Customer Reviews: When Food Is Love: Exploring the Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy
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on January 26, 2000
I first bought a copy of WHEN FOOD IS LOVE as a Valentine's Day present for myself in 1996. I was 200 pounds overweight at the time and WHEN FOOD IS LOVE became my only non-food source of comfort, nurturance, love. I read my beloved copy from beginning to end and then started, again, at the beginning. I read WHEN FOOD IS LOVE probably 10 or more times that winter. Geneen's words became my mantra of sorts.
Because of Geneen's remarkably profound insight and her willingness to share the parts of herself that she least wanted to and because of my sheer desperation, I began grasping the principles that she set forth in WHEN FOOD IS LOVE and subsequently, I lost 140 pounds.
I suddenly, almost magically, found myself able to do things that I had not been able to do in my whole adult life: cross my legs, walk around the block without feeling like my legs or my heart would collapse, fit with ease into the seats at the movies.
As an avid reader, people frequently ask me which book is my favorite. I often mention John Irving's A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY or Jane Hamilton's A MAP OF THE WORLD or Harper Lee's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. It simply seems too melodramatic to say that my favorite book of all-time, the book that saved my life, the book that brought me back to me is Geneen Roth's WHEN FOOD IS LOVE. So usually I don't.
Instead I continue to cling to, to pore over my cherished copy - with the curled up cover, the tear-stained pages - with the absolute knowledge that Geneen's words have impacted me, touched me like no other book, with the absolute knowledge that I am a being who is worthy of compassion, grace.
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on July 2, 2002
Roth doesn't just tell you to diet and exercise--in fact, she tells you not to! As she tells the story of her own struggles to get past her abusive childhood, and to become able to trust and enjoy her relationship with her boyfriend (who later becomes her husband), she shows us how we use food to make ourselves feel better, and why we become so dependent on it. She talks about how hard it is to enjoy the good things without trying to sabotage them, which is something I did without realizing I did it. (My wonderful boyfriend is really glad I read this book!) Though our stories are very different, I saw myself in many of her actions. I never realized that my problems with food, my series of troubled relationships, and events from my childhood (and adulthood) were so connected. This book doesn't just help you lose weight, it helps you change your habits, heal your past and accept good things in your life. I especially reccommend it for everyone who sneaks to the fridge every time you feel depressed, overwhelmed or hurt.
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on March 25, 1999
Before I read 'When Food Is Love' 5 years ago, I never could have imagined how it would effect my life - entirely for the better. After 10 years of battling compulsive overeating, weight problems and self-hatred, I finally found something that not only helped me overcome these issues, but also explained, so very clearly, why I had had these problems for nearly half my life. And why most other women do as well.
Once you fully understand the problem you can make significant changes. I did, and I've never been happier. My only regret is that I didn't have this book to read years ago. I would have enjoyed high school and college so much more!
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on August 10, 2005
I hate giving any book less than a 5 star rating, but I must be honest, this book was not what I needed. I am not saying that it is not for you! It is mainly an autobiographical account of the author's difficult childhood and trouble with intimacy due to growing up with an abusive mother. There is a little bit here and there about compulsive eating, but mainly with the philosophy that there is no other reason a person compulsively over eats than having had something very traumatic happen to them at the time they began compulsively overeating or having a bad childhood. Her philosophy is that it is very important to review all the old stuff, and talk about it and relive it and explore it and analyze it. I know this is a popular mode of thinking, but having grown up in an abusive home myself,and spending years in therapy I realized that enough was enough already. It happened. Life can go on. You don't have to be a mess forever because of it. Or stay stuck in old wounds. I did find her vulnerability and openess touching, and if these are the philosophies you hold, then this may be the book for you. It just wasn't for me.
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on June 27, 1999
I think Geneen could have stopped after the first four chapters. After that, the correlation between emotions and eating became increasingly obscured. Perhaps it was because I read "Breaking Free" and "Why Weight" first and those two books are the indisputable champs of that topic. Perhaps it was because Ward and June Cleaver raised the five of us. Or perhaps I just had a newer outlook toward food at the time this book arrived from Amazon. Whatever the reason, I do believe I am objective when I say, "if you can only buy two Roth books, buy the others first." update on progress from the first two books...they are everything they promised, now four weeks later and 11 pounds lighter. Trust me...they are worth the price of admission!
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on April 30, 2003
For anyone who has ever struggled with an eating disorder or who has used food for their comfort, this book hops into your mind and reads like it was taken from your life. Geneen touches on so many points that hit close to home and dicusses them in a way that will make you wonder if she has been reading your own personal diary. All in all, this is a wonderful book that made me stop and really examine those aspects of my life that needed attending to.
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on December 7, 2003
Even if you aren't a compulsive eater, this book offers great insight into the world of addiction. It focuses on why we substitute food (or anything else) for love in your lives and examines events from our childhood as the reason for this inability to receive love from others. A great read, educational yet contains stories from the author's life, and others she has met, which keep it moving.
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on April 3, 1998
Over the years I've read many many books about compulsive eating. But nothing ever helped me discover why I was over eating. Ms Roth helped me understand the underlying cause of my compulsive eating behavior. Thank You !! Now I've stopped comforting myself with food and discovered better and more productive ways to comfort myself.
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VINE VOICEon January 28, 2006
This healing book was also a real page-turner. I found that the author's honesty and vulnerability was refreshing. Although we all have our own stories, Ms. Roth writes about the feelings that accompany our stories and how these feelings are sometimes temporarily smothered in the warmth and comfort of food. Of course, food can't cure emotional pain...only physical hunger. Ms. Roth's book provides readers with hope that it's possible to heal old pain and put food in it's proper perspective.
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on August 29, 2009
It is neither a diet nor getting-thin-the-other-way book. This is a book about love. Well, not even about love. While the author does not state it explicitly, her story is about that comfortable and healing feeling of safety and security experienced when a person feels loved and accepted.

The author has the guts and nerve to tell the truth: "... after I reached my natural weight and stayed there, I discovered that it wasn't being thin I wanted, it was getting thin." Getting-thin is the grand illusion that masks the pain by making us believe that life will turn around, and suffering will stop once we get there. No. It is not true.

Geneen is interweaving her stories of struggling with weight and building a love relationship. Before the book I could only guess that these two vulnerable and sensitive areas of my life were interconnected. However, "Eating is the metaphor for the way we live," and the similarities are so painfully striking... For 25 years I kept the childish idea that getting thin means being loved and safe. Safe was the key word in my endless diets and pills and food plans and body hatred struggle. It has stopped recently. I am a bit overweight. I am loved by a nice man. I feel content with myself and life.

There is no such thing as (complete) safety. While I was taught from childhood that I have to be pretty and likable to rely on others for safety either through love or friendship, I now know it is a road to suffering. The chapter about the author's Model Mugging class was a revelation. Thanks to Geneen, I also know that when I suddenly have a fat-and-ugly attack and a compelling desire to lose 40 pounds before Christmas, it means that readings of my pain and fear meters are too high. It means I need to dive into the pain and release it.

The book is full of drama--I was way too exited. It is disturbing--I cried a lot while reading it. It is sometimes painful and always touching. It offers a sober and sane approach. It stops that grand illusion.

The book is also a keeper. I will not give it away, even to my good friends. I would buy several more copies for them instead.
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