In his journey from rom-com movie star to serious actor, Matthew McConaughey lost more than three stone in weight to play the leading role of Aids patient Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. Proof, if it were needed, that he is a dedicated performer who had, perhaps, tired of the lightweight comedy roles where he was only a little more than highly paid eye candy.

While he has been widely applauded for his efforts, there is a more worrying aspect to the congratulations that have come his way. Details of his extremely limited diet have been debated and pored over by scores of women who wonder if they were to adopt the same strategy – just for a bit – they could shed the weight they hate around their thighs or stomach.

Our relationship with food and bodyweight has become distorted beyond belief
That so many women could even contemplate an eating plan that would eventually leave them looking like an emaciated Aids victim is a tragic indication of how out of touch we have become with our bodies. And how our relationship with food and body weight has been distorted almost beyond belief.

Geneen Roth’s excellent book, Women, Food and God, is not, as it might sound, an exhortation to get cooking in the kitchen attached to your religion’s place of worship. It is an easy to read guide which allows you to ditch using food as a drug. In other words, to tune in to yourself and your life, and above all to observe all of your emotions without wanting to smother them by eating food that you think you deserve, even though your body is not actually hungry.

Dieting bleaches the joy from life
You are not what you weigh; and by no longer using food or agonising about your weight as a distraction from the rest of your life, you get to show up to your own life and be fully present. Dieting bleaches the joy from life; Roth encourages her readers to stop dieting altogether and eat exactly what their bodies want. Most people’s reaction to this is a shocked: “I couldn’t possibly do that – I’d eat nothing but chocolate and ice cream all day and go up at least four dress sizes.” But as Roth explains, your body does not actually want chocolate and ice cream all day. When you tune in to your real, physical hunger, you get to work this out.

The Eating Guidelines
Here are The Eating Guidelines, according to Geneen Roth. If they seem impossibly hard to follow, buy her book and understand why that is for you …

1. Eat when you are hungry.
2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
3. Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
4. Eat what your body wants.
5. Eat until you are satisfied.
6. Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
7. Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.

Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth is published by Simon and Schuster at £7.99