Women, Food, Fate, and Oprah

Yesterday fate entered my world.  I wrote a post about my questioning the reasons behind my eating.  Then I accidentally turned on Oprah and heard her answer that very question.  And explain why she is never dieting again.

So I watched.  And I took notes.  And while the show gave me lots to think about, I am not at all sure I agree with what she said.

Oprah’s guest was Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food, and God.  She says that having issues with weight is always about more than the food.  “Your beliefs show up in your relationship with food…You’re basically eating because you’ve given up on something, some part of yourself.”  She says we eat to soothe a feeling of uncomfortableness.  So I was sort of intrigued, because this is a lot like what I was just wondering.

Then she got to the part of her book about God.  And clarified that she is not talking about God in a religious sense, but rather moments of awe and wonder, the feeling one has in nature, or the sense that everything is possible.  Oprah went on to expand that she learned the issue isn’t the food – it is the disconnection from that which is called God.  This was all more than I could swallow, no pun intended.  I just am not sure that all issues with weight are tied to this higher spiritual something.  But on the other hand, maybe that is the whole point:  I am missing the boat because I truly am missing the spiritual connection boat and … ta da.  Hmm.  I don’t think so, but maybe.  Because my life clearly is not filled with awe and wonder and a sense of unlimited possibilities.  Or at least I never think of it that way.

The show did ask some interesting questions for me.  Do I turn to food to NOT feel something?  (Some emotion or boredom that I am stuffing down with food?)  Am I looking for something and it isn’t the food?  But I was already asking questions.  I could use some answers.  And Roth’s and Oprah’s answers don’t seem to fit for me.

One thing Oprah said did truly strike a chord.  She described a recent experience of emotion when, instead of reaching for a pound of potato chips she reached for a pound of lettuce.  But as she and I both agree, overeating food is overeating food, regardless of what it is going in when we aren’t hungry.  But Oprah had an ah-ha moment and can now connect back to her childhood to see why she ate that lettuce and I just don’t think my childhood is what drives me to eat.

I do have to think more about Roth’s point that conquering weight issues starts with learning to love one’s self.  I know that is something I need to work on.

Basically, I left the show with no more knowledge than I had when I wrote my post yesterday.  Just a mirroring of the same questions I was asking myself and am still asking.  But it certainly did make me think about some stuff.  And I am curious what others think who saw the show or who have read the book.

I leave you with Roth’s eating guidelines, because even without her detailing more about them, they make a lot of sense to me.

  • Eat when you are hungry.
  • Eat sitting down in a calm environment.
  • Eat without distractions.
  • Eat what your body wants.
  • Eat until you are satisfied.
  • Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
  • Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.


Filed under cheating/overeating, dieting, emotions/emotional issues, influence of others, review, weight issues

32 responses to “Women, Food, Fate, and Oprah

  1. That is funny about you posting the question yesterday and than Oprah talking about the book. are you going to pickup the book? If you do, please share. Once I finshed watching O I didn’t have any question answered either…hmmm
    .-= sian-girlgetstrong´s last blog ..Oprah will NEVER Diet again? =-.

    • Karen

      I reserved it at the library and it is a very long waiting list. I will probably just skim it. But I AM going to read the book that sunnydaze keeps recommending: The Solution.

  2. Genie

    I saw the second half of the program. Enough to see the tears and the head nods about the feelings and voids that that drive us to food, and to hear the kumbaya solution of “loving ourselves”. Who can argue with that? We all want to believe that we can fix ourselves so this one-size-fits-all solution seems great. Many books will be sold, but how many will get the result of weight loss and a non-emotional relationship with food? The cynic in me says “few”.

  3. Did not watch the show but after reading your post I don’ think I missed anything either. TY

    • Karen

      My guess is that for some, it spoke directly to them, and they were moved. Had I not been asking similar questions of myself, I probably would have paid less attention.

  4. Roth has written so many wise things over the years, but I haven’t been tempted to pick up her latest book (even though I do have a spiritual bent) because I don’t think it applies to me – or many people. Although there is something about being disconnected from one’s body and mind and soul/spirit that might fit.

    Sitting in my blog is a draft post titled, “Why Am I Fat?” that I just cannot get around to completing and posting. It’s too personal. Anyway, for me I believe my emotional eating ultimately became about being fat as a way to insulate myself from others AND from myself – my body, my anger, any negative feelings. Reconnecting with ALL of me has become the ultimate goal of getting my eating back to “normal” and never dieting again.

