Roth began exploring emotional eating in her bestseller When Food Is Love. Now, two decades later, here is her masterwork: WOMEN FOOD AND GOD.
The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. No matter how sophisticated or wise or enlightened you believe you are, how you eat tells all. The world is on your plate. When you begin to understand what prompts you to use food as a way to numb or distract yourself, the process takes you deeper into realms of spirit and to the bright center of your own life. Rather than getting rid of or instantly changing your conflicted relationship with food, Women Food and God is about welcoming what is already here, and contacting the part of yourself that is already whole—divinity itself.
Geneen Roth's pioneering books were among the first to link compulsive eating and perpetual dieting with deeply personal and spiritual issues that go far beyond food, weight and body image. She believes that we eat the way we live, and that our relationship to food, money, love is an exact reflection of our deepest held beliefs about ourselves and the amount of joy, abundance, pain, scarcity, we believe we have (or are allowed) to have in our lives.
Rather than pushing away the "crazy" things we do, Geneen's work proceeds with the conviction that our actions and beliefs make exquisite sense, and that the way to transform our relationship with food is to be open, curious and kind with ourselves-instead of punishing, impatient and harsh. In the past thirty years, she has worked with hundreds of thousands of people using meditation, inquiry, and a set of seven eating guidelines that are the foundation of natural eating.
Geneen has appeared on many national television shows including: The Oprah Show, 20/20, The NBC Nightly News, The View and Good Morning America. Articles about Geneen and her work have appeared in numerous publications including: O: The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Time, Elle, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has written monthly columns in Good Housekeeping Magazine and Prevention Magazine. Geneen is the author of eight books, including The New York Times bestsellers When Food is Love and Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything. Her newest book, to be published in March 2011, is Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money.
Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything, Geneen Roth
Millions of us are locked into an unwinnable weight game, as our self-worth is shredded with every diet failure.
Combine the utter inefficacy of dieting with the lack of spiritual nourishment and we have generations of mad, ravenous self-loathing women.
So says Geneen Roth, in her life-changing new book, Women, Food and God.
Roth's approach to eating is that it is the same as any addiction - an activity to avoid feeling emotions.
From the first page, readers will be struck by the author's intelligence, humor and sensitivity, as she traces the path of overeating from its subtle beginnings through to its logical end.
She begins with her most basic concept: the way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive.
Your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning, transformation and, yes, even God.
عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «خدا، زن، غذا»؛ «زنان، غذا و خدا: راه باور نکردنی برای رسیدن به همه چیز»؛ «زنان، غذا و خدا»؛ «زن، غذا و خدا»؛ نویسنده: جنین (گنین) راث (راس)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و چهارم ماه جولای سال 2012میلادی
عنوان: خدا، زن، غذا؛ نویسنده: جنین راث؛ مترجم توراندخت تمدن (مالکی)؛ تهران، البرز، 1389؛ در 232ص؛ شابک 9789644427329؛ موضوع چاقی و خودباوری از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 21م
عنوان: زنان، غذا و خدا: راه باور نکردنی برای رسیدن به همه چیز؛ نویسنده: گنین راس؛ مترجم فرنوش طاهرلو؛ تهران، نشر قطره، چاپ اول تا سوم سال1397؛ در 198ص؛ چاپ پنجم 1398؛ در 186ص؛ شابک 9786001198151؛
عنوان: زنان، غذا و خدا؛ نویسنده جینین روت؛ مترجم گیسو ناصری؛ تهران، حکایتی دگر؛ 1390؛ در 420ص؛ شابک 9789642756513؛
عنوان: زن، غذا و خدا؛ نوشتهی جنین راس؛ مترجم آراز ایلخچویی؛؛ تهران، آموت، 1390؛ در 229ص؛ شابک 9786005941371؛
در دنیای امروزین کاهش وزن، یکی از گرفتاریهای بزرگ است؛ با پیشرفت علم و فناوری، و در پی آن کاهش کارها و تلاشهای روزانه برای برطرف کردن نیازها، و افزایش روزافزون تنوع غذایی با کالریهای بالا، روز به روز درصد افراد دارای اضافه وزن بالاتر میرود، و پیامد آن هم چیزی جز بیماریها برای آنها نیست، «گنین راس» از نویسندگانی هستند، که آثارشان را در باره ی رژیمهای غذایی، و کاهش وزن، با دیدگاهی دیگرگونه، و با سبکی خنده دار، و با سود بردن از زبان گفت و شنید، ارائه میدهند؛ در این کتاب تلاش شده، تا دیدگاه نویسنده، با سبک طنز به بهترین شیوه به خوانشگر ارائه شود؛
نقل از متن کتاب «زنان، غذا و خدا» برگردان خانم «فرنوش طاهرلو»: (جهان در بشقابهای ما: هشتاد خانم گرسنه با کاسه های سوپ سرد سبزیجات دور هم جمع شده اند، خیره خیره به من نگاه میکنند، خیلی هم عصبانی هستند؛ وقت ناهار سومین روز عقب نشینی است؛ در طی این روزهای درمان غذایی، هر خانمی که به بوفه میرسد، در صف میایستد و غذایش را سرو میکند، سپس مکان مناسبی برای خودش پیدا میکند و صبر میکند تا بقیه هم برای خوردن سر میز بنشینند اگرچه برنامه ی عقب نشینی خوب پیش میرود، و بسیاری از مردم به درکی از تغییرات در زندگیشان رسیده اند؛ در این لحظه کسی به این مسائل اهمیت نمیدهد، به پیروزیهای چشمگیر، به کم کردن نود پوند وزن، یا حتی به وجود خدا اهمیت نمیدهد؛ در این مدت فقط میخواهند غذایشان را بخورند؛ از من میخواهند که ایده های خیالیم را در مورد ارتباط بین معنویت و خوردن بی اراده کنار بگذارم؛ چیزی که در مورد غذا خوردن مورد توجه باید قرار بگیرد این است که باید در اتاق غذاخوری منتظر ماند، حتی یک لقمه از غذا را نخورد تا کل گروه غذای خودشان را سرو کنند؛ نکته ی دیگر اینکه خواستم سکوت را رعایت کنند یعنی اثری از صدای خنده یا احوال پرسی نباشد که تمرکزشان از گرسنگی یا عدم وجود آن منحرف نشود این عقب نشینی بر اساس فلسفه ای بود که طی سی سال گذشته به آن رسیده بودم: ارتباط ما با غذا دقیقاً نمونه ی کوچکی از ارتباط ما با زندگی است؛ من اعتقاد دارم که چگونگی راه رفتنمان، ابراز احساسات در مورد عمیق ترین اعتقاداتمان، باورهایمان در خصوص عشق، ترس، تغییر و اعتقاد به خدا همگی در طول زمان و در چگونگی غذا خوردنمان آشکار میشوند؛ وقتی که سیر هستید و با وجود بوی وسوسه انگیز کره بادام زمینی نمیتوانید آن را بخورید، ممکن است احساسات مختلفی در درونتان فوران کند: دنیایی از امیدواری یا یاس، اعتقاد یا شک، عشق یا نفرت؛ اگر میخواهیم اعتقاد واقعیمان را کشف کنیم؛ بدون توجه به اینکه چه فکری میکنیم و چه میگوییم؛ و نیازمند شنیدن خواسته ی روحمان در انتهای واقعیت زندگی و بعد از مرگ هستیم، کافی است فراتر از غذای داخل بشقابهای خود نرویم خدا فقط به صورت نمودها وجود ندارد، نشانه های خدا را حتی در کوچه ها، سیب زمینی سرخ کرده و سوپ سبزیجات میتوان یافت؛ در واقع نشانه های خدا را میتوان در بشقابها نیز پیدا کرد به همین دلیل است که من و هشتاد خانم دیگر، دور یک میز برای خوردن سوپ سرد سبزیجات جمع شدیم؛ به اطراف اتاق نگاه میکنم؛ عکسهای گل، تصاویر دسته ای کوکب سرخ و رزی سفید، با لبه های طلایی روی دیوار آویزان هستند؛ دسته ای گل گلایل روی میز پخش شده است، گویی رقاصه ای میخواهد در مجلس رقص خودنمایی کند؛ سپس به چهره ی دانش آموزانم نگاه کردم؛ مارجوری روان شناس پنجاه ساله، با قاشق خود بازی میکرد و به من توجهی نداشت؛ ژیمناست بیست ساله ای به نام پاتریشیا شلوار تنگ و تاپی زردرنگ به تن داشت؛ بدن ظریفش مانند پرنده ای میماند که در لانه ی خود آرمیده باشد، ملایم و استوار؛ در بشقاب او مقداری جوانه ی گندم و سالاد بود؛ به سمت راستم نگاه کردم و آنا را دیدم، جراحی از مکزیکوسیتی که یکی از لبهایش را به دندان گرفته بود و بیصبرانه چنگالش را به بشقاب میزد؛ در بشقابش سه تکه نان، قالبی بزرگ کره و مقداری سالاد بود و خبری از سوپ و سبزیجات نبود؛ در چشمهایش میشد خواند که میگفت: «لعنت بهت؟ دفعه ی بعد عمراً دست از پرخوریم نمیکشم» من هم سرم را رو به او تکان میدادم به این معنا که: «آره میدونم چه قدر پرهیز سخته.» نگاه گذرایی به دورتادور اتاق، چهره ها و بشقابها انداختم؛ فضای سنگینی به خاطر این پرهیز غذایی حاکم بود و به خاطر اینکه قوانین را من تعیین میکردم تمام عصبانیت افراد هم از دست من بود؛ قرار گرفتن بین مردم و غذاهایشان مانند این است که در مقابل یک قطار سریع السیر قرار گرفته باشی و نگه داشتن آن هم، کار بسیار دشواری باشد، که مطمئناً با خوشی همراه نخواهد بود.)؛ پایان
تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 02/04/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Maybe I entirely missed the point, but this book was the biggest waste of my time. Firstly, as other reviewers have pointed out, the "and God" part of this book is nonexistent. Not that I mind that, but don't put it in your title. Isn't that editing 101? Which is what this book seems to be missing: a good, thorough editing. Someone to remove the reaching, lofty language that struggles to make a point but doesn't really ever get there. Someone to concisely outline the goals for the book, for even though there are three distinct sections, there isn't ever a distinct path or method the author wants you to try. It's as if she expects her flowing language about emotional eating to suddenly pull you out of your need to emotionally eat. I'm all for aha! moments, but pretty language alone isn't enough for me. I understand that Roth is attempting to offer a better solution than just another diet plan, and that is certainly commendable, as I fully agree with her when she writes that we need to understand why we're eating instead of just what we're eating. But she needs to offer more in the way of a process of attaining that understanding. What she actually offers feels more like a teaser for her retreats ("look how much enlightenment my campers attain! You too can be okay!"). I did dog-ear a few pages with pithy statements, but I doubt anything in this book will stick with me longer than a day or so.
I began to realize while reading this book that the title is a bit misleading, since it does not exclusively deal with any of the three things it names. First of all, it is not only for women; men could benefit just a mightily from what is written here. Second, it is not just about food, but about any obsession we use to divide ourselves off from our lives and our true natures. Third, when Roth speaks of God, she is referring to whatever in our world equates to that feeling of being entirely a cherished part of the whole experience of being alive. For some that is God, for others it may be Flow or Nirvana or presence or awareness or something entirely other than these.
I suffer from some eating compulsions, but I also have other compulsions which I am acutely aware stem from my feelings of inadequacy and my perception of danger in the world, danger from which I feel insubstantially protected and against which only my compulsive behavior can create a zone safe enough for me to continue to exist. Never mind that this has never worked (every zone I construct begins to deconstruct as soon as it is built, for one thing); I still find myself engaging in the same behaviors over and over again, because I have yet to find any strategies that will make me permanently safe. Therefore, I keep using those which are familiar, no matter their dubious efficacy.
I suspect this pattern sounds familiar to nearly everyone who reads this. We have, our whole lives, been sold a bill of goods: if we are good enough (thin enough, rich enough, accomplished enough, sexual enough, have enough shoes, cars, houses, or lovers) we will some day reach that pinnacle of being permanently loved and safe, and from that height we will never need to descend ever again. This is, of course, bullshit, and we know that, but we cannot seem to break the bonds of the beliefs we have built into the simulacrum of such a place and a way of living.
So, what to do? To abandon our old patterns without new ones to replace them simply leaves us feeling empty and abandoned; better the old, ineffective ways of living than having no clue. In this book, we are provided with a cogent, caring, articulate way of approaching our lives through our compulsions, not in spite of them, a way of using these false beliefs to nurture a truth we had never believed could exist: that we were born and remain whole, worthy, capable, strong, and loving beings.
One of my favorite statements from the book is (I am paraphrasing), "If your job is to fix yourself and there is nothing to fix, then you are unemployed. What then?" I, for one, intend to find out, and this book is a wonderful guide to how one can start on that path.
Is this a perfect book? Well, no, but it's flaws are minor and the intent of the author is clearly so benign and helpful that it doesn't feel worthwhile to elaborate them. I would hope that anyone who thinks one more of anything will finally push them over the edge to perfection will pick up this book and realize that the perfection we seek has always been here, and we have only to set aside the lies we have been sold to access that perfection. Bon appetit!
This is a non-fiction book that I found enlightening and helpful, with many truths in its pages.
Author Geneen Roth had fluctuated between severe food restriction and severe binge eating all her life. Her self-worth was tied up in her weight and shape, and her existence was a miserable yo-yo of dieting and shame. She went to therapy, learned about herself, studied mindfulness and meditation, taught and wrote, and slowly began to deal with her emotional pain by learning how to sit with it and feel it instead of eating to avoid it.
Her premise is that compulsive eaters use food to escape feeling emotional pain, and I think this theory is spot on. All addictions tend to be about difficulty coping directly with emotions, and eating disorders are no different. Ms. Roth holds workshops for women where they learn what feelings underlie their obsessions and compulsions with food.
Ms. Roth discusses the promise of diets, which simply don’t work:
“Diets are based on the unspoken fear that you are a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic…The promise of a diet is not only that you will have a different body; it is that in having a different body, you will have a different life. If you hate yourself enough, you will love yourself. If you torture yourself enough, you will become a peaceful, relaxed human being.” (p. 77)
Can I get an amen? Why do we think that we need to be harshly self-critical in order to motivate us to change, when we all know that positive reinforcement works much better than punishment for behavioral change? We have some very messed up ideas about dieting in our culture.
