Saturday, January 5, 2013

Interview with Mary DeTurris Poust

"Often, it is not the fear of failure that holds us back but the fear of success. We cling to the comfortable rather than step out into the possible. So we sit at home with a container of Cookies and Cream rather than take a chance on getting our heart broken again, or we down an entire bag of chocolate- covered pretzels rather than work on that resume that might get us out of a dead-end job. Or we eat cold pasta right from the refrigerator rather than sit down in silence and listen for the whisper of the Spirit speaking to our hearts.”~Mary DeTurris Poust

It is my honor and privilege to interview Mary DeTurris Poust about her newest book, Cravings: A Catholic Wrestles with Food, Self-Image, and God. This post will kick off Mary's blog tour which starts today right here! You'll also have the opportunity to enter to win a copy of the author's book, Cravings, as well as a $100.00 William Sonoma gift card! Details will follow this interview.

Before I begin our interview I'd like to tell you a bit about Mary DeTurris Poust.

Mary DeTurris Poust is an author, columnist, journalist, speaker, and blogger who has written for dozens of Catholic and secular publications. She is the author of Walking Together, Everyday Divine, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism, and Parenting a Grieving Child. Poust was a senior correspondent and contributing editor for Our Sunday Visitor newspaper for fourteen years.

Her award-winning monthly column “Life Lines” has been published in Catholic New York since 2001. Poust also writes about family, faith, and the spiritual journey at her own blog, Not Strictly Spiritual. She has worked for the dioceses of Metuchen, New Jersey, and Austin, Texas, as well as the Archdiocese of New York, where she served as managing editor of Catholic New York. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and three children.

Mary, your new book, Cravings is very unique. The cover is stunning - I love it! Would you kindly tell us what prompted you to write this book?

This book was really a blessing and a journey for me. My publisher, Ave Maria Press, first approached me with the idea of writing something on the connection between food and faith. Over the course of a month or two, I prayed on it and discovered bit by bit that not only did I want to write this book but that I needed to write this book – for myself and for every other person out there who has ever let food or weight or any other outside issue become a barometer of their self worth.

Was it difficult to write this book? Would you like to share any part of the writing process with us?

Like you, I’m very comfortable sharing personal stories and allowing myself to be vulnerable in front of my readers, but this book took that to a whole new level for me. I wanted to be totally honest about my own issues with self-esteem and diet and weight. At the same time, I wanted to make sure I didn’t make my own situation seem more dire than it was. I’ve never had a true eating disorder, and I did not want to lessen the seriousness of what that means for people who do have that challenge in their lives. On top of all that, I wanted this book to be a celebration of food and faith, not a diet book, so I had to find a way to achieve that balance. I tried to follow my own advice throughout the writing of this book, which was one way this project became a gift and a blessing. It allowed me to enter more deeply into my own life story.

What are some of the ways you challenge the reader in Cravings?

A big part of getting beyond our cravings and negative habits depends on us finding new ways to approach food, not by counting calories or pounds but by becoming more aware of what’s sitting on our plate, what’s going on around us, and what’s running through our mind. When we try one fad diet after another, we’re not really getting to the underlying cause of our food issues, which is why diets so often fail. I try to give readers practical ways to break out of their food ruts – from mindful practices that can transform a meal into mediation to simple suggestions for healthier grocery shopping to creating everyday food rituals. I also share lots of stories – my own and those of people who have had various diet and weight issues. And I bring in advice from experts in all sorts of food and faith-related areas, a Benedictine monk, a Catholic “foodie,” nutritionists, chefs and more. I think I challenge readers to think about food and about themselves in a whole new way, a healthier way.

What do you think is the greatest struggle when it comes to food and body image?

Too many of us have bought into the notion – pushed on us by advertisers and magazines and Hollywood -- that beauty and self-worth come with a specific dress size or weight and that the way to happiness can be found in a pill, a crash diet, or a piece of exercise equipment. That view can turn food into the enemy, the thing that keeps us from true success, happiness, and acceptance. In giving food so much significance, we give it power, and so begins the damaging connection between food and self-image. My hope is that through my book, I can help people sever that connection and put food in its rightful place. Food is not the enemy and we are not a number on a scale. We are “wonderfully made” as we read in Psalm 139, no matter what our waist size. Once we realize that, food loses its hold on us.

Would you share a bit about how you have woven prayer into a book, which seems to be about food? After all, it is titled, Cravings and an attractive succulent berry adorns the front cover.

