I’m always on the lookout for ways to combat stress. Stress can wreak havoc with hormone levels and, especially in women, can aggravate breakouts. This is because stress activates the adrenal gland. The adrenal gland is where we produce adrenaline, which the body pumps out in response to stress. Well, it just so happens that women make much of their testosterone in the adrenal gland as well. So, that means stress can alter testosterone levels in women more radically and inconsistently than in men. Voila…breakouts. Even though the stress/acne issue may be a larger issue for women than for men, I heavily suspect it is also of real concern for men.

So on comes Oprah talking about how she’s done with endless dieting and declares that her war with food is over. My interest was piqued, partly because I have so many women in my life with food issues (don’t we all…), and partly because I had a sneaking suspicion that the food/stress psychology that Oprah says was liberating her might be of interest to all of us, regardless of our stressors.

So I bought the book she was speaking about, Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth, and read it. At first I read it just keeping in mind women whom I care about who have food issues, and it rang true. Then I read it again, trying to imagine that Ms. Roth was speaking about stress in general. It made good sense again.

In a nutshell: Stress, and its subsequent outgrowths of overeating, overworking, overthinking, overdrinking, drug use, etc. is precipitated by “leaving ourselves” many times a day. She means this quite literally. We become so afraid that our emotions in our bodies will “kill us” that we escape into our chosen method of flight from what is happening inside our bodies. The remedy is to stay with whatever we’re feeling in our body, bringing curiosity to it, and giving it the time to expand and unwind. Feelings, Ms. Roth contends, simply want the attention and room to dissolve on their own. She urges the reader to practice living a new, embodied life in the moment through eating guidelines, and a process she calls “Inquiry”.

If you guys read this, let me know if it affects your stress levels. Thanks!

5 Responses to “Combating stress: Women, Food and God

  • Trish

    This book is amazing…actually, all of Geneen Roth’s books are amazing! Her work has changed my life, and you summarized her philosophy beautifully! It definitely applies to everything we do…food, skin, our basic thought processes…so glad you blogged about this! :-) ~Trish

  • Miriam

    Fascinating, especially when you extend the concept from stress eating to other escapist behaviors. They’re totally a desperate quick fix rather than something viable in the long term. If only behavior change were easier…

  • natalea

    You can use the best and most expensive cosmetics, lotions and creams for acne, but till you clean up the mess inside you, especially if you have sensitive stomach like me, you will not have clear skin. I also wrote about acne in my blog from my own experience and point of view if you would be interested you can read the post here, maybe you will find sth interesting for you.: *link edited out* I like home remedies and alternative medicine, but sometimes to make your body work you need proper nutrition.

  • Sarie

    As a young woman who has struggled with an eating disorder for 5 years, I can confidently say that giving into one stressor leads to a habit of ‘giving in’.
    When I wake up in the morning and find 7 ripe new blemishes on my face, I automatically begin to criticize my horrible skin along with the rest of my imperfections. It turns into a downward spiral of bashing and trash talking myself consequently setting me up for restricting food as I no longer feel worthy.

    I would encourage anyone who suffers from acne to practice positive affirmations everyday, so as not to fall into a habit of viewing yourself as ugly or dirty because of your skin. Try sayings that don’t focus on your physical appearance like: ‘ I have a great personality’, I’m so proud of myself for making the soccer team” or ‘I really love how thoughtful I am”. Hopefully you get the idea.

    >there is a great reason for the existence of every extant fact; a reason which lies grand and immovable, often unsuspected behind it in silence

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