Ms. Roth offers the “If Love Could Speak Instructions” as a counter to the resistance we feel to changing our eating habits:
“If love could speak to you about food, it would say, ‘Eat when you are hungry, sweetheart, because if you don’t, you won’t enjoy the taste of food. And why should you do anything you don’t enjoy?’ It would say, ‘Eat what your body wants, darling, otherwise you won’t feel so well, and why should you walk around feeling tired or depressed from what you put into your mouth?’ It would say ‘Stop eating when you’ve had enough, otherwise you will be uncomfortable, and why spend one minute in discomfort?’” (p. 168)
I love the compassion she implores us to feel for ourselves.
I’ve been wanting to practice mindful eating for some time now and I finally used her recommendation to eat without any distractions (e.g. THE COMPUTER!) for all three of my meals today. It was interesting to discover that I wasn’t as hungry for lunch after sitting at the table and eating my breakfast one-mindfully instead of wolfing it down while surfing the internet. How interesting! When I want to watch TV, read, or go online for my next meal, I’ll try to tell myself, “Eat without distractions, sweetheart, so you can enjoy your food more and feel when you’re full.” I’ll work on it one bite at a time. Thank you, Geneen Roth.
Yes. I have food issues. And God issues. And I'm a Woman. It seems I meet all of the criteria.
This is a BRUTAL book. I can only read a little bit at a time. Make it stop.
********************************************************************** I don't know. I just don't know. I was going back and forth between 2 and 3 stars, but it's really more like a 2.5 for me. The epilogue was the best part of the book, in my opinion.
Hmmm. I'm confounded here. I was extremely surprised how little God there was in Women Food and God, and what God there was, it's not God God, but an idea of spirituality that people associate with food and with the act of eating.
The Unexpected Path to Almost Everything is pure crap. Sure, there were lines in here that made me break down into tears, but many things about eating, being fat, losing weight, self esteem and the like make me cry. But I saw no path. Roth kept writing about really paying attention to what is on your plate, something she called "food meditation." She was connecting each piece of food to a feeling, and I just don't operate that way. I did, however, agree with her on her fundamentals for eating (ways to eat that will help you truly be aware of each bite, what you are eating....rather than shoving as much food in your face as possible until you are sick and afterward don't remember taking a bite...).
I could go on and on and on, but my food issues are for me and me alone, and I wouldn't want to bore you with them any longer.
I picked this up off the "new arrivals" shelf at the library where it was displayed next to books about economics, WWII, and Karen Armstrongs, "A Case for God." I thought-- Fantastic! A feminist reading of foodways! Boo, hiss, completely wrong.
It's a meandering, blissfuly citation-free, whiny self-help book. The author tells us how crazy she is and how horrible her life has been but how many people love her and how many thousands of people have completely changed their lives because of her and all the things she wishes she has said to Regis in that interview 15 years ago.
Ugh, not my kind of book.
But I am a person of guts and determination, so I finished it. And even though my eyeballs are sore from so much rolling, there are some really helpful points (although I'm sure they're not unique or original) that I would like to take from this book:
1. Be mindful. Just keep coming back to the present moment, and to what you are actually experiencing. 2. Turn off the metanarrative-- that super-ego voice, all that internalized guilt. That is not reality. 3. Doubt the stories that your mind tells you. They are not reality.
So, meditation "lite." In the end I felt like this book wasn't really about Women, Food, or God. It was more about blaming our parents for our misery and how awesome the author's seminars are. But it did make me want to read more about mindfulness!
Loved it--down to earth, easy to read, and really resonated with me.
Some quotes from the book:
There is a whole universe to discover between “I’m feeling empty” and turning to food to make it go away. The problem of weight is predictable. We know what to do when we have that problem. Beat ourselves up. Make ourselves wrong. Eat fewer donuts. But staying with the emptiness—entering it, welcoming it, using it to get to know ourselves better, being able to distinguish the stories we tell ourselves about it from the actual feeling itself—that’s radical. Imagine not being frightened by any feeling. Imagine knowing that nothing will destroy you. That you are beyond any feeling, any state. Bigger than. Vaster than. That there is no reason to use drugs because anything a drug could do would pale in comparison to knowing who you are. To what you can understand, live, be, just by being with what presents itself to you in the form of the feelings you have when you get home from work at night. (page 57)
Our work is not to change what you do, but to witness what you do with enough awareness, enough curiosity, enough tenderness that the lies and old decisions upon which the compulsion is based become apparent and fall away. When you no longer believe that eating will save your life when you feel exhausted or overwhelmed or lonely, you will stop. When you believe in yourself more than you believe in food, you will stop using food as if it were your only chance at not falling apart. When the shaped of your body no longer matches the shape of your beliefs, the weight disappears. And yes, it really is that simple. You will stop turning to food when you start understanding in your body, not just your mind, that there is something better than turning to food. And this time, when you lose weight, you will keep it off. Truth, not force, does the work of ending compulsive eating. Awareness, not deprivation, informs what you eat. Presence, not shame, changes how you see yourself and what you rely on. When you stop struggling, stop suffering, stop pushing and pulling yourself around food and your body, when you stop manipulating and controlling, when you actually relax and listen to the truth of what is there, something bigger than your fear will catch you. With repeated experiences of opening and ease, you learn to trust something infinitely more powerful than a set of rules that someone else made up: your own being. The poet Galway Kinnell wrote that “sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness.” Everything we do, I tell my students, is to reteach ourselves our loveliness. (pages 80-81)
But it turns out that being with feelings is not the same as drowning in them. With awareness (the ability to know what you are feeling) and presence (the ability to inhabit a feeling while sensing that which is bigger than the feeling), it is possible to be with what you believe will destroy you without being destroyed. It is possible to be with big heaves of feelings like grief or terror. Little waves of feelings like crankiness or sadness. (page 92)
Catherine Ingram tells a story in her book Passionate Presence about a young friend of hers who said, “Pretend you are surrounded by a thousand hungry tigers. What would you do?” Catherine said, “Wow, I don’t know what I would do. What would you do?” Her young friend said, “I’d stop pretending!” Most of us are so enthralled with the scary tigers in our minds—our stories of loneliness, rejection, grief—that we don’t realize they are in the past. They can’t hurt us anymore. When we realize that the stories we are haunted by are simply that—stories—we can be with what we actually feel directly, now, in our bodies. Tingling, pulsing, pressure, weightiness, heaviness, big black ball or concrete in the chest. And by being in immediate contact with what we feel, we see the link between feelings and what is beyond them. We see that we are so much more than any particular feeling, that, for example, when sadness is explored it may turn into a lush meadow of peace. Or that when we allow ourselves to feel the full heat of anger without expressing it, a mountain of strength and courage is revealed. (pages 92-93)
About reactions: feelings are in the body, reactions are in the head; a reaction is the mental deduction of a feeling. (And beliefs are reactions that we’ve had so many times that we believe they are true.) In an attempt not to feel what is uncomfortable, the mind will often rant and ramble and tell us how awful it all is. Here is some of what you may hear: This pain will never end. The sadness will overwhelm me. If I let myself feel it, I will not be able to function. Once you know that these kinds of reactions will come up, you can notice them and keep inquiring. Be precise. “I feel a gray heap of ashes in my chest” rather than “I feel something odd and heavy.” Don’t try to direct the process by having preferences or agendas. Let the inquiry move in its own direction. Notice whatever arises, even if it surprises you. “Oh, I thought I was sad, but now I see that this is loneliness. It feels like a ball of rubber bands in my stomach.” Welcome the rubber bands. Give them room. Watch what happens. Keep coming back to the direct sensations in your body. Pay attention to things you’ve never told anyone, secrets you’ve kept to yourself. Do not censor anything. Do not get discouraged. It takes awhile to trust the immediacy of inquiry since we are so used to directing everything with our minds. It is helpful, though not necessary, to do inquiry with a guide or a partner so that you can have a witness and a living reminder to come back to the sensation and the location. Most of all, remember that inquiry is not about discovering answers to puzzling problems but a direct and experiential revelation process. It’s fueled by love. And wanting to know who you are when you are not being run by your past. It’s like taking a dive into the secret of existence itself; it is full of surprises, twists, side trips. You engage in it because you want to penetrate the unknown, comprehend the incomprehensible. Because when you evoke curiosity and openness with a lack of judgment, you align yourself with beauty and delight and love—for their own sake. You become the benevolence of God in action. (pages 105-106)
