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Women's Health

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Elizabeth Gilbert: Eat, Pray, Roll Camera

As her best-selling memoir hits the big screen, the globe-trotting author tells WebMD what it's like to be played by Julia Roberts (!), plus her best and worst health habits.

Q: Your worst?

A: Overeating whenever I am in the company of other people. Celebratory bingeing, I guess you could call it. I seem to always get overexcited when I'm around the festivities of sharing meals with others, and I lose control of my fork. When I'm alone, I have no trouble eating small portions of healthy food and never crave anything more. When I eat with my husband, I eat about twice as much food as I would eat alone. Add a few family members and friends into the mix and I really start to pack on the calories. It does seem to be a mathematical equation for me that the more people who are at the table, the more I stuff myself. I've never been quite able to figure out how to control this, but I'm working on it.

Q: What do you fear most?

A: Conflict, misunderstanding, severed relationships -- losing somebody because of hurt feelings or irreconcilable differences. Nothing causes me more anxiety. I am haunted by every friend I've ever lost and spend a great deal of my life tending to the relationships I have. I have a large network of people in my life, and I feel the tremors very deeply when somebody falls out of that circle. I do a lot of nurturing to keep that garden of community healthy -- but of course, there are always problems anyhow because we are human. But nothing breaks my heart more, and nothing causes me more distress.

Q: Eat, Pray, Love covers your experiences living in Italy, India, and Indonesia. Which of these three "I" nations' cuisine is your favorite?

A: It's funny -- as much as I praised (deservedly, of course) Italian cuisine, the truth is that I prefer Indian. Italian food is a representation of pure decadence to me, but Indian food is a marvel of complexity, a health-mind-body-spirit alchemy -- and the most amazing flavors. I was spoiled because I spent four months in an ashram where 10 middle-aged Indian women in a beautiful kitchen worked together the entire day -- while singing sacred chants -- to make the most amazing and healthy food I've ever experienced. Each meal was a revelation, and all of it was good for me. I'm not sure a mere civilian like me could ever learn how to cook anything close to what those angels turned out on a daily basis, but that is the food of my dreams.

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