy on the pumpkin pie and said, “Looks like you already put on the freshman 15.” Oh my God, that was so mortifying. Even as I say it, I can remember the horror, the mortification, the awfulness of that moment. Of course, that only made me want to eat more pumpkin pie, of course. And I wish I knew then what I learned later, which is how to deal with comments like that, which I’m going to share with you in a little bit.

But I want to share some holiday tips for Jamie, for Maya, and for everyone who can benefit from them. And of course these days, because of COVID, as Jame said, the holidays are going to be a little bit different. So whether you’re gathering in person in a socially distanced way, or whether you’re seeing each other over Zoom, some of the same issues remain the same. So I put together a little holiday survival guide to help you get through Thanksgiving and the rest of the holidays without gaining an ounce or losing your mind.

So first of all, you’ve got to ditch dieting. And some of these are overall tips for the season, and some of these are specific tips for the day. But overall, you’ve got to stop dieting because dieting is always about deprivation and deprivation leads to overeating or bing eating because either the experience or the anticipation of not being able to have something will only make you want it more. I can’t tell you how many people say to me, they say that they, for example, hate pecan pie. But the idea of not having it makes them want it. Or they don’t even like pumpkin pie, but the idea of telling themselves they can’t have it makes them eat more of it.

Also, if you are thinking about not eating pumpkin pie or Christmas cookies or Hanukkah gelt over the holidays, then you’ve got food on your mind all day, which puts the focus on the wrong thing, which is what you’re eating instead of why. So allow yourself to enjoy holiday meals without dieting, and that brings me to an important point about the holidays. People talk about the holidays and they say, “Oh, they” … And maybe you can relate. They start off the holiday season, they’re going to be good, and then they just let themselves go. In fact, someone in my Binge-Free Babes Program was just talking about this and she said every year at the holidays she starts off strong, “I’m going to be good,” and then she just says, “I can’t last this way until January.” And then she just says, “Whatever,” lets herself go, as she put it, and then has to go back on a diet in January and the whole diet, binge cycle begins again.

So the holiday season appears to start in Halloween and it lasts through New Year’s Day, and that’s two months. That’s a long time. [inaudible 00:07:07] celebrations over the holidays. You’ve got Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. Those are days. Those are days, not months. So if you celebrate those specific holidays, and chances are you are not simultaneously celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa … I would be very surprised if you were, but maybe you are, but even if you were, those are seven days, seven days. So celebrate those specific days. Give yourself permission to enjoy that day instead of looking at it as, “Oh, I’ve got to be good for a whole holiday season of two months.” No, these are just a number of days. So enjoy that handful of holiday meals that are sprinkled throughout the two months, and that’s doable, and you’re going to be a lot happier.

Also, don’t save up calories for a big holiday meal. If you skip breakfast and lunch knowing you’re going to have a big holiday meal later and you’re trying to sort of earn your calories or save your calories, you are setting yourself up to overeat or binge. That’s because when you get super hungry, guess what happens? You are more likely to lose control once you do start eating. So don’t skip breakfast and lunch because you’re going to have a big holiday dinner. Just make sure that you eat enough during the day and enjoy the holiday meal, and you will not overdo it. That is really, really important.

Also, throughout this season, throughout the year, throughout your life, be your own best friend. Some people go into the holiday season and they’re upset because they haven’t made the most of this year, and particularly, this year people say, “Well, you know what? I didn’t learn two languages in quarantine. I didn’t write that screenplay. I didn’t write that novel. I didn’t start a home-based business; all these things that all these other people are doing. I didn’t get in the best shape of my life, because I’m working from home and I have extra time,” then they feel bad about themselves. Well, guess what? If you’re looking at what you’re not doing or you’re criticizing yourself or you’re being judgmental of yourself or you have some crazy, super high expectation of yourself that you of course have failed to meet, then you’re going to feel bad. And when you feel bad, it is pretty hard to feel good, right? If you are criticizing yourself, that is at odds with feeling good and peaceful.