…The mind, as Catherine Ingram says, is mad. And this is very good news. Because once you accept the madness, once you stop trying to reform what cannot be reformed, you can pay attention to what isn’t mad. Which, in my opinion, is one of the main purposes of meditation. (page 110)
…Minds are useful when we need to conceptualize, plan, theorize. But when we depend on them to guide our inner lives, we’re lost. Minds are excellent at presenting a thousand different variations of the past and conjuring them into a future. And then scaring us with most of them. Most of the time we don’t question our minds. We believe in their lunacy. (page 111)
Simple belly meditation Become aware of sensations in the belly. Every time the mind wanders, begin counting breaths to anchor concentration. Start with the number one on the out breath and count to seven, then begin again. (page 115)
Meditation is a tool to shake yourself awake. A way to discover what you love. A practice to return yourself to your body when the mind medleys threaten to usurp your sanity. (page 116)
Because the intention of The Voice is to stun you, not activate your intelligence or equanimity. In its early development, it was biologically adaptive: it kept you from being rejected by those you depend on. Now it is archaic, a vestigial remnant from childhood that, despite its ersatz usefulness, is now running your life and rendering you incapable of acting with true discernment and intelligence. Its main warning is: Don’t cross the line. Maintain the status quo. The Voice usurps your strength, passion and energy—and turns them against you. Its unique way or melding objective truth-that you’ve gained weight—with moral judgment—that therefore you are a complete loser—leaves you feeling defeated and weak, which then leaves your susceptible to latching on to the next quick fix or miracle cure. Anything to stop feeling so desperate. The Voice is merciless, ravaging, life destroying. The Voice makes you feel so weak, so paralyzed, so incompetent that you wouldn’t dare question (its) authority. Its intent is to keep you from being thrown out of whatever it perceives as the circle of love. Some of my students are convinced that The Voice is an exact replica of their mothers or their fathers and that nothing short of an exorcism will rid themselves of its harangues. And while The Voice may sound suspiciously like either one or both of our parental units, it’s good to remember that it usually is a composite of authority figures with particular emphasis on the primary caregivers. (pages 132-133)
Children are tropistic; they grow in the direction of light and attention. That which is ignored in childhood does not develop. If a child is valued for her accomplishments, she will learn to value what she does more than who she is—and The Voice will step in when she is not fulfilling its accomplishment quota. If your parents were unaware of that which couldn’t be accomplished or seen or proved, you grew up ignoring those dimensions of yourself. And The Voice will step in as cynicism and doubt when you veer into the world beyond appearances. The Voice saps you of strength, cuts you off at the knees, and positions you in a world modeled on past authority figures who bark directions that are often cruel and almost always irrelevant to who you are and what you love. By co-opting your clarity and objective knowing, The Voice renders you incapable of contacting your own authority. It treats you as a child in need of a moral compass, but its due north does not include any terrain that is fresh or new. Think of The Voice as a Global Positioning System from the twilight zone. When you follow its directions, you spend your life trying to find streets that no longer exist in a city that vanished decades ago. Then you wonder why you feel so unbearably lost. (pages 134-135)
Byron Katie says, “I love my thoughts. I’m just not tempted to believe them.” The moment you stop believing The Voice, the moment you hear the You are the worst person in the world. You are selfish and shallow with a dry withered heart and elephant skin neck, and you say, “Uh-huh, right, so what else is new” or “Really? I am the worst person in the world? Is that true?” or “Honey, sounds like you need a couple dozen margaritas. Talk to me after you’ve had them,” you are free. Freedom is hearing The Voice ramble and posture and lecture and not believing a word of it. When you disengage from The Voice, you have access to yourself and everything The Voice supposedly offers: clarity and intelligence and true discernment. Strength and value and joy. Compassion. Curiosity. Love. Nothing is wrong because there is no right with which to compare it. When you stop responding to the continual comments on your thighs, your value, your very existence, when you no longer believe that anyone, especially The Voice, knows what’s supposed to be happening, simple facts remain. Breath. Air. Skin touching chair. Hand on glass. Waistband digging into flesh,. When you release yourself—even one time—from The Voice, you suddenly realize how long you’ve been mistaking its death grip for your life. … Then. You can ask yourself if you are comfortable at this weight. If you feel healthy, energetic, awake. And if the answer is no, you can ask yourself what you could do about it that would fit your day-to-day life. What you can live with, what you can maintain. What stirs your heart. I often tell people in my retreats that unless there is a resounding Yes when they hear me speak, unless they long for the kind of engagement in their own process that I describe, they need to find another way of cracking the code of their relationship with food so that they are no longer standing outside themselves trying desperately to get in. Listening to and engaging in the antics of The Voice keeps you outside yourself. If keeps you bound. Keeps you ashamed, anxious, panicked. No real or long-lasting change will occurs as long as you are kneeling at the altar of The Voice. (pages 135-137)
It’s an axiom in both love and food that getting what you want is worlds apart from wanting what you can’t get. (page 162)
Those of us who are utterly focused on food and weight never consider that we are ignoring the most obvious solution. We tell ourselves that the answer is out there and our job is to keep looking, to never give up until we find the right solution. One month it’s about white foods. Then it’s about brain chemistry. Finding the right drug. The fat gene. Being addicted to sugar. Eating for our blood type. Alkaline- and acid-forming foods. Although attending to one or some of these issues might indeed ease our struggle, we use the hunt for answers to abdicate personal responsibility—and with it, any semblance of power—for our relationship with food. Underlying each frenzied bout of passionate involvement in the newest solution is the same lack of interest in looking down at our own feet. The same conviction that “I don’t have the power to do anything about this problem.” We want to be done, we want to be fixed. But since the answer is not where we are looking, our efforts are doomed to fail. Freedom from obsession is not about something you do; it’s about knowing who you are. It’s about recognizing what sustains you and what exhausts you. What you love and what you think you love because you believe you can’t have it. (page 163)
The most challenging part of any system that addresses weight-related issues is that unless it also addresses the part of you that wants something you can’t name—the heart of your heart, not the size of your thighs—it won’t work. We don’t want to be thin because thinness is inherently life-affirming or lovable or healthy. If this were true, there would be no tribes in Africa in which women are fat and real and long-lived. There would be no history of matriarchies in which women’s fecundity and sheer physical abundance were worshipped. We want to be thin because thinness is the purported currency of happiness and peace and contentment in our time. And although that currency is a lie—the tabloids are filled with miserable skinny celebrities—most systems of weight loss fail because they don’t live up to their promise: weight loss does not make people happy. Or peaceful. Or content. Being thin does not address the emptiness that has no shape or weight or name. Even a wildly successful diet is a colossal failure because inside the new body is the same sinking heart. Spiritual hunger can never be solved on the physical level. (pages 176-177)
