Women of all shapes and sizes, including O readers, admit to emotional eating.

"I love to get together with friends, and when we celebrate or get excited about something, we go out to eat. My weaknesses are sweets—especially milk shakes—and anything fried." —Michelle Burroughs

Many women, such as Michelle Burroughs, are social eaters: They overeat when they get together with friends. They talk and laugh and order lots of food. Now, I wouldn't suggest that social overeaters deny themselves conversation and laughter. Instead, I would encourage them to get together with friends and emphasize friendship rather than food. After all, what social overeaters usually want is the camaraderie; at some point in their past, that love of being together was expressed through food. Maybe the family bonded at the dinner table, over heaping platters of turkey and gravy and mashed potatoes. As adults, these women need to separate the fun of hanging out from the meal itself.

Of course it's even easier to overeat or eat badly when you're alone. For women who travel a lot on business, as Jane McIlwaine does, that's much of the time.

"I travel every week for business. Sitting alone in hotel rooms, I often eat junk food. I know I could go downstairs to the gym, but I get bored and just end up snacking instead." —Jane McIlwaine

After a long day of meetings, she's tired and it's easy for her to buy Chips Ahoy! or Oreos from the hotel snack machine when she stays in at night. McIlwaine knows she'd be better off visiting the hotel gym but says she feels so bored sitting alone in her room that she doesn't want to move. I know what a drag it can be to schlep down to the StairMaster, but is that the only option? Are there letters she could write? Could she meet with friends (or friends of friends) in the towns she travels to? Could she explore the city's opera house or the nearest multiplex? Boredom is a surface emotion: Sometimes it means you're just not aware of or willing to do the work necessary to maintain a balanced life. I promise you, the more active you are, the less you'll be satisfied spending your time with a couple of cookies.

Next: The other extreme of emotional eating


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