There has been a lot of talk about emotional eating -- using food to cope with unpleasant feelings such as anger, boredom, sadness or anxiety.

Being aware of emotional eating is an important first step toward overcoming it. But awareness alone doesn't address the more basic challenge of dealing with difficult feelings.

Keeping a personal journal is one way of uncovering and understanding negative feelings we'd rather avoid. Some experts recommend journaling every day even if you don't think you have anything to write; the habit of asking yourself what you're thinking and feeling inevitably increases self-awareness. It's also a good idea to write down your feelings when you've binged or think you're about to overindulge. (What events or thoughts triggered the binge?) Over time, the journal may reveal patterns of emotional eating and -- more importantly -- help you recognize the concerns that need your attention.