You have to be willing to go all the way. To understand that food is a stand-in for love and possibility and whatever you call true nature or God. Otherwise you will keep gaining and losing weight for the rest of your life. You will keep wringing your hands and lamenting and feeling like a victim. And although, as I say to my students, you wouldn’t be along if you chose to spend your life that way—most people who struggle with food and weight do exactly that—it is at least helpful to understand that the choice is yours to make. You get to decide what you are going to do with, as Mary Oliver writes, “your one wild and precious life.” (page 178)
Inquiry • Give yourself 20 minutes in which you won’t be disturbed. • Sense your body. Feel the surface you are sitting on. Notice the point of contact your skin is making with your clothes. Be aware of your feet as they touch the floor. Feel yourself inhabiting your arms, your legs, your chest, your hands. • Ask yourself what you are sensing right now—and where you are sensing it. Be precise. Do you feel tingling? Pulsing? Tightening? Do you feel warmth or coolness? Are the sensations in your chest? Your back? Your throat? Your arms? • Start with the most compelling sensations and ask these questions: Does the sensation have shape, volume, texture, color? How does it affect me to feel this? Is there anything difficult about feeling this? Is it familiar? How old do I feel when I feel this? What happens as I feel it directly? • At this point, you might begin associating a sensation with a memory or a particular feeling like sadness or loneliness. And you might have a reaction, might wasn’t to close down, go away, stop writing. Remember that a sensation is an immediate, primary experience located in the body, whereas a reaction is a secondary experience located in the mind. Some examples of reactions are: the desire to eat compulsively, telling yourself that your pain will never end, comparing how or what you feel to how you want to feel, comparing the present experience to your past experience, comparing yourself to someone else, making up a story about what is going on. When you notice that you are reacting to what you are experiencing, come back to your body. Sense what is going on in your chest, your legs, your back, your belly. Inquiry is about allowing your direct and immediate experience to unfold; it is not about a story you are constructing in your mind. • Recognize, name, and disengage from The Voice. If you feel small, collapsed or powerless, it is usually a sign that The Voice is present. The Voice says things like “You will never be good enough”; “You will never change”; “You deserve to suffer”; “You are a failure/a bad person/unlovable/stupid/worthless/fat/ugly.” Any feelings of shame are a response to The Voice. To continue with the inquiry, you must disengage from The Voice, since its intent is to keep you circumscribed by its definition of safe and to maintain the status quo. If recognizing its presence does not dispel it, you can say “Back off!” or “Go away” or “Go pick on someone your own size.” Keep it short. Keep it simple. A successful disengagement defuses The Voice and releases the sensations. • Whenever you notice that you are engaged in a reaction or are distracted, confused, numb or out of touch, go back to sensing your body. • Pay attention to secrets, thought or feelings you’ve censored. When those arise, be curious about them. Be curious about what’s hidden in them. • Don’t try to direct the inquiry with your mind. If you have an agenda or preferences (i.e. you don’t want to feel needy or angry or hateful), the inquiry won’t unfold. As the Tibetan Buddhists say, “Be like a child, astonished at everything.” (pages 207-210)
The Eating Guidelines 1. Eat when you are hungry. 2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment This does not include the car. 3. Eat without distraction. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music. 4. Eat what your body wants. 5. Eat until you are satisfied. 6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others. 7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure. (page 211)
If you're the type of reader who highlights and makes margin notes in books when you come across a body-jolting insight, it is likely you're not going to have much white space when you've finished this book. Although the book is relatively short and the tone is casual, there is more food for thought (yes, pun intended) here than in the shelf-loads of books surrounding it. Geneen's book is nothing short of amazing. Showing how our approach to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself is no small feat. But, Geneen accomplishes it completely, beautifully, and gracefully.
The book is so engaging. It's almost as if Geneen is sitting right there chatting with you. And, then all of a sudden, she'll share these profound insights that suddenly make the chaos so clear. (On my second read of this book, I typed up this collection of profoundness. Needless to say, my document is many, many pages long!) Here's just a sampling: ---"When you believe in yourself more than you believe in food, you will stop using food as if it were your only chance at not falling apart." (p. 81) ---"Truth, not force, does the work of ending compulsive eating. Awareness, not deprivation, informs what you eat. Presence, not shame, changes how you see yourself and what you rely on." (p. 81) ---"If you don't allow a feeling to begin, you also don't allow it to end." (p. 123) ---"Once you realize that it's possible to feel good by not eating certain things, and including others instead, the compulsion begins to fall away because you've found something better: getting your life back." (p. 171) ---"We don't want to _eat_ hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to _be_ hot fudge sundaes." (p.174) ---"Spiritual hunger can never be solved on the physical level." (p. 177) ---"If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you've had enough, you end the obsession because obsessions and awareness can't coexist."(p. 194) ---"There is something better than endlessly pushing the boulder of obsession up the mountain: putting it down." (p. 200)
As Geenen says again and again: It's not about the food and it's not about the weight. But, it is about discovering, nourishing, and nurturing our true selves that have been hidden underneath the obsession. Only when we can harness and redirect the energy of of the food obsession towards fully experiencing and accepting our present-day authentic selves can we finally feed that spiritual hunger that has been starving for life.
I can't rave enough about _Women Food and God_ . But, I can describe it in just two words: soul food. (Eat up and live fully.)
Upon finishing this book, my first thought was "meh." For a book that is dominating the New York Times bestseller list, I thought this was going to be a stellar read; unfortunately, this was not the case.
I just couldn't bring myself to care about what Roth was saying. It's not that I didn't agree with what she said; perhaps it is just that I already knew the philosophy behind what she was advocating. There have been many articles and reports on how women can be emotional eaters; eating when they're sad, stressed out, angry, bored. Roth puts this idea into a book (and conducts workshops on the subject, too), and urges women to think about WHY they are eating the way they eat, what food means to them that they have to eat bad foods, or copious amounts of food. If you find out what the real problem is, you'll be able to control how/what you eat and ultimately take control of your life.
In the end, we learn not to eat if we're not hungry and appreciate the food we do eat while we're eating it, without distractions. I know I am stripping the book down to bare bones, but that's about all I took away from it. I wish I could have loved it, but I didn't. Sorry, folks.
As someone who has dealt with weight problems for many years, I have to say this book was actually very helpful. I had never read any diet books prior to Women Food and God and I was therefore hesitant to read it. At first, I thought it would be a waste of money, and that the book was based on different dieting “techniques”, and the "best way to lose weight", however, it wasn't even close to that! I found it to be an interesting and insightful book that really thought me a lot about myself and understanding my feelings. Geneen Roth really has everything figured out because whenever I would get confused, wondering "What the heck is she talking about" or when I’d start giving up thinking "I could never do this" the answers were found in the next paragraph or was covered later on throughout the novel. Roth isn’t just some random woman who believes that our problems will be solved once we lose that weight. She introduced to me a way (and I now believe the only way) to understand the reasons behind compulsive eating while linking it to one’s spiritual beliefs and the way we trust ourselves and our emotions. She uses her own personal stories as well as those of women she has met who’ve all dealt with the same unhealthy relationships many women share with their bodies. I would recommend this book to anyone who has ever had difficulty with their self-esteem due to their body image and wants to learn how to stop dieting and truly start living.
