With Apologies to Oprah

I had to see what all the fuss was about.  Maybe I could join the many who, thanks to Oprah’s promotion of Geneen Roth’s book “Women Food and God,” had experienced life changing, food-relationship changing, epiphanies.  In my constant search for answers (to questions I am still formulating in my reforming yo-yo dieter’s mind), I was open to a book with God in the title despite my own personal lack of spirituality and religious belief.  Why not?  Epiphanies can be secular too:)  And Oprah, my own personal goddess, says she will never diet again, thanks to the book.

So I did my best to put my skepticism aside and read with an open mind.  And then I finally sat down to watch (a months old recorded episode of) Oprah and Roth, as they responded to questions from women who had read the book.

Here is my take on Roth’s theory from what she said in the book and on TV and from Oprah’s commentary:

According to Roth, a multitude of things are happening when we eat if we are not hungry.  We are revealing what we truly believe about life here on earth… and once we know what it is we believe, we can begin to question if it’s true.   We are turning to food because we are hungry for something else that we can’t name:  “a connection to what is beyond the concerns of daily life.”  We are trying to avoid feeling pain that has happened in our pasts, thereby we are “living in reverse.”  We are using food as a drug to mask some feeling.

As for the God connection, Roth believes that our “relationship to food is an exact microcosm of our relationship to life itself…” and “everything we believe about love, fear, transformation and God is revealed in how, when and what we eat.”  And it doesn’t matter if we believe in one God, many gods, or no god.  Because “anyone who breathes and thinks and experiences has beliefs about God.”  Oprah’s interpretation is that it all comes down to one’s “relationship to the source” –  that which we call God or don’t call God is all that matters.  It is about being in the moment and not trying to change.  And Oprah further explains that the question so many of us ask,”Why can’t I stop eating,” is a sacred question, the answer to which would open the door to one’s entire life.

My interpretation of the bottom-line from Roth and Oprah is that if you listen to your body, you will get to your natural weight. And that we know something is not quite right in our lives and because we are not at our ideal weight, we “believe that food is the problem and that dieting will fix it.”  Roth suggests that we are trying to fix something that has never been broken.  They also say that the “promise of a diet is not only that you will have a different body; it is that in having a different body you will have a different life.”  So from this all, the moral is to give up dieting and start listening to your body instead.  And, oh yeah, to have a spiritual connection as you are doing it.

One thing I found very interesting about the book and Roth’s message, is that while she does provide guidelines for eating, they are only found on the last page of her book and hold a very unimportant role in her message as a whole.  So for her, it is not about the food.  But about everything else in our lives that we are missing or masking with food.

So what do I think about all this?  And did the book bring me an epiphany?  I’m not sure.  And – no.  But according to Oprah, that might be a good thing.  Because she says the book is for compulsive eaters and that not everyone will need to or get anything from what they read because not everyone is a compulsive eater.  I also wonder if Oprah has herself finally had the “aha moment” that she can apply to her own life and use to once and for all conquer her own weight/food-related demons.

So while overall I did not find any personal aha moments or answers in Roth’s words, and a lot of it was nebulous which does not mesh well with my pragmatic mind, there were a few things that resonated with me.  I can buy into the theory that often eating is not about the food.  But I also don’t think it is necessarily about missing something spiritual in one’s life.  Maybe it is about habit or boredom or emotions in the moment, rather than in the past.  Then again, I have long thought that my life is missing something to give meaning to my days and I have yet to find, as Oprah suggested years ago, my passion.  So maybe that is my “higher power” that I have yet to connect with.  I also struggle with the notion that something in my past is driving me to eat today.  I know that holds true for others, but I don’t think it is the case for me.  Something else Roth said that struck me is that “most… can’t imagine a world in which they would stop dieting or trying to fix the size of their thighs.”  I get that!  For Roth, it is not about dieting.  It is about listening to your body and silencing your negative inner voice and trusting in yourself and having a relationship to something godlike. Now if someone could give me specific step-by-step instructions for listening to my body I might get somewhere!

I am very curious what your thoughts are on Roth’s and Oprah’s theories.  And please share things that you got from the book that I did not.  I know from reading other blogs and comments that the book has inspired revelations for many, just not me.  We are all different in this journey and it is those differences that make the trip more interesting.  And informative.  And maybe your interpretation may resonate with me in a way that Oprah’s and Roth’s did not.

