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Valerie Bertinelli Shares the Importance of Indulging — And Urges Women to Live Freely: “You Are Worthy, You Are Enough!”

The actress, chef and author dishes out some stellar advice!

Chances are, when you think of actress and chef Valerie Bertinelli, you picture her with a beaming smile framed by a gorgeous mane of hair, whipping up something delicious in her kitchen. But behind that smile, the Emmy Award-winner has battled some difficult challenges in recent years, from the death of her ex-husband/still friend Eddie Van Halen to her recent bitter divorce from Tom Vitale.

But these days, she’s reclaimed her joy and is embracing all of life’s sweet indulgences. And Valerie Bertinelli encourages other women to do the same in her new book, Indulge: Delicious and Decadent Dishes to Enjoy and Share.

“Life is hard and it’s really challenging for women, especially when you are in charge of the family, and everyone depends on,” Valerie shared during a Zoom interview with FIRST for Women for our latest cover (on sale now!). “You can start by not taking yourself for granted when you feel as if everybody else does. You are worthy of indulgence as well.”

Valerie Bertinelli talks letting go of restrictions

In her new book, Valerie not only shares delicious recipes, but also valuable insights on how she’s learned self-acceptance and how to truly enjoy life.

“The essays are really important to me. It’s like an extension of Enough Already,” she says of her previous best-selling book.

“I was saying enough with making myself the bad guy, making food the bad guy, making all these restrictions on my life. How do you live a life full of restriction? You can’t. The way that I was able to take restriction out of my life was by actually feeling my feelings and not stuffing them down with food and not trying to ignore them by eating something. I’m such an emotional eater, or I was. I can say in the past year and a half I’ve really been able to really start to turn that ship around and it’s been an amazing process.”

Valerie credits therapy with helping her tremendously. “I’ve been super duper consistent with seeing my therapist, more so than I have in my entire lifetime,” she says.

The actress in 2015
Valerie Bertinelli, 2015D Dipasupil/Getty Images for Extra

“In the last two years, it was a lifeline for me, and then I used myself as a lifeline as well. Journaling has helped and even TikTok has helped. There are people doing some amazing TikToks, but you have to be careful too because there’s TikToks that don’t give you any good information. Anything that helps you feel worthy and enough — because everybody is worthy and everybody is enough — is helpful.”

Valerie lets it out in her journal

When it comes to journaling, Valerie says there are two approaches she uses. “One is just stream of consciousness. You just write as fast as you can and just try to get everything out. Don’t think about what you are writing, just get it out,” she says.

“The other one is really talk to yourself and figure out what it is that you are feeling today. What was it that brought you joy? What was it that you could feel that made you a little unsteady? It will help you figure out what it was that made you unsteady. Did it go back to childhood? Or maybe it’s just as simple as somebody cut you off on the freeway and that has nothing to do with childhood. It’s just nice to get stuff off your chest without burdening another person and that’s what journaling is good for. You’re not going to burden the pages.”

The secret to weightloss: mental and emotional healing

The actress and chef in 2018
Valerie Bertinelli, 2018Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for NYCWFF

One thing she says she’s learned over the years is that no diet will work if you don’t work on yourself. “Diets and weight are symptoms of what’s going on with you mentally and emotionally,” she shares.

“When I started to really work on my mental health and emotional health is when I started to release weight that I knew I was holding onto because it was literally saving my life at that time in my life. I needed to have that weight on as protection. I didn’t like it at the time, and I wasn’t looking at it in that way at the time, but now that I can look back and appreciate and be grateful for it. I know it sounds so melodramatic to say ‘It saved my life!’ I truly do think that in a way.”

Valerie continued, “I wasn’t ready to release any weight until I felt safe and the way I made myself feel safe was by actually feeling my feelings and seeing that they are not so scary after all. They are just feelings. Feelings are information and they are just trying to get the rest of you to pay attention to what’s going on.”

Valerie Bertinelli, 2019
Valerie Bertinelli, 2019Monica Schipper/Getty Images for NYCWFF

A healthy relationship with food

Valerie Bertinelli admits her relationship with food was fraught with anxiety to the point where she was even afraid to indulge in certain foods. “I used to be so afraid of bananas. It’s a flipping banana,” she says with a laugh.

