Monday, April 19, 2010

Women, Food & God By Geneen Roth. Ugh.

That "ugh" in the title of this blog is not to say that there's anything wrong with Geneen Roth's book Women, Food & God but to express self-dismay. As I said on Twitter, "Oh, I so don't want to be the woman haunting the self-help section of the bookstore not unless I can put what I learn into action."

My mother was always picking up self-help books, and I'm not convinced they helped her, but I, like Oprah, continue to struggle with my relationship with food. In addition, the tendency to gain weight is complicated by a documented metabolism issue, hypothyroidism, and the trek toward menopause.

Grave's Disease runs in my family, and I was treated for it years ago with radio-active iodine. Once it's treated, you tend to have an underactive thyroid. I've been this way since my early 20s, and lately my level's been dropping. I have to get blood checks more frequently.

So, I don't eat tons of food. It doesn't take much for me to gain weight. However, I think I have a sugar addiction as well, which leads to my eating foods with higher caloric density. Anyone who tells you sugar can't be addictive is a liar. Sugar and "comfort" foods switch on signals in the brain that make us feel good. Eat these foods too often and you start to crave them in unhealthy ways.

For the last two weeks I've not eaten anything that has sugar added or added any sugars to what I eat, including honey and raw sugar. Have I lost weight? I don't know. I feel like I have, but I refuse to get on the scale because then I'll become obsessed with weight rather than health. I'll get on the scale when I go to the doctor this summer.

Furthermore, I suspect insulin resistance runs in my family, but only because Diabetes does and insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes.

After hearing Oprah talk about Roth's book and Roth herself speak, I have a feeling that Women, Food & God will not tell me anything I don't already know. For instance, I know that consistently eating what's bad for us is most likely related to filling a hole. The food is filling in for something we lack in our lives, and I know what that hole, which sometimes shifts, is for me.

At the same time, one can't completely dismiss science and genetics, especially when we've discovered that our metabolisms are so messed up that we gain weight on 1800 calories per day despite the supposed experts saying we should not. We can't make the journey only about emotional triggers when we know that sometimes two people the same height and gender can eat the same number of calories, but one will gain weight and one will not even when both exercise. To combat that part of the problem, we have to look at exercise levels, types of carbohydrates consumed, how much protein and fat we eat, etc. Throw in the kind of information heard from sources like Food Inc., and how to eat and what to eat becomes overwhelming.

I wish I could take six months and do nothing but concentrate on my health and how and why I eat poorly these days, but I can't do that. And I suck at juggling health issues--part of personal life--with work--business and earning money to pay the bills. I don't like taking baby steps toward a health goal, but that's probably the best way to do it and not go insane.

Anyway, this book has been on my mind lately, even though it was months ago that I first heard of it. I think the Universe may be telling me that I can only meet health goals if I approach them from a spiritual standpoint. So, I may buy Roth's book just to see what else she is saying.

I mean, Oprah has millions of dollars, a staff, and the power to influence leaders. If she struggles with food and weight, then you know the rest of us with this monkey on our backs have a greater challenge. We have to wrestle the monkey and cook our own meals, clean our own bathrooms, worry about how to keep the lights on and how to pay the doctor. It's a wonder more of us don't jump off bridges.


msladydeborah said...


This nation has an unhealthy relationship with the subject of food and health. It has reach epidemic status IMHO.

Creating balance in our lives is not easy. We are a twenty four seven society. With a lot of attractive diversions to help support being unbalanced.

Now we are struggling to undue a lot of consumption mistakes that we have made over the decades. And it is not easy. If anything it is overwhelming. There are a lot of lonely and empty people in our society who turn to food as a source of comfort. There are also a lot of people who have a relationship with their Creator and they still have issues with food. I didn't even finish watching the video because the author hit a lot standing nerve with me in her presentation. There is something about that dazed but happy look that turns me off.

There are now more menopause aged women in the US than ever before. The weight gain can be managed by physical activity and common sense.There is a lot of information available on how to deal with change of life issues.

The last self-help book that I purchased was by Ilyana Vanzant and that was years ago. I am a firm believer in physician heal thyself. Listening to what your body is saying is the conversation worth paying attention to.

I also stay far away from Oprah these days. She's toxic in my opinion and whatever her issues are-become the issues of those who hang with her on a regular basis. Ms. O has a level of economic security that masses of people do not have. She flips around too much for me to feel okay with her latest self-interests. I always feel that she is flip flopping around mentally about her identity and image.

Fresh food, exercise, water, rest still is the best way to treat our bodies.

Can-Can said...