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.


Filed under review

83 responses to “With Apologies to Oprah

  1. Yes, I read the book too and had mixed feelings. Spirituality is an individual thing. AND our emotions and behaviors around our eating is just as individual.

    Often times, we use food to fill a void..but it isn’t always a spiritual void. For me, it is looking outside of myself, just trying to feel better in that moment. BUT that is instant gratification.

    it fills a void of the lack of trust I have with myself. So following the guidelines is hard until I work on that trust and belief within me.

    But that is also how I view my spirituality. It is within me, not outside of me.

    • Karen

      On the show there was a point where trust came up in response to an audience question. It was interesting and did make me reflect on myself in a very different way from what you describe. I have banished certain foods, for example, because I can’t trust myself not to eat them. But maybe that is more about recognizing my weakness and less about trust? There is so much in all of this that is very fuzzy and hard to really understand.

  2. Karen, yo wrote this: I can buy into the theory that often eating is not about the food. But I also don’t think it is necessarily about missing something spiritual in one’s life. Maybe it is about habit or boredom or emotions in the moment, rather than in the past.

    I totally agree with this! And, I do listen to my bod but in the way it works for me & have been doing this for 25++ years so I think I was onto to something long ago. BUT, it is still about portion control & knowing approximate calories for me.. paying attention to what I put in my mouth & planning ahead for what is coming.

    I know this book has helped many & I always say to each their own but for me, it is me designing what works for me. Yes, I have been using many of what she says for years (I guess I should have written a book!) but it always comes back to what is right for me & changing it when it needs to be changed or my bod tells me so…

    Great post!

    • Karen

      You still can write that book! You have a lot to share that would inspire many. Simple success, in my opinion. None of the complicated nuances that so many of us, myself included, get caught up in. My husband and I had a discussion while biking today about calories in/out as the equation that should translate to weight loss. But somehow it is not that easy for many of us. Sigh. I totally agree with you that we each need to figure it out for ourselves and for some of us, maybe that can come from listening to the body. For me, my darn body either isn’t talking or is speaking a language I just don’t understand! (Or maybe I choose not to understand. Hmmm.)

  3. Genie@dietof51

    I haven’t read the book, and what you describe is what I thought it would be. Great that it is helping others, but probably not something that would resonate with me.

  4. The book certainly got you thinking!! And, we are the fortunate ones, because you share your thoughts.

    As a compulsive overeater, I know I was eating to feed my soul – something that food cannot feed. I can appreciate that some simply eat out of boredom or whatever, but for my life, it was feeding something food was never intended to feed.

    • Karen

      You don’t need to share details or specifics, but I am curious, since you have had such great success, if it was apparent to you exactly what the something was that you were tying to feed. (Does that question make sense?)

  5. For me, WFG was just one more piece of evidence (if that makes any sense) that what I have been striving for over the past two years (well, even longer than that) was not in vain. In many ways I had already figured out a lot of what Roth writes about, and I was learning how to practice it.

    I am not a religious person (I don’t affiliate with any religion) but over the past few years I’ve been able to define God in such a way that it makes sense for me. Ironically, that definition comes from another recent bestseller, Eat Pray Love (“God dwells within you as you yourself, just the way you are”). And so when I read WFG, it was with that definition in mind.

    One of my recent “ah-ha” moments concerns the fact that, for pretty much all of my life, I didn’t know what *I* wanted. I didn’t know how to even figure it out or articulate it. I constantly looked outside myself for advice, validation, and so on. Please someone just tell me what to do!! And so I would take on other people’s dreams and goals as my own. I didn’t think that *who I am* had any value. I see that differently now but it wasn’t an overnight thing. And I think that’s why the ideas presented in WFG turn some people off. They want to “get it” and move on. They don’t want it to take time. And that, right there, is why I think the vast majority of people who lose weight, regain it. It’s why I regained 25 of the 55 pounds I lost in 2005-2006. And so when I started my blog in January 2009 it was with the intention that I would find my own way…I would discover and embrace me. I know that sounds kind of corny, but it’s the truth. And lo and behold, I am once again losing weight and am fitter than I have ever been. And it’s happening naturally, without angst, guilt and fear. It’s happening without me having to count calories or fight with cravings and false hunger. It’s happening without me having to eliminate certain foods. It’s a beautiful thing!

