You and Your Food

Forget dieting. Loving your body starts with loving your food

| May/June 2002

An Interview with Geneen Roth by Renee Lertzman

In her book When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair (Hyperion, 1998), Geneen Roth describes compulsive eating with humor and candor, and even suggests sharing the experience with someone. "Lead her to the refrigerator," she writes. "Open the door. Stare. Begin picking from Tupperware containers. Use your fingers. Graze through yesterday’s Chinese food. Last week’s tapioca pudding. Make loud grunting noises of pleasure."

One of Roth’s most controversial exercises to overcome overeating is aimed at helping people to experience what they have as "enough." Along with her advice to "carry a chunk of chocolate everywhere," Roth teaches how to eat that chocolate slowly and with complete awareness. The exercise, she writes, "reminds us to wake up, pay attention, stop reaching for what we don’t have, and focus on what we do have. It teaches us that we don’t need a truck full of love to satisfy our hungry hearts. When we pay attention, ‘enough’ is possible."

Roth knows what it’s like to struggle with food. In her early 20s she was anorexic, at one point weighing just 82 pounds. Later, after returning to school to study medicine, she gained 80 pounds in two months. "It was at that point," she says, "that I realized I was really, truly ruining my life. . . . "

Roth is the author of several best-selling books on food, self-love, and the relationship between eating and intimacy. She spoke recently with Renee Lertzman in The Sun magazine.

Lertzman: You are described as a pioneer in the anti-dieting movement, but your work is more of a psychological—and perhaps even spiritual—approach to food and eating.

Roth: Food is a doorway that leads into the hidden rooms of our lives. My relationship with food is a microcosm of my relationship to being alive, to my beliefs about trust, pleasure, deprivation, and nourishment. But looking at these deeper, underlying issues is considered subversive.

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