Women Food and God is Geneen Roth's masterwork, the final book she intends to write about the subject that has fascinated her since she wrote the bestselling When Food is Love two decades ago. From the very beginning, the listener is in the grip of an intelligent, humorous and thoughtful teacher who unravels the beginning of addiction until it's logical end: a human who has denied themselves the ability to think and feel. Whether the drug is wine or chocolate, the essence of the problem is the same - opting out of life. Women Food and God is both a powerful argument for personal investigation and change as well as a how-to that provides the listener with 7 basic guidelines for eating (the most important being never diet) as well as tools that Roth has developed over many years - and hundreds and hundreds of women - who have taken her seminars and workshops.
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If you have struggled with your weight or bad eating habits, have tried diets unsuccessfully, still wish to gain control over your food intake and want a more holistic approach than jet another diet or a set of rules- this is "the book" for you. I found Ms Roth approach highly inspiring, enlightening and very helpful, with many truths and wisdoms often far beyond the problem with eating itself.
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 talks about her workshops for women where they learn what feelings underlie their obsessions and compulsions with food. Those real life stories demonstrate her theories really well and make you connect with her work.
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.”
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 strange 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?’”
I like the compassion she implores us to feel for ourselves.
But what I loved most, was the revelation that you can use your journey to better eating habits as a path to spiritual growth.
I’ve been struggling with binge eating or simply overeating for quite some time now and it has long made sense to me that dieting can't be the answer. I wanted to bring in mindfulness to manage my eating. It was amazing to hear how simple and minimalistic the guidelines around mindful eating really are. And it all made total sense after hearing her concepts in the first part of the book. This is a process and not a quick fix, but step by step I am getting a lot closer and making far better choices. And best of all I am actually enjoying the journey.
Thank you, Geneen Roth, you also read the book very beautifully and with so much compassion!
One of the most amazing books, speaks straight to your soul, read with her angelic voice... This book is for everyone not just women battling with their weight. I couldn't get enough of it, definitely food for the soul..