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"How We Eat is How We Live"--A Spiritual Perspective on Overeating
on March 2, 2010
Geneen Roth hits a home run with her latest book about overeating and so much more in "Women Food and God". The theme of the book is that the way we eat, the way we think about food and handle ourselves around it is the way we do everything. The author then shows us how and why this is the case. She describes the food retreats she runs and the women who attend them, and as a reader you will surely identify in some way with every single person--and with the lesson she illustrates from their lives. This is a more complex book than her earlier books because of the spiritual dimension; she sees problems with overeating as gateways to spiritual enlightenment. She convinced me (and will convince you as well) that instead of trying to get rid of or fix our eating problems, we need to use them to see within ourselves, to learn important spiritual life lessons from our feelings, and to grow and heal so that we will end up eating as a spiritual practice. And so that we'll have a permanent end to the misery of always struggling with our weight and self-image, and always striving to improve our relationship with food.
The book is so good that for me, just reading it was like a spiritual awakening in this area of my life. I found it motivational, inspirational, and scary in a good way--and the author makes the whole process doable with descriptions of practices that can be used on the food healing/awakening journey such as meditation, inquiry, and eating guidelines. These practices are all specific to the process and they are described in detail. This spiritual dimension is generic and does not require a particular religious belief, or even any religious belief. It would be compatible with any type of spirituality. The type of eating practiced is intuitive eating (listening to your body to discern what it wants), and no matter what your way of eating, you can apply an intuitive approach to it--this book is about a way of living and relating to food, not about a food plan.
If you have read the author's other books (as I have) you will find much new information here. Other key themes of the book include mindfulness, presence, and feeling your feelings. The author is brutal but honest in describing how destructive the dieting industry is to women. Again, this is definitely not a diet book or eating plan, but instead a way of experiencing life which allows you to be present and aware so that you are able to listen to your body and choose food based on nourishment and self-care.
Although it is a quick read (I read it in one evening), this book is so valuable that you will want to refer back to it, highlight it for future reference, take notes in the margins, and use parts for journal prompts. There is only one negative, and it is a biggy: the paper in this hardback book is similar to super cheap mass market paperback-type paper. I have never seen an actual book of any type with such paper, though! I tried to highlight sections and the highlighter not only would bleed through to the reverse side of the page, but sometimes onto the previous page! It is hard to describe how frustrating this was---a book that is a true keeper on throw-away paper. I highlighted anyway and my book is a mess, but I decided to rebuy it on Kindle when it comes out. I've never done this before, but it's that good of a book--worth months (or maybe years) of therapy. I also would buy it again if it is reprinted (and I'll bet it will be) with a paper that matches the quality of the book.
That flaw aside, I'm so glad I bought this book. I have read many, many books on overeating, diet and nutrition, self-help, styles of eating, and more, and this book stands apart from the crowd. The message is an important one for any woman who wants to handle her relationship with food, her weight, and her spirituality in a healthy way, and to become whole. If that is you, you will not be disappointed, I promise.