Women, Food, and God

Geneen Roth
Scribner, 2010

RothRoth writes to women who are diet weary after a lifetime of searching for ways to lose significant amounts of weight. Her methods are controversial and on the surface of it, very difficult for women with a history of overeating to accept.

Tolstoy’s first line in Anna Karenina is, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” This is my disclaimer that I’ve never struggled with weight so I know I’m unfit to review this book from the usual reader’s set of circumstances. Instead, I will join the back row of Roth’s audience that agrees with her reasons why some people overeat, over drink, or do drugs is related to an internalized belief and ongoing conversation with seduction by food, liquor, and drugs.

Paraphrased, her belief seems to center on the importance of a person realizing the most fundamental beliefs she has of herself that probably date back to before attending kindergarten. She advises people to look at and fully feel the source of personal pain that is instilled with the limited logic of a child, and then begin to move forward with an adult’s transformed realizations.

She believes once we can name the source of “The Voice” that internally talks to us, sending us toward food, drink, and drugs, we can begin to let the “real me” surface. And as in any good how-to with a religious/spiritual base, the “real me” is kind, beautiful, and has no need to overindulge any longer. Instead, new, life-sustaining relationships with food and life are ready to present themselves.

Of course, Roth cites her successes and I don’t know enough about the subject to unequivocally agree or disagree. So, I sat in my reading corner and had a review lesson in handling the overindulgences in my life. When she wrote about an internal “The Voice” that “usurps your strength, passion and energy,” I had to recognize the crossing of our paths.

There was a time too many thoughts were destructive and in a desperate survival mode, I named the inner destroyer Irma Prattle, who I have honored with a credit in my blog. A funny thing happened when I named her. She became a friend. More or less. But here’s the funnier thing, Irma, through conversations with her, gave me back a sense of humor I had smothered, and a freedom in thought that has been self-sustaining.

Back to Roth. I don’t know if this is a good book for people looking to lose weight. But I like Roth’s philosophy that doesn’t like diets, does like the self, and isn’t trying to trim the body to an artificial size. Instead, she gives tools to consider a few personal beliefs that I will say work as well for children from Tolstoy’s other unhappy families. And P.S.: mine is happy.

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4 Responses to Women, Food, and God

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Sounds like an interesting book. There is more to weight loss than eating less and exercising more. Yes, that may be the equation, but so many other things factor in.

  2. I like that you are not a diet conscious person because it helps you give an unbiased review of this book. You don’t tend to lean into either camp (dieter or not) and don’t pick sides. The reader is left to decide whether this book is of interest to her or not. Well done. I like your short and sweet fact-based post. Mention of Irma invested you in the review. Bravo.

  3. Thanks Tess, your encouragement is always appreciated. I think readers should be expected to draw their own conclusion on a book, but I know I like it when a reviewer gives a good overview that helps me decide if I want to read it. Yup, Irma and I are definitely more friendly lately.

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