The Barnes & Noble Review
If you are ready to retire from the diet wars, if you are willing to consider a different approach to food and weight, if you are comfortable with Eastern-style mind-body exercises, you will want to turn to Lynn Ginsburg and Mary Taylor's book.
Consider this provocative challenge from the authors: "Stop for a moment and estimate roughly how much time over the years you've spent thinking or obsessing about food and your body. Consider the great things you might have accomplished with the same amount of time and energy."
For many women, this is one scary thought. In fact, statistics show that on any given day, 40 percent of American women are actively dieting. The authors determine that, aided and abetted by the messages in American culture, we equate thinness and happiness all too easily, ignoring the vacuum in our own spirituality and life purpose.
Ginsburg and Taylor, the "Eating Wisely" columnists for Yoga Journal, bring their own tangled eating histories into the open -- one, a yo-yo dieter, the other, an anorexic who came to her senses just in time. For both, their wake-up calls coincided with awakening to a larger life purpose, or finding their personal dharma.
Exercises in each chapter lead the reader into ever-deeper layers of self-discovery, beginning with journal exercises and meditation. There are charts to record what you eat -- as well as when, where, and with whom -- and charts to help reveal where and when your intersection with food goes awry. Do you eat the same food more than ten times a week, for example? How many of your meals or snacks are eaten standing up by the refrigerator? How many times were you hungry before you ate? How many times were you full before you finished eating?
Ginsburg and Taylor want us to pay real attention to our body for signals about when and what to eat, so that we are not following unconscious patterns or habits from previous diets. One exercise instructs the reader to be totally aware of the first and last bite of each meal -- an exercise much harder than it sounds. Another chapter features a set of beginning yoga poses.
You will find no diet prescriptions here -- though the authors do suggest that each meal include a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates -- but you will find plenty of insights about women, food, and spirituality.
The food and body conflict is a problem. Spirituality, self-awareness and a healthy dose of yoga are the answer, according to Ginsburg and Taylor, the "Eating Wisely" columnists for Yoga Journal. Part self-help book, part manifesto, this volume reveals the absurdity of "the Covenant" (women's confidential, unspoken belief that "thinness equals happiness"), stating, "if that's true, then impoverished women who don't have enough to eat must be very happy, because they're very thin." The authors offer a series of Eastern mind/body practices to help women find their dharma "one's inner nature and spiritual core" and to stay true to that personal purpose. Only then can women begin to address the "longing for spiritual fulfillment that leaves us always hungry and dissatisfied." Other tools teach how to listen to gut feelings and recognize signals from the body about what and when to eat, so eating behavior is not dictated by habit, theories or diets. Readers will find little in the way of nutritional guidelines or food plans other than passing reference to the importance of a balanced diet based on whole, organic foods. Instead, they will learn to savor the "rasa" (essence) of food and to eat what feels right for them. For those women willing to undertake the often unpleasant journey to self-awareness and to commit to living a conscious and self-examined life, this is a helpful manual. Agent, Jane Dystel. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Although Taylor is a classically trained chef and the author of three cookbooks, there are no recipes in this self-help book about women and food. She and freelance writer Ginsburg are columnists for Yoga Journal, and their book focuses on Eastern philosophy and mind/body consciousness as it relates to diet. The authors address those who either overeat or have food issues surrounding anorexia or bulimia. Throughout, they examine the deleterious effect of "The Covenant," which they characterize as a Western secret agreement among women about women's appearance. They suggest that food is used to fill a spiritual void and, until the issue of that void is discovered and addressed, a "diet" will not work. The authors offer traditional food-diary charts, exercises or "practices" designed to teach focusing, and recommendations to concentrate on the experience of eating, but they touch only briefly on the kinds of foods to eat. This different kind of "diet" book is recommended for large public libraries. Margaret Cardwell, Christian Brothers Univ. Lib., Memphis Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.