So you have to be your own best friend. And when you do that, you’re not going to eat just to escape your critical voice. When you are kind and encouraging to yourself, you feel good, right? You feel good. And when you feel good, you’re not going to use food for comfort or a distraction. Amazing how that works. When you are your own best friend to yourself, everything changes. So if you wouldn’t say it to someone you love, do not say it to yourself. If you wouldn’t say to a friend, “Wow, I can’t believe that you didn’t take this time to write a novel and learn a new language and start a home-based business, you are such a loser,” if you wouldn’t say that to a friend and the very idea of it is ludicrous and crazy, don’t say it to yourself. Be nice to yourself. You’ll feel better and you will not use food to cope.

Also, be prepared with clever comebacks because when we think holidays we think people, we think family, whether they’re on Zoom or in your backyard or in your house, which I … Those are all options. Hopefully if they’re in your house it means they’re already in your house and you’re being safe. Being prepared is important. If I could go back in time to that moment when I came home from college and I heard the comment about the freshman 15, I would say something like, “You know what? I was thinner before because I actually had an eating disorder, and I’m much happier with my body now. Take that, dad.” Yeah. If I had been prepared with some kind of snappy comment or some kind of response, I wouldn’t have felt so mortified. I would have taken my own side and been there for myself and instead of going to pumpkin pie because I just got body shamed, I would have felt like I took my own side and I would have felt better.

So be ready for these comments because they often will come, comments or the look. You know the look where they look you up and down; “Mm-hmm (affirmative).” They size you up, so to speak. Be ready for those comments on what you’re eating or what you’re not eating or what your body looks like, and you can set limits. You can say, “You know what? I am not discussing what I am eating and I am not discussing how much I weigh. That topic is off limits.” You can use humor. “You know what? My weight is a number and it is unlisted. Unlisted.”

If they say, “Oh, well, they’re only [inaudible 00:12:49]” …

Ronan, Karlygash is saying that she called but there was no answer. Oh, Karlygash is calling. Okay. Karlygash, hold on. Let me just finish up, and then we’ll hopefully be talking.

If they say they’re only worried about your health, say, “You know what? I really appreciate your concern, but I got this. It’s my health. I’m good. I’m taking care of myself.” And remind yourself that this is temporary. This is temporary. Before you know it, it will be 2021, which seriously cannot get here fast enough, right? And you will have gotten through the holidays without gaining weight and without losing your mind. There you have it. So those are my tips on how to survive Thanksgiving and the holidays. Karlygash, are you there?

Good morning. Yes, yes.

Good morning, Karlygash. I’m glad you got through. What’s going on?

It’s so bad; binging, being depressed, being depressed about being depressed. And just before calling you, I was sending voice text to my mom, and I was just telling her, I just found the moment when my depression started and my life was broken. It’s the moment she used to … I can’t believe I’m saying it out loud in the ears so everyone will know it, but I think it’s important for people to know because I’m not the only one. So she was beating me severely. And I was like [inaudible 00:14:47] something. In those moments, I was looking at her and I couldn’t understand why she hate me so much. What did I do to get this? It’s just so painful, Dr. Nina. It’s just very painful. And I remember, I was [inaudible 00:15:06]. And I remember that was the moment when my soul died. It did. That was the moment when my will was broken.

We’re bringing your soul back to life, because when you’re not eight or nine years old and you’re being beaten physically and beaten down emotionally, kids do not have the wherewithal to say, “Hey, something’s up with my mom. Something’s up with my family. They don’t have the ability to cope, and they’re taking out all their anger on me, and they don’t know how to parent and they don’t know how to be parents.” Kids do not have the wherewithal to do that. Kids say, “What’s wrong with me that my family treats me this way? There must be something very wrong with me.” And that gives hope because if you think, “Well, if I can figure out what’s wrong with me and make myself good, I must be bad, if I can figure out what’s wrong with me and make myself good, then I’m going to get better treatment.” But of course, it never works, because there was never anything bad about you in the beginning, in the first place. But it leads to a conviction that there is something wrong with you and then you cannot be with yourself if you feel like there’s something wrong with you.

