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I would encourage these women to look more closely at their lives—past, present and future. Some will discover that they are using food to deal with painful memories (say, feeling neglected as a child or having a negative self-image based on teen awkwardness). Others acknowledge that they're not happy being single, they've gotten stuck in a rut at work or they've sunk into full-blown depression. If they can't figure out the root of that unhappiness, I may suggest they seek professional counseling to explore this issue further.

"I find sweets comforting when I'm stressed or bored. I've gotten better at managing some of my food issues, but on bad days, I'll have ice cream for dinner. It's something that has gone on awhile." —Susan Raisch

With all my clients, once they've had a lightbulb moment—the instant they find out what is fueling their emotional eating—that's when the hard work begins. Everybody says it's tough to exercise and eat right, but that's nothing. Eliminating what is driving your cravings means you need to make some often difficult decisions. One of my clients, despite successfully sticking to a workout schedule, found herself bingeing and unable to lose an extra 30 pounds. She couldn't figure it out. She was happy with her job, had no family issues and was married to a great guy. After a few months, it became clear that while she loved her husband, he wasn't the right man for her. She wanted children; he did not. They parted amicably, and she has since met someone else. She now leads a truly fulfilled life. On the other hand, I have clients who've figured out that what's upsetting them is a lack of intimacy with their spouses. After fixing their relationships, they have little desire to binge.

Next: How to change your bad eating habits

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