    • Karen

      Thank you for sharing your personal story. When I read it the part I can relate to is that I also don’t know what I want. But for me it is about what I want to do with my life and who I might want to be (at 47 years old) and not about looking outside myself to others.

      The thing about blogging that I did not expect – how many more questions it would raise for me than I even knew I had. In the past, I dieted. I tried to change my eating. I didn’t really question what was behind it. But the blogs and comments of others have really gotten me to think and ask and wonder.

      I hope that I can find my own way – whether it comes from an aha moment, a book, something I read on a blog, or personal insight. Or just finally changing habits for good. I want what you have:)

      • I’m 47 too 🙂 I’ll be 48 in November and I’ll tell you what…on some level it feels “weird” that it has taken me this long, but on another level I realize that I will ALWAYS be a work in progress. And finally? I have figured out that what I really want has nothing to do with how much I weigh or my level of fitness.

        • Karen

          Well, not to harp on Oprah… but I still remember when she turned 50 and made that into a fabulous age. I plan the same for myself in a few years:)

  6. The term “listen to your body” is used again and again. When someone is overweight, obese, or morbidly obese, they became that way because they have been eating the wrong things, and (likely) in unnecessarily large quantities. Refined sugars, highly refined carbohydrates, sodium(s), and saturated fats have one job above all others — to make you crave more of the same.

    “Listening to your body” is only the right course of action when your body is telling you the right things. To get it to speak in that language is the result of changing habits — baggage from the past notwithstanding.

    I buy almost none of this. I know many weight-loss success stories that never delved into their past, their pain, and their emotional baggage in order to succeed. They delved into their habits — and changed them.

    • Karen

      I am very pragmatic. I think that lends itself to the approach you write about – change habits, exercise and calories in vs. calories out, eating healthy foods. Makes sense. But while I have lost weight that way more than once, I have not managed to keep it off. Now that could be because I have reverted to old habits. Yep, that happened. But there is that little voice inside me that does wonder if there is a reason why I do that, a reason that is not as pragmatic and obvious. Not sure yet. Maybe and maybe not.

  7. I read WFG first, and When Food is Love second. WFG is her most recent book. She talks about the eating guidelines in all of her other books, and maybe that is why she decided to put it at the end.

    For me, listening to my body was key. I am allergic to so many foods that make me sick, blow up, crave more of the same, etc. It helped me because once I really thoughtfully ate, I was able to stop eating things that make me sick, and eat things that nourish me. So, for me it was helpful. I did not have a traumatic childhood, but I was micromanaged until a few years ago by my father. Having him out of my life has been so beneficial to my weight loss. He was my nasty outer voice that most people deal with internally.

    • Karen

      That makes sense, about her other books and the guidelines. I guess my body does tell me things that I often choose to ignore. Like how it feels after I eat crap! And feel like crap. Sigh.

  8. sunnydaze

    I agree with bits and pieces of the book, your post as well as all of the comments. For me, I eat out of boredom, loneliness, habit, cravings, emaotional reasons…you name it… But I feel best when I stop eating when I am satisfied and when I eat only healthy foods and I think that is because that is what is natural – to only eat for fuel, not various other reasons. I also believe that if our lives are full in other ways (spirituality, friends, family, S.O., hobbies, passions, community…) that we will not feel the urge to eat nearly as much because there is no void that we are trying to fill with food that never really gets filled because we are feeding ourselves the wrong thing.

    • Karen

      You put it much more succinctly than Roth or I did! I also think that maybe having those things in our lives fills the time so that we don’t fill the time with eating. If that makes sense.

  9. First, I totally agree with Roy!

    Oprah: I like Oprah and I feel she deserves everything she has. I also feel she has done a lot more than I ever will to help the world be a better place.

    I think Oprah doing shows on anything related to diet, etc, is like Jenna Jameson talking about abstinence!

    The only time that Oprah wasn’t fat was when she was training for a marathon. Notice I said training, because that’s where it’s at.

    This is just another diet book that makes money but doesn’t make any significant changes in lives. The only decent book out there is The End of Overeating by Kessler as he is a doctor, and addressed the real problems, habits and addictions.

