Monday, July 26, 2010

Women Food and God: Intuitive Eating

I recently finished Women Food and God by Geneen Roth We spend a lot of time worrying about what to eat, but HOW we eat is equally important. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their relationship with food-For anyone who has ever restricted or binged because of a whole array of emotions and circumstances that had nothing to do with food itself.

When was the last time you were talking to a girlfriend and she said "Gosh, I just LOVE my body! Look at my strong legs, which I run miles on, and carry me throughout my day. Look at my beautiful arms, which I used to express myself when I talk. Look at my abs which look HOT in a swimsuit." ?? I doubt it is only my friends who are gorgeous women, but are constantly putting themselves down. Flabby arms, soft stomachs, big calves, too small, too fat, not perfect, we hear and complain about it all.
"When you love something you wish it goodness; when you hate something, you wish to annihilate it. change happens not by hatred but by love. change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest. When you begin to inhabit your body from the inside... any other option except taking care of it is unthinkable."
We are each given this one body to inhabit, and roam the world with. Why spend your entire life hating parts of it??

This is not a diet book. Instead is is a platform, a set of guidelines to spring from, to start to improve your relationship with food. There are no good foods or bad foods. The idea of having no food rules can be very scary for most people. But Roth writes "What motivates you to be kind, to take care of your body, to the spirit, others, the earth? Trust longing, trust the love that can be translated into action without the threat of punishment. Trust that you will not destroy what matters most. Give yourself that much."

For her eating guidelines, she also calls them "If Love Could Speak" instructions:
"If love could speak to you about food, it would say, 'Eat when you are hungry, sweetheart, because if you don't you won't enjoy the taste of food. and why should you do anything you don't enjoy? 'If love could speak to you, it would say, 'Eat what your body wants my darling, otherwise you won't feel so well and why should you walk around feeling tired, or depressed from what you put into your mouth?' If love could speak to you, my little cream puff, it would say, 'Stop eating when you've had enough, otherwise you will be uncomfortable, and why spend one minute in discomfort.'"
The Eating Guidelines:
  1. Eat When you are Hungry
  2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment
  3. Eat without distractions
  4. Eat what your body wants
  5. Eat Until you are satisfied
  6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others
  7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.

While being very real and blunt at most times, there is a quite a bit of optimism in her book. She insists that following these guidelines will end your obsession, and lead to feeling more alive, instead of tied down by food.
"the hard part is allowing yourself to know what you already know. what you knew when you were four years old but have since forgotten. the hard part is disengaging from the roar of can'ts and won'ts and let-me-outta-heres, from the habitual way you swing into gear around the food thing to paying attention to the deeper son, the deeper truth; you without your story of you. you as you experience yourself directly, here, now. When you sit down, when you listen, when you sense you body directly, there is what Eckhard Tolle calls, animating presence" blazing through you. It is beyond any story. It's not of hte past, not anything that anyone ever told you. It's been in the background every minute of your life, but since you were paying attention to the foreground, the the changing appearances and dramas and feelings, you never noticed it. But now you can. And your relationship with food can be the doorway."
How many times have you heard someone say "All I want to do is lose 10 pounds, then I'll be happy." The problem with equating being skinny with happiness, is that when you lose the weight, if you haven't addressed other parts of your life, you will not be happy. There are plenty of skinny miserable people.

I am very guilty of eating while distracted, while reading, while at my computer, while checking my crackberry. So for the month of June I am going to really focus on eating without distractions-a Mindful Month. I think it will make me appreciate my meals even more. I'm also going to work on stopping negative body talk. Does commenting on my and others physical appearance make the world a better place? Quite the contrary. So this month I am going to accentuate the positive to the extreme. ByeBye Negativity!

Further Reading: Check out Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, "intuitive Eating." Written by two RDs, it is a great book about making peace with food.
Gena of Choosing Raw-wrote an excellent post about reconciling veganism and intuitive eating. For me, vegan eating is intuitive eating, and changing my diet to this has actually drastically improved my relationship with food.
Next on my reading queue: Eat what you Love, Love what you eat by Michelle May, MD.

Have you read Women, Food and God? What do you think of the Eating Guidelines? Care to join me for a Mindful Month?

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