“It’s good for you. It’s got vitamins and calcium. It’s got so much great stuff in there. Oh my God it has carbs, so what? It’s a banana. It’s good for you. Eat it and stop feeling guilty about eating a banana. It’s not going to hurt you. It’s going to help you. It’s going to add nutrition to your body.”

The actress in 2019
Valerie Bertinelli, 2019Dominik Bindl/Getty Images

She’s also throwing labels out the window. “Every food can be indulgent and everything should be a time to indulge, whether it be something that sounds scary because you know it’s going to have a lot of calories in it or something that’s really ‘healthy,’ and I’m going to say healthy in quotes because I don’t like labeling anything anymore,” she says.

“Healthy or unhealthy. This is good for you. This is bad for you. None of those labels work for me anymore.”

Saying goodbye to the scale

These days, Valerie says she also refuses to weigh herself. “That number was never going to be good enough to put me in a good mood ever, so why start the day like that?” she says.

“No matter what that number said, it could always be better. It’s a silly way to start your day.”

 Valerie Bertinelli presenting a culinary demonstration in 2019
Valerie Bertinelli presenting a culinary demonstration in 2019John Lamparski/Getty Images for NYCWFF

The changes she’s made are working for her. “My jeans aren’t getting any tighter because I’m choosing to indulge and eat for nutrition, for flavor and kindness to myself and I’m not denying myself my feelings.”

Restricting her life and ignoring her feelings led her to an unhealthy place. “I’ve had enough already of denying myself in indulging, denying my feelings, denying all kinds of crap that got me to a really uncomfortable place in my life. Everything about my life was unmanageable,” she says.

Valerie Bertinelli works hard to indulge in rest

These days, she’s in a sweet spot and is reveling in life. Her son Wolfie, whose father is Eddie Van Halen, got married last fall and is enjoying a thriving music career. Valerie herself has recently found love again and the actress/author/chef is successfully managing work/life balance.

Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli, 1985
Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli, 1985Steve Granitz/Getty Images

MUST-READ: Valerie Bertinelli Shares Sweet Memories of Eddie Van Halen as Their Son Wolfgang Ties the Knot

“I work hard, and I rest just as hard. I like my moments of rest. Like in the lyrics of AC/DC, ‘Doing nothing means a lot to me,’” she says quoting the rock band’s song “Down Payment Blues.”

“I love doing nothing because when I am doing something, I am full steam ahead, blinders on getting s**t done. When that is done, I rest hard and I do not feel guilty for it anymore. I used to feel guilty. I’m actually resting myself up so I can go do more later. Rest is really important. Indulge in rest.”

Valerie Bertinelli: “Indulge every day.”

There are many indulgences that Valerie truly enjoys, including food and family time. “I sure do love pizza. I love any and all pizza,” she smiles.

“I definitely indulge in pizza, and I used to feel so guilty. I don’t anymore. Wolfie and his wife Andraia came over recently and we ordered some pizzas. I didn’t make them, and I didn’t feel guilty about it. I ordered from my local pizza place that I love so much. It was a great time because I was eating pizza with two people that I absolutely adore and love and love spending time with. It’s about the entire process and just being around people that you love.”

Andraia Allsop, Wolfgang Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli, 2024
Andraia Allsop, Wolfgang Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli Indulge, 2024Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

“I also love a good bubble bath. I don’t take those enough. I love a good walk with my pup, Luna. I know I’m making her happy, so it’s even double, right? Little things like that make me happy. It doesn’t take much to make me happy.”

MUST-READ: Valerie Bertinelli’s Simple Mother’s Day Advice — ‘Soak up What You Can’ — Is a Reminder to Us All (Exclusive Interview)

Valerie Bertinelli wants to encourage other women to enjoy their lives and indulge in what makes them happy. “Indulge in your life every single day,” she smiles.

“Indulge in the people that you love. Indulge in making food that you love to share with the people that you love. Indulge in your God blessed life because it’s the only one you have.”

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