I just tried to interlibrary loan this book from my library but was told it’s too new. So, I would love a chance to read it through your generosity. Thanks for sharing your very real, common, normal journey. May our daughters never face struggles with body image.
Last night I met with a beautiful group of women to discuss Women Food and God, by Geneen Roth. This book has caused quite a stir since Oprah caught on to the fact that we must stop dieting to start fully living and loving. I'll take you through some parts of the discussion.
"Of this I am certain: something happens every time I stop fighting with the way things are. Something happens to every one of my students when they stop running their familiar programs about fear and deficiency and emptiness. I don't know what to call this turn of events or the freshness that follows it, but I know what it feels like: it feels like relief."
This is where we entered the discussion and kept finding ourselves coming back to "it feels like relief" and "something happens every time I stop fighting with the way things are." We talked about the relief in not fighting our bodies and in showing them kindness. One participant talked about how in her entire life, not just with food, when she stops fighting and accepting where she is, there is a relief. The question I asked them and now you is, "Where could you be kinder to yourself? What thoughts or actions could receive more kindness?"
One woman said she was confused because she had used food as a way to be kind to herself, getting through some really tough struggles that life had presented over the last few years. Through the toughness she showed herself "kindness" with food. And yet, that kindness is a numbing, a protection so we do not have to feel the tough stuff. So we can move through with less of the feelings that seem just too hard to bear.
A mother of three young children expressed the desire to be more kind to the feelings that the choices she is making now, are somehow damaging my children. "I keep coming back to the relief" another woman said. Relief that we don't have to feel bad about ourselves and knowing that there is a path through those thoughts that continue to push us down.
My husband and I have taken to openly emotionally eating. When we stand in the closet with the bag of corn chips or eat directly from the open fridge we announce or announce for the other, we are emotionally eating and state why. For me it is usually the whine of my little guy or the fighting of my children and I go right to the fridge to find the escape from having to address what comes up for me. The tough stuff is feeling inadequate as a parent, or feeling as though I don't have enough support or space to be the parent I thought I could be. When you start becoming connected, you notice that maybe the half bag of corn chips becomes one handful, then opening the pantry and closing it before retrieving the salty crunchy conspirators. Finally, reaching out for support, calling a friend, putting the baby in the stroller and going for a walk. It becomes sitting the fighting children down (instead of yelling) and asking them to make of list of 5 things they would like to do today and 1 thing they would like to do for someone else. The fridge stays closed. A breath. Feel it, move through it, come safely to the other side.
"I believed there was an end goal, a place at which I would arrive and forevermore be at peace. And since I also believed that the way to get there was by judging and shaming and hating myself, I also believed in diet
Diets are based on the unspoken fear that you are a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic."
Many of us admitted to being a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic. We talked about those extra 5-20-50 pounds that we are holding onto and if we could just get rid of those we would be happy...for the 5 minutes until they came back. One of our participants was anticipating a 20 year high school re-union in just a week. She knew she could easily lose the 5ish pounds that were making her uncomfortable in her skin, but knowing inside that she would simply be continuing on the same path of the 5 minute weight loss. She thought perhaps just this last time. I asked her how doing that no longer would serve her? She wasn't sure because being 5 pounds thinner seemed to serve her walking into a room full of old acquaintances. We laughed thinking of the men who have gone bald and there was no quick fix for them! Eventually understanding that she would simply be continuing the cycle of diet for a brief moment of happy-thinness brings her right back to where she started. We can put it off or we can face it directly, look at ourselves in the mirror, and promise to continue forth with kindness, love and support of our bodies and our minds.
"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, 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?'"
I told the group, who were now clearly bonding through this open dialogue, that I make high protein cookies and I let the kids munch them for breakfast and usually in their lunch. (I will put my cookies up against a waffle with syrup any day!) When they ask after dinner what is for dessert I remind them of how they started the day. "Oh yeah" is usually the response and then they go about their business. We spend so much time avoiding the things we really want, yet thinking far too much about them. How many calories do we eat while avoiding the thing we really want? If we were to give ourselves permission for the thing that is on the "don't eat list" we could perhaps free up a part of ourselves that functions on the restricted, the bad, the off-limits.
To close the evening, we went around in a circle reading the Eating Guidelines. Hearing these beautiful, strong woman read clearly the simple truth that is inside each of them touched my heart. In my work I guide my clients to find the simple truths inside of themselves for themselves. The path to my healing may look different than that of another, but the simple truths are the same. It takes support and kindness and willingness to believe that if love could speak it would want us to do the things that we enjoy and that bring our body health and vibrance and joy.
Thank you to the woman of the book circle last night. I find my mind wandering back to all that was said and feeling so grateful for the steps to kindness you are all taking.
"In each moment of kindness you lavish upon your breaking heart or the size of your thighs, with each breath you take-God has been there. She is you."