Women, Food and God author Geneen Roth is answering your questions to help you find your own path to a full and healthy life. Get her advice and end your war with weight today!
Q: So I read your book and even signed up for an upcoming seminar in Seattle. I am trying to follow your advice—those guidelines look simple and easy, but they are the hardest to follow. My biggest challenge now is this: When I feel like eating, I stop and ask myself, "Am I hungry?" and "What is it that I am feeling?" but even after I answer, "No, I am not hungry," I don't know how to stop that feeling of whatever it may be that is luring me into food. For example, if the feeling is being trapped in a situation, I cannot see any other way out of it other than eating. (e.g., I cannot get up from the dinner table where everyone is squabbling, arguing and just leave the house. I cannot do that; all that I can do is eat, to drown the feeling of being trapped.)
Geneen, how do you step out of this situation or any other situation that seems out of control for you? I love my family, husband and kids, but they sometimes seem to be trapping me inside. What do you do then? Your book has opened up my eyes so wide to what I am experiencing in my life, but it hasn't given me that one key that I need to take control. Please help.
— Asha D., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Here's the thing: If you're feeling "trapped" by your situation, and you eat, you still feel trapped—but now you feel full and, ultimately, more trapped because now you have added another problem: your relationship with food. If eating helped permanently remove discomfort, we'd all be eating all the time. (Of course, we would have other problems, but that's another story.)
So, rather than answer your question, I'm going to ask you a few more questions that I'd like you to think about: Why can't you get up from the dinner table when everyone is squabbling? Why not take a break for yourself? Leave the room, go outside, walk to another quiet room, take some breaths, center yourself. Then return and see what happens when you put your own well-being first.
My next question is: Why not set some dinner guidelines, such as "There needs to be 15 minutes of no-squabble, no-complaints and no-argument time. After that, do what you will, but I (meaning you, Asha) need 15 minutes of peace during dinner. Here again, you'd be taking care of yourself, and, in addition, taking care of your family because food gets noticed, tasted and better digested when there is peace while eating. The bottom line here is when you feel as if you are stuck in a situation in which you have no control, then it's time to question what you are telling yourself. It's time to look for another option than what is apparent. Because there is one. There is always yet another choice, but because you are not used to taking care of yourself, you might not see it. You are not a victim in this situation. You are an adult who can make reasonable choices that are life-giving and nurturing. What might those choices in this situation be?
Geneen Roth's books were among the first to link compulsive eating and perpetual dieting with deeply personal and spiritual issues that go far beyond food, weight and body image. She believes that we eat the way we live and that our relationships to food, money and love are exact reflections of our deeply held beliefs about ourselves and the amount of joy, abundance, pain and scarcity we believe we have (or are allowed) to have in our lives.
Roth has appeared on many national television shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, The NBC Nightly News, The View and Good Morning America. Articles about Roth and her work have appeared in numerous publications, including O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Time, Elle, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Philadelphia Inquirer. She has written a monthly column in Good Housekeeping magazine since 2007. Roth is the author of eight books, including The New York Times best-seller When Food Is Love and a memoir about love and loss, The Craggy Hole in My Heart.Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything is her newest book.