Book Excerpt

Eating, Drinking, Overthinking

The Toxic Triangle of Food, Alcohol, and Depression--and How Women Can Break Free

Susan Nolen-Hoeksema

Henry Holt and Co.


What Is the Toxic Triangle?

Eating: Forty-five percent of women say they are chronically on a diet, while 32 percent of college-age women say they binge at least twice a month. Disordered eating is a common pattern in women caught in the Toxic Triangle.

Drinking: One in five women suffers from some form of alcohol abuse and more than 13 percent of women engage in binge drinking (five or more drinks in a couple of hours). Many drink to please a man or to ease stress, starting a cycle that affects emotional and physical health.

Overthinking: From a young age, girls are encouraged to develop "self-focused coping" behaviors that result in lifetime patterns of overthinking and depression—one in four women will suffer a severe depressive episode. Often when women begin overthinking, it causes them to smother their feelings in food or drown them in alcohol.

How Can Women Break Free?

"This book gives hope to women, as well as to their families and friends, that freedom from the Toxic Triangle is within our reach . . . Women's emotional and interpersonal sensitivities can be harnessed to create more effective and healthy ways of coping with stress. Eating, Drinking, Overthinking will give you the tools to do this." —From the Prologue