I was excited to read Dayna Macy’s new book, “Ravenous: A Food Lover’s Journey from Obsession to Freedom”,  because it is a memoir and not a “diet book.”   After reading a few self-help books on weight loss, like Marianne Williamson’s, “A Course in Weight Loss” and Geneen Roth’s “Women, Food, and God,” (both of which I loved!),  it intrigued me that someone would write a personal story of what she eats and why and what she did about it.

Dayna Macy titled her three sections with compelling names:  Part 1 is “Seduction”, in which she writes about the foods that arouse her desires: “Sausage,” “Cheese,” “Chocolate,” “Olives,” and “Squash.”  Squash?  Yes, squash – this chapter seems to be more about the pleasure of food than the food itself.  Or, perhaps, more about the man who is cooking the food than the food itself – charged with longing and eroticism, this chapter makes it is easy to see why we women confuse food with intimacy.  Hunger is often not distinguished for us in terms of what we are hungry for.  And so, we eat when we can’t or don’t love.

Part II is titled, “Communion,” with chapters called, “Farm,” “Forage,” “Feast,” “Patience,” “Slaughter,” and “Home” – the connections with food that create the insatiable – or almost insatiable — bond with those foods we love.   The hardest chapter for me to read in this section (in fact, in the entire book) was the one on meat, entitled  “Slaughter.”  While I am not a vegetarian and I don’t have any desire to be one, Dayna’s telling of her visit to a humane “abattoir” – a slaughterhouse – took me up close and personal to what it is behind the scenes of being a meat-eater: an animal has to die for me to have my steak and eat it, too.

Indeed, this chapter is about the humane slaughter of cows, which, we all know (or, should know by now) is not the way most of the cattle that supplies our meat are killed.  Although she does not take us on a visit to the farms that do not practice the humane slaughter of cattle, the background conversation is that method as a contrast to this visit to the more humane facility.  She describes the process in detail:  calves one at a time, hidden from the view of the animals behind it, stunned to brain-deadness and then killed.  Behind her visceral description is what she doesn’t discuss — the even more disturbing vision of cows crowded together in a killing chute, fear racing through their bodies as they see the animal in front of them die.  She doesn’t describe that directly, but the way she describes this killing is as a contrast to that killing.  While the unspoken contrast is not on the page, it is left in your mind.

After that chapter, I had to take a break.  Her descriptions are so detailed, I had to put the book down for awhile.  It was time to think about my responsibility in how I choose my food.  Can I live with even the humane description?  I don’t know.

Part III is called, “Transformation.”  The chapter titles are, “No Food,” “The Yoga of Food,” “The Practice of Food,” “The Offering of Food,” – all very spiritual chapters in the sense that eating and food require being honest with oneself and present to the actual act of eating —  and the last chapter of the book is on “Oranges.”  This is my favorite chapter, partly because of her luscious descriptions: “Oranges are among my favorite fruits.  I love how the juice squirts out when you bite into a section and how they can be both sweet and sour and taste like the sun,” and partly because it is clear, in the end, that she has no answers for herself or for me – or for anyone, in fact.

There are no answers.

This is a book about the courage to be honest about one’s appetites – all of them – and the way we use those appetites to protect ourselves, to hide our pain – mostly from ourselves – and, finally, to find a way to use the very wounds that we seek to hide to take us on a journey that will lead to loving ourselves.

Deliciously yours in the Sweetness of it All,  Linda

“Weight can be gained or lost.  Our judgments about our bodies are much harder to lose.  I see that my body is strong.  It lets me do things both beautiful and practical.  I am grateful to have found a practice that is helping me find balance and lose weight.  But the scale is a witness to my journey, not the measure of my worth.  It is with gratitude and humility that I am learning to take care of my body, because it is the embodiment of my spirit and the vehicle with which I make my way through this complicated, magnificent world.”         Dayna Macy, “Ravenous: a food lover’s journey from obsession to freedom.”

Here is the link to Hay House Book Club Radio, a discussion of “Ravenous” which will air this Friday, August 19th:

http://www.hayhouseradio.com/show_details.php?show_id=235&episode_type=0

Here is the link to “Ravenous” at Barnes and Noble:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ravenous-dayna-macy/1100319096?ean=9781401926915&itm=1&usri=ravenous%2bby%2bdayna%2bmacy

And, the link to Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/Ravenous-Lovers-Journey-Obsession-Freedom/dp/1401926916/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1297878475&sr=1-1

Disclosure:  I received Dayna Macy’s book, “Ravenous:  a food lover’s journey from obsession to freedom”  for free from Hay House Publishing.

© Linda Ruocco and “Spiritual Chocolate”, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Ruocco and ”Spiritual Chocolate”  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  Thank you.

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