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Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

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Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

4/5 (42 valutazioni)
206 pagine
3 ore
Dec 21, 2010


From Scribd: About the Book

Geneen Roth has spent over thirty years writing, teaching and studying our food compulsions. Now she adds a new dimension to her work in Women Food and God. Her basic concept is that the way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive.

Roth believes that your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning and even God. Women Food and God shows how going beyond the food and the related feelings takes you deeper into realms of your spirit and soul. The author helps overeaters find the underlying reasons for using food as an emotional buffer. She also provides seven basic guidelines for eating and other therapeutic self-help tools.

Roth is the author of ten books, including the 2010 New York Times bestseller Women Food and God. She has been speaking, teaching workshops and offering retreats for over thirty years and has appeared on numerous national shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, the Today show, Good Morning America, and The View.

No matter how sophisticated or wealthy or poor you are, how you eat tells all, and Women Food and God explores this premise with enlightening results.

Dec 21, 2010

Informazioni sull'autore

Geneen Roth is the author of ten books, including the New York Times bestsellers When Food Is Love, Lost and Found, and Women Food and God, as well as The Craggy Hole in My Heart and the Cat Who Fixed It. She has been speaking, teaching groundbreaking workshops, and offering retreats for over thirty years and has appeared on numerous national shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, the Today show, Good Morning America, and The View. For more information about her work, please visit  

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Women Food and God - Geneen Roth



The World on Our Plates

Eighty hungry women are sitting in a circle with bowls of cold tomato vegetable soup; they are glowering at me, furious. It is lunchtime on the third day of the retreat. During these daily eating meditations each woman approaches the buffet table, lines up to be served, takes her seat in the circle, and waits until we all sit down to eat. The process is agonizingly slow—fifteen minutes or so—especially if food is your drug of choice.

Although the retreat is going well and many people here have had life-changing insights, at this moment no one cares. They don’t care about stunning breakthroughs or having ninety pounds to lose or whether God exists. They want to be left alone with their food, period. They want me to take my fancy ideas about the link between spirituality and compulsive eating and go away. It is one thing to be conscious about food in the meditation hall, and another to be sitting in the dining room, refraining from taking even one bite until the entire group has been served. Also, I’ve asked that silence be observed, so there are no frissons of laughter or chatty how-are-yous to distract attention from hunger or lack of it, since not everyone is hungry.

The retreat is based on a philosophy I’ve developed over the past thirty years: that our relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself. I believe we are walking, talking expressions of our deepest convictions; everything we believe about love, fear, transformation and God is revealed in how, when and what we eat. 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. If we are interested in finding out what we actually believe—not what we think, not what we say, but what our souls are convinced is the bottom-line truth about life and afterlife—we need go no further than the food on our plates. God is not just in the details; God is also in the muffins, the fried sweet potatoes and the tomato vegetable soup. God—however we define him or her—is on our plates.

Which is why eighty women and I are sitting in a circle with cold vegetable soup. I look around the room. Photographs of flowers—intricate close-ups of a red dahlia, the golden edges of a white rose—are hung on the wall. A bouquet of peach gladiolas is splayed so extravagantly on a side table that it looks as if it is prancing at the prom in its finery. Then I begin noticing the faces of my students. Marjorie, a psychologist in her fifties, is playing with her spoon and doesn’t meet my eyes. A twenty-year-old gymnast named Patricia is wearing black tights and a lemon-colored tank top. Her tiny body sits like an origami bird on her cushion—delicate, perfectly erect. On her plate is a handful of sprouts and a fistful of salad, that’s all. I look to my right and see Anna, a surgeon from Mexico City, biting one of her lips and tapping her fork on the plate impatiently. There are three pieces of bread with thick slabs of butter on her plate, a bit of salad, no soup, no vegetables. Her food says, Fuck you, Geneen, I don’t have to play this ridiculous game. Watch me binge the second I get the chance. I nod at her as if to say, Yup, I understand how hard it is to slow down. I take a quick glance around the rest of the room, at faces, at plates. The air is thick with resistance to this eating meditation, and since I am the one who makes the rules, I am also the one at whom the fury is directed. Getting between people and their food is like standing in front of a speeding train; the act of being stopped in compulsive behavior is not exactly met with good cheer.