It’s very hard to be with yourself. And when you can’t be with yourself, you use food for comfort. When people are frightening and beat you down and unattuned or misattuned and they hurt you, food, which represents people in our psyche, is available, it is comforting, it does everything that people don’t do. So first, really understand that when you’re turning to food you’re trying to help yourself in some way. Eating until you’re in pain is a way of converting emotional pain to physical pain. Beating yourself up with words instead of with fists is what you’re doing, treating yourself as you were treated. What is the answer? Mourning. Mourning what happened to you. Grieving what happened and what didn’t happen so you can be free of this, so you can stop treating yourself in this way.

[inaudible 00:17:47], Dr. Nina. It’s just so hard.

It is very hard to do. Are you kidding me? It is so much easier to focus on what you’re eating. It’s so much easier-

[crosstalk 00:17:58] Why I cannot be like people who gamble, drink alcohol and just don’t think about it their whole life? They just abuse the stuff. I cannot do that. I cannot … Well, I overeat, though. I binge, though. That’s kind of [crosstalk 00:18:18]

Listen. Last year, I co-edited a book called Beyond the Primal Addiction. Each chapter was written by a different psychoanalyst. And it was all about various addictions. I did food addiction, which of course you know I don’t believe in, but “addiction.” It’s really an eating addiction. But gambling, sex addiction, shopping addiction, all of these addictions are ways of coping. And believe me, if you were coping with gambling, that would be on your mind all day and you would be losing all your money. And by the way, Regan is on Instagram and she says, “Sending you love and support.”

Thank you, Regan. How artfully I digressed from my own pain to general terms, and I was thinking to ask you about how do we end this pain in the world, Dr. Nina? Everyone’s hurting. It’s so painful. But you taught me this week, last week, that when I go general terms, I’m going away from my own pain, so I’m [crosstalk 00:19:39]

Yes, your pain-

And I’m-

Good catch. Good catch, Karlygash.

I’m redirecting back. So honestly, it’s really painful. It’s so painful. I look at people and I want to ask, “How do you people live life? I can barely sometimes walk. Everything hurts. My heart hurts. My body hurts. It just hurts.” And I don’t have any single person who loves me for real who I can hug now, physically hug. And I’m very … I’m sensorial. I process information sensorially, not visually or through my other [inaudible 00:20:24]. My dominant perception is sensorial. [crosstalk 00:20:31]

Well, Karlygash, you often compare yourself to these other people. And you need to stay with you. By the way, if you’re missing touch, and of course a lot of people who live alone are missing touch, it’s so hard … My younger daughter, a few weeks ago she said, “I just want to hug someone who’s not you.” I think we’re all realizing how we take for granted those healing hugs and the connection and the humanity in those hugs, that we don’t really think about it. Jenny is sending you a virtual hug. Jenny on Instagram.

Thank you, Jenn. Thank you [crosstalk 00:21:23]

So, here’s what I suggest. I don’t know how you feel about this, but I actually have a practical suggestion, which is that if you don’t have an animal, maybe get a dog or a cat or get an animal.

I’m thinking about it, but I don’t want to be in my own company. I don’t want a dog or a cat to have a sad person around all the time. I want them to have a good life.

A dog or a cat that you rescue is rescued from a place of living in a cage and maybe being put down, which is such a lovely way for us to say being euthanized and killed. A dog and a cat is, a dog especially, pure love. And you give them life, you give them a good life, and they give you love. And you can cuddle with them, and they’re so healing, I think. Jenny is saying, “I can help you adopt a pet. It’s a best friend. Pure joy.” Yeah, that is something that not only do you need to be loved, and pets just give us so much love, they’re just so pure and unconditionally loving, but we also need a place to put our love, and-

That’s true. And I usually put it in the wrong people who hurt me back. I don’t want that anymore.

Yeah. So I would think about that. Obviously, it’s not enough, but it can really help to have just a being with you that-

Oh, Dr. Nina, are you kidding me? I’m dying to have a pet since I was a kid. But guess what happened? When I was I think, yeah, six or seven, I raised this cat, which was born and his eyes even was closed. I was feeding him, and then he became my cat. He lived like six years with me. My mom just threw him away because he was damaging the furniture. And I was crying for three days. I’m like, “How can you throw away a cat? My cat, he’s alone there on the streets.” So I never had a pet, just to make sure that if I take one, then he dies with me, and he’s never abandoned or something.