I have walked for 1 1/2 hours for the past two weeks every day and before that I've always been a walker. I've walked hills and steps as well. I'm fat. I'm trying to be fitter and have been cooking lots of soups, veggies, etc. However, I love food. I have never over-eaten because I was filling a hole. I grew up with farm-hand sized portions of food, double and triple starches, etc. I never learned to eat proper sizes. I don't cook anything remotely like soul food except on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I will not participate in the pathology around food that efs-up so many of us. I've decided that at this point of my life, I'm an elegant elephant who is moving and eating mostly organic foods (for budget and to control what's in it). I know I don't eat out of self-hatred. I just like the taste of food. I am going to do more weight lifting to help as I'm aging. So, I'm aiming to be fit and a little less fat but will not buy into all the things that try to tell me who I am and how I look and my tribe's metabolism and shape, etc., is wrong.

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

Deborah, I agree that we've made consumption mistakes. I think the biggest one was trusting that corporations would supply food to us using ethical practices.

Can-Can, "I'm an elegant elephant who is moving and eating mostly organic foods (for budget and to control what's in it)." :-)

Thank you both for commenting.

janean said...

I saw this book for the first time a few weeks ago on a display at a warehouse store. I read the cover and was intrigued but not enough to actually buy it. Then a friend shared a link to the article on May 24, "Can a Negative Body Image Keep You from Living a Full Life?" A hot link to your "Women, Food & God By Geneen Roth. Ugh." was included. I'm so glad I followed the link. Weight, food and exercise have been a struggle for me my whole life - since adolescence anyway. I've ben treated for an underactive thyroid gland since I was 14. I'm 38 now. I do blame that at times when my weight fluctuates even though a more honest reason would be too much food and sitting. What convinced me to comment was your reference to "the universe". One of the phrases I drive my husband up a wall with is, "The Universe is Talking". Sometimes it does. Even through a blog or a link or a book review and it's often just what you need to hear in that moment. Did you buy and read this book? I may. Thanks for sharing your insight.

Vérité Parlant is Nordette Adams said...

Thank you, Janean. I'm also the author of the post at I haven't bought the book yet, but it's on my list. :-)

janean said...

I followed the links and just finished reading the two part post about Give me Hope and Operation Beautiful. I definitely noticed your lead in line in part one, "I believe that when we consistently stumble into the same messages, or the same thoughts flit across our mental screens repeatedly -- and those thoughts are reasonable, not crazy -- that the universe is speaking to us, and we should pay attention." You have mine. This winter my freshman college roommate and I started a group on Facebook called Work in Progress. I've been doing some writing and working through my "food issues" there.

Anonymous said...

I am almost done reading this book, and was compelled to go online and see what people have to say about it. I am a 26 year old women and have been overweight since I was about 5 years old, so I am on a journey to find out why I struggle with the weight. I have lost and gained a lot over the past 10 years. The one thing that I must say is different about this book is it is not about dropping weight, it doesn't tell you what to eat or when to eat it. It is WHY we eat, and why we choose the things we eat, we are choosing food over feeling what our bodies need to feel. And how to be OK with feeling it, instead of stuffing our faces with sugar and fat to feel nothing instead. In return creating diseases in our bodies. I truly believe we have the choice to eliminate heart disease, or diabetes, unless you were born with it. I watched my father die of heart disease at the age of 57, and he made it happen with every life choice he made. I don't want the same for myself. I have been raised to hate myself for the way I look since I was a young girl and was told my stomach is suppose to be flat, not round. I know now that the right thing to do for a 10 year old overweight child was to take her out for physical activity instead of telling her what is wrong with her making her think she was not loved, and to hate herself. I am going to back track and start treating myself like I am my own child. Love myself, care for me like I would my own blood. They way I have never been treated. Eat what you want, but acknowledge it, feel how it makes you feel, and decide if you want to feel that way. Eating healthy food makes your body feel good, and we need to start listening to it. Eating bad food makes it ok to hate ourselves and eat more, because we are already fat and what does it matter if we gain 5 more lbs.
This comment is just me telling my story and opinion in the hopes that it might help someone out there with their struggle:)

Amalfi Girl said...

I have followed Geneen Roth's advice and used it to get my life back. I blog about it at EatRunHaveFun!, and it sounds like you may have an interest in taking a look at how it has worked for someone in practice. Good luck, I understand!



Regina Rodriguez-Martin said...

I just finished blogging about Women Food and God and I'm wondering, Nordette, if you ever read it. If you're interested in what I got out of the book, it's on my blog In brief, I find Roth's books extremely powerful and they are helping me a lot. But I'm 46 and the first time I encountered Roth's books I was 28 and they just didn't do much for me. I think you have to be ready for the message.