I was curious to read Women Food and God by Geneen Roth because almost every woman I know has had a "thing" with food at some point in their lives. Some calorie-counting neurosis and some life-threatening illnesses. In high-school, my best friend and I believed two fat-free bagels provided a perfectly nutritious lunch. In my early twenties, the addition of walnuts as a topping transformed frozen yogurt into a healthy meal. Now, it is manifested through the ritual pre-wedding slimming of the bride. It's a fascinating subject because so many women have such a complex relationship with food. Or do we just have a complex relationship with our minds?
After years of dieting in which she gained and lost over 1,000 pounds, Roth has stabilized her weight and transformed her mind (and body) through mediation, inquiry and seven natural eating guidelines. Just like many yogis believe that how we are are on the mat is how we live our lives, and athletes profess that how we perform on the court is how perform in life, Roth draws a similar parallel with food. Our plates can be the insightful tool for analysis, understanding and growth that can ultimately lead to greater awareness, fulfillment and freedom.
Some of the most powerful of Roth's words on awareness, change, transformation, and bliss are included below:
1. "To discover what you really believe, pay attention to the way you act -- and to what you do when things don't go the way you think they should. Pay attention to what you value. Pay attention to how and on what you spend your time. Your money. And pay attention to the way you eat."
2. "The relentless attempts to be thin take you further and further away from what could actually end your suffering: getting back in touch with who you really are. Your true nature. Your essence."
3. "Awareness, not deprivation, informs what you eat. Presence, not shame, changes how you see yourself and what you rely on."
4. "No matter how developed you are in any other area of your life, no matter what you say you believe, no matter how sophisticated or enlightened you think you are, how you eat tells all."
5. "Meditation develops the capacity to question your mind. Without it, you are at the mercy of every thought, every desire, every wave of emotion."
6. "Change happens when you understand what you want to change so deeply that there is no reason to do anything but act in your own best interest."
7. "Freedom from obsession is not about something you do; it's about knowing who you are. It's about recognizing what sustains you and what exhausts you. What you love and what you think you love because you believe you can't have it."
8. "The purpose of a spiritual path or religion is to provide a precise and believable way into what seems unbelievable."
9. "If you pay attention to when you are hungry, what your body wants, what you are eating, when you've had enough, you end the obsession because obsession and awareness cannot coexist."
10. "Real change happens bit by bit. It takes great effort to become effortless at anything. There are no quick fixes."