Anyone want to say anything before we begin? I ask.


Then, blessings on our food and all that made it possible. The rain, the sun, the people who grew it, brought it here, served it here, I say.

I can hear Amanda, who is sitting to my right, taking a deep breath at the sound of the prayer. Across the room Zoe nods her head, as if to say, Oh, right. The earth, the sun, the rain. Glad they’re there. But not everyone is grateful to take one more second to do anything but eat. Louisa in her bright red running suit sighs and grunts an almost indiscernible Oh for God’s sakes. Can we puh-leese get on with this?! She looks as if she is ready to kill me. Humanely, of course, and only with the slightest bit of suffering, but still.

Now, take some time and notice what you put on your plate, I say. "Notice if you were hungry when you chose the food. If you weren’t physically hungry, was there another kind of hunger present?

And looking at your plates, decide what you want to eat first and take a few bites. Notice how the food feels in your mouth. If it tastes like you thought it would taste. If it does what you thought it would do.

Three, four minutes pass amid the symphony of eating sounds: rustling, chewing, swallowing, clinking. I notice that Izzy, a six-foot-two willowy woman from France, is looking out the window and seems to have forgotten that we are eating. But most people are holding the plates up to their mouths so they can get the bites in faster.

Laurie, a thirty-five-year-old CEO of a Boston mortgage company, raises her hand. I am not hungry, but I want to be. I want to eat anyway.

Why is that? I ask.

Because it looks good and it’s here, right now. It’s the best comfort in town. What’s wrong with wanting comfort from food?

Not a thing, I say. Food is good and comfort is good. Except that when you are not hungry and you want comfort, food is only a temporary palliative; why not address the discomfort directly?

It’s too hard to address things directly, too painful, and there isn’t any end to it. And if it’s going to be endlessly painful, then at least I have food, she answers.

So you figure that the best you can get out of life is cold vegetable soup?

When she talks again, her voice is quivering. It’s the only true comfort I have, and I am not going to deprive myself of it. A tear jogs down her right cheek, hovers on her top lip. Heads nod in assent. A wave of murmurs passes around the circle.

Laurie says, This thing we do here—waiting in silence until everyone gets their food—reminds me of what it was like to eat dinner in our family. My mother was drinking, my father was furious and no one was talking. It was horrible.

What were you feeling during those times? I ask.

Lonely, miserable, like I was born into the wrong family. I wanted to escape but there was no place to go; I felt trapped. And this feels the same way. Like all of you are crazy and I am trapped here, with a bunch of loonies.

More head nods. More murmurs. A woman from Australia looks at me defiantly, her black waist-length hair brushing the edge of the soup bowl. I imagine she is thinking that Laurie is right and can she get a ride to the airport in fifteen minutes.

But right here, right now, in the center of this wound—I’ve been abandoned and betrayed by who and what really matters and what I’ve got left is food—is where the link between food and God exists. It marks the moment when we gave up on ourselves, on change, on life. It marks the place where we are afraid. It marks the feelings we won’t allow ourselves to feel, and in so doing, keeps our lives constricted and dry and stale. In that isolated place, it is a short step to the conclusion that God—where goodness and healing and love exist—abandoned us, betrayed us or is a supernatural version of our parents. Our practice at the retreats of working through this despair is not one of exerting will or conjuring up faith, but being curious, gentle and engaged with the cynicism, the hopelessness, the anger.

I ask Laurie if she can make room for the part of her that feels trapped and lonely.

She says no, she can’t. She says she just wants to eat.

