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Valerie Bertinelli Wants You to Be Nice to Yourself

The actress, author and Food Network host opens up about Eddie Van Halen and regrets

En español

Food is love

For Ed [Van Halen], his mother’s cooking was the only connection they had. It softened his heart for her, because she was a hard person to get along with. Eating wasn’t high on his priority list, but watching him love his mother through the food she made for him was lovely.

We’re not that different

All I grew up with was Italian pasta dishes. I had no idea how to make Indonesian food before I met Ed. But that’s all that Mrs. Van Halen made because she’s Indonesian. She made bami, an Indonesian pasta dish, and it was a little light bulb for me: Indonesians have a noodle dish, too! I wish getting along with people was as simple as enjoying their food.


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Owning your regrets

I don’t buy it when someone says, “I have no regrets. It’s made me who I am today.” That’s B.S. You can take different paths to get to where you need to be. I regret not asking more questions and opening up with my mom. I was uncomfortable with her pain. It was selfish.

It’s not about you

I could have been so much more understanding with why Ed needed alcohol and drugs to deal with his pain. That’s what he was taught at a young age. They’re the only things he had in his toolbox. I took it too personally. Like, If you love me, you wouldn’t do this. That’s not true. He did love me more than anyone has ever loved me in my entire life. I was selfish in that I just wanted him to get better for me. As I got older, I just wanted him to get better for him.

Throw away your scale

I don’t weigh myself anymore. No matter what that number was, I judged myself by a number that has nothing to do with who I am as a human being. I have three of them in my house, sitting there looking at me. I can’t throw them away. But I did push one underneath my dresser.

actress valerie bertinelli

Amanda Friedman

Giving yourself a break

I used to say, “When I’m 88, I’m going to be like Betty White, eating my hot dogs and Red Vines candy and drinking vodka on the rocks with the lemon twist.” So I recently had a hot dog, but I’m not as crazy about Red Vines. I prefer Twizzlers.

The joys of unplugging

I was following way too many political things on Twitter, and it puts me in a dull mood. Now I put my phone away so much that my son, Wolfie, will call the landline at home and say, “Where’s your phone?” because he wants to FaceTime. Though there are a few games I like to play on it, like Matchington Mansion.

Feeling your feelings

When I have a feeling that I’m uncomfortable with, the first thing that comes into my head is, I don’t want to feel this. I try instead to think, Hi, feeling. Hi, anxiety. I don’t know why you’re here. And now I’m going to try to feel where in my body you are. Is it my heart because I’m grieving something that I miss? Then I try to sit with it, just feel it in my body and let it move through. And that’s life. Don’t judge it. Don’t judge yourself. Just feel it.

—As told to Joel Stein

Valerie Bertinelli, 61, hosts Food Network’s Valerie’s Home Cooking and Kids Baking Championship. Her new book is Enough Already: Learning to Love the Way I Am Today.