    • Karen

      First, I am glad I am not the only one who has drafts sitting out there:) Second, I am impressed with your self-honesty and reflection that let you write that and that helped you discover what you really need to work on. Third, you and I are not the only ones who throw around that word… normal. I want to be “normal” too, and just live without the focus on food, but also at a “normal” weight. Still working on what it will take for me to get there, obviously.

  5. YEA….I just don’t know about some of those answers! I totally get that the reason that we eat isn’t always because we are hungry; however, I’m not sure I buy the rest of that. I will say, my not being able to have self-control around food plays larger rolls in my just not being able to have self-control. Does this make sense? By the way, thanks for your comment on today’s blog! I know that I am no longer overweight; however, I am now in a different stage in my journey. I am wanting to lean up 🙂
    .-= Corletta Brown´s last blog ..HOOOOOOOOORAY! =-.

    • Karen

      It does make sense. And I had thought that too. But after all these years I had to ask if there was a reason why I did not have self-control around food.

  6. You know what would be really interesting? To explore the biological or physical reasons why we overeat. The more I continue on, the more I realize (for myself) that it’s not about emotions, but it seems like there is something, some filter, some “glitch” in my brain that drives me over eat. Sure, I have eaten out of boredom, or sometimes out of stress, but when it comes down to it.. I just like to eat! Period! Maybe it’s not always about emotions. Maybe we are just wired differently?
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..Possibly going insane =-.

    • Karen

      I think you could certainly be on to something. Maybe we ARE wired differently. There are certainly people out there who just eat when they are hungry and that is it. Or maybe the wiring is really the habits we formed over our lifetimes?

  7. I read conquering your food addiction by Caryl Elrich- that book sounds like it was better than this one. I liked how the author said a lot of what we do is from habits we’ve formed over time. I totally agree with that.
    .-= beerab´s last blog ..I’m going to do something SHOCKING… =-.

    • Karen

      I know that part is true for me. KNOW IT! But then I ask if this is just that I need years to break years of habits? Or is there another reason I revert back to the old ones?

  8. sunnydaze

    I missed this episode. I always look forward to the weight loss or Dr. Oz segments. I know I eat from issues as well as that I just plain love food…

    • Karen

      I have seen those on his show a time or two. I love when he has guests come back and we see how much progress they have made:)

  9. I didn’t watch the show, but I’ve not been intrigued by what I’ve read about the book. It just feels like Oprah’s Latest Thing, which is probably not a fair (nor compassionate) statement.

    I do, however, enjoy reading what others got (or didn’t get) out of those type shows. Sometimes someone else can phrase things in a way that makes me go back and take a second pass at a concept.
    .-= Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog ..Crisis in Memphis =-.

    • Karen

      In my mind, you have already figured it all out. You lost the weight, you maintain, you know what works for you. And the best part is you share that with the rest of us and what you share is always so practical, unlike much of what the show discussed.

  10. I do think that there is something very deep going on when I eat emotionally. But, I don’t think I have to figure out who, what, why, when or where it was that happened to start me eating.

    It might help, but it might be more than I can deal with right now. Legitimately. Denial is actually a helpful thing in big life stressors. Sometimes the rules and regulations are what get us through.
    .-= JourneyBeyondSurvival´s last blog ..How Do I Turn it Off? =-.

    • Karen

      Well, JBS, there is an awful lot going on in your life! I am always amazed and inspired by the progress you make with so many demands and stressors.

  11. I read part of Geneen Roth’s new book, and it was interesting. BUT if over eating was all about a connection (or lack thereof) to God (or whatever you choose to call it) then EVERYONE WHO BELIEVED IN GOD would be slim. But they aren’t. It’s about the food. Some people have a bigger tendency towards addictive behaviors than others. EVERYONE has their vices. And many foods nowadays are created to get us addicted, just as cigarettes are!

    You have the most interesting thought provoking posts Karen! 🙂
    .-= Carla´s last blog ..How I keep my appetite in check =-.

    • Karen

      Good point!

      Someone else told me about a book that describes just what you say in the end, how the industry is adding things to food to make us addicted. Just reserved that at my library too.

      Thanks Carla:)

  12. I wanted to chime in-sorry it’s long . #1 ” Oprah, when you have a guest please Don’t do all the talking”….now I’d be the first to want to have a Pj party with Oprah and gab about all sorts of things. But I think She was so overly wrapped up in her response to the epiphany’s she was having that she forgot she had a guest.
    #2 I kind of got the sense they explained and discussed God in that way so as not to irritate the athiests / agnosits / ‘other religion’ viewers. #3 I am already reading the book and so is my therapist and we discussed it today. There are a lot of truths in it for me, but I can’t quite grasp it all.