I highly recommend this book to any woman who struggles with food while pursuing thinness. Do not get scared by the title; this book is not religious, and God is understood as a broad concept (the author herself is a Buddhist). The author explains how our relationship with food is deeply tied to how we see the world and ourselves.
“Because if you force and deprive and shame yourself into being thin, you end up a deprived, shamed, fearful person…When you abuse yourself (by taunting or threatening yourself) you become a bruised human being no matter how much you weigh.”
This non-fiction book is not a "diet book" or even really about food. It's about feeling and dealing with your feeling in a constructive way instead of overeating or eating mindlessly.
I read Women Food and God for work and I really enjoyed it. Geneen Roth presents her material in a thoughtful, insightful way. She includes anecdotes from her compulsive eating retreats as well as her own journey with dieting, weight gain and triumph over compulsive eating.
The only eating guidelines presented in the entire book are as follows:
Eat when you are hungry.
Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
Eat without distractions. Distractions inlcude radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
Eat what your body wants.
Eat until you are satisfied.
Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.
If you're looking for a diet book with menus, meal plans, and specific instructions, you'll be disappointed. If you're ready to stop eating mindlessly, get in touch with your body, feel comfortable in your own skin, and be conscious of what you're eating, Women Food and God is the book for you.
Just One Gripe: It took about 100 pages for me to really get into the book.
The Best Thing About This Book: The "inquiry" section, about listening to your body.
I read 117 of 211 pages and could not continue to read any further. The book was not what I had thought it would be. I have not read anything by this author before and going by the publisher's summary and the title I had expected this book to incorporate the Judaeo-Christian God into women's struggle with weight loss and food relationship. That surmise was incorrect, the author's concept of the word "God" could be more clearly stated as "whatever supreme deity, power or feeling you happen to believe in". This was not what I wanted. The book is divided into three parts: Principles, Practices and Eating. I managed to read through the Principles section and found the information on emotional eating and loving yourself as who you are informative but not anything I hadn't read before. Only one religion is actually mentioned and quoted from and that is Buddhism. Again, not what *I* was looking for. The Practices section became too new-agey for me and I could not continue to read. I will say though that the writer has a fun, upbeat, humorous voice.
When I first received this book in the mail, I wasn't sure it was for me. I consider myself to be more of a spiritual person than a religious person, so I was concerned that the book might be preachy -- it is not. The title is very misleading, and the author even states that God means different things to different people. As I read a few pages, something about what the author was saying seemed to resonate with me. The author states:
"The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. Your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger meaning, transformation, and yes, even God."
The author, at an early age, began to use food as a way to ease her pain. She has gained and lost some 1,000 pounds over the years and has dealt with obesity, bulimia and even anorexia. Roth writes:
"At eleven, I felt like a raw nerve, as if the fact that I took up space at the red Formica table was the reason for the hatred between my parents and their violence toward each other. They threw things, left the house, stayed away for hours or days......Enter food........The sight of a Hostess Sno Ball turned the world into a riot of color. The fluffy, pristine mound of marshmallow sprinkled with coconut. The promise of chocolate cake inside........I turned to food for the same reasons that people turned to God: it was my sigh of ecstasy, my transport to heaven, my concrete proof that relief from the pain of everyday life would be possible. Then it would be gone."
The book is not about dieting or about how to lose weight. Anyone who has struggled with weight knows what they need to do to lose weight. It is more about getting in touch with your feelings and the triggers that drive some of us to food as a means of escape. It is about learning to confront issues and your feelings: loneliness, anger, resentment etc, and dealing with the issues instead of trying to avoid them with the temporary pleasure our foods of choice might provide. Temporary satisfaction is all one can expect, before the feelings of loathing and shame resurface, and the cycle is repeated.
"Compulsive eating is an attempt to avoid the absence (of love, comfort, knowing what to do) when we find ourselves in the desert of a particular moment, feeling, situation. In the process of resisting the emptiness, in the act of turning away from our feelings, or trying and trying again to lose the same twenty, fifty, eighty pounds, we ignore what what could utterly transform us. But when we welcome what we most want to avoid, we evoke that in us that is not a story, not caught in the past, not some old image of ourselves. We evoke divinity itself. And in doing so, we can hold happiness, old hurts, fear in our cupped hands and behold our missing hearts."
Roth explains why for some people losing weight, and keeping the weight off is more complex then it may seem to those who have never struggled with serious weight issues. She divides individuals who have battled with their weight into two groups: Restrictors and Permitters.
Restrictors, need to be in control -- about themselves, what they eat and their environment. Permitters, hate rules and tend to use food to numb themselves. If you have struggled with weight issues, you might be curious to see what your eating habits say about you.
Are you a Restrictor or a Permitter? There is a quiz on Oprah.com that you can take to help you decide.
I am a classic Permitter, and it came as no surprise after reading this terrific book. If you are tired of dieting, and want some insight as to how to get to the root the yo yo weight loss/weight gain cycle, I think you will find this book not only interesting, but helpful as well.
Geneen Roth is the author of the bestseller, When Food is Love and seven other books. She has conducted workshops for over thirty years and has lead retreats for the past ten. Roth is a frequent contributor to many publications including Salon.com, Huffington Post and Good Housekeeping and has appeared on numerous national shows from Oprah, 20/20, Good Morning America, and The View, to Primetime Live and NPR's Talk of the Nation.
I had been intrigued by the title of this book for months before I read it, and after reading this collection of essays, I was not disappointed, although it should be noted that the author, does discuss women and food a lot more than she discusses God and spiritual aspects of weigh issues. Geneen Roth's main theme is self-love, and "coming home to oneself" as an overall approach to health and weight control. "We don't want to eat hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to be hot fudge sundaes. We want to come home to ourselves" (174-75). Roth's style is easy and breezy. There are numerous sentence fragments, which I realize is just a part of her style, but as an English teacher, I can tolerate only so many of these before I want to freak out and run screaming for my red pen. Anyway, an interesting fact is that while reading these chapters, I found myself traveling back mentally to 1975 when I did not have a weight problem, but rather, some bewildering self-esteem issues; thus, Roth's advice is actually broader than she purports it to be, and useful to just about anyone who needs a boost of self-confidence. Her early chapters put the emphasis on the patholoy of eating--people who use food as a drug, eat to numb themselves from pain,etc. (I wish she had given more attention to those of us who tend to eat too much just because food is the bomb and there are so many "good eats" out there that are just plain delicious). Chapter 6 gives key advice on how to stop self-loathing and punishment. There are some good thoughts about NOT beating ourselves up over our imperfections. (Hating one's huge thighs is an image that comes up many times in this book). I liked Roth's warning that diets are based on the unspoken fear that one is a madwoman, a food terroist, a lunatic, and that women tend to believe they have to constantly loath and punish themselves in order to achieve positive change. "The shape of your body obeys the shape of your belief about love, value and possibility," Roth states. "If you force, deprive, and shame yourself into being thin, you'll end up a deprived, shamed, fearful person who will also be thin for ten minutes" (79). Chapter 8 has some good thoughts on meditation as an aid to self-love and Chapter 9 quotes one of my favorite philosophers--Vietnamese Buddhish monk Thich Nhat Hahn, who reminds us that "there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way." Roth's later chapters warn women to beware of the Voice, with a capital V that kicks in when we want to challenge the status quo or trust our own instincts. "The Voice usurps your strenth, passion and energy and turns them against you" (132) . . . . The moment you stop believing the voice, you are free" (136). Roth also states that most systems of weight loss fail because they do not live up to their promise. Weight loss alone does not make people happy, peaceful or content. Spiritual hunger must be satisfied before we can get a good handle on controlling physical hunger. At the end on the book Roth gives a list of sensible eating guidelines, such as "Eat when you are hungry, eat what your body wants, eat until you are satisfied, eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure."
