Friday, October 31, 2014

5 Tips On Treating Yourself On Halloween

This post was originally published on 

Entertain Me By Michael Shinafelt

Check out Michael's Entertain Me site for weekly entertainment and information.

Dr. Nina's Tips On How To Treat Yourself On Halloween 

Dr. Nina has made a house call to Entertain Me a couple of times before.

Dr. Nina specializes in eating disorders by digging to the root of where the problem lies. She encourages people to Win The Diet War by finding the real issue at hand. Last year I had her dole out her wisdom about how to navigate what I like to call "The Eating Season," you know that time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.

This year I got to thinking that no one ever really addresses Halloween. So I paged Dr. Nina and asked her if she would be willing to take on my favorite day of the year with her usual flair in the spirit of the season.

I promise this is not a trick, Dr. Nina is here with some awesome tips on how to treat yourself for Halloween!

1.  Afraid of the dark?  The scariest thoughts are the dark ideas you have about yourself.  Keep out thoughts like, "I suck" or "I'm too fat/stupid/ugly" or "Who would love me?"    Those thoughts just make you feel terrible about yourself.  And that's truly frightening.

2.  Got ghosts?  If the ghosts of the past are haunting you, it's time to deal with them.  If you had a critical parent, teacher or sibling, and you find yourself being equally critical to yourself, that critical voice belongs to others, not to you.  Find your authentic voice, and view yourself as you are, not as others treated you.

3.  Give yourself a treat.  If you find yourself saying, "I'm going to be good this Halloween and not eat a single piece of candy," or "I was so bad because I ate that pumpkin cheesecake," then you're connecting your character to what you eat.  Allow yourself to eat candy on Halloween without feeling guilty.  Deprivation or anticipation of deprivation leads to overeating.   If you give yourself permission to have candy you may actually eat less! 

"Just Say No"
4.  Living a zombie life?  Do you feel as if you're the walking dead, doing the same thing day after day, not truly enjoying your life to the fullest?  If so, bring yourself back to life.  Think about one thing that you've been waiting to do "one day" and make today the day you start working towards doing that thing.  If you want to run a marathon, go for a walk or a short run.  If you want to start dating, go online and check out some dating sites.

5.  Be playful.  Remember the fun of going out with your friends on Halloween?  This occasion is about being with other people, dressing up, and having fun.  So, have a great time.  Happy Halloween!!

About Dr. Nina:  Nina Savelle-Rocklin, Psy.D. is a Los Angeles-based psychoanalyst who specializes in weight, food and body image issues.  She is a recognized expert on eating disorders, interviewed and quoted by the Los Angeles Times, Prevention, Real Simple, and many other publications.  Dr. Nina writes an award-winning blog, Make Peace With Food, hosts a popular podcast, Win The Diet War with Dr. Nina, and can be seen on her YouTube video series, The Dr. Nina Show.  She was one of 20 thought leaders in the field of eating psychology invited to speak at the 2014 Mindful Eating Summit.  Dr. Nina is currently writing a book for Rowman & Littlefield on the psychoanalytic treatment of eating disorders.  For more information, please visit

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dr. Nina on the Psychology Behind Eating Disorders

Hi everyone, I'm sharing a video I did in which I talk about:

*The reason people turn to food for comfort

*Guys and disordered eating

*The connection between food and mood

*Why I don't restrict my kids' Halloween candy.... and more!

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

"I do not need to be thin to feel like I've won..."

If you experience a variety of hopes, fears, setbacks, and triumphs on the road to liberation from eating problems, you're not alone!   One young woman, Kim Edwards, wrote a book about her experiences and today I'm sharing some of her words with you:

Letting you go:
Dear Ed 
As hard as you clasp and refuse to let go
I hope in your version of hearts that you know
That despite towards my body I continue to sin
The Lord is my savior and he won’t let you win
You no longer can have me for I am his child
All of these years I fought with defiance
But this is the moment when I take back the reigns
Push you away and let out all of my pain
The pain kept me sheltered and tangled with you
Under it all I promise I knew
That I am me without your self harm
And I do not need to be thin to feel like I’ve won
I am a me I have not gotten to know
But starting today I am letting you go