    Essentially, the book is what my therapy has been about and it is better explained in this way. I took notes in therapy today so here goes. For whatever reason, some of us learned to use food -the eating, the obsessing , the control and importance we give food in our lives to divert us from what may really be bothering us or to fill our lives . Food keeps us: from the pain or depression we feel, feeling lonely, not living life as our true selves, to numb our whatever feelings that are not pleasant or to enhance or recreate good feelings. But it doesn’t work.

    When we are living our life fully with joy and not hanging on to old pains or experiences and really feeling all of our feelings and working through them and moving past and letting go of the ‘bad’ feelings, then food no longer is such a big deal. You would only eat when you were hungry because you needed to fuel your body . You would still enjoy flavors and enjoy celebrating with food. It would be like brushing your teeth. You do it when you need to , you enjoy it, it serves the purpose, but it doesn’t control most of your waking thoughts and actions. The God part for some might really be what some of us believe as God. But ultimately, you are living a productive life, with full on feelings, feeling joy, feeling loneliness, feeling sorrow and then letting go of that junk when you need to. No obsessing , no control issues. Then you are connecting to your true self..your soul and then ultimately to God as you know it. mumbo jumbo? I don’t know. I ‘m working on it. But that explaines it for me, I’m still trying to interpret the concept for my life.
    .-= Ms PJ Geek´s last blog ..Looking forward to……… =-.

    • Karen

      That is a great explanation – thanks for sharing it. I like your version better! And I laughed at the first part:)

      I especially love the analogy about brushing teeth. Just above in a comment I was trying to describe how I hope to someday be normal with food and that is a perfect way to say it.

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment… I hope others read it too.

  13. I didn’t see the show and haven’t read Roth’s book. I do agree with you that her guidelines for eating make sense. For me, I’d have to add, “Eat anything except my known binge foods.” Maybe I’ll write a post about me and chocolate, which is my primary binge food… especially about the day I finally faced the fact that I’m a chocolate addict in exactly the same way that some are alcohol addicts. Thanks for all your reflections… Besides being thought-provoking to read, they generate a lot of interesting comments!

    I have an idea for you (again, sorry)… Try writing a really quick essay or poem. The first line is “I don’t want to tell you about…..” Maybe something will surface that will make sense about your reasons for eating.
    .-= Peacefulbird´s last blog ..Progress Reprot #3 =-.

    • Karen

      I have binge foods too. And trigger foods. But would those foods have the same power if we got past whatever drives us to eat?

      I think you have an interesting idea. A comment above told how another blogger had written a draft just for herself entitled “Why I am Fat.” And I wondered what would come out if I tried that. Either prompt might spark something. Maybe.

  14. Nice post, Karen

    A few years ago I saw a doctor here in Paris who I called “Dr Hope” on my blog. She’s a “nutritionist” which is an MD specialty in this country (they also have dietitians with much less education).

    All her advice and guidance was pretty much around what you can find under topics like “normal” eating, “intuitive” eating etc (topics where Roth has written for years before her breakthrough w Oprah).

    It was a really interesting experience and really helped me a lot in a lot of ways.

    My view of long-term success is actually to live by these kinds of principles for eating, to have an active life, and to be a “normal” size and all of these things without too much effort. I think it’ll be a long journey to get there, but I am so inspired by that vision. I also think I can get there with peace – which is why I coined the phrase “low stress weight loss” to summarize how I think I can go about it…
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..24 hours in Fontainebleau =-.

  15. Very interesting how we had totally opposite view points on the show! 🙂

    I ran and grabbed the book and it is a quick read. I got a lot out of it, it really helped me. There aren’t any huge revelations or anything for me in the book, but I could relate and I’m glad I read it.

    Much luck though to you in figuring out those answers. I’m sure they’re different for everyone.
    .-= Anonymous Fat Girl´s last blog ..Why dieting makes you fat =-.

    • Karen

      I reserved it from the library but there is a long waiting list. I may or may not read or skim it. We’ll see.

  16. I think it’s a vicious emotional/physical cycle. I tried to diet, didn’t eat enough, got hungry, ate “badly”, felt really bad, binged, felt bad, tried to diet harder, backfired again because of hunger, felt bad and binged, so on, so forth. Break the cycle, stop dieting!
    .-= julie´s last blog ..My Toxic Mind =-.

    • Karen

      I think for many, not “dieting” is a good solution. But for others, I think it might end up backfiring itself.

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