I ask her if she is willing to consider the possibility that this has nothing to do with food.

She says no, she can’t. She is staring at me with a look of grim determination that says, Keep out. Go away. Not interested. Her eyes are narrow, her mouth is tight.

The room feels as if the air has been sucked out of it. People have stopped breathing; they are staring at me, at Laurie, waiting.

I am wondering, I say, why you are so intent on keeping me out. It seems as if there is a part of you bent on isolation, maybe even destruction.

She puts down her spoon, which she has been holding in midair, and stares at me.

Have you given up? I ask.

It’s a risky question because it plunges right into the despair, but I ask it, since she has been fighting with me for the past three days and I am concerned about her leaving the retreat in a state of stony withdrawal. When did the determination not to believe in anything ever again set in?

She inhales sharply. Sits without speaking for a few minutes.

I look around the room. Suzanne, a mother of three young children, is crying. Victoria, a psychiatrist from Michigan, is watching, waiting, absorbed in what is happening.

I’ve wanted to die since I was about ten, Laurie says quietly.

Can you make room for the ten-year-old? I ask. The one who didn’t see any way out of the hopeless situation she found herself in? Very gently, see if you can sense the hurt itself.

Laurie nods her head. I think I can do that, she says quietly.

I ask her to do this not so that she can comfort her inner child. I don’t believe in inner children. I do believe that there are frozen places in ourselves—undigested pockets of pain—that need to be recognized and welcomed, so that we can contact that which has never been hurt or wounded or hungry. Although the work we do at the retreat is often experienced as therapeutic, it is not therapy. Unlike therapy, it is not designed to bolster self-esteem, which was created in reaction to our past. The work at the retreat is designed to reveal that which is beyond self-esteem, unconditioned by our past. Our personality and its defenses, one of which is our emotionally charged relationship to food, are a direct link to our spirituality. They are the bread crumbs leading us home.

Laurie says, I don’t know what just happened, but suddenly I have no desire to eat the soup.

I say, It seems as if there is something even better than food: touching what you considered untouchable and viscerally discovering that you are bigger than your pain.

She nods her head and smiles for the first time in three days. Life doesn’t seem so bad at this moment. Saying out loud how bad I thought it was when I was ten makes it seem not so bad now. I guess what happens is that I can feel the ten-year-old and how big her sadness was without totally becoming her—that’s a good thing.

The simple fact that her pain can be touched and that it won’t destroy her means that all is not lost or hopeless or unredeemable. I nod my head and ask if she wants to keep talking to me. She says, I think this is enough for now.

I ask people to pick up their silverware and take a few more bites—noticing what they want to eat, how it tastes, how they feel.

A few minutes later, Nell, a student at the retreats for seven years, raises her hand. I am not hungry anymore, but I suddenly realized that I am afraid to push the food away.

Why? I ask.

Because . . .—and she starts to cry—. . . because I realize I am not broken . . . and that you will be angry at me if you know.

Why would I be angry at you? I ask.

Because you’d see who I really am and you wouldn’t like it.

What would I see?

Vitality. A lot of energy. Determination. Strength.

Wow, I say. And what wouldn’t I like about that?

I wouldn’t need you then. And you would be threatened by that.

Who are you taking me to be? Anyone you know who was threatened by how gorgeous you are?

Nell starts to laugh. Hi, Mom, she says.

The room erupts in a wave of laughter.

She was so depressed, Nell says. And if I was just myself, that was too much for her. I needed to shut down the bigness—I needed to be as broken as she was—otherwise she’d reject me and that was unacceptable.

What’s happening in your body, Nell? I ask.

It feels like a fountain of color, she says. It’s as if I am streaming with vivid hues of red, green, gold, black streaking in my chest, my arms, my legs . . .

OK, let’s stop here for a minute. . . .

