Great Book – “Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating”

Welcome to the new look of my website! I was feeling like the other one was kinda masculine and serious looking, and wanted to lighten the look up a bit, just as I am trying to lighten up on my compulsive food issues. =) Please tell me what you think of it!

Anywho… I just got done reading a great book called “Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating” by Geneen Roth. It was first published in 1984, but everything still rings true today. I marked it up with tons of little sticky notes, things that “spoke” to me, and I wanted to share some of them with you.

Backing up a bit, Ms. Roth is a recovering compulsive eater. Her book is about eating intuitively and she uses a lot of examples from a workshop she used to have (and perhaps still has?) called “Breaking Free.”

She covers everything from learning to recognize the signals of physical hunger, eating without distraction, knowing when to stop, kicking the scale-watching habit, withstanding social and family pressures, as well as other strategies to help break the binge-diet cycle.

Because I found so many great nuggets, I think I’m going to have to break this post up into a few days so you are not snoozing from the length.

I will go along chronogically, as it appears in the book. She begins with talking about what intuitive eating entails and how it affects the compulsive eater. These are the author’s words:

1. If I only eat when I’m hungry, I wont be able to eat as much as I want or when I want it. That’s true. But the amount that you want is often not as much as your body wants. Ask yourself what you are feeling and why you want to eat more than your body needs. What is it that you want from food beyond its nourishing your body.

2. When you want food and you’re not hungry, it’s a good indicator that you want something less tangible but don’t know what it is or else feel that you might not be able to get it. So while it is true that if you eat when you’re hungry, you won’t always eat when you want, it is also true that you can use the desire to eat when you are not hungry as an indicator that you need something less material than food and that until you stop eating you cannot discover what that might be.

3. When you are not hungry and good food is around, what you miss by not eating is food that never tastes as good as it does you are hungry. You miss that particular cheesecake BUT you can: a) ask to take a piece home; b)ask for the recipe; c) go out tomorrow when you are hungry and find the best cheesecake in town; d) invite the cheesecake contributor to dinner and ash her to “make something…why not dessert… how about cheesecake?”

When you are not hungry and good food is around, you do miss by eating is the chance to take care of yourself, to see that the world won’t end if you don’t eat the cheesecake. You miss the chance not to get sick, to be so full you can’t sleep, and to wake up in the morning wishing the night had never happened.

4. The main reason we are frightened when told that we can eat what we want is because we don’t believe it. Not really. There is still a voice that says, “Well, maybe a cookie, but not ice cream. Not bread. Think of the calories. Think of the weight you’ll gain. Don’t’ eat those things. You can’t.” After years of counting calories and being told what to eat , we have evolved a rigid definition of what is permissible to eat and what is not: Low caloric foods are all that is permissible.

5. “I still feel as if I shouldn’t be allowed to eat fattening food.” Not allowed. So that when they do, they feel as if they’re breaking a law, doing what’s forbidden. Eating what they want means indulging. Translated to: “When I give myself what I need or want, I am doing something wrong.”

6. When you let go of the struggle by allowing yourself choice about what you eat, you let go of one end of the rope which you have been tugging and straining. When you let go of your side, the rope immediately falls to the ground. War requires at least two sides. When you decide that you will listen to yourself and not to your calorie-counter or your fears, there is nothing to rebel against. There is nothing you can’t have tomorrow so there is no reason to eat it all today.

7. “I am amazed to discover that after forty years of binging on sugar, when I let myself eat what I want, I don’t even like the taste of sweets.”
Most of us know how many calories are in apples, bread, meat, cheese. If knowing about and therefore eating by calorie content were what it takes to be thin, all of us would be thin.
In a moment of despair or sadness or anger, all that you know about will be swept away unless you are giving yourself the permission to eat. When you want to escape from a feeling, you will often do so by breaking a restriction you have imposed on yourself.

These next two especially struck home for me, I think it explains a lot about my self-confidence issues

8. …you begin living a lie, eating one way in public and a totally different way when you are alone. “If they really knew the truth about me, if they knew how much I could eat, if they knew how devouring I am, they would be appalled.” From there it is a short distance to, “If they really knew me, they wouldn’t love me. Who I am is not worthy of love and must be hidden.

9. When you lie, sneak, pretend to others, you lie, sneak, pretend to yourself. When you tell yourself that you are not worthy of eating in full view, you tell yourself that you are not worthy of being seen and known in full view.

I’m going to stop here for now. Hopefully even one or two points resonated with you. I will hit some more (of what I think are) key points tomorrow, so please stay tuned! =)


One Day at a Time... Nurture myself... Awareness... Letting Go... Listen to my Body

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Comments

20 Responses, Leave a Reply
  1. Anonymous Fat Girl
    10 February 2010, 8:40 pm

    Great post. I’m very interested in getting that book. I’ve never considered myself a compulsive eater until recently. I’ve always thought of myself as an emotional eater but I’m wondering if the two go hand in hand, you know?