I love my public library. Each time I've moved to a new town, the first place I visit is the public library to sign up for my library card. Most Methodist preachers no longer travel from place to place on horseback, but we still spend a lot of time in the car. My routine for years now has included trips to the library, exploring the audio book collections, and checking out volumes that seemed interesting. I've discovered a love for non-fiction that I never knew I had and that genre fiction is even better on audio book with a good performer.
While I occasionally wander the stacks of branch libraries, now that I'm in Houston I depend on various newsletters sent by the library for new reading recommendations. Women, Food, and God was such a recommendation. From the description I thought it was going to be more of a sociological, psychological, spiritual exploration of women's relationship with food. It is, rather, a more new agey self-help book. So, my rating of 2 stars probably has a lot to do with the fact that the book didn't live up to the description in the public library newsletter. That's not the author's fault, but it is what it is.
Geneen Roth's basic premise is that we need to eat mindfully. This does resonate with me because, in addition to doing most of my "reading" in the car I also eat most of my meals in the car. I dare say that the audio book diet is much healthier for me than the fast food diet. Occasionally I try to take care better care of myself by forswearing any food that comes in a bag through a window, but I don't have a lot of success with that. I do think that following Ms. Roth's advice and techniques of eating good food, paying attention to it, and being grateful for it would be healthier for me in both body and soul. It just took a lot for her to get to the point. Ms. Roth spent much of the book describing the retreat, the resentment of some of the women on the retreat, some details about her own thoughts about food, none of which really resonated with me. I think first-person narratives from those who have attended Ms. Roth's retreats, their stories, what they learned, what changed for them from practicing the techniques would be more effective. Instead, Ms. Roth tells some pieces of the stories as they were told to her, leaving me with an incomplete picture where Ms. Roth is the focus of the story as the one receiving it.
I think there's some good practice here, but not much of the academic exploration I was hoping for. I also think that there are some among the women attending Ms. Roth's retreats with whom I would resonate. It's too bad the author got in the way.
Well, after much anticipation, I finally got my hands on yet another spiritually driven book about awareness. It focuses on Women and on their relationship with food, although that is a metaphor for anyone, with any type of unhealthy habit. The basic premise is that bad food habits are a manifestation of the pain, confusion and loss that we do not know how or want to deal with. Eating when you are not hungry is a way of coping with life but it not only does not solve the initial problem, it creates another one; an unhealthy body. And looking bad only makes us feel worse. I dont know any women who would not identify with this issue at some level. Even if it manifests in not eating, or drinking, or sex or spending. We have to eat with awareness and appreciation. What we eat is forever a part of the bodies that we lug around all day. Awareness is the key to freedom from the endless cycle of stupidity that we find ourselves in day after day. Overeating on a regular basis may be common, but its not a minor issue. Easier said than done, but I think a lot of people could identify and benefit from reading this book.
Many years ago, I read Geneen Roth's "Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating," which was one of two books that I credit for really changing my life for the better. (The other one was "Your Erroneous Zones," by the late Dr. Wayne Dyer.) So she has all my respect and support for anything she does.
So I am sad to say that this book didn't do anything for me. Considering the grandiose title, I found it uninspiring. I didn't care for the writing style or the focus on her retreats. I read later that Oprah Winfrey raved about it. If I knew that, I wouldn't have bothered. It's uncanny how opposite my taste is from Oprah's. I categorically dislike anything she recommends, even if I'm not aware that she has recommended it.
This is an amazing book. It is not just about we overeat, it can be applied to anything we might use to numb ourselves in order to prevent feeling pain. Loved it!
I do believe there are frozen places in ourselves - undigested pockets of pain - that need to be recognized and welcomed, so that we can contact that which has never been hurt or wounded or hungry.
"To discover what you really believe, pay attention to the way you act -- and to what you do when things don't go the way you think they should. Pay attention to what you value. Pay attention to how and on what you spend your time. Your money. And pay attention to the way you eat."
"The relentless attempts to be thin take you further and further away from what could actually end your suffering: getting back in touch with who you really are. Your true nature. Your essence."
"Awareness, not deprivation, informs what you eat. Presence, not shame, changes how you see yourself and what you rely on."
"No matter how developed you are in any other area of your life, no matter what you say you believe, no matter how sophisticated or enlightened you think you are, how you eat tells all."
"Meditation develops the capacity to question your mind. Without it, you are at the mercy of every thought, every desire, every wave of emotion."
"Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest."
"Freedom from obsession is not about something you do; it's about knowing who you are. It's about recognizing what sustains you and what exhausts you. What you love and what you think you love because you believe you can't have it."
"The purpose of a spiritual path or religion is to provide a precise and believable way into what seems unbelievable."
"If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you've had enough, you end the obsession because obsession and awareness cannot coexist."
"Real change happens bit by bit. It takes great effort to become effortless at anything. There are no quick fixes."
"I believe in an image of myself: that I am someone who can be annihilated. And when I believe this, I bolt from different situations by engaging in various mind-altering and body-numbing activities. I shut myself down or walk out the door when pain threatens to destroy me - which is in any situation that involves another human being or whose outcome I cannot control. I live an autistic existence."
"If you don't allow a feeling to begin, you also don't let it end."
This was a worthwhile, thought-provoking book for me. Although I sometimes find the writing a bit "fuzzy", especially when talking about the more spiritual aspects she addresses, it is overall clear and well-written.
I want to re-read this book in conjunction with Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. I found Mindful Eating very practical, and it has a lot of specific practices and exercises that would be useful to do while keeping Roth's words in mind. Mindful Eating is more focused on the eating, and doesn't spend as much time on our disordered relationship with it; putting these two books together as a practice and philosophy would, I think, be a very effective way to work the whole food/eating dilemna. I'm going to give it a try, anyway.
April 2013: I just reread this book. It's interesting how my reaction to it has shifted. There is still some good stuff in here, but I am bothered by two of her underlying assumptions: that all weight problems are caused by compulsive/emotional eating; and that following her plan (the Eating Guidelines) will result in weight loss. In short, she doesn't actually go far enough with the "you are perfect just as you are" message.
A new take on a million-dollar/yr industry. Amazing notion really... That you don't have to atone, hate, suffer, or diet your self away.
As Geneen writes, "...once the belief and the subsequent decisions (about your worth and a lifetime of dieting) are questioned, diets and being uncomfortable in your body lose their seductive allure. Only kindness makes sense. Anything else is exruciating."
