Women Food and God: Another Review
Women Food and God Jacket
A Page Turner From the Start
Early in my tackling of Women Food and God, though I loved how Geneen Roth writes and the anecdotes she shared, I found her premise (“God-however we define him or her—is on our plates,”p.2) difficult to follow. However, before long I was so engrossed I hated to put the book down. The author humorously describes the negative first-day reactions of participants in her yearly retreats then contrasts those with the sublime acceptance of the basic truths of her insights. Those truths are not new; those of us who have tried almost every diet that has ever been written have heard them all before. But the psychological foundation she lays to make those truths settle differently on a reader’s soul is revolutionary
Restrictors and Permitters
Geneen Roth asserts that how we eat is a reflection of all that we believe. Was your immediate reaction to ask the question, “What?” Mine was. But later as I continued reading, the light bulb came on for me, and I got her point. She divided human personalities into two groups: restrictors and permitters. In terms of eating, the restrictors become anorexic and the permitters become compulsive. In our daily lives, the restrictors are controllers, compulsively organized; permitters are free-roamers, untettered by rules. Whichever category we fall into, how we eat reflects how we relate to the world around us. She admits that the same would be true of people who abuse alcohol, drugs, or sex. That is, how they relate to either reflects what they believe. This idea laid the ground-work for the rest of Ms. Roth’s assertions to ring true.
When she talks about the third element of her title, Ms. Roth describes God as one that uses human suffering as the path to love. Nothing new here: If God is love and our suffering turns us toward God, then it turns us toward love. What is new is how she explains that our eating is a reflection of our suffering from not knowing who we are. She purports that our eating is how we sabotage the search for self because we are either afraid of what we’ll find or because we’ve told ourselves so may lies about who we are that we don’t believe what we’ll find will be worthy of existence. The implication is there: if we find ourselves we find God. The final sentence in the body of her text says it all: “In each moment of kindness you lavish upon your breaking heart or the size of your thighs, with each breath you take—God has been here. She is you” (201).
A Spiritual Quest
Women Food and God delves into the new-aged spiritual tenet concerning the importance of our living in the present moment. She suggests that when dieters learn to live in the present moment we will lose weight. She gives all the same advice spiritual teachers give, emphasizing that we must first be aware of how the food makes us feel. Her point is once we are aware, we can ask the questions necessary to change our relationship to food, because at that point we can tell when we’re satisfied. When we stop eating when we’re satisfied, we will lose weight. Besides Awareness, her advice includes Inquiry, Meditation, Gratitude and her Guidelines.
For those dieters who need a list of rules to follow, Ms. Roth offers a list of seven Guidelines, suggestions that we’ve heard a million times. But by following the other suggestions, the Guidelines make sense and will no doubt be effective.
If Love Could Speak
My favorite section of Women Food and God is Chapter 12: “If Love Could Speak.” In it she says examination of what we eat is a path to that place inside us that “has never gotten hungry, never binged, never gained or lost a pound”(166). She calls what we’ll find during examination both God and love. On pages 168-169 she lists a litany of affirming messages Love would say to us about our eating if it could speak to us.
A Wonderful Read
There are so many insightful gems in Women Food and God that my copy is highly underlined, and I plan to read it again. The anecdotes and letters that Geneen Roth includes suggest that her workshops make a profound difference in the lives of the women who attend them. Already I can tell a difference in the way I eat because of her suggestions and Guidelines-- and I thought I already knew myself.