The emotional struggle that accompanies overeating is familiar, Geneen says, whereas the "heart-shattering events" are often new and raw. "People are afraid that the pain will destroy them. Or the heartbreak, or the discomfort even. ... We don't actually know that we can feel those feelings without being destroyed by them," she says. "Getting up and living day-to-day and going through the stuff of day-to-day, that's difficult. But somehow we believe that food is cushioning it."
Oprah says even she turns to food when life gets hard. "There's still anxiety when I have to say no to someone," she says. "I still worry, 'What are they going to think' ... [That happened to me recently and] I did not eat a pound of potato chips. I ate a pound of lettuce. But it's the same thing. I've switched the drug from potato chips to lettuce."
In that moment, Oprah says she started questioning her actions. After saying no and standing up for herself, why was she so anxiety-ridden that she had to eat a bowl of lettuce? "I went back to what you had said in the book,” she says. “What I'm really feeling is every time I have ever been beaten by my grandmother. ... What I recognize as I'm stuffing myself with the lettuce is I still have that feeling of if I don't do what pleased the other person, then somehow that person has the power to annihilate me."