Well, that trauma of losing your cat and having your cat taken away from you, you can also maybe repair some of that pain by having your own cat now, or your own dog. It’s just one way of making sure that you have love in your life to receive and to give so that you’re not using food as your main source of love at a time when it’s hart to be with people. Also, food is tactile. We can’t hug our friends right now, but food is-

Oh, I see. Oh, my goodness. Oh, I see the connection now.

Yeah, food is tactile.

Yeah, it’s really tactile. You’re so right. Oh my God, Dr. Nina, I never thought about this like this, that it’s really tactile, and me being essential tactile person, no wonder I play with food the whole day. Because I basically have nothing alive to touch, which reminds of object. Oh, it makes so much sense. Thank you so much.

Yeah, you’re welcome. And now, you have compassion for you instead of being in this sort of desperate, frenetic state that I know you’ve been in for a while. It also reminds me of once, a long time ago, and I write about this person in my book Food for Thought, but she would eat so much she was in pain. And at first, I thought that she was only converting emotional pain to physical pain. One day she said that when she felt all the food in her body push out against her stomach [crosstalk 00:26:12] that she felt as if her body was giving her a hug. That’s how she described it. She said, “It’s like my body is hugging me. If I can feel the food inside and feel it press up against my skin, it feels like my body is giving me a hug,” which is a very sort of esoteric concept, but it just came to my mind, maybe that also might resonate for you.

Yeah. I feel this uncontrollable fear when my body is empty and hungry; not empty and hungry, but normal level of satisfaction of healthy people, when we eat for fuel and sometimes for fun. So when I’m not all the way stuffed, I feel [inaudible 00:27:01] in control [inaudible 00:27:02] anxiety and fear, I don’t know. But it’s so complicated. I’ll call next week, we’ll talk about it. But I also had feeding problems when I was a kid [inaudible 00:27:14].

Yes, it’s usually not just one thing. So you’re describing a lot, but when you get more curious about you, you get more curious about you, then rather than, “Why am I doing this,” from a critical place, then look at how your mind starts associating and putting things together, not having enough food, not having enough love, not having enough of many things and wanting more. And now you’re deprived again. We’re all deprived. We can’t live the lives that we’re used to living, and that deprivation can trigger a wish for more of a lot of things that can get expressed with … You can’t have more people to hug. You can’t have more of your career. You can’t have more of … You name it. But you can have more food. That’s the one thing that you can have more of.

That’s true.

So look at what else is being expressed. [crosstalk 00:28:30] So Karlygash, and if you’re serious about a pet, I’ll find a way to put you and Jenny in touch with each other.

Yeah, thank you. I am …

So take good-

I want it, and I’m scared I won’t be able to [inaudible 00:28:48] but we’ll talk about it next week.

Well, we’ll talk about it next week. In the meantime, take good care of yourself. Take the care of yourself in the way that you wish others would have cared for you. You deserve that.

Thank you, thank you.

I’m getting a question on … So, thank you, Karlygash. I’m getting a question, “Dr. Nina, you talk a lot about comforting yourself. What are ways to comfort yourself?” Great question. This is why I created my VARY acronym, which stands for Validate, Acknowledge and Reassure Yourself, because one of the things that people often do is they try to tell themselves not to feel something. They go right to, “Oh, it’ll be okay,” or, “This won’t last for long,” or, “It’s not bad compared to other people.” Well, that is a way of dismissing yourself. So one way of comforting yourself is to first acknowledge what is going on: I am sad, I feel empty and sad and upset and scared. And of course I do, because who wouldn’t feel that way in that situation, as an example? Really, it should be acknowledge and then validate, but that doesn’t work very well with my acronym, so validate and acknowledge kind of go together.

