Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Women Food and God

Picture it-you’ve had a stressful day. All you want on the car/train/bus ride home is some alone time with your good friend Dorito, Oreo, or Marshmallow. Your stomach isn’t rumbling. You aren’t hungry, but you need to eat. Why do we do that? It doesn’t make us feel better for more than a few seconds and often times it can make us feel worse, but we still do it (and consume empty belly plumping calories in the process.)

In March, Geneen Roth released a book called Women Food and God that explores our connections with food. Saturday I had the opportunity to attend Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God workshop and it was a wonderful experience.

For me the big take away from the book and the workshop experience is: Eat when you’re hungry. If you want to eat when you’re not hungry, ask yourself why you want to eat. If someone has hurt your feelings, let it hurt. If an injustice happened at work, just feel the frustration. If you are tired, take a nap. No need for a buffalo wing flavored pretzel band aid. This is of course easier said than done for many people. It takes discipline, bravery, and hard work!

I thought it would be an overwhelming emotional experience (I had sooo much tissue stocked up in my tote bag), but instead I left feeling happy and light. I realized just how far I have come over the past few years, and especially the last eleven months. Honestly folks, I think my inner toning has exceeded my outer toning in the best of ways. Perhaps my sense of self was flabbier than my booty. Being surrounded in a room of lovely women who had the bravery to show up that day and take their first steps to not using food as a crutch, I recognized that while I have my moments, I look at food in a such a healthy way now.

Here are some excerpts from the notes I took:

KINDNESS: Don’t be abusive to yourself. Be kind to yourself. As long as you have judgment and shame-you won’t succeed. You can’t figure it out in your head; you must figure it out in your heart. If someone was beating you-you’d just want it to stop, so stop beating yourself up! If LOVE could speak it would want you to be good to yourself. Speak to yourself like LOVE would. In the beginning of my journey here I really didn’t know how to be nice to myself. One of the biggest changes I’ve made over this year is learning to be forgiving of myself when I fall off the perfection wagon or don’t make into a goal dress by a certain time. I still have to tune out that negative voice in my head sometimes that says, “You’re doing okay, but with those thighs, you’ll never wear skinny jeans,” or “look at (insert hot tv star here), she doesn’t have saddle bags and if you don’t get rid of yours you’ll never be put on camera.” I used to think things like this all of the time and beat myself up about it. Now I truly know and believe that this is crazy talk, and I am much gentler on myself.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOURSELF: One brave woman stood up and mentioned that she felt that long ago her body betrayed her. I can understand that. I am now in a place where I can befriend myself and compliment the goods things and feel blessed with certain aspects instead of feeling short changed in the physique department.

TASTE YOUR FOOD, LEARN WHAT YOU LIKE: One woman had a wonderful realization that she was going to treat herself like a baby and just like with her children test good foods to see if she likes them. What a perfect way to think of how to approach a new food life! She said when her kids were babies just learning to eat solid food she didn’t know what they liked, they didn’t know what they liked. So, she did the typical trial and error and figured out what they enjoyed eating. She said after reading Geneen’s book that she realized that she needs to approach healthy eating in the same way and try things to see if she really likes them. Makes sense. I’ve done this myself. The Naturally Thin way of approaching food touches on tasting your food, savoring it, and truly enjoying what you are eating. I’ve definitely stopped eating things that I don’t love. For me it started with movie theater popcorn. After a little it starts to be overly salty and not as enjoyable, so I would enjoy what I ate, but began stopping when it wasn’t at optimal enjoyment anymore. Baby steps.

BE WHO YOU ARE: Be who you are, you can’t live anyone else’s life. Pretty cut and dry. All of our experiences will be different. In my journey I’ve adopted an entire new animal product-free way of eating. This may not feel right for you (although of course I hope you give it a try), and some exercises that I love you won’t love and vice versa. I may feel happy at a certain weight or size, but you may feel happier in a different place.