I look around the room. Anna, who’d wanted to tell me to fuck off, is crying. Camille, who has looked bored since the retreat started, seems utterly absorbed in what is happening. The group attention is riveted by what Nell is saying about the need to be broken. They can relate to the belief that if they keep themselves wounded and damaged, they will be loved.

I look at Nell and say, When you stop and let yourself feel what is being offered to you, it is never, ever what you thought it would be. You go from being afraid to being a fountain in three minutes. . . .

Nell says, It feels as if this quiet, calm space has been waiting for me to come back to it, like it’s been here all my life, like it’s more me than anything else. And then Nell stands up and looks around the room. She pulls her chair aside and says, Listen to this, girls! I AM NOT BROKEN!!!!

More laughter. Then Nell continues, "This process amazes me. First I had to deal with the food thing. I really did have to stop using food to comfort myself—otherwise I felt too crazy—and there was no time for this spiritual stuff. Then, when my eating calmed down, I had to at least allow myself to feel the feelings of brokenness—that was tough. That was the part where I just had to believe what you were saying, Geneen—that my resistance to the pain was worse than the pain. But to actually feel that I am not broken—I can hardly explain what that is like. It’s like being a piece of holiness. It’s like saying that goodness is not just for everyone else, it’s also for me. It is me!"

Since it’s almost time for the next session to begin in the meditation hall, I ask people to check in with their hunger levels, to rate themselves on a scale of one to ten, with one being hungry and ten being full, and to eat accordingly. We’ll meet down in the meditation hall in thirty minutes, I say, standing up from my seat.

As I am about to walk out the door, a woman named Marie grabs my hand and says, "I just

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  • (5/5)
    As someone who's always looking for the "right" things to eat books like this are a necessity. I hope one day to do a retreat with the author, but just having this book is a wonderful resource in itself.
  • (1/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    I didn't bother to finish it.Nothing new. Her eating guidelines state:Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.So eat alone or with boring people.And stay out of Jimmy John's - they play their music much to loud.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (3/5)
    Given my continuing issue with obesity and food, when I found this for pennies as a thrift shop, I snatched it up. The bases for Roth's ideology is more esoteric than I prefer. Lots of references to Buddhist and Hindu traditions, lots of importance placed on mediation, self, and feelings. As an INTJ, this is not my cup of tea. At all. Her advice seemed fluffy and touchy-feeling, lacking practical application and having an unhealthy obsession with self. Buried among the dribble lay a few bits of good information - think about why food controls you, learn why you lack control, what emotion does food trigger, all that sort of thing. I'll carry away some bits of good advice from this book, but overall, this isn't the sort of book for me.
  • (3/5)
    For only a 211-page book there are a lot of quotations from other spiritual advisors in here. In between rehashing her childhood troubles with her mother and emphasizing the typical reluctance of her students to immediately embrace her wellness ideology, Roth does give some interesting, encouraging, and practical information regarding the correlations between our relationship with food and the decisions we make in other aspects of life.
  • (4/5)
    The title for this book, Women Food and God is a bit deceiving. The book is not so much about women, food, and God or even the relationships that women have with food and God. It is really more about the relationship we have with ourselves and learning to treat ourselves with gentleness and love. This book really resonated with me. Like many women, in my mind I have an ideal weight for myself. Unfortunately, I think I passed that ideal weight sometime in my teens and haven't seen it since. Listening to this book has made me rethink why I want that ideal weight. Will thinner arms really make that much of a difference in my life? I don't think I am a shallow person, yet somehow I have it stuck in my mind that being thinner would make me better. So instead of berating myself for eating all the chocolate eggs for my daughter's Care package, I need to pause, breathe and reflect on why I want to snack or web surf mindlessly. Definitely some thing to think about.
  • (4/5)
    I was assigned this book as part of a nutrition course I'm taking.
  • (3/5)
    Some stuff in here really hit home, but I just felt like the book was randomly put together. I wouldn't even know how to begin to go about applying this system to my life.
  • (3/5)
    food is not always the problem or the answer - good thought-provoking book
  • (5/5)

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

    Finally, a book about weight that hits home.