So first, you really recognize and identify what is it that you are feeling, what is it that you are going through? I’m going through a really hard time,” you say to yourself. “I am just so scared and upset,” you say to yourself. And then you say, “Of course I am. Who wouldn’t feel this way in this situation? And if doesn’t matter if someone else wouldn’t. I feel this way, and I have every right to my feelings.” And then you reassure yourself, and that’s when you say, “Okay, I’ve been through tough times before. I’m going to get through this.” You say, “What can I do right now to feel better? Is there someone I can call?” You reassure yourself, “I’m going to call so-and-so and maybe they’re going to help me through this,” or, “I’ve been through so many difficult things in the past, I have the ability to get through this too. It is awful and I’m going to get through it.”

And the Y stands for Yourself. Now, very important: how you talk to yourself when you comfort yourself is equally as important as the words that you say. If you say, as one of my patients once said to me when she told me she was talking to herself and comforting herself and it just wasn’t working, if you say to yourself, “Well, I’m going to be fine. I’ve been through difficult times and it’s been okay. I’m going to be okay this time,” that doesn’t help. You’ve got to also think about the tone. Tone is everything. A warm tone is like a verbal hug. So if you say, “That doesn’t really do much, does it,” it doesn’t sound very comforting. But you can say, “Hey, everything’s going to be okay. I have been through tough times and I am going to get through this too.” Big difference. So it’s not just the words, but it’s the tone, it’s the way you say what you say, the way you comfort yourself. Again, comforting yourself with words is so much more powerful than comforting yourself with food because food, that’s momentary. The way you respond to yourself with words, that can last a lifetime. So I hope that that answers the question.

Josh is saying, “How do we access our unconscious?” Well, I just did a show on this a few weeks ago, Josh, but basically, we access the [inaudible 00:33:02] dreams, sometimes figures of speech. For example, someone said to me just the other day, “Well, it’s not that I’m jealous of this person,” well, that’s called negation, and that is very helpful. Cute pun. Love it. So, negation, for example, when you say, “Oh, it’s not that I’m jealous,” or, “It’s not that I feel this,” that’s a way of recognizing that actually you do feel that way. This person was jealous. “It’s not that I want to compete with you,” yeah, you do want to compete with me. So dreams, figures of speech, and there are many ways that we access the unconscious. But for purposes of relationship with food, that’s why I developed my Food-Mood Formula, because sometimes we turn so quickly to food to resolve conflicts and resolve problems, the problem stays unconscious and the solution is what’s conscious.

So what do we do? That’s why I created the Food-Mood Formula, to help you figure out what might be going on unconsciously, hidden from you. So if ice cream is your go-to, if you’re turning to ice cream or anything creamy or smooth and creamy, that is associate with a need for comfort. Anything filling, bulky, like bread, muffins, cake, pasta, stuff that really takes up a lot of space within you, that is associated with filling a void, loneliness, filling a void, something along those lines. And anything with a crunch is associated with anger. So if you find yourself going to crunchy foods, that is because you are angry. And by the way, anger can be irritated, annoyed, frustrated, furious. There are a range of different derivatives of all emotions. Sadness can be depression and it could be just a little blue.

Sometimes I crave flavors, not texture, like sweet or salty. How does that relate to food or mood? Well, that sweet is usually going to go with some kind of food, like salty is usually going to be crackers or pretzels or chips. So you may consciously think that you are craving sweet or salty, but you’re eating chips or whatever you’re having that’s sweet. By the way, people always ask me about chocolate and candy and things like that, so we can think about it as more sweetness in your life. But also, people often say, “Well, I need to eat those chocolates with the creamy center.” There you have comfort. Or, “I can’t eat cholate unless it has almonds in it.” Crunchy. So even though it appears to be about flavor, it is associated with some specific kind of food. I hope that answers the question.

Okay, more questions. This is from Robin in my Binge-Free Babes group. She says, “I’m in menopause early because of my breast cancer history. I’m feeling extremely bloated and I have new cravings, which are usually salts and sweets.” Wow, there we go. She said, “Help. Tamoxifen sucks.” Okay, so there could be a physiological aspect of this which is that according to physicians, magnesium levels drop when there’s an imbalance happening in your body with estrogen or progesterone, and that is related to menopause. So tamoxifen creates a sort of chemical or early menopause. And that drop in magnesium levels can be associated with craving for chocolate because cholate has magnesium.

