About the Book:
In this first book on the topic written from a Catholic perspective, award-winning writer Mary DeTurris Poust offers personal, hard-won wisdom on the complex relationship between food and spirituality.
Mary DeTurris Poust draws on the rich appreciation of meals she first gained at the tables of her childhood in an Italian-American family, leading readers into reflection on the connections between eating, self-image, and spirituality. Like Geneen Roth in Women, Food and God, but from a uniquely Catholic point of view, Poust helps readers spot ways they use food to avoid or ignore their real desires--for acceptance, understanding, friendship, love, and, indeed, for God. Poust draws from scripture and the great Catholic prayer forms and devotions to assist readers in making intentional changes in their use of food. She also offers reflections on fasting, eating in solidarity with the poor, vegetarianism, and the local food movement.
This wasn’t the weight loss book I was looking for. I want the one that tells me how I can lose weight while eating what I want when I want and not exercising. If you are a publicist or author with such a book to offer, please be advised that if I find your system works, I’ll sing its praises daily.
Yes, this is another eat less and exercise more to lose weight book. So, what’s different about it? Cravings looks at weight management from the perspective of Catholic spirituality. Mary DeTurris Poust postulates that people who overeat do so to fill some void in their lives, a void that should be filled by God; in other words, getting your spiritual life in order is an important part of the weight loss process. Most of the advice is pretty much the same as that given by other sensible weight control programs such as eating slowly and mindfully, eating fresh whole foods rather than processed garbage and acknowledging your own self-worth. It recommends a food and prayer journal. What is different is the comparisons between ordinary meals and the Eucharist, which of course are accompanied by suggestions on how to make daily meals more like the Eucharist (which Catholics believe is the “Bread come down from heaven” which keeps us from ever being hungry again). Besides quoting popular authors like Leo Buscalia, Poust also quotes scripture and Church documents.
The book does not contain any diet or eating program. It does not mandate any amount of exercise and does not promise any amount of weight loss. Rather, it is about changing your attitude about and approach to eating. Each chapter ends with a set of reflection questions and action items. For example, one of the questions in Chapter Two is “When you imagine yourself becoming the person you want to be, what scares you the most? How do you feel about unleashing your true self? What would it be like to value yourself with no conditions attached?” The “Practice” in Chapter Three is “Allow yourself to eat one meal you really love with zero guilt. Savor every bite as a Roman would. Go out to a restaurant or prepare it at home. Eat slowly and with gusto. Invite family or friends to join you.”
I’ve read other places that Lent should be more than an excuse to lose a couple of pounds--it should be the opportunity for conversion in our lives, and that conversion is something that even the most devout among us need. However, if you do need weight loss I think this book could be a wonderful Lenten guide since it calls not for just refraining from eating but also for conversion. The book is eight chapters long so reading one chapter per week and journaling on the reflection questions and following each chapter’s “Practice” should be a manageable Lenten practice that could result in long-lasting conversion.
I’d like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade: B+.