    • Karen

      Oprah has shown us that all the money in the world may buy trainers and personal chefs but still won’t buy “thin.” I’m glad I read the book – so I could see what they hype was about and know that I wasn’t missing out on something. And I have read Kessler’s.

    • I completely disagree. This book made a HUGE significant change in my life.

      I plan on reading the book by Kessler, but this book opened my eyes to some very real things that have contributed to my weight gain and lack of losing.

  10. As someone who has read Roth’s other books years ago, has dealt with eating disordered behavior since I was little and have done therapy and 12 step work about food and eating, this book really didn’t have much that I hadn’t heard before or been exposed to. Using my desire to eat (not true physical hunger) as the gateway through which I can begin to examine what it is I really want…etc…makes some degree of sense. But it doesn’t stop the obsessive/compulsive nature of an eating disorder. It doesn’t get me through a moment of intense food thoughts that begin to bore into my psyche and drive me a little nuts, or a lot, until I do something about it. Those moments are the entry into our deepest selves, desires, emotions and fears, according to Oprah’s interpretation of Roth’s book. I get that and I’ve known it for years. But getting it and being able to get through those moments without picking up (food) are 2 different things.

    Overall good food for thought (hahaha), but nothing really radical or new.

  11. What if my body thinks my natural weight is 300 lbs? Uh oh I’m screwed…. lol.

    Overeating IMO isn’t just missing something spiritually, it can be a LOT of different factors! Like vitamin deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, addictions, etc. The only book I’ve liked so far is “conquering your food addiction” because it talks about how a lot of stuff is done due to our habits and we have to learn to break them- I totally agree with that!

    • Karen

      Yep – I need that habit breaking part. I keep thinking that would be all it would take for me. And maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. Sigh.

  12. I haven’t read the book yet… but I really really want to. I loved that episode of Oprah. I do believe in God… but I do have a hard time believing God has a direct role in life. However, I do think my passions, loves, and every other emotion in life plays a role in my dieting. If I’m feeling fulfilled in life I seem to eat better… if I’m searching for something (not necessarily God, but like a job, love, etc) I eat more.
    hmmm… I have to get that book!

    • Karen

      I think you would like it and my take is that God is not GOD but could be anything spiritual, like those things that fulfill you.

  13. I wasn’t so hot on this but for some of the same reasons as others. My “full” was broken. When I listened to my body it said chips and diet coke. My body needed an overhaul, a re-calibration if you will before listening worked. Before the things it said were worth listening too.

    The bottom line for me, if I’m working out, I don’t want to pollute my body. I respect what it can do and don’t want to disrespect it with food.

    • Karen

      When I am eating crap, it doesn’t matter if I am full. There is always room for … chocolate, for example. I wish I was one who really got that exercise and fuel connection. Today I got in 3 hours of cardio (between my biking and a walk) and I should be using that to view my body as something worthy of respect in what I feed it.

  14. I have to admit it has been a while since I read your blog (Sept 2). So this single comment will stretch back to some of your previous posts a bit. About Roth and Oprah. I love Oprah, I just do not get to see her show often (only once this summer). I can understand her interest and acclimations to Roth though. Roth resonates some with me, but I pick and choose what that “some” is. What she says to me is that it is important to understand why we overeat or are obese. In my journey to better health this has been key to being successful. While it is not the pounds off that are evidence of my success (although 14.5 is not bad), it is more about how I understand why I overeat, that this is a SLOW journey and that it is for the rest of my life. As I posted before, I am out of denial. I think Roth, and others, helped me to see my denial and to understand this part, too. In my case, my eating or overeating was a direct link to how I cared for my self, which was to ignore myself and not to take the time to care and fully appreciate who I am. I was always too involved in a host of things to take care of me. That has changed.

    Which leads me to another comment: My journey to better health is physical but also psychological and emotional. None of these are separate. I for too many years have been off balance in the amount of time I give to my profession (because I am crazy about what I do) and who I am personally. Balance. That is what I am trying to achieve. I am realizing that being balanced is part and parcel to my journey-it takes time to care for yourself both physically and emotionally/psychologically. If I give too much time to my work, I cannot maintain what I am doing to regain my health.

