Friday, August 20, 2010

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

By Geneen Roth

New York, Scribner, 2010

Week 34      Spiritual

I do want to say at the outset that I am not reading any more self-help books this year. This one is disguised as a spiritual book, and I read it as such, but it is still self-help. That being said, I have empathy for what Geneen Roth is discussing in Women, Food, and God. And I do realize that for many women, the book has a great deal of resonance. If I were 37 instead of 67, I think that this book would have been a revelation.

I am also not going to discuss this book as a book about dieting--or not dieting. If I did, I would be writing an entire book myself. I am not going to get into that at all, because at this point in my life, I think that I have gained peace with my body and my weight—at least more than when I was a younger woman. Although as Nora Ephron might say, I Feel Bad about My Neck, or in my case, my upper arms! What I want to discuss is what I gleaned from her understandings about women and the search for identity.

Geneen Roth believes that the way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. Through this book, she helps women come to the bright center of their souls. She says, “How we use food is really a mirror to our inner happiness—our feelings of love, fear, self-worth, anger and our connection to God.” Our relationship with food brings us to a doorway to freedom--what we seek most. When we open that door, we can see the issues we are using food to avoid.

She wants women to really listen to their inner beings, not “the Voice” that tells you how bad you are, how things are never going to change, and you might as well not bother. She teaches women to meditate on the things that are good and the love that surrounds them. She says, “I believe in love. And beauty. I believe that every single person has something they find beautiful and that they truly love. The smell of their child's hair, the silence of a forest, their lover's crooked grin. Their country, their religion, their family. And I believe that if you follow this love all the way to its end, if you start with the thing you find most beautiful and trace it's perfume back to its essence, you will perceive an intangible presence, a swath of stillness that allows the thing you love to be visible like the openness of the sky reveals the presence of the moon."

In Companions in Christ, the course that I teach at my church, we learn many of the same principles, however from a Christian perspective. We really listen to each other (something that doesn’t always happen in the real world), we meditate with each other, and we become formed by the presence of God in our lives. I wish Roth had discussed in more depth the spiritual impact of her method, because the book is a guide to stepping outside of guilt and anxiety about our bodies and what we put in them and stepping into a new world where we are worth it.

Geneen Roth has been running workshops for many years as well as writing books. Her first book was When Food is Love: Exploring the Relationship between Eating and Intimacy. In this book she refutes the premise that if you could only be thin, then you would be happy. Her many books and workshops have been very popular. On another note, Geneen Roth appears to be a good friend of Anne Lamott , whose Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith I read earlier this year. So, I guess I have to say, any friend of Anne’s is a friend of mine.

I could not find a major review of Women Food and God, but I did find a intriguing interview with Oprah in O magazine:

Here is an interview with Erica Hill from CBS News:

1 comment:

Portugal said...

This book is inspiring. It makes so much for sense, especially for the person who doesn't successfully diet after years of struggling. Give this a try. It just may change or save your life!!