Ask Geneen Roth: Understanding the Food Guidelines
By Geneen Roth
May 27, 2010
Women, Food, and God author Geneen Roth is answering your questions all summer long to help you find your own path to a full and healthy life. Get her advice and end your war with weight today!
Q: I'm struggling with being overweight. I've developed a heart condition primarily from being overweight. I was reading your guidelines to eating more consciously, and I do not understand how you can lose weight eating what your body wants and eating until you're satisfied. Also, explain to me why you need to eat with the intention of being in full view of others. I hope that you can help me to understand. Thanks.
— Rosalyn C., Memphis, Tennessee
Your body wants to feel good. It wants to feel energized and vital and able to move easily. That's part of the reason it gives you the signal that it's had enough and you can put down your fork. When your body gets satisfied, it's time to stop eating. But your mind might still want food. Your mind might look down at your plate and think: "Darn! I have half a piece left, and I want to finish it!" So, you need to distinguish between what your mind wants and what your body wants. In your question, you seem to be confusing them. Your body has definite limits, but your mind keeps wanting and wanting and wanting. If you only eat what your body (not your mind) wants, and you stop when you are satisfied, you will reach a natural weight. But, as Oprah mentioned on the show, you must first ask yourself why you want to overeat. What are you trying to fill that can't really be filled with food? Because until you are at least curious about how you use food to medicate your feelings, it will be difficult to follow these Eating Guidelines.
"Eat with the intention of being in full view" is another guideline that refers to the need we all have to be seen and loved for who we are. If you constantly hide what you eat from other people, you are giving yourself the message that who you are cannot be seen, cannot be loved and needs to be hidden. That is not a kind thing to say to yourself. It is also not true.
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 Everythingis her newest book.