    So your post about allowing yourself to post less frequently really resonated with me. I have been thinking about the start of the academic year (I am an academic) and how hard it will be to maintain balance and keep up with my blog and my beloved bloggers. I am considering the less is more adage as well.

    Finally, of all you wrote the one thing that really caught my attention is the knowledge that you have not found your passion. I hope you do. As I read your blog, I wonder about your writing and wonder if this is your yet unidentified passion. Your blogger friend, Michele

    • Karen

      Thank you for the thoughtful comment Michele. I once thought that losing weight was a simple mathematical equation: calories in vs. calories out. But that helped me lose many times and then I gained again. So I thought I figured out what I was doing wrong and what I could do right. But the longer I am on the journey and the more I read in blogs and comments, the more I question things. And wonder if things are not as simple as I once thought.

      So that brings me to that passion thing. For many years I was very happy staying home full-time. And busy. Then my kids got older and I had less to do (inside and outside the house) and I got bored. And thought the time had come to go back to work. And that is when I realized that I did not just want a job but something I loved. And slowly that has evolved to realizing that there should be something else in my life. But I really don’t know what it is. (I do have one goal related to academia as well, but that is impractical.) Actually, when I started blogging I thought that might be it. And I had actually started a second totally unrelated blog. But then that brings us to the time factor. Hard enough to write for one!

      Okay – now I am rambling. I am not going back to read what I said so I hope it made sense.

      • I’d sooooooooooo love it read a post about that something else in your life… the one goal related to academia, impractical as it may be… please!

        • Karen

          Welllll, I may write about something else in my life. But that probably would not be enough to fill more than a paragraph! But it sure would be nice to have a change from writing about food and dieting and healthy living for a change:)

  15. Having read another roth book a long time ago I knew she did not speak to me. I find her dramatic and emotional. I certainly know that there are emotional componants to my overeating, but it is more than that, too. And a higher ower has nothing to do with it.

    I do agree with Roy. I also agree that it is helpful to understand the source of some of our issues and why we perhaps turned to food – but it does not solve the problem. Changing our behaviour solves the problem.

    This morning I was upset because I sent my daughter to school sick. Frustrated because I had to wait to hear from the doctor and I couldn’t go to the gym on my usual schedule. I don’t like not knowing when she will call, I don’t like not knowing whether I will have the day to do my thing or I will have to take my daughter out of school and go to the doctor.

    And so I am pacing around wanting to eat. I already had my usual breakfast. I am not actually hungry. I want to eat. I see that this is about frustration and anxiety. It has to do with self comforting. I do not have a negative inner voice. I am not lacking a spiritual center. I want to sooth my anxiety and I am in the habit of doing it with food. I distracted myself with other things until the doctor called.

    • Karen

      I think I can recognize those emotional eating times too. And sometimes I can also control them:) What gets me is the fact that every time I think I have this whole healthy relationship with food thing figured out I slip. So maybe it is simply habit and behavior. Maybe not. For some, it clearly has roots in something else. I don’t necessarily see that for myself. So I am still questioning.

  16. I saw the Oprah interview when it was first aired and was bored out of my mind. Just another “expert” giving a new slant to behavior modification. I get much more interesting, thoughtful, helpful advice from bloggers like you, Karen, or Jody @truth2beingfit.com/ and others. Obviously a lot of people are very moved by this book, and feel it is speaking to something they are lacking in their lives. I MAKE a pretty interesting, full, and fun life for myself. I’m not looking for a crutch; I’m looking for the best running shoes.

    • Karen

      I have found the greatest inspiration and wisdom in the blog world. But then, it has also led me to ask questions I didn’t even know I had!

  17. I’m not sure I’ll read this book, but I thoroughly enjoyed your assessment of it. Interesting stuff!

  18. Wow…just read through all the comments. Don’t know whether I should respond to those or the post.

    Oprah…is trying to find a lifelong solution since she hasn’t found one yet.

    Roth…I have not read this particular book but have read her others. She speaks from personal experience and working with thousands of women.

    Listening to our bodies….This is the way we were born to be. Many years ago, scales and nutritional content didn’t exist. In the early 1900’s, my great grandmother was born. She has passed now. She cooked with lard. Lard. My great grandfather ate ice cream EVERY single night. They never owned a scale. They never counted a calore. They lived to be in their 90’s. Hmmm….