    1 persona l'ha trovata utile

  • (3/5)
    It's kind of a Buddhist diet book, really, about eating mindfully. And I could sure use that lesson, but the heavy emphasis on ending the dieting and the self-hate (which forms a large part of many womens' relationship with food), did make it a bit hard to relate, having never dieted. Mostly, though, much as I could use the bit about eating mindfully, I read it as prequel to her later book (see below).
  • (3/5)
    Required me to concentrate a bit on its content. Some parts were insightful. Overall wasn't that enlightened.
  • (3/5)
    Kind of New Age spirituality, in that eating is seen as a response to past life-events. Recommends that one embrace the past and let it go: "you are now, not then; be in the present". The guidelines are not original, but it's a good summary list.The Eating Guidelines: (1) Eat when you are hungry; (2) Eat sitting down in a calm environment; (3) Eat without distractions; (4) Eat what your body wants (but not just chocolate candy all day long!); (5) eat until you are satisfied; (6) Eat "with the intention of being" in full view of others; (7) Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.
  • (4/5)
    I just finished re-reading this book and really got a lot out of it. Several "aha" moments. A lot of tools and techniques for dealing with emotional eating. The one thing I did not like was the continual tie-in that emotional eating has its roots in our childhood and our parents. At this point in my life, I am responsible for my own actions. It's not where we begin that matters; it's where we end up. I still really like the book for its tools on how to proceed on that path.
  • (2/5)
    I have mixed feelings about this book. In one sense it was ok, some insightful opinions and thoughts. However I really do not understand why "God" had to be part of the title. There is no relation to the book and the author's believes that has anything to do with God.Believing in a spiritual higher being. Dear Geneen there is only one God. No medition and any other rubish will get one at that special place. If anyone needs to fix themselves, they first have to fix their relationship with God. Pray to God and He will help you. He will give you the strengh.This book got allot of media attention. However I was a little disappointed.
  • (5/5)
    I found this book a very quick and easy read. No preaching. No expounding on ideas or techniques that discourage more than encourage. Instead, a gentle, understanding chat with someone who understands. I'm looking forward to going through this book again with a Reading Group. It was definitely thought-provoking and definitely not a diet or a plan. This is not just a book for those who need to lose weight, but is more a book about our love-hate relationship with food and ourselves. For anyone who wants to look further into their relationship with food, I'd recommend this book.
  • (3/5)
    This is the book Oprah Winfrey has been excited about, and has been telling viewers to "read it now!" Written by Geneen Roth, Women Food and God is a book about getting in touch with the real reasons why some people eat more or less than they should.Roth writes:"All that you believe about love, change, joy and responsibility is revealed in how, when and what you eat. The world is on your plate."Author Geneen Roth was a guest on the Oprah Show which went to air in Australia on 21 September 2010. Immediately after the show, I logged onto my local library website to reserve a copy, only to find I was already number 22 in line for this book. My turn came on 22 December when I was able to pick up my copy and start reading.After all of the Oprah hype, I was expecting a revelation while reading this book, and I've got to admit I was mildly disappointed. The book contains references to retreats run by Roth and the experiences and breakthroughs people have made during their stay which were interesting. Roth also takes the reader through the various relationships that can cause distress, including most importantly the relationship with yourself and the fears and stories we tell ourselves.The book did contain one particular piece of information that struck me. In summary, Roth wrote that sometimes when a person wants to eat a particular food, they're not seeking the feeling they get when they eat it, but they may be seeking the feeling they experienced in the past when they were permitted or allowed to eat it. This gave me pause for reflection and was a valuable tidbit that was completely new to me and one to which I could relate.Having said all of that, this was a good read, but ultimately didn't live up to my high expectations. Geneen Roth has published seven other books on this topic, including When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair. What a fabulous title! I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in understanding how to improve your relationship with yourself and others and how this relates to food. The book is also suitable for male readers, despite the title.