Excruciating is an utterly painful place to be when embodying your Self. This idea that there is neither an answer/diet that will save you nor that you should muck around in your past with psychoanalysis in hand is altogether refreshing.
For those who've never struggled with the incongruency of who you are and what you look like, reading this would be a waste of your time. But, for those who want off the 'lifestyle change' carousel, there is something here... And, it isn't a fluke that the title specifically mentions us (women), food (our friend and foe), and god (a sense of the immaterial world about/inside us). For this is where we -the caregivers, the feelers of the world- live... strattling the world as we see it and the world as we feel it.
This book is in my purse again... on a constant re-read currently. Instead of a magazine about the most recent 10-day shape up plan, I revisit a theory that sounds like gospel to me.
I've always been skeptical and dismissive of the self-help genre, but I LOVE Geneen Roth and I want to shout it from the rooftops! She embodies the best Jewish/Buddhist mother, someone who knows you to the core, who tells it like it is, who's wise and spiritual, and all with a kick-ass, self-deprecating sense of humor. She resonates with a huge and devoted following of women, and I think that's why. This book offers nothing much that's new since the Refrigerator book,which I read first. It's perhaps a bit more spiritual (as the title suggests) but, as always, it's all about being in touch with THE PRESENT MOMENT. That's where the spirituality and transcendence are for Geneen. This book offers Guidelines as its culmination, on the last page of the book, which remind us how to be attentive when we eat (e.g., eat only when you're hungry and only till you're full, eat without TV or reading material no distractions). I recommend this book to anyone who sufferes from emotional eating--this book offers a life path, not a diet.
Anyone who doesn’t have a healthy relationship with food or ever eats when not hungry needs this book. It’s been life-changing for me. The way she approaches getting to the core of why we eat what we eat- what we’re really feeding when we’re not healthily feeding our bodies, and how to start changing our inner beliefs and habits around food- it’s absolutely amazing.
I really did think there were some excellent points and ideas in this book. As a woman who struggles with dieting and has recovered from an eating disorder, I can tell you that this book is more helpful than the book of Anorexia and Bulimia Anonymous. This book teaches you to eat being body conscious, to focus on being "in your belly" (where your soul resides according to some guru garbage.) The author is all about teaching you to love your self and to eat when you are hungry. I found my self in tears thinking about this simple thing. Love my self, allow my self a piece of cake with out guilt.. stop worrying about my body.. love my self for who I am.. not for the size of my waist... and then what? Then I would eat two pieces and a dozen donuts and bag of jelly beans.. a pint ice cream and the list goes on till my ass is the size of Texas. I am all for loving my self to eat healthy, but using love to over indulge?.. there's a reason the guilt is there, and it's to stop me from doing things that are bad for me. I do like the whole meditating aspect of eating she describes... of making time to enjoy your food properly... but it bothered me how she kind of grouped all over eaters into people who are eating their feelings away.. who are trying to escape from their horrible childhood memories. Some of us are just vain gluttons, and want to have our cake, eat it too, and look amazing in a bikini. All of the spiritual leader quotes bothered me and actually I think all of that kind of thing is a bunch of bull... I almost laughed when she referred to God as a woman. haha... I think she needs a little Jesus... he had it right first when he told us the body was a temple.. we are just sinners and it can't be helped though.. but we can try!... so I'll continue on my diet.. cheat every once in a while with some yummy birthday cake ice cream (from Brusters) and run my butt off to burn the calories. I think I will start taking more time when I eat though, and "be" in the moment while I'm dining.... so thank you for that Geneen Roth.
Geneen Roth's new title is almost banal. I had a really hard time getting through it and it was a very quick read. Promoted by Oprah Winfrey [book selection and guest appearance], the book follows the classic genre of self-help diet books. For all the hype, it reads like most every other diet book sans recipes, menus, points, weights, and measurements. Roth gives the formulaic fat book a twist: you can eat what your body needs and feed your soul without counting calories or stepping on the scale.
Compulsive eating, calorie counting, dieting, obsessing over weight and appearance, and binging and purging are all symptoms of a spiritual hunger. Figuring out what your spirit craves that is stuffed down with food is the key to weight loss. Key, but the key only unlocks the possiblity. And so counting calories, exercising, and hypnosis open that door. Every path requires you walk through that door and get what you really want. Much easier to talk the talk, than walk the walk.
Generally speaking, opening those doors to one's deepest spiritual hungers can unleash all kinds of unexpected things, not all pleasant. While most diet books are careful to dictate the reader take the advice of the author under supervision of a doctor, Roth might have offered such a caveat. Women Food and God is a diet book that should not be adhered to without professional counseling and/or psychotherapy!
The big insight of her new book is a simple reworking of her previous New York Times' Bestseller, When Food is Love. She's built a successful platform for this publication with a career in leading retreats for women with food issues. Were the answers so simple to weight loss, obesity could be conquered. While I concur with Roth's central premise, it's kind of a one-liner and incredibly shallow. The book is a well-trod path to almost nothing.
What I learned from this book was that I should have started with the last page, the eating guidelines, and left it at that. Roth's personal ramblings about her retreats were wildly unstructured and not at all useful to me. Why did I continue reading? Because I was sure there would be some morsel I could take away, to show for the couple of hours I had plugged into this book. And there they were on the very last page. I might have felt differently if I had read Roth's previous books, to get some kind of idea where she was coming from, but to hear her prattle on about yoga and an allergic reaction that made her face swell was not useful to me.
These, however, are useful:
(In an excerpt from Women, Food, and God, Roth shares seven guidelines to eating more consciously.)
* Eat when you are hungry.
* Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
* Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
* Eat what your body wants.
* Eat until you are satisfied.
* Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
I learned nothing new, and, to be honest, I read the vignettes about the women featured and felt like we had nothing in common. I learned that Roth used to live in Santa Cruz; this book definitely had the feel of a certain type of SC woman, one which I tend to run away from. They are the cultural appropriators who find guidance and pathways already appropriated by other out-group practitioners. I find that increasingly angering and simultaneously tedious.
She suggests "God" can be found in starting emotional inquiry, eating guidelines, and, of course, meditation. Wow, really?! Find peace through searching yourself, meditation/prayer, and being true to yourself? Mm, thanks. There is nothing new here, nothing earth-shattering, and I really wonder at my friends who jump on the ole Oprah bandwagon for every little thing. They've gone down in my estimation.
I am reading – on actual paper – Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth. Roth’s fundamental idea is that women overeat or constantly diet because we believe that somehow our ability to control our weight will give us control over our lives. This idea is one I can wholly agree with. I know that when my stress level goes up I will eat most things in site, especially if I don’t have time each day to wind down and think through my feelings. Perhaps the strongest thing I’ve taken from the book is that I need to face what I feel and not run away from it with food, TV, alcohol, or whatever other escape I want. I need to stare it in the face and move through the feeling instead of avoiding it. The book itself gets a little repetitive towards the end, but overall, I really appreciated what it taught me.
I found this book to focus mostly on this woman telling stories about what happened at her retreats. Watching what the women ate, who got mad at her, what they all had to say, who decided to stay instead of leaving and then different stories they shared in group. She also shared a lot of her past history, family and eating problems. There was very little spiritual focus to the book.
For someone who has always fought her weight...has gone from the heaviest at 210 to now being 130...the key is MODERATION!!!! There is your book in one word!!! Now you can save your money and don't have to buy the book!!!