    It’s complete bologna that overweight people are that way because they are eating the “wrong” things! Every naturally thin person I know eats the “wrong” things. My thin husband literally sat eating out of the pint size carton of Ben & Jerry’s last night. THIN husband. What a shocker….he didn’t finish the container. Hmmm…. He eats what he wants included the “wrong” foods and maintains his weight. Probably because he doesn’t overeat. Sorry that comment about “wrong” foods irritated me…

    Books to read that help with knowing “how” to listen to your body…

    Intuitive Eating
    When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies
    Overcoming Overeating

    We know more about nutrition than ever before and we are fatter than ever. We have overcomplicated the process. Eat less and move your body….poof…weight loss. Oh…and maybe order a small fry instead of the large.

    OK…I think I’ll shut up now 🙂

    • Karen

      Guess what book is waiting for me to pick up from the library! Intuitive Eating! I am not sure that will fit me, but I am very curious to read it since you and so many others have talked about that concept. I am sure I will be reporting on it here as well. I may have to check out hose other two next.

    • Lisa, I totally agree with what you are saying. We have lost our abilities to trust our intuition and our bodies and have instead turned to outside “experts” to tell us how to eat. It takes work and trust to learn to tune into our bodies and their inherent wisdom, but the rewards are so worth it. It is true that naturally thin people eat a wide range of food that others might label “good” and “bad” without overeating and gaining weight. I shared an office years ago with a naturally thin intuitive eater and it was such a revelation for me at the time. She could enjoy 1/2 ounce of potato chips from a snack size bag with her sandwich for lunch and when she had had enough, paperclip the top and save the rest for the following day! True freedom comes from learning to love yourself, pay attention to yourself, and give yourself what you need.

  19. I’ve been wanting to read the book since I saw that Oprah interview, but I haven’t gotten around to it.

    With that in mind, I’m not qualified to comment on the book itself, only on my observations from Oprah’s discussion with Roth. I think she’s got some really good points. I think too many of us eat to fit in. Eat because we don’t fit in. Eat because we feel bad about ourselves or because we’re unhappy or because we ARE happy.

    The thing is, we all know that already. So I’m not really sure why people are finding some earth-shattering new truth in this book. I’ve just been wanting to read it out of curiosity.

    • Karen

      I think it all comes down to Oprah. She has the Midas touch. She loves the book and so her followers will want to read it and many will love it just because she does. I would not have read it just based on the shows, but I had several people bring it up in comments and I just had to see what I was missing. And I knew it would make a good blog topic:)

  20. I loved the book — it has changed my life. I have been a ‘dieter’ for ever — and I am a former Weight Watcher leader — and I am a life coach around weight loss (the emotional side of it) and I can honestly say that I learned a lot about myself through the book.

    I have learned that I didn’t trust myself to make the right choices. And I learned that I was not connected to my own personal divine connection. I have lost some of myself along my 43 years of life — and I can honestly say that I am working on reconnecting to myself on a daily basis. And I also do trust myself now.

    • Karen

      I love that it has worked for you and how clear an example you are of what she seems to be saying:) You make me wonder about recommending this to one particular friend of mine who has struggled for years, she is an on-again off-again WW.

  21. I haven’t read the book or seen any of the Oprah coverage of it but I like the guidelines. They seem simple enough and, to me, seem to nicely describe what I’m trying to achieve. It’s not a diet. It’s a change in mindset and a change in my relationship with food, exercise and healthy living.
    It’s a work in progress…

    • Karen

      There is an amazing logic and simplicity in the guidelines. But for someone like me, the problem comes with not eating when I am not hungry. I know better. So now I need to be my own Nike commercial and “just do it.”!

  22. Haven’t read the book or seen the show, however, I think the guideline about eating “with the intention of being in full view of others” is good, solid advice. Almost all of my seriously “off-plan” eating is done in secret. I would be ashamed to have my family (or my blog friends) seeing some of the things I’ve considered eating. The guideline is essentially one that I have adopted for myself. It has helped.

    • Karen

      Once I read so little blurb about how we should not eat anything that we would not eat in front of others. And it made me think about some of the little closet eating I had done over the years. Always “bad” food. Sigh.

