Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything
By Diane Petrella, MSW
Geneen Roth’s new book, “Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything” has held the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller advice list for the past 10 weeks. Roth is an expert on compulsive eating and, over the past twenty eight years, has written seven other books. Last month, she was on Oprah and after reading “Women, Food and God,” Oprah said she’s never going to diet again!
Those familiar with Roth’s work know this isn’t your ordinary diet book. It’s not a quick fix, doesn’t tell you what to eat and includes no exercise plan. A pioneer in the non-diet approach to weight loss and food obsessions, Roth instead helps you to understand that your relationship with food is a reflection of your relationship with yourself.
I found “Women, Food and God” to be somewhat rambling, repetitive and not really offering new information on emotional eating. And, as a spiritually oriented psychotherapist, I was eagerly waiting for God to appear. Maybe it’s me, but God didn’t show up in the way I was expecting. Nevertheless, Roth emphasizes a message worth repeating: namely, that the pathway to self-awareness, self-love and inner control comes from fully embracing your emotions. External control found in a box of crème-filled donuts then becomes unnecessary.
Roth describes a therapeutic process called Inquiry that she teaches to her retreat students. Inquiry helps you to observe and be curious about your feelings and to discover what it is that you are avoiding by turning to food. As you discover the deeper meaning of your food addiction, you free yourself from its control. You learn to treat yourself with kindness. This is not a one step process but an ongoing practice of inner exploration. Roth also encourages her readers to meditate, a practice I was pleased to see her promote.
Roth includes her extremely useful Eating Guidelines at the end of her book. She does not elaborate on these guidelines; however, as she notes she writes at length about them in her first three books, “Feeding the Hungry Heart: the Experience of Emotional Eating,” “Breaking Free from Emotional Eating,” and “Why Weight: A Guide to Ending Compulsive Eating”. “Women, Food and God” is a very good book, but if you want more than an intellectually inspiring read, I strongly suggest these earlier books as more useful tools to help free yourself from compulsive eating.
I appreciate Roth’s focus on the importance of honoring and learning from your emotions. As a psychotherapist and life coach, I work with women struggling with body image and weight issues, many of whom have endured very difficult childhoods. Past traumatic experiences can linger for decades through feelings so strong that my clients are quite sure that the past is falling in on them today. But those past experiences are just feelings now. Feelings that need to be welcomed and loved and soothed. Roth writes, “Imagine not being frightened by any feeling. Imagine knowing that nothing will destroy you.” Think about that for a moment. That feeling will not destroy you. You don’t have to numb it with cookies, cakes and chips. How will your relationship with food change when you absolutely know that your feelings will not kill you? Imagine feeling so strong, so filled with self-love that feeding yourself with kindness is your only option.
Geneen Roth will be on Oprah again on July 12, 2010.
If you believed you could manage any feeling you experienced, how would that change your relationship with food?
Diane Petrella, MSW is a psychotherapist and life coach. She offers her clients a spiritual approach to weight loss and helps them develop a loving, respectful relationship with their bodies. Receive a free copy of Diane’s Seven Easy & Effortless Weight Loss Secrets by signing up for her monthly e-newsletter, Living Lightly, for spiritual insights and tips to release weight with confidence and love. To contact Diane directly visit her website at www.dianepetrella.com