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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Cravings" (Mary DeTurris Poust)

TITLE: Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God
AUTHOR: Mary DeTurris Poust
PUBLISHER: Nortre Dame, IN: Ava Maria Press, 2012, (160 pages).

What do our cravings for food tell about us? A lot. This book basically argues that our physical hunger is essentially a symptom of a deeper condition: A desire to be filled, and a longing to be whole. The trouble with many is that they are filling themselves with things that do not last, and longing for a world that is far too inadequate to meet our deepest needs. The way we stuff ourselves with food can sometimes be due to self-loathing or deceptive loving. What about times in which we gobble food down and fail to pay attention to the people on the table? Perhaps, our inability to control any binging or inattentive eating is a symptom of a deeper problem. A big question constantly asked is this: Every time we reach out for something, say a cookie or a snack, are we satisfying a legitimate hunger or are we eating based on another kind of impulse?

Each chapter begins with a Scripture statement or a quote that spells out the main idea of the chapter. An illustration is then made to highlight the challenges many people face with regards to some form of eating. After making a case for a link between physical and spiritual needs, readers are invited back to the spiritual fathers, and practitioners of old, that we in the modern age can be trained to think about food, eating, and our self-identity in a more reflective way.  Whether it is a "goal-directed" vs "habit-directed" behaviour; a dieting based on self-delusion vs doing something based on who we are; to accept our self-image instead of trying to build up a false sense of identity; this book builds a case for us to be mindful about the motivations behind every eating. Each chapter ends with some positive applications, followed by a helpful "Food for Thought" and a "Practice" section for readers to exercise either self-control or purposefulness in their cravings. The meditations is a nice summary of each chapter, giving readers a good opportunity to turn back to the true spiritual source of fulfillment and delight. There are helpful ideas on fast food eating, vegetarian meals, instant cooking or easy meals, obsessive eating or dieting, fasting, simplicity in eating, and others. Eating is also a sacramental act too, as we exercise self-control and balance in our physical as well as spiritual feeding. The highlight is learning to turn mere meals into meaningful meditations, for all kinds of occasions.

My Thoughts

This book begins with an exploration of the connections between physical and spiritual nourishment. It then progresses to the key point about these connections reflecting our relationship with God and our journey toward becoming the persons we are made to be. Obesity and prayer can be closely linked. Eating and community building is also critical to relationships. Even eating desserts can be an utterly spiritual experience. Filled with lots of practical advice, readers will be ushered into a whole new way of thinking about their food.

There is a popular saying that we are what we eat. Mary DeTurris Poust has helped us to appreciate the deeper meanings and the underlying motivations behind our eating. She has made a strong case that links our physical nourishment with our desire for spiritual refreshment. I appreciate the author's ten-step plan for compulsive or impulsive eating. The key idea is about planning our eating, before, during, and after.

Ratin: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Ave Maria Press and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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