Appetites: On the Search for True Nourishment

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Geneen Roth's When Food Is Love profoundly explored the relationship between eating and intimacy in women's lives. Her rejection of convention in dieting practices has motivated hundreds of thousands of women to think more deeply about, and alter their relationship to, eating and food. When Food Is Love became a bestseller - but in the wake of that success, Roth found herself in an unexpected position: she descended into a long illness, losing what she thought she could never live without - her health, her hair, and even her best friend. In Appetites: On the Search for True Nourishment, Geneen Roth explores, with great insight and clarity, the process of questioning what was at the core of her own life, her ultimate return to good health, and the new and unexpected ways she found to nourish herself and those she has loved and worked with. Over the course of this journey, Roth looked deeply into women's friendships and what happens when they change; the longing for success and affirmation for one's work; the conflicting emotions a woman can have when she considers whether or not to have a child; the longing for a safe place to live and build toward the future. She writes, "Appetites is the story of friends and women with whom I've worked as they've questioned the meaning of success, thinness, friendship, and fulfillment ... Why, I asked myself, is an embarrassment of riches embarrassing? Why do most women feel they will lose friends as they lose weight? ... What feels good about feeling bad? And where do we turn for nourishment when it's not in the places we thought it would be?"

Geneen Roth's bestselling When Food Is Love profoundly explored the relationship between eating and intimacy in women's lives. Now in Appetites, she takes the themes of longing, self-denial, and nourishment and puts them into the broader context of women's experience. 256 pp. Author tour & national publicity.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
That some of us overeat in order to feed a spiritual rather than physical hunger isn't a new idea, but perhaps no one has chatted it up with as much panache as Roth (When Food Is Love). In her earnest new book, this popular workshop guru focuses on the ersatz bliss of overeating but also expands her vision to question "the meaning of success, thinness, friendships, and fulfillment." Drawing on much personal anecdote-her hair loss following illness; her ties to her best friend; her worries about another's health, etc.-she charms readers toward realizing that true happiness comes not from a sleek body, wealth or indeed any external attribute but from a sense of inner worth. There's nothing new in that idea either, but Roth presents it, as usual, in just the right mix of confession, sass and style. (Apr.)
Library Journal
After 20 years of therapy and 13 years of "spiritual practice," diet guru Roth (When Food Is Love, Dutton, 1991) shares 243 pages of inspirational insights about self-esteem. "You are the feast," she concludes, having recounted at length her own tribulations brought on by an illness she will not name that caused her to lose her hair-a crowning blow. She was thus forced to reevaluate her own advice to those she had counseled about appearance and self-esteem. Roth continues to give lectures and workshops; to assist the reader, she offers her business address and telephone and FAX numbers at the end of the book. Though full of New Age platitudes, her work nonetheless has a following. For Roth's fans.-Cynthia Harrison, George Washington Univ., Washington, D.C.
Barbara Jacobs
Roth speaks of issues that, chauvinism aside, only women can truly understand and identify with. In the past, her books were about food, weight, dieting, and the almost universal obsession that women have with their bodies and self-esteem. Now her canvas of introspection and discussion has expanded: eight chapters examine the nature of women's friendships, the craving to be famous, the longing for safety, and the search for a parallel life (or the perfect fantasy), among other topics. Based on intensely personal experiences, written with intensely emotional and intellectually probing prose, Roth's book pushes far beyond the issue of weight to ask what will make women happy. Her not-so-easy answers, divined from decades of therapy, of experiential beingness, of Buddhist practice, will speak to many.
Kirkus Reviews
A dubious exploration of appetite as a metaphor in women's lives, from the author of When Food Is Love (1991), who conducts workshops on women, food, and self-esteem.

According to Roth, women desire obsessively—a perfect body, success, love—instead of embracing themselves as they are and appreciating what they already have. A woman who overeats, for example, may be trying to fill a void within herself, not realizing that she already has what she needs. Roth gives examples from her own life: Having obtained what she thought she wanted—fame, a good man, a thin body, a life in scenic northern California—she still wasn't happy. Then she developed chronic fatigue syndrome and a vitamin deficiency that caused her hair to fall out, all of which made her realize that she should have appreciated her health while she had it. A series of chance disasters—an earthquake, a fire that nearly burned her house down—led her to understand that everything she has could easily be taken away, that her deepest satisfaction must come from herself. Though witty and lucid about her personal experience, Roth does, unfortunately, lapse into the occasional New Age, pseudo-Buddhist truism. Nor is it always obvious how particular parts of the narrative fit into her overall argument. Worse, the author can be downright maudlin: Anthropomorphic paeans to her cat's capacity for enlightened contentment, though mitigated by moments of self-mockery, get embarrassing after awhile.

Roth's lack of self-consciousness about her own privilege is an even larger problem. It is easy enough to preach about finding happiness within yourself when you have what you always wanted from the world. But those who haven't found love, fame, rewarding work, or money may be less than sympathetic to the spiritual struggles of the "woman who has everything" and still isn't satisfied.

From Barnes & Noble
The bestselling author of When Food Is Love recounts her own path to self-fulfillment that encompassed recovery from an illness, and in doing so, shares insights into the search for happiness, healing, and love.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780788157745
  • Publisher: DIANE Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Pages: 245
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Geneen Roth

Geneen Roth is a writer and a teacher who has gained international prominence through her work in the field of eating disorders. She is the founder of the Breaking Free workshops, which she has conducted nationwide since 1979. She is also the author of Feeding the Hungry Heart, Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating, and When Food is Love. A frequent guest on television and radio programs, she has written for and been featured in Tie, Ms., New Woman, Family Circle, and Cosmopolitan. Her poetry and short stories have been published in numerous anthologies. Born in New York City, she now lives in northern California.

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Table of Contents

Prologue: The Places We Search 1
1 The Size of My Body, The Size of My Life 11
2 The Hunger to Be Valued 49
3 Parallel Lives, Part 1: Losing My Hair 77
4 When Someone Believes in You 105
5 Women's Friendships: A Conspiracy of Hunger 135
6 To Have or Have Not: Nourishment and Self-Denial 159
7 Parallel Lives, Part 2: On Happiness and Joy 183
8 The Longing For a Safe Place 207
Epilogue: Seven Remembrances 239
Acknowledgments 243
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