As with so many things that can get in the way of true joy and freedom, not only food, but whatever “vice” we may turn to for comfort, reward, celebration – shopping, drinking, gambling, social media – prayer is critical when we want to turn things around and find spiritual, emotional, and physical well being. We can’t do it alone; we need God, and so prayer must be part of the equation. That’s why I give readers a meditation at the end of every chapter. When we weave prayer into everyday life, especially into our meal times, we begin to move away from the mindless, eat-for-any-reason mentality to a place of balance, wholeness, and holiness. So often when we reach for food without really thinking about what we’re doing, it’s because we’re hungry for something much deeper -- for love, for acceptance, for peace, for God. But without prayer we don’t know how to find it and so we resort to something easy, something like food. And so Cravings is really about so much more than diet and self-image. It’s about the spiritual journey.

Do you have any special book signing events coming up?

I will be appearing on CNN’s “Weekend Early Start” program tomorrow morning (Sunday, Jan. 6) at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, so I hope readers will tune in for that. And, of course, this stop is the first of a 15-day blog tour. I will also be doing a free webinar, “What Are You Craving in 2013? Five Ways to Restore Sanity and Serenity to Your Relationship with Food," for Ave Maria Press on Tuesday, February 5, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. I’m beginning to set up some speaking engagements and retreats for the coming year, so readers can check my blog for information on those as they come up:
Finally, Mary, where can we get your book?

You can find it in all of the usual places: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and at Ave Maria Press.

Thank you very much for the interview, Mary.

By the way, everyone, Ave Maria Press, the publisher says, "Cravings is a powerful companion in learning to look at body and spirit as two united parts of a whole and in doing so, gaining self-awareness and self-acceptance. As Poust helps readers confront the fact that God truly does love us unconditionally, the need for external gratification diminishes, as does the urge to count calories. With the help of reflection questions at the end of each chapter, Cravings becomes an intensely personal experience that gives the reader a chance to stop and meditate on his or her self-image."

You can see Mary's upcoming schedule here:

Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Mary's book, Cravings by leaving a comment on this blog by Saturday, January 12th. I will put all of the comments into a hat and randomly choose a winner on January 13, 2013 (feast of the Baptism of the Lord).

Also, enter to win a William Sonoma gift certificate through this link: You can enter every day until January 20th!

God bless you and yours!


  1. Thank you, Donna-Marie, for the wonderful interview. We can all benefit from the kind of wisdom that Mary shares about food and faith. Many blessings in 2013!

  2. Donna,
    Thank you so much for this interview and for kicking off my blog tour. A great way to begin!
    Peace, love, and blessings,

  3. I can so relate to the concept of using food to fulfill the emptiness we feel from somewhere else. I have always turned to food for comfort especially on my real stress filled days(which with 3 special needs children is quite often). My husband will actually call and ask if I need my "comfort food." This book sounds like a great way to start the new year with a healthy reminder of the importance of creating new habits.

  4. You are very welcome, Joseph. Many blessings in 2013 to you and yours too!

  5. Mary, it was my pleasure to kick off your blog tour. Have a great tour! You'd better eat your "Wheaties"! Just kidding, I'm sure it will be something better and healthier to keep up your strength. :)
    Blessings and love,

  6. I'm glad you liked the interview, Elizabeth. Blessings to you and yours in the New Year!
    Hugs and love,

  7. A wonderful interview! Thank you for always bringing new books and information to us. Can't t wait to read this book! S wonderful way to start the new year. Aldo looking forward to reading your new book Donna- Marie!

    1. Thank you very much, Anna. I hope you get a chance to read Mary's book, "Cravings" and also my new book, "Rooted in Love." Blessings to you!

  8. This is an interesting topic and I'm enjoying all the essays and interviews so far in the blog tour. I think that if I am to get healthier and lose some weight, I have to examine my own relationship with food.

  9. I think I need this book. Thank you.

  10. I am very very interested in this book...its on my nook wish list actually, I've suffered with a variety of disordered eating issues, and hope and pray I don't pass the issues on to my children!

  11. Donna-Marie, don't put a copy of Mary's post in your hat for the drawing. I believe she may already have a copy of the book!! :)


  12. I would love to read this book, timely for Lent coming up. Thank you.

  13. I think I could really benefit by reading this book. It looks wonderful! Thank you!


I welcome your comments, thanks for stopping by! :)