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Oprah says she’s seen the light—that diets don’t work, that punishing herself for being fat and overeating is exactly the wrong thing to do, that instead of hating her food problems, she needs to value them as a tool to teach her how to live her best life. Let’s hope that Geneen Roth’s May 12 appearance on Oprah helped switch on the light for Oprah’s entire viewing audience. And that it also gets Geneen Roth’s newest book, WOMEN, FOOD AND GOD, read and reread by disregulated eaters everywhere.
Roth’s books were a turning point in my battles with food. How long had I been struggling, you ask. Since always. As a skinny kid, my mother had to trick me into eating by convincing me that my mouth was a tunnel and the food-on-a-spoon a choo choo train. However, not long after, there she was buying me clothes in the chubby department (Did they really have chubby departments?). From junior high school through my early thirties, I catapulted myself back and forth between dieting and binge-eating. Then came Susie Orbach’s FAT IS A FEMINIST ISSUE and Roth’s string of refreshing, eye-opening, funny, and wise books that kept nudging me further along the eating continuum until I finally became what I think of as a “normal” eater.
I owe her so much, and seeing her on Oprah brought tears to my eyes for the me that used to do such terrible things to my body, mind and heart. I was crying too for my clients who struggle so hard to overcome disregulated eating and all the wrong beliefs about food and body that contribute to it, for Oprah who has shown us that being rich and famous doesn’t mean not having serious problems, for her audience, and for all my loyal blog readers and committed message board members who are walking the walk.
Geneen Roth is a symbol for us all. Let’s not forget that she’s not just another talking head, yapping about nutrition or self-love. She’s a recovered food addict, disordered eater, dieter and binge-eater herself. And she has never let us think anything different. Like Oprah, she has become wiser, not through shying away from or hiding her frailties, but by facing them squarely and sharing them openly. There’s a lesson to be learned from both of them—that secrecy will do you no good and much harm, that shame stays alive only in dark corners, that you can go as far as you want if you’re willing to do the work, and that healing food problems takes a very, very long time.
Follow the trail Geneen has laid out for you. Read her books, believe her truths, practice her teachings, and catch her again on Oprah July 12. I know I’ll be watching.
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