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i really enjoyed reading it, couldn’t put it down. as you can see, a lot of it spoke to me, and what i blogged about was only some of it!
    hmmm… pretty fine line between the two. maybe one can be an emotional eater and not a compulsive eater, but a compulsive eater is definitely an emotional eater?

    [Reply]

  2. Diana
    10 February 2010, 9:22 pm

    I will definatley check it out. Trying at my local library first 🙂 I have had too many times where I bought the book and iddn’t read it or didn’t like it. No more 🙂

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i hear ya about the books! i’ll be posting more “nuggets” over the next couple of days, so maybe read those first to be sure you even want to check it out of the library. =)

    [Reply]

  3. kilax
    10 February 2010, 11:01 pm

    I really needed to read something like this today. Thanks for posting it. I am home for a funeral and have been struggling with overeating.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    oh no, i’m sorry about your loss! i’m glad my post somehow was helpful. i’m going to be writing more about it today. it was a great book.

    [Reply]

  4. Robyn
    11 February 2010, 9:08 am

    I love this book too. I find it’s really helpful for those struggling with binge eating. I love that you highlighted the point that eating when you are not physically hungry does not give you the same reward response as eating when hungry. It’s such an important point to remember when food is calling your name from the kitchen, but you’re just not hungry. Why not REALLY enjoy it later instead of mildly enjoying it now?

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    happy to hear from another person who enjoyed the book, robyn!
    this concept is so true once you think about it, but it is very hard to actually do.

    [Reply]

  5. Patsy
    11 February 2010, 9:36 am

    Hmmm…. Might have to get that book! Funnily enough, I’ve just overhauled me blog today as well!

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    everything in the book was still so applicable today even though it was written over 25 years ago! i guess this lovely eating disorder is timeless, huh?
    so funny that you just overhauled your site as well!!!

    [Reply]

  6. Mary Kate
    11 February 2010, 8:53 pm

    i was wondering how you were liking the book….so glad it spoke to you like it did me. i so wanted to attend one of her workshops!!!

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    oh yes, i liked it very much, thank you again!!!! i wonder if she still has the workshops….

    [Reply]

  7. Mary Kate
    11 February 2010, 9:04 pm

    that is an interesting question the first reply made…i was a compulsive eater because of my emotions….but my condition was binge-eating disorder(BED)…which was fueled by emotions. so i bet they go hand-in-hand. Does someone eat compulsively just because?

    I had gotten to the point where emotions were something I had a hard time feeling. When i started pulling away from the strong desires to eat I started to feel emotions I had never felt.

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    i think emotional eating and compulsive eating are very closely related. most of us eat to stuff down our emotions. i think that is what the book was pointing out – when you stop obsessing about the food, the real emotions/issues come out and we need to deal with them before we can deal with the eating issue. hard work!!!

    [Reply]

  8. Holly
    11 February 2010, 9:57 pm

    Thank you SO much for summarizing this! I started this book about a year ago, but I’m horrible with reading non-fiction. 🙁

    I’m definitely going to refer to this in the future. Sometimes I wonder if my relationship with food will ever be “normal,” but maybe it’s just something I have to work at. Just like any relationship struggle, I guess!

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    you are so welcome! i hope it’s not putting people to sleep. there were more things i could have posted (like part 3 tomorrow) but i truly could have done five posts on it, there was that much good stuff.
    i hate to say it, but i don’t think anyone with an eating disorder will ever be a truly normal eater like when we were kids and just ate intuitively (before whatever bad stuff happened to us and we started to eat to comfort ourselves and stuff down our emotions). but i do think we can come real close if we work on it. =)

    [Reply]

  9. Mary Kate
    12 February 2010, 9:12 pm

    i believe we can become normal eaters. we just have to stop trying to define what that is. I know i had a pre-conceived notion of what “normal” was and in return always felt like a failure when I did mess up. Early in my recovery I never thought I would feel like i do…but it is possible! you will get there!

    [Reply]

    love2eatinpa Reply:

    you make a really great, point, mary kate! i think we all do have different definitions of what we think it is and perhaps that IS what sets us up for failure. thanks for the inspiraton.

    [Reply]

  10. Jill
    28 February 2010, 10:24 pm

    This sounds like a really great book, thanks for posting about it! I’ll have to check it out on Amazon.

    [Reply]

  11. […] posted about Roth’s awesome book “Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating” here, here and here.) I think I’m going to be picking up this new book. Oprah rattled off a quick […]

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