Women Food and God

Did the title of this blog entry catch you? When I saw this book on a shelf at Border's - I couldn't resist buying it. And, it is certainly no Eat, Pray, Love!

The author of this book, Geneen Roth, has gained and lost about 1,000 pounds over a lifetime. Once, she gained 80 lbs. in two months! (HOW does one do that?) At another time in her life, she weighed 80 lbs. for two whole years. This sounded down-right bizarre to me.

The basic premise of her book is that weight issues are never about weight per sae. From the inside jacket of her book, Women Food and God, Geneen Roth writes:

"If you suffer about your relationship with food - you eat too much or too little, think about what you will eat constantly or try not to think about it at all - you can be free. Just look down at your plate. The answers are there. Don't run. Look. Because when we welcome what we most want to avoid, we contact the part of ourselves that is fresh and alive. We touch the life we truly want and evoke divinity itself."

Some of what Geneen writes about - I have heard before. But some of her other insights are downright radical to me - like the thought that your relationship to food is directly connected to your notion and experience of spirituality and God. As someone who has personally struggled with the whole weight thing - I'm not sure I agree with everything she has to say - but this book sure has me thinking about a lot of things.

Geneen believes that when you face the issues behind your eating and stay in the present moment - and examine how you spend your time and pay attention to the way you eat - and give up the struggle - your body will find its way back to where it needs to be. She does not believe that dieting works - because it doesn't fix the underlying problems. She also teaches her students in the retreats that she facilitates, to eat only when hungry, and to fully notice what one is eating, paying attention to everything. Well, there's a little more to it than that - and I am barely into the book - but it is certainly keeping my attention.

Here are some more excerpts from the book:

"Compulsive eating is an attempt to avoid the absence (of love, comfort, knowing what to 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, of trying and trying again to lose the same [weight], we ignore 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...We evoke divinity itself. And in doing so, we can hold emptiness, old hurts, fear in our cupped hands and behold our missing hearts...

Compulsive eating is a way we distance ourselves from the way things are when they are not how we want them to be....Ending the obsession with food is all about the capacity to stay in the present moment...It is basically a refusal to be fully alive. No matter what we weigh, those of us who are compulsive eaters have anorexia of the soul. We refuse to take in what sustains us...We accomplish this by leaving ourselves - hundreds of times a day."

Wow! I found that paragraph particularly shocking and eye opening - especially the reference to anorexia of the soul! That's when I began to see the connection to spirituality...

Geneen also speaks about how we tend to avoid pain thinking it will kill us - but it never does. She also noted, that when we are in the present moment and we like something, we pay attention to it:

"When you like something - love something - you take time with it. You want to be present for every second of the rapture..." (So true!)

Yesterday, I was reading the most recent issue of Yoga Journal, and I was absorbed in the story of an Anusara Yoga teacher who used yoga to "heal" her MS. She has managed to be symptom free for a number of years. In the article, she spoke about how yoga continually invites her to stay in the present moment, and everyday - she practices according to what her body is asking of her. She has learned to listen to her body and what it wants...

Powerful lessons for me in both this book, and article. Much to ponder....


Lavonne said…
Interesting post, Olga. I'm pretty satisfied with my food choices...but portion control, that's a whole other story. I customarily eat for two! I've been pondering that lately, wondering what "need" I'm trying to fill by eating more than is necessary. You've provided good "food for thought" here :)

Un abrazo,
Olga Rasmussen said…
Lavonne, you are welcome to borrow my book when I am done. It's a fairly quick read.

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