Divorce From Ed
On August 21, 2012, I Kim Edwards will begin the divorce filings from what I have thought was my better half for many years. Yes, Ed and I will separate and go our own ways. I have yet to comprehend all the paths that I can follow, dreams I can reach and goals I can accomplishEd has not allowed me to see beyond his bitter, angry, and hateful rage towards those who have hurt me and the pain I have tried so hard to escape. Despite the long awaited comprehension that his and my relationship is dangerously unhealthy as well as the fact that son of a bitch cheated on me, I will miss him. I will miss him because while with him I was hypnotized into believing we were one therefore unable to see me, the REAL me.
...For years Ed has told me that I by taking in food I was giving up the control to forget and numb out the traumatic events that even Mr. Clean can’t magically erase; that if I starve, over exercise and purge I can take back some control. But really all that was doing was punishing me furtherIntellectually I know that but right now my brain is suffering from lack of nutrition which means rationality is incapable of seeping in for more than a couple of minutes. That’s why this divorce begins on Tuesday, the day I return to Centre Syracuse, a team of people who truly care and want to help me becomesuccessful and healthy using many different tools and skills. 
...Part of moving forward involves confronting your past, understanding it’s a part of you but not all of you. I can stay bound a prisoner of my pain or use is as strength, wisdom and empowerment to move forward. 
My past has shaped me into the being I am today as painful as some of it was. I will indeed look back but only for wisdom and guidance on what I should and shouldn’t do and a reminder of where I came from and the progress that I have made, but I will NOT stay stuck!! I am more than my eating disorder and the events that caused it. That is why Ed and I cannot work. From here on out it’s just me Kimberly Melissa Edwards. Ed find another partner, perhaps someone in prison. They aren’t missing out on much the food in there sucks anyway!

A word from Kim:

"This book is a collection of stories written in the format of journal entries, quotes and poems. I hope to connect with readers through my un-edited and un-filtered experiences on a personal level. My journey has included, but is not limited to, issues concerning trauma, depression, eating disorders and everyday struggles. I challenge each issue with humor in attempt to help lighten such a difficult set of topics that are far more common than many of us are willing to admit. May this benefit readers by helping them understand they are not alone and that the struggles we face are just part of bigger story.

For more from Kim, here's the Amazon link to her book, "Kim Unscripted."

Read Kim's story!

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why I Don't Believe In Recovery

Recently, someone came to my support group for the first time and shared  about his problems with binge eating.  And then he said something that I hear a lot - but no matter how often people say this, I'm always stunned:

He said he he knew he'd be dealing with bingeing for the rest of his life and that it would always be with him in some form. 

And did I mention he was in his mid-20s?  Yikes.

I'm sure I looked openly taken aback.  I said, "Oh, really?"

He nodded.  "Recovery means that you're always dealing with the problem.  Like, forever."

I said, skeptically, "Oh, really?"

At that point he asked if I believe in recovery.

I shook my head.  "No, I absolutely do not believe in recovery."

The whole group looked at me in shock.  This was not what they were expecting to hear.  
That's when I clarified:

"I don't believe in recovery.  I do believe in liberation.  

No matter what your eating issues are, you can completely change your relationship to food and to yourself.  I know this from personal and professional experience.

If you're familiar with my work, you probably know my thoughts on the importance of language.  The way you speak to - and about - yourself affects the way you feel, which impacts your behavior.   

Changing your language can change your life.  

So to me, you recover from the flu.   You recover from a bad break-up.   You recover from a financial setback.

You don't say, "I'm in recovery from depression."  You might explain you were depressed and now you feel better.

You're not "in recovery" from anxiety.  You describe that you were anxious and not you're not, or you're less anxious.     

You don't recover from eating problems.  You liberate yourself.

Liberation means freedom.  It means freedom from counting calories.  Freedom from the idea that you're good if you eat healthy foods and bad if you don't.  Freedom from negative self-talk.  

Freedom from thinking about this stuff All The Time.  

When you identify what's going on in your head and your heart, when you express your needs, wants, emotions, and conflicts, when you change your relationship to yourself and others, you don't need food to numb, distract or express difficult or painful emotions, conflicts, and wishes.  

That's how you liberate yourself from the dictatorship of food and win the diet war.  And then lunch becomes lunch, and not a battlefield.

In the last decade, I've helped many, many people liberate themselves from the tyranny of disordered eating.  They are free - and you can be, too.  

You CAN win the diet war.

SIGN UP NOW & I'll send you a FREE blueprint: 25 Ways To Cope Without Food.  

Plus as a special BONUS you'll get access to my private Facebook community (available only to subscribers).

Friday, September 19, 2014

5 Mental Blocks To Weight Loss

Note:  this post is geared towards readers seeking to overcome binge eating, compulsive overeating and overeating. 

Recently a friend who’s been on and off every diet from cabbage soup to South Beach to Cookie to Paleo confided that she had gone off her most recent diet.  

Big time. 

These were actually her exact words:  “I went off my diet, big time.”

She ate pizza for dinner and to her, this was practically a crime.  “I can’t lose weight if I eat pizza,” she exclaimed.  “What’s wrong with me?”

