Title: Women Food and God
Author: Geneen Roth
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Edition: Trade Softcover/2011
Date Completed: 4/5/2011
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
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? Take the QUIZ HERE.
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.