  23. I also read her book. If it were true that we need a connection to God to lose weight and feel good about ourselves, then only people who believe in God would be slim and the rest of us would all be fat. My mother is a devout Christian and has been struggling with her weight for years. So really the book made no sense to me at all. It’s the type of food we eat that makes us fat or slim, not our relationship to any higher power. There are also many people who are passionate about things in their lives, and have found their “true calling”, and they are also overweight.

    • Karen

      I agree with what you say, however I also should try to clarify, on behalf of Roth, that her God seems to be more of symbol or analogy for a fulfilling life, if that makes sense. It could be a connection with nature, or the embodiment of blissful motherhood, for example, as I understand it. I am a very non-religious non-spiritual person, but I do see how I could be filling my life with something meaningful that does not meet those two qualifications. Make sense?

  24. Didn’t Oprah say that she wasn’t dieting again before? I think it was during the Bob Greene era. I don’t see her as a weight loss role model. She’s struggling just like I am. lol.

    I get so tired of everyone trying to connect everything to a person’s lack of spirituality. Funny how you have to read the whole book to see the rules. And common sense rules at that.

    It’s another book designed to make money off of people’s desperation to lose weight.

    • Karen

      One of the other commenters told me that in Roth’s earlier books she spent more time on the guidelines, so maybe that is why there are not featured prominently in this one. The latest gimmick I have seen in a diet book is about resistant starch. Saw it on the Today Show last week. Just one more theory that contradicts the last theory. No wonder we are all confused!

  25. I haven’t read the book, but her spiritual path is so different than mine – I’m not sure I could get past it.

    Oprah – I feel for her. I can’t imagine being a public figure with everyone watching her weight go up and down.

    • Karen

      I agree about Oprah. I think I even wrote a post about that once:) I used to think that if I won the lottery and could hire trainers and chefs I could be thin. Obviously not, if I consider Oprah’s struggles.

  26. Karen, very thought provoking post! I have had both episodes on my DVR for months now, and have put off reading the book because I have to do it for my writing research and I’m not at that point yet. But you’re not alone in your reaction…I’ve talked to a lot of women who didn’t get that sense of connection that they felt should exist from the book, just because it did for Oprah.

  27. wow, Karen, thanks for the thoughtful review! i’ve wanted to read this, i saw a clip on the Oprah website and thought it looked really interesting. can’t find it anywhere though (doh!) still hasn’t come to Australia.:p

    • Karen

      I am surprised it has not made it there! I suspect if you really want to read/learn more you can find stuff online. I know of at least one blog that is doing a post about a chapter a week as a sort of book club even.

  28. I find most books others find inspirational to be – uh… not so much. It’s like, duh, I knew all of that already. But knowing it and practicing it are WAY different. Also, i tend to be a litlte put off by the spiritual aspect. Perhaps thats the element I’m missing that makes it an “ah ha” moment.

    • Also, I have “Fat Girl” by Judith Moore on my shelf. It’s supposed to be more of a memoir than a set of guideline. I should read it…

      • Karen

        My next read is going to be about intuitive eating. I keep telling myself it would never work for me, based on what little I know, but I follow some bloggers who have found it life changing. So I thought I would at least read the book. I’ll report here what I think:)

  29. I have nothing useful to add. 🙂 I haven’t read the book, and to be honest, I probably won’t because the issues aren’t mine. The bottom-line guidelines seem reasonable, though.

    • Karen

      You should write your own book! Your approach, from what I know from your blog and comments, is so practical. Flexible and realistic to fit with real life.

  30. All I know is that if I listened to my body, my “natural weight” would end up near 200 lbs. I want to eat like a fat person, plain and simple. It may work for some body types, but definitely not mine! 😀

    • Karen

      I don’t think my body speaks well either! But Roth and Oprah would probably tell me I am choosing to misunderstand what it is saying or ignoring it. Sigh.

  31. I’ve heard a lot about this book, but I haven’t read it.

    The eating guidelines that you have listed seem to be within the realms of “intuitive” eating, which doesn’t work for everyone. I almost get irritated now-days when a book tries to tell me how to eat, and then says if I eat this way, it will solve all my problems, and my life will be perfect from now on. I think that one should take any book on eating with grain of salt, (no pun intended) and do their best to figure out an eating pattern that works for them!

