Yes, I think Geneen Roth has important information to share, but like a lot of self-help gurus I personally believe her philosophies about food addictions and related behaviors is somewhat oversimplified. While I applaud the fact her latest book is being embraced by Oprah, I don't believe it is the ultimate weight management miracle Oprah has proclaimed it to be.
Who am I to say this? I am a woman who has struggled with food since I was 10 years old and my Irish farmer genetics kicked in. By the time I was 18 years old I had binged, starved, exercised and diuretic overdosed myself into oblivion living through constantly revolving thin and fat periods.
It wasn't until I had suffered the agonies many other food addicts have suffered that I found my way to a 12 step program and ultimately found serenity from all my dysfunctional food related behaviors. That serenity has lasted non-stop for the past 24 years. It has been part of my life core even during times of great loss such as the sudden and devastating loss of my beloved husband five years ago.
Does Geneen Roth really offer a miracle over food addiction? Yes and no. While she hits the nail on the head about ultimately defining the proverbial hole which food addicts try to stuff closed with food, that's just the first baby step in a very long journey of ultimate personal discovery.
While it's possible to find total peace with food, eating to live rather than living to eat, finding the ultimate best body weight, shape and health is a completely different ballgame.
Some food addicts only wish to find the peace and serenity that abstinence from compulsive food behaviors offers. They stop at that point of the journey, embracing themselves at whatever weight they have become. Others strive to build upon that original serenity and find a healthy body weight.
If food addicts aren't able to first identify and address the cause of their emotional pain, serenity and abstinence will be a challenge to obtain. So will lasting weight loss.
Are diets bad? It depends. People who have first dealt with the underlying emotional pain driving their addiction and embraced a plan of healthy eating can achieve great success in maintaining their serenity while achieving a healthy weight and body shape.
From that viewpoint diets are not bad. They can be embraced as a healthy life plan which incorporates new ways of nourishing the body for a long and healthy life.
If diets are undertaken by people who have not first dealt with their core emotional dysfunction, diets may initially remove all excess weight, but will ultimately fail and result in lost weight being regained. From that view diets can be destructive tools which don't work in the long term. A classic case in point is actress Kirstie Ally.
Oprah says Geneen's book has changed the way she feels about her body, her diet and her life. I comnmend Oprah for sharing so much of her own personal angst but believe she is missing a piece of the puzzle.
Geneen Roth says "dieting leads to self-hatred and self-loathing, making you feel crazy about yourself." Yes, this can be very true for those people who have not first surrendered to their core food addictions, causes and triggers.
Geneen;s 7 Eating Guidelines, which she calls a set of instructions for listening to your body include the following:
1) Eat when you are hungry.
3) Eat without distractions. Distractions include: radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations, and music.
5) Eat until you are satisfied.
7) Eat with enjoyment, gusto, and pleasure.
While these are great guidelines in principle. A person who has not first identified their emotional pain may not even know what true body hunger feels like. I know that I didn't. It took me awhile to learn the difference between my body really trying to tell me it was hungry and a range of other signals from a wide range of outside sources.
I also struggled trying to figure out what my body wanted me to eat. I still struggle with that at times although I have gotten a lot better of knowing without a doubt what is best. Whereas I used to crave chocolate anything, I now crave steel cut oatmeal and organic yogurt. It's weird but when I do eat what my body is telling me, I feel so great afterwards.
While I appreciate my ongoing serenity around food and my addictions I have learned that dealing with the pure physical aspects of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is a whole other ballgame. It's also a lot of work which requires a pure intentions.
Don't get me wrong. I think Geneen Roth is a very wise woman who offers people in the throes of food addictions the opportunity, when reading her books, to have an AHA moment about their own behaviors. However, I believe there is no fast fix or miracle cure for food obsessions. While her book, Women, Food and God may help people take a first step, there are many more steps that must be taken other than proclaiming the end to dieting.
Oprah has promised a follow-up show with Geneen to talk more about her philosophies. I hope that more about this entire life process will be discussed.
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