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Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth

September 19, 2010Articles

Reading this myself at the moment – given it to a well-read LITeNUFER to review, so ……watch this space for a synopsis of this book – the latest book of this nature to be endorsed and promoted by Oprah Winfrey.          viv 20/09/2010

I have finished the above mentioned book and submit the following thoughts until the awaited review comes in….

Geneen Roth’s view of God:”I don’t believe in the God with long-white hair and x-ray vision that favors some people, some countries, some religions and not others.  I don’t believe in the sky dweller, the knower of all things, the granter of prayers.  But I do believe in the world beyond appearances and that there is so much we can’t see or touch or know by just looking. I believe in love.  And beauty.  I believe that if you follow this love all the way to its end, if you start with the thing you find most beautiful and trace its perfume back to its essence, you will perceive a intangible presence, a swath of stillness that allows the thing you love to be visible like the openness of the sky reveals the presence of the moon.”

The problem: “Women turn to food when they are not hungry because they are hungry for something they can’t name:
a connection to what is beyond the concerns of daily life.  Something deathless, something sacred.”
Here Geneen and I are in total agreement!

The goal of the book: Geneen wants to get you to eating with moderation, freedom from obsessive, compulsive eating, to a place where you can trust and listen to signals of your body.  Absolutely!!

A summary of her methodology to get her students to this goal: 1. Tracing the pain or the trigger to its source and  recognising that compulsive eating is a way of self-medicating an issue too painful to face. eg. loneliness, unworthiness, deprivation, self-loathing, the feeling of being damaged in some way.2. Learning that there is part of you that is not damaged and accessing that. 3. Using daily meditation to learn to inhabit your own body, your own life.  Becoming present with yourself.4.Learning to shut out “The Voice” that makes you feel defeated, incapable, inferior.5. Learning to live and eat deliberately, without distractions.

Geneen and I agree on much.  We long to see people set free from complusive, destructive habits that cause us to simply survive – until we die.  We both long to see people stop living “autistic existances” and get authentic lives, full of genuine LIVING .  Our methods of getting people to this goal even share some common threads.

Where we disagree is about “accessing the part of you that is not damaged” because in her thinking. “damage is learned not innate” .  I believe that we are flawed, that we are  born flawed – and therefore in need of redemption.  That there is not a sufficient deposit of the sacred within us naturally, to heal us and lead us into a new way of living, unless we receive the indwelling Christ as our Saviour and the very essence and source of LIFE itself.

viv heath


Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth  reviewed by Gail Ziegelmeier

I am one of those people who have tried just about every diet known to man and yet I still find that I have not found success in any of them – I am still overweight. I have lost many kgs in my life but somehow managed to find them again – attached to my waist.

I had recently done the ‘Lighten up’ journey (lost some weight and had a few life changes) and woke up one morning and reread all that God has said to me over the 40 days. When I came home from work, for a change I didn’t have anything pressing in on me so I sat down to relax and watch some TV and managed to catch Oprah. She was interviewing Geneen Roth who wrote the New York Times bestseller book, Women Food and God. My ears pricked, thinking about what I had read in the morning in my journal. I watched the program and then shot out and bought the book as she had definitely put her finger on a few the patterns that drive me. So here is my review of the book.

From the outset I need to say I would hazard a guess that most of the Litenufers wouldn’t define God the way Geneen does, but don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater because I really think there is value in this book. The basic philosophy may not appear obviously Christian but truth is truth.

Geneen basically says what you eat, how you eat, when you eat and where you eat is a reflection of what is happening in your life. Why do you do the things you do around food ? What makes you eat, overeat, binge etc

When we turn to food when we are lonely, sad bored, overwhelmed, there is something we are believing and then acting out. We believe eating the food will make us feel better. If I can just have a piece of cake then I will feel better.  Your beliefs show up in your relationship with food. If we eat when we are feeling these feelings then we are saying we can’t feel these feelings, they will overwhelm us. In that moment we make ourselves small and insignificant. The truth is, eating the food in that moment doubles our pain because the pain is still there and now we feel even worse because of the binge we just had.

Our response is to go on a diet. All that dieting results in is more self hated and self loathing and eating.

What we need to do is have the courage to stop in that moment and identify these compulsions. Many of us don’t want to stop we would rather ‘bolt’ as Geneen says. We don’t want to identify them because we believe it will be too painful so we medicate with food numbing ourselves.  What we don’t realise is that this very pain is the doorway to the freedom we so desire.

Some of us have identified why we overeat, binge, and eat when we are not hungry. Geneen takes us a step further and helps you stop, look and feel what the reason is, but then to move beyond being trapped at that ‘frozen place’. She encourages you to get rid of the baggage that keeps you repeating the same patterns day in and day out, year in and year out. She encourages you to move on, love yourself and live your best life.

She gives you practises to help in this process of moving forwards:

The first practise is to really acknowledge and identify or think in detail what your body and mind are feeling in the moment and why. What experience caused these feelings? Secondly she encourages meditation- 20 minutes to start a day, to quieten your mind to all its daily thoughts and open it up to feeling, hearing,  going beyond the day to day.  Next she helps you with every breath you take to live you best life, you are here on this day for a reason and whether your body is perfect or not stop the war with your body and come home to it, love it- don’t miss out on life. The last practise is to identify what she calls The Voice (also known as the super-ego, the inner critic or the internalised parent). Basically the Voice is the principles that have been instilled in you and formed your thinking patterns and responses from your parents or others when you were growing up. There are however some of those principles that are not always truth and helpful to you. The Voice saps your energy, steps in when you want to challenge the status quo etc. She encourages you to disengage from the Voice or your decisions will always be based in fear instead of longing for truth.

She then moves on and speaks about eating and dieting and she then introduces the guidelines what they are and what they are not. She identifies two types of compulsive eaters: Restrictors and Permitters and how they behave.  She then talks about loving your body by listening to your body and only eating what your body asks for. Her experience was seeing how her body only eventually asked for nutritive food and all other food that in the past she would crave lost its appeal. She encourages you on a path to being present in the moment when you eat which opens you up to freedom in many areas.  It is important to note that her 7 eating guidelines are only a tool to open the doorway to this journey.  

Some people might be suspicious of some of the practises she advocates, every one of them is a recognised practice in Christian circles, but there is however a slightly different emphasis and God is central. So in following what she proposes in the book I would adjust hers to what we believe. I would encourage you to speak to Viv with any questions in this regard.

I think you can exchange the word Food with anything that is an obsession in your life (exercising , watching TV, shopping) because it needs looking at. Lastly, I feel this book has real value and as a Christian would recommend reading  it, with the Trinity peering over your shoulder having Their say along the way!


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