Although, interestingly, this is cultural. We say, “Oh, I’m going to get my period. It’s that time of the month. I want chocolate.” This is true in certain cultures, like American and British and various cultures. But there are other cultures where [inaudible 00:38:00] somewhere in South America, where chocolate is not really seen as a treat or a forbidden treat kind of a thing. And women in those countries do not crave chocolate. So we’re all women. We all have the same situation going on in our bodies that time of the month or during menopause, whether it’s caused by tamoxifen or not. But so there’s clearly a mental component to that, which is … I’ll get more into those studies and let you know about it.

So Robin, I would say that it could be because there’s something going on with you purely from a perspective of just estrogen levels changing. It could also be the feelings that you have about being on tamoxifen, about being in early menopause, about dealing with breast cancer. So sweets can be associated with, perhaps, comforting yourself with that. And the salty stuff can be associated with expressing some frustration with it. I know that when I was on tamoxifen for three years. And I was just really mad. I was really mad that this happened, because I did everything right. I eat right, I do everything right, and I still got breast cancer. And I remember being very upset and very angry all the time about it, like it was just so unfair. So there could be all kinds of emotions that get attached to the situation, rather than it just being hormonal or chemical. Likely, some combination of both.

[inaudible 00:39:55] question from Maya, and she says, “Are binging behaviors hereditary? What do you do if a family member exhibits binging? Do you ignore it? Do you say something? What if it’s causing friction among people?” Okay, so those are a lot of questions. Maya, let me take them one at a time. Great questions. First of all, is binging hereditary? Well, there is a lot of thought and a lot of, well, controversy about this because a lot of people say binging or eating disorders are brain-based illnesses, brain-based. I, in my nearly 20 years of treating people exclusively for eating disorders, I’m going to say no, they are not brain-based illnesses. It is a complex [inaudible 00:40:52] your brain and your mind.

And when you say are binge behaviors hereditary, they could appear to look hereditary because if you have a parent who binge eats and you binge eat or your siblings binge eat, you could say, “Oh, well, see, it’s hereditary.” But not because of genetics. It’s because some behavior has been modeled for you. And often, we look at the modeling and see a parent binge eat and say, “Oh, I’m never going to do that,” and then you end up doing it yourself because that’s what’s modeled for you. So I would say binge behavior is not hereditary in a brain-based sense, but it could be passed on in that that is what is modeled and that is what we see and that is what we do.

“What do you do if a family member exhibits binging? Do you ignore it?” Well, no, because if someone is binging, remember, binging is a reaction to a situation. If someone is turning to food, if they are binging, it is because they are turning away from something else. Binge eating, stress eating, emotional eating, it is a solution to a problem. It is not the problem. So if someone is binge eating, what does that tell you? That tells you this person is struggling with something. So ignoring it is not going to help that person at all. And saying something is very important. However, how you say it and what you say it is everything, because if you say, “Hey, I notice you’re eating the kitchen,” that’s not going to go over too well. Not that you’d say that. Maya, I know you wouldn’t say that. But if you say, “Hey, I notice you’re eating a lot more or I notice you’ve gained weight,” no, that’s not going to help them. They’re going to feel humiliated and shamed and want to get away from you as quickly as possible and probably go even more to food. But what you can say is, “I feel like maybe you’re struggling with something, and I’m here to help. I can see something’s going on with you. How can I help?”

That is the way to deal with it. You want to deal with, well, what is the problem that they’re solving through binge eating rather than focus on the binge eating. Think of it this way: I love my weed and root analogy. If you just pluck a weed, it is going to grow back. So forget the weed. You’ve got to get to the root. So whether that’s with yourself or somebody else, if you see somebody who’s binge eating or stress eating, some kind of emotional eating, you want to address it, but you don’t want to address the eating. You want to address why they’re eating: “Hey, what’s going on with you? I feel like you’re struggling. I feel like something might be bothering you. What’s upsetting you these days? How can I help?”