MEDITATION: I was thrilled that we did some visualization work in the workshop. We imagined being in a favorite outdoor place. I went immediately to LAs Griffith Park where I’ve hiked with my besties. We imagined a table set with a feast just for us on it. Mine was a giant monastery table full of wooden baskets of grapes and cherry tomatoes and some strips of green bell pepper-all watery fruits and veggies. I lay down. I had a grape or two, but really I just lounged and rested and felt the wind. There was a lot of wind (typical in my mediations). It was cool outside but I wasn’t cold and uncomfortable (I am typically uncomfortably cold most of the time). I tried to look to see if there was anything else on my table like a casserole dish of mac and cheese, but it just wasn’t there. Many of the women there saw fruits and vegetables and fish and healthy food there. The meditation was to show us what our bodies truly wanted, not what our mouths or minds wanted. What I discovered in my meditation is that I am at peace with food and can calmly coexist with it now.

BEING THIN ISN’T THE SOLUTION TO YOUR PROBLEMS: Being thin and perfect doesn’t make my past of being a fat kid not have happened. Being thin doesn’t change my insecurities. Being truly kind to myself is a bit of a foreign process, but it’s the last step to feeling the contentment and true inner and outer fitness that I am hungry for. I love that I am in such a good place! (pats self on back) The parts of you that have been “damaged” will always be damaged. It doesn’t go away but you can give it less attention. Don’t get on the bus of unworthiness. You have the choice not to get on it. You don’t have to have something wrong with you. You don’t become a different person. If you eat when you are not hungry and are upset you just double the suffering.
INQUIRY: Always ask yourself why you want what you want when you want it. What happened to make you want to eat when you’re not hungry? What was the trigger? If want to eat when you aren’t hungry, ask yourself what you are actually hungry for.

THROWING FOOD AWAY: Throw it out or throw it in-either way it turns to waste. I love this. This is something I have incorporated this year. If I really want something “questionable” or a treat, I take some bites and throw the rest away. Yes, sometimes this means I spend more money than I should for a few indulgent bites, but I’d prefer the waste to be in the garbage than manifesting in a muffin top!

EATING WHEN YOU’RE NOT HUNGRY: You don’t have to eat just because it’s a traditional meal time. If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat. (just like Bethenny says)

By our 1pm lunch I was really hungry. The hotel and surrounding area had little to offer and there was no lunch provided (clearly to make us put the practices to use and make us all make choices on our own.) For lunch I finished a couple of walnuts and pretzels I had brought along and got a garden salad. Not ideal, but it met my watery food need and was the only animal product-free item they had to offer. I was still a little hungry, but knew I was satiated enough to make it through the last couple of hours. Me a year or two ago might have panicked a little, but I was a cool cucumber.

BLAMING OTHERS: If someone does something to you-they must undo do it. This won’t happen. It can’t happen. BUT if you don’t have a Velcro landing on you, nothing mean can hurt you. Sort of Geneen's take on the saying “I’m rubber, you’re glue…”

THIS WORK IS EXHAUSTING: We are familiar with struggling with food, just not this particular struggle. Yes when you first begin to really be present with food choices it’s tough work, but well worth it. I’m a prime example. While there are things I am working on, so much of it is habitual now.

GREAT QUESTION: What would our lives be like if we got the energy back that we spend struggling over food?

I encourage everyone to give this book a read!


  1. Sounds like an incredible workshop, I learned so much from your post, thanks! I'd love to check out that book.

    PS - of all the goodness in this post, my favorite line (and oh, so true) is: "Perhaps my sense of self was flabbier than my booty." As your friend for the past 8 years, I am so indescribably proud of you!

  2. Your best blog yet! Inspirational :)

  3. Thanks y'all, I lurve you both!!

  4. I loved this post! That book looks very interesting and I love your takeaways from it....especially the Being Thin Isn't The Solution To Your Problems. This was very motivating and insightful :)