The only thing wrong was her mindset.  Her conviction that pizza was bad set her up for feeling bad about herself, one of the five mental blocks to weight loss:

I was “bad” because I didn’t stick to my diet/I was “good” because I stuck to my diet

“Bread is bad.  I was bad because I ate bread.”
“Salad is good.  I was good today because I ate salad.”

What you eat may be good for you or bad for you, but it doesn’t reflect your character.  The trouble with this kind of good-bad thinking is that it ties your character, your likeability, lovability and sense of self to what you are eating. 

Eating salad doesn’t make you a good person.  It makes you a person who eats salad.  Being a healthy eater doesn’t imbue you with some special characteristic that makes you more likeable or lovable.

What determines your goodness is the way you treat others, your intention to do the right thing, to be thoughtful and kind. 

You are not a better person because you abstain from certain foods.  You’re not a bad person if you eat pizza.  This “good food/good me” mentality causes a lot of anguish.  If this resonates with you, then start challenging that good-back dichotomy!

"What if I change when I'm thin?"

Some years ago I treated a 13 year old girl who was over 100 pounds overweight.  I normally only see adults but I made an exception for her (rules are meant to be bent, right?).  I’ll never forget the day she poignantly expressed a fear that if she lost weight, she would somehow not be herself.  She said, “I don’t know who I’ll be if I lose this weight, but I don’t think I’ll be as huggable.” 

For this girl, losing weight meant losing herself and becoming someone else.   Her identity was bound up in her size.  If this sounds familiar, consider what makes you unique.  How can you lose those qualities by losing weight?


"When I lose weight, my life will be absolutely perfect.”

This is a common sentiment.  People often say, “When I lose weight I'll be confident, happy and everyone will love me.”

This is a compelling fantasy but it is indeed a fantasy.  You will not be a different person when you lose weight.  You will be you, only in a smaller, presumably healthier body.  Your essential personality will not change, and you cannot change who you are by changing your physical appearance. 

"I'll never be able to eat pizza/pasta/ice cream/etc."

Fear of deprivation – either actual deprivation or imagining future deprivation – inevitably leads to bingeing.   If you think you cannot eat a certain food for some unspecified or prolonged period of time, then you’re probably going to have as much of that food as possible.   It’s the anticipation of future deprivation that leads to overeating in the present.

if you allow yourself to have it, you can decide if you actually want it.  Or how much you want.  

“This is how it is always going to be.”

Catastrophic thinking, projecting the present into the future, creates a dismal feeling of hopelessness.   In turn, hopelessness registers as a painful, dark, and depressed feeling, which makes you vulnerable to using food to escape.

None of us has a crystal ball to predict the future.  All we have is the past and the present.  Practice being in the here and now, and you may feel better and more hopeful.  When you feel better, you’re less likely to use food to cope.

Which of these five mental blocks resonates with you?   When you challenge your thinking, you create new thoughts, which lead to feeling better.  When you feel better, you're less likely to use food to numb, distract or express painful and/or upsetting states.  

And that's how you win the diet war!

SIGN UP NOW & I'll send you a FREE blueprint: 25 Ways To Cope Without Food.  Plus as a BONUS you'll get access to my private Facebook community (available only to subscribers).

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How your relationships affect your weight

Originally published on Walden Behavioral Health:

Starving For Love

CoupleLPeople who struggle with compulsive eating or bingeing often ask why they eat when they’re upset.  One woman lamented, “Why can’t I just work out or do crossword puzzles when I’m upset?  Why is it always doughnuts that I turn to for comfort?”
An excellent question.  Why food?
Our first experience of love is being fed as a newborn. If you watch a parent feeding a baby, you usually see a safe, warm connection between them. For babies, being held in loving arms, feeling loved, feeling safe, is bound up with the experience of feeding.  For babies, food is love, food is connection, food is comfort and ultimately, food and relationship are felt as one.
Babies grow up to be adults who naturally hope to love and be loved.  If that love is not readily available, or isn’t consistent, it can be humiliating.  It’s painful to want something you can’t have, or something that is not immediately available.
If you’re lonely, you may not have someone immediately available to keep you company. When you lack a fulfilling relationship, you may eat to symbolically fill the internal emptiness and the loneliness.
Even if someone is there, they may not respond the way you want, or may disappoint you, hurt you, or just not be there for you consistently or in the way you’d wish.
The reality is that people can sometimes be unpredictable, unavailable or unreliable.  When relationships become unsafe, it is common to turn to food, which on a deep level represents not just comfort, but the experience of being comforted by another person.
Even if you’re in a relationship, and have a partner, spouse or family, you might find food easier than people.  Lots of people have meals with their husbands, wives, partners or families, and then wait for everyone to go to bed so that they can sneak into the kitchen and eat in secret.
This behavior with food is connected to the ideas, thoughts, fears and perceptions about relationships.   Recognizing your relationship style, or attachment style, can help you better understand what’s going on with food.  And when you understand something, it’s easier to challenge and change your behavior.
There are four basic relationship/attachment styles in adults:
1) Secure attachment: “Relationships feel safe and secure. I know I am loved and lovable.”
2) Anxious-preoccupied attachment: “Stay close, because if I let you go, you’ll leave me” view of connection.
3) Dismissive-avoidant attachment: “I don’t need to be close, I don’t want to be close, so I’ll keep my distance.”
4) Fearful-avoidant attachment, “I desperately want connection, but if I get it, I will lose interest.”
Securely attached people are comfortable with intimacy.  They tend to have positive views of themselves and others, and trust that closeness with another person can be a warm, positive, and mutually satisfying experience.  They are less likely to develop problems with food.
People who feel safe and secure are not “starving for love” because they trust that connections to other people can be loving, positive, and fulfilling.  Because they feel satisfied in this area of their lives, they don’t use food as a substitute for love. In contrast:
Anxious-Preoccupied people find it difficult to trust that those they love or care about will be consistently available.   They don’t like separation and are afraid that “out of sight” leads to “out of mind.”   They often seek reassurance that their partner is still there for them.
If this sounds familiar, you may be “hungry” for love but turn to food instead, because you may be afraid you’ll never get enough, never be satisfied in your relationships, or that if you allow yourself to connect, you’ll eventually lose that love.
Even if you are in a relationship, you might feel as if you can never get enough of your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or significant other.
You may sometimes worry that you’re “too much” for the other person or worry that they’ll pull away or leave you.  If that’s the case, you might live in a state of constant anxiety about your relationship and use food for comfort.
Dismissive-Avoidant people keep their distance and are uncomfortable with closeness.  They prize independence, telling themselves and others that they don’t need anyone else to be happy.
Underlying this outward disinterest in relationships is the fear that intimacy will lead to rejection, pain or loss of self.  On some level, the belief is that “if you don’t get too close, you won’t get hurt.”
If you turn away from people, you may be left feeling too disconnected or lonely, which leaves you vulnerable to using food to fill the void.
Fearful-avoidant adults are in a bind; they simultaneously wish for closeness, yet fear intimacy.  They often yearn for someone who is unavailable, and pursue that person, think about the person all the time.  If the object of their affection returns their feelings, they often lose interest, finding distance safer – until the pattern repeats.
Do you find yourself falling for someone who’s already in a relationship with someone else?  Someone who lives too far away to see on a regular basis?  Or maybe the person you’re with is a workaholic or has hobbies that take up a lot of time so they don’t have time for you.
If this is familiar, you may be comfortable with the idea of love but terrified of what will happen if you allow yourself to truly bond and connect with another person.  You might be afraid you’ll lose yourself in a relationship.  You might be afraid you’ll be powerless in a relationship.
Bingeing is a symbolic way to fill up on food as a replacement for love, an unconscious substitute for the love and fulfillment that comes from loving and being loved by someone else.
Here are some things to consider:
Are you more comfortable with distance, or closeness?
What are your hopes and fears about intimacy?
Where did you learn to mistrust relationships?
How did your parents and others respond to your needs?
How do you respond to your own needs, wishes, and emotions?
It is important to identify and process the ideas that negatively impact your relationships and leave you hungry for love and connection.
When you can meet your underlying need for love, for attention, for connection, you won’t need food to express those needs and wants, or to distract from them.    You will be less likely to fill up on food when you’re in fulfilling relationships with other people.
About the author:
dnphotoNina Savelle-Rocklin, Psy.D. is a Los Angeles-based psychoanalyst who specializes in emotional eating.  Her personal experience gives her a unique understanding of what it’s like to struggle and she knows that change is possible.  She brings insight and hope to men and women who struggle with weight, food & body image issues.
Dr. Nina is a recognized expert on binge eating, interviewed for her expertise by the Los Angeles Times, Prevention, Real Simple, and other publications.
She is passionate about sharing a fresh perspective to the understanding and treatment of disordered eating, educating people about “why” they turn to food instead of focusing on the behavior itself.
Her award-winning blog, Make Peace With Food, has been named a “Best Eating Disorder Blog” by Healthline for three years in a row.  Dr. Nina’s podcast, Win The Diet War with Dr. Nina, was named “New & Noteworthy” by iTunes and she recently launched The Dr. Nina Show, a video series on YouTube.  She is currently writing a book about how to stop bingeing for good.
For more information, please visit