Lenore: I was always an emotional eater. I can't remember not being an emotional eater.
ANNOUNCER: In times of stress, food used to be Lenore's best friend.
Lenore: If I was unhappy, food was right there next to me. I could always count on it. It was something that soothed. It was something that made the bad things go away.
ANNOUNCER: She's not alone. Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is tied to emotional needs.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, American Dietetic Association: In many cases, emotional eating is about numbing, just trying not to feel other things that you're feeling, other stresses in your life. Sometimes emotional eating is about pacifying, sort of pushing down.
ANNOUNCER: But Lenore's friendship with food became toxic. After countless diets, she was still more than a hundred pounds overweight. Her health was starting to suffer.
Lenore: I had a gall bladder attack. If I wanted my gall bladder not to hurt, I had to make the right choices, so that I would talk to myself and say, "Is it worth it?"
ANNOUNCER: Taub-Dix says that emotional eaters tend to crave carbohydrates, though they may eat foods that also contain fat.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, American Dietetic Association: When you eat foods that are carbohydrate what happens is they stimulate a chemical in your brain called serotonin. This is the feel-good chemical. It provides comfort.
ANNOUNCER: Despite the comfort, Lenore decided to dump food from her circle of friends. Her first step was to work with registered dietician bonnie Taub-Dix.
Lenore: We first talked about the word enough. I had a big sign on my refrigerator that said "enough," and I had enough of being fat.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, American Dietetic Association: You look to the food as being a friend, and if you eat because you're unhappy, and then you're unhappy because you ate, was that really a friend?
ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.