Women Food and God

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Hand Picks Up Fork creator, Jennie says: ‘I love Geneen Roth, but didn’t expect to like this book. I’m fortunate that I was never significantly overweight. I’m not someone who has gained and lost hundreds of pounds. Technically, my weight has always fallen within a “normal” range.

But in the words of Geneen Roth:

“I have experienced the anguish of revolving my life around food.”

In the end, I found so much insight within its pages that I struggled to narrow down a massive list of my favorite quotes’. Read further for a full book review and much more to come about Women Food and God

On her personal journey:

jennie-1024x697And so I started dieting the same year I started bingeing. Dieting gave me a purpose.

Bingeing gave me relief from the relentless attempt to be someone else.

I believed there was an end goal, a place at which I would arrive and forevermore be at peace. And since I also believed that the way to get there was by judging and shaming and hating myself, I also believed in diets.

When I first realized how simple it was to end the compulsion with food – eat what your body wants when you’re hungry, stop when you’ve had enough – I felt as if I had popped out of life as I knew it and suddenly found myself in another galaxy.

I’ve told this story for many more years than I have lived it, but it only recently became clear to me that the radical part of the tale is not that I stopped dieting; it’s that I stopped trying to fix myself.

On Reese’s peanut butter cups, hot fudge sundaes, sardines, chocolate cake and whipped cream:

  • When we inhale Reese’s peanut butter cups when we are not hungry, we are acting out an entire world of hope or hopelessness, of faith or doubt, of love or fear.
  • The moment you tell yourself you can have it, the moment the taboo is removed, hot fudge sundaes become as ordinary as sardines.
  • There is nothing like having chocolate cake three inches away to reveal your fear of chaos or your desire to melt into it.
  • If the idea of a few puffs of whipped cream has the power to topple your carefully constructed sense of self, we need to discover who you take yourself to be.

On truth, possibility and kindness:

  • But once the belief and the subsequent decisions are questioned, diets and being uncomfortable in your body lose their seductive allure. Only kindness makes sense. Anything else is excruciating.
  • The possibility that there is a place in them, in everyone, that is unbroken, that has never gained a pound, never been hungry, never been wounded, seems like a myth as far-fetched as the Sumerian goddess Inanna ascending to earth after hanging on a meat hook in hell.
  • It’s never been true, not anywhere at any time, that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale.
  • Losing weight on any program in which you tell yourself that left to your real impulses you would devour the universe is like building a skyscraper on sand: without a foundation, the new structure collapses.

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Among the many astonishing things that Geneen Roth accomplishes in this book, one thing that really intrigued me was the way she dissects the mind-body connection. She establishes the importance of both intuition and mindfulness in overcoming emotional eating.

I’m going to take a quick stab at paraphrasing how these two concepts intersect. Your mind can play tricks on you, but your body doesn’t lie. So above all, trust your body. However, you won’t know what your body truly needs unless you pay attention to it. That’s where mindfulness enters the equation.

These quotes convey that much more eloquently:

Our minds are like politicians; they make stuff up, they twist the truth. Our minds are masters at blame, but our bodies…our bodies don’t lie.

By definition, eating compulsively is eating without regard to the body’s cues; it therefore follows that when you develop the capacity to steer your attention back to your body, are aware of what it says and are willing to listen to it, compulsion falls away.

If you actually listen to what your body (not your mind) wants, you’ll discover that it doesn’t want three weeks of hot fudge sundaes despite the panting and salivating that is evoked at their very mention.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist teacher, says, “There is no way to happiness – happiness is the way.”
Just so, there is no way back to the body; the body is the way. You have to leave and then you return. Leave and return. You forget and then you remember. Forget. Remember. One breath and then another. One step and then another.

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And finally, three more awesome quotes that I just couldn’t leave off the list:

Combine the utter inefficacy of dieting with the lack of spiritual awareness and we have generations of mad, ravenous, self-loathing women.

We treat ourselves and the rest of the world as if deprivation, punishment and shame lead to change . . . And although I’ve never met anyone – not one person – for whom warring with their bodies led to long-lasting change, we continue to believe that with a little more self-disgust, we’ll prevail.

The possibility that there is a place in them, in everyone, that is unbroken, that has never gained a pound, never been hungry, never been wounded, seems like a myth as far-fetched as the Sumerian goddess Inanna ascending to earth after hanging on a meat hook in hell.

 
Geneen herself on the book:


 

“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for
THE MOST WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE OF MY LIFE!
I am reading Women, Food, and God again and I can see and hear everything as if I was back at the retreat. I can hardly wait to be with you all again.”
– Sally Hughes

Roth’s Retreat: MAY 2013

 
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