  32. Dee Dieter

    I haven’t read all of the book, but what I have read I found interesting. Somewhere along the way my body/mind changed from being the skinny, active kid not thinking twice about what to eat and when to a kind of obssession (again, I blame my mother – lol). I just like reading about other people’s ideas, whether I use some, all or none…it’s interesting all the same. I do agree with the Eat without Distractions. When we grew up we ate at the table with the family. Now it seems that many people eat while reading, watching t.v. or doing something else. Multi-tasking is not a friend to feeling full and satisfied. Now if only I can practice what I preach. Great post and lots of interesting comments above.

    • Karen

      Full confession – I just ate lunch in front of the TV. And it didn’t strike me until after that I had paid no attention to the food – had not “enjoyed” it. Hmm.

  33. Wow! 70 responses so far. I haven’t read them yet, but will after I write this.

    I haven’t gotten on the Operah/Roth bandwagon yet, but have intended to buy the book for some time.

    However, I am trying to go in the direction she outlines, and like you the higher power thing has stumped me a bit… until just recently, a small opening, a little light shown on the subject (my next post). The most difficult thing is to remain mindful…

    mindful about my feelings
    mindful about my urges to eat
    mindful about my habbits
    mindful about my belly
    (not its size… its needs)
    mindful about the exact moment

    That’s what I’m working on changing!

    • Karen

      This makes me sigh as I read it, sitting here, full from dinner at my mom’s. Yep – full. Not mindful. Well, not in a good way.

  34. AFG

    Overeating is such a complicated subject and is different for so many. I have read Geneen’s book and watched both times she was on Oprah.

    She’s helped a lot of people and I enjoy her Facebook wisdom and often share her posts on my FB wall.

    I didn’t necessarily have a lot of “a ha!” moments reading her book but a lot of it made sense to me.

  35. This book changed my life. Seriously. I read it and in parts started wondering how she knew what was inside my head. Not 100% of her writing was right on with me, but I would say about 98%.

    My views of religion, spirituality, my father, and my food are complicated…and this book (and it’s guidelines) help me a ton.

    In fact, I had to stop when I was about halfway through it because I didn’t know if I could take her truth.

    It tapped into something that I haven’t quite been able to put into words yet…but I hope that I will be able to eventually.

    • Karen

      You are not alone. I have read several similar stories about the power of her words for people. There is one blog who is doing a chapter by chapter book club and clearly her readers are finding lots in the book that resonate deeply with them. I am still looking for something to give me my own light bulb moment.

  36. I too watched the Oprah episode and read the book. I found it very enlightening, but I read a lot of books on dieting, eating, nutrition, etc. I tend to take what works and makes sense and then let the rest go. There is no one right way. We are all individuals so it is really about learning what works best for us. This takes study and personal exploration more than anything.

    Another fascinating book is Mindless Eating, Why we eat more than we think by Brian Wansink. He is a PhD researcher who has run hundreds experiments on mindless eating. It is a fun read and it was amazing to discover how we can be tricked into eating more than we realize in a myriad of ways. I highly recommend it. Since reading his book, I have begun using a salad plate instead of dinner plate and tall skinny glasses since his studies show that we eat less when dishes are smaller and glasses taller and eat more when dishes are bigger and glasses are short and squat!!

  37. I am a fan of Oprah but sometimes when her show is about eating or weight loss she misses the mark.

    In my opinion, this is what happened with the Geneen Roth show.

    Her pre-show marketing heralded Geneen’s book Women Food and God as a miracle solution. Lord knows, we have all spent a lifetime wishing and hoping for a miracle.

    I have dreamed of waking up skinny since I was 10 years old.

    I think Oprah should know better.

    Second point, Ms Roth’s book has the best chapter on silencing the “Inner Voice” is the best I have ever read. I think you have to take what you can use from the books that are available.

    No single solution is right for all of us and it’s okay to reject some of what is in the book and still find other parts useful. You’ve got to find whats right for you.

    Actually, it’s interesting that with all of Oprah’s fame, power and money she has not found the solution for herself yet. I wish her the best on her journey, but I do wish she would refrain from the use of the word “miracle” when talking about solutions.

    My miracle is that I haven’t binged in a long long time, but that’s due to hard work and conscious choice – not a miracle.

    Lynn Scott

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