This week I anxiously awaited the arrival of the book Women, Food and God, by author Geneen Roth.
I put a rush delivery on it, so I could begin the process as soon as possible. When it arrived, I felt as if a new friend had come to visit to talk with me about my dream and making peace with my body image issues.
It just so happened I am also home sick in bed with the flu. I found this to be a great opportunity to spend some quality time with my new book. I changed my sheets, took a shower and rolled into some nice clean jammys. I curled up around this book, eager to begin this woman’s journey to find freedom from food issues for all women.
I began to read how we treat our bodies: we treat them as if they are the enemy.
We believe our bodies and ourselves are one, and if there is nothing good about our bodies, then there must be nothing good about ourselves.
How many times have we all done something amazing only to say when we were done, Wow, I look fat, or Look at my arms flapping as I talked – ick! or God my face looks awful!?
Do you EVER hear a man do this after he has been successful?
Roth states that the shape of our body obeys the shape of our beliefs about love, value, and possibility.
To change our bodies, we must first understand what is shaping it.
If we seek to comprehend that we eat the way we do for lifesaving reasons, then maybe we can honor and forgive ourselves and move to a place where we comfort the small child inside of us who is scared, angry, sad or lost.
Imagine back in our young lives to a time when we were really scared and confused and the adults around us didn’t know how to reach out to us, hear us and make us feel safe and secure. Did they dismiss us, ignore us or even possibly abusive?
What if instead of this painful experience these adults made us feel safe and okay with our feelings, welcomed us into their arms, and encouraged us to share our feelings until there was nothing left for our young selves to say? All the while they are telling us they understand our feelings and are there for us.
How does this change the painful memory?
Do you think our body and food issues have anything to do with feeling pain that never found a person who would hear it? Is it because there was no one around to help deal with pain when we were too young to understand anything more than being scared/angry/confused and hating feeling that way?
Where did you put it? Where did you bury those feelings?
We stop turning to food when we begin to understand that there is something better than turning to food.
No matter how developed we are in any other area of our lives – no matter what we say we believe – no matter how sophisticated or enlightened we think we are – how we eat tells everything about what we are feeling about ourselves.
Okay – ouch.
In Women Food and God Geneen Roth writes that she believes the first step in breaking out of our eating patterns is through awareness. By taking a deep breath, then another. Noticing the sensations in our bodies. Notice our feelings – without words – without labels – as if it is the first time we have ever encountered it.
By being in contact with what we feel, we see that we are so much more than our feelings. When sadness is explored it may turn into a lush meadow of peace. Or when we allow ourselves to feel the full heat of anger without expressing it, a mountain of strength and courage can be revealed.
As long as we don’t eat a bowl of ice cream, drink three glasses of wine or eat a bag of potato chips while we are experiencing these feelings then it’s all good.
While feeling sad, ask yourself where that feeling is located in your body. Perhaps it is in your chest and suddenly you notice the belief “Love exists for other people but not for me.” Become curious about this belief. How old were you when you learned this?
What were your feelings when you saw that you were not being noticed, felt or understood?
You can also ask yourself if the feeling has a shape, a temperature, or a color. You can ask yourself how it affects you to feel this. And since no feeling is static, notice the changes that occur in your body as you ask yourself these questions.
Things to think about:
- What are you using food to avoid.
- Become curious about feelings and sensations.
- Listen to your body.
- Stop bossing yourself around.
Feelings are in the body, reactions are in the head.
A reaction is the mental deduction of a feeling. And beliefs are reactions that we’ve had so many times that we believe they are true.
Let your inquiry move in its own direction. Notice whatever arises – even if surprises you. “Oh, I thought I was sad, but I can see that this is loneliness. It feels like a ball of rubber bands in my stomach.” Welcome the rubber bands. Give them room. Watch what happens.
Keep coming back to the direct sensations in your body. Pay attention to things you’ve never told anyone, secrets you’ve kept to yourself. Do not censor anything. Do not get discouraged. It takes awhile to trust the immediacy of inquiry since we are so used to redirecting everything with our minds.
Redirecting ourselves to what is in the refrigerator, the pantry in the candy isle at the nearest store.
Treat it with tenderness.
. . . We will never know who we actually are. We will keep looking for the parent who never showed up and forget to see that the one who is looking is no longer a child. I tell my students that they need to remember two things: to eat what they want when they’re hungry and to feel what they feel when they’re not. Inquiry–the feel-what-you-feel part–allows you to relate to your feelings instead of retreat from them . . . “ – Geneen Roth
She also advises ways to eat so that we focus on the food at hand. She doesn’t believe in dieting or eating foods you don’t like. Her rules for eating have more to do with sitting down, no distractions (no TV), eating until we are satisfied (which is different than full), eating when we are hungry and understanding what hunger feels like.
Nothing like a light read when you’re sick.
Are you going to feel your feelings today ladies or are you going to bake a cake, open the fridge or eat the last of the lasagna – even though you aren’t hungry?
Blessings ladies – be kind to yourselves,
Veronica left 8 Women Dream in December of 2010 after accomplishing two big dreams.