Karlygash is saying, “What if a family member doesn’t want to acknowledge the problem but prefers binging?” Well, then there’s not much you can do. If you say, “Hey, I feel like something’s going on with you,” and that person says, “Nothing’s going on with me,” and completely denies that there’s an issue, then that person’s not ready to deal with it or are not ready to deal with it with you. But you’re also planting a seed. I have all these gardening metaphors, which is highly ironic since I have the blackest thumb in the universe. Seriously, it’s very ironic that I use all of these metaphors. But you’re planting a seed, because if you say, “Look, I feel like something’s going on with you and I’m here to help if you want to talk. Let me know what I can do. Let me know how I can help,” and they say, “No, everything’s fine. What are you talking about? Go away,” well, you’ve still planted a seed, and that’s in there. And maybe the next time you say, “Are you sure you’re okay? I’m really here,” you’re watering that seed. So they may not immediately say, “Yes, I want to talk to you, and something’s going on with me,” but they may eventually turn to you for help. And they know that you’re there, most importantly, which is very helpful.

Maya says, “What if it’s causing friction among people?” Well, I’d be wondering about what that friction is. Sometimes, people focus on someone’s weight or problem or problem eating as a way of not looking at themselves. For example, I once treated someone who had lost … Well, let me back up. When he was overweight, significantly overweight, his weight was the problem in the relationship with his wife. It was like, “Your weight is a problem. I’m not attracted to you, and your health, and I’m worried about it,” and it was like this constant focus: “The weight is the problem. The weight is the problem.” And when he lost weight, suddenly, other problems became available.

And when he was no longer going, “Yeah, my weight’s the problem. I’m the problem. I [inaudible 00:46:53] eating. I’m the problem,” his relationship with his wife, and saying, “Wait a minute. There’s more going on here than my weight being the problem.” And he started saying, “You know what? Actually, I don’t like when you do this or you do that, and there are other conflicts in our relationship other than my weight being the problem.” Well, guess what she started to do? Bake him his favorite cookies. Oh yeah. It behooved her to have his weight be the problem. So when they were focused on his weight, they weren’t focused on her issues. So Maya, maybe the family is focused on someone’s weight and it’s causing friction because they’re avoiding something else. If you’re focusing on someone’s weight, maybe you’re not focused on other issues in the family.

And Karlygash is saying, “When their binging is triggering mine, I will just walk away or somehow detach from them emotionally.” Well, if someone else is binging and that triggers yours, then you want to look at what is being triggered within you. You’re welcome, Maya. And Maya, since you’re here, if there’s anything else you want to add to this, if there’s something that was outside of your question, I’d be happy to answer it. So Karlygash, if someone else’s binging is triggering your binging, pay attention to what is it that’s being triggered in you because, again, binging is a solution to the problem. So what is getting activated if you see somebody binging? What is getting activated in you? And that’s what you want to attend to, not … It looks like, “Oh, you’re binging. Great idea. I’ll binge too.” No, something else is going on, so pay attention to that.

Remember, if you are turning to food, you are turning away from something else. However, there are other reasons why people binge. And one of them is not eating enough during the day. So I am here to talk about the emotional reasons that lead to binging, but there’s also a biological, physiological reason, which is that if you do not eat enough during the day, once you start eating, you will have a hard time stopping. So very important to make sure that you are not going too long between meals. It also has implications for your metabolism and all of that. So if you are binging, is it because you are so hungry that you’re ravenous and you just can’t stop? Or are you binging because you are resolving something internal and emotional?

So these are things to think about, and again … Oh, you know what? That’s our show for today. I just realized we’re out of time. Thank you so much for joining me here on the Dr. Nina Show on LA Talk Radio. You can listen live every Wednesday at 11:00 Pacific here on LA Talk Radio, the LA Talk Radio app, or you can check me out on Instagram or you can listen later on Apple Podcasts or anywhere that you listen to podcasts. This show is also available on my YouTube channel, Break Free from Binging with Dr. Nina. Thank you again. Stay safe, stay healthy, take good care of yourself. You deserve it. And by the way, if you are interested in joining my Binge-Free Babes Program that I facilitate with Kelley Gunter, the author, check out That’s, and we would love to have you join us. Bye for now. See you next week.

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