  • (1/5)
    couldn't finish it...boring and pointless
  • (3/5)
    Interesting - most of the concepts (which she initiated) were familiar - others have used her work as basis for theirs
  • (5/5)
    Women Food and God is wonderful. I’ve got history with Geneen Roth books. I’ve read at least two of her other books on compulsive eating. Seems like more but there are only two titles on the list in the front of this book that really jumped out at me, so I’ll say two. And I have liked everything I’ve read. But this book? This is her best book by far. Her writing on the topic has matured, has taken a turn; she has taken her years of workshop work and brought it together with her own study of various writers and teachers and created a book filled with wisdom not just about ending the battle with food, but about using the battle with food as a way to find your center, to find yourself.It contained for me, many eye-opening (mind-blowing) thoughts. I didn’t read anything new (to me), but I read things presented in a new way, in a new context, that definitely turned me on my head (so to speak).I highly recommend this book, not just to women seeking to gain control over issues with food, but to any woman who has had body issues (who among us hasn’t?), or who simply wants to find a path into greater peace of mind, equanimity, sense of self.
  • (5/5)
    If you suffer about your relationship with food - you eat too much or too little, think about what you will eat constantly or try not to think about it at all - you can be free. Just look down at your plate. The answers are there. Don't run. Look. Because when we welcome what we most want to avoid, we contact the part of ourselves that is fresh and alive. We touch the life we truly want and evoke divinity itself.
  • (2/5)
    The "inquiry" system sounds very sensible. It feels so right and yet too difficult to actually achieve. Why the author even tells us that this is not a system that one can do alone. She says that no one should try the "inquiry" on their own. Doesn't that sound like an advert for taking her training session(s). She also speaks about her students making repeat trips to her training sessions. I think you might have to be rich to even dream of succeeding with her this plan.
  • (2/5)
    I can tell you right now that this book isn't what I thought it would be. I am on page 52 and plan to finish the book, but it is making me angry. I was expecting detailed explanations about meditation techniques and less excerpts from the author's retreats. I have noticed a few grammar mistakes. Grrr. AND, I generally don't buy into the author's philosophy on weight loss. Come to find out, she's not happy with her body either. I think there is a conflict brewing in my mind with the mind of the author. And that is because I DO want to learn to love my body and to build it as the best body it should be. Geneen Roth advocates giving up the fight against our bodies. I am not sure that is ever possible.edit: about 5 hours later.... Nope, I can't do it. I can't finish this book. Although I hate to say this, I am sorry I purchased this book and perhaps should have gone for something deeper and more intellectual about meditation and women's relationship to God. I hope those of you out there who enjoy this book actually get something out of it.
  • (5/5)
    I loved this book. It's going to be a reread , over and over, I can tell. I first read it like any other book in this vein, hoping it would tell me to do this or that and it would all be better. This is not that type of book and I'm ultimately glad. It makes you think. It's helping me to see the emotional connection to food and how it can be detrimental. I thank "God" for her insight.
  • (1/5)
    I read 117 of 211 pages and could not continue to read any further. The book was not what I had thought it would be. I have not read anything by this author before and going by the publisher's summary and the title I had expected this book to incorporate the Judaeo-Christian God into women's struggle with weight loss and food relationship. That surmise was incorrect, the author's concept of the word "God" could be more clearly stated as "whatever supreme deity, power or feeling you happen to believe in". This was not what I wanted. The book is divided into three parts: Principles, Practices and Eating. I managed to read through the Principles section and found the information on emotional eating and loving yourself as who you are informative but not anything I hadn't read before. Only one religion is actually mentioned and quoted from and that is Buddhism. Again, not what *I* was looking for. The Practices section became too new-agey for me and I could not continue to read. I will say though that the writer has a fun, upbeat, humorous voice.