Help for Food Addiction
Overeaters Anonymous (OA) was founded to provide for the spiritual, emotional, and physical well being of the compulsive eaters who make up the group. Based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, OA works to provide a safe environment where members are encouraged to work out their issues with food. OA began when Gamblers Anonymous member Rozanne S. realized that the same principles could be applied to her ongoing battle with her weight. In 1960, she co-founded the group with a neighbor and another compulsive overeater.
This non-profit group is entirely funded through literature sales and voluntary contributions. It is not religious based, although it does encompass a person's spiritual recovery. Any reference to "God" is meant as a High Being, not a god from any specific religion. Members do not follow any diet, but are encouraged to meet with a physician or other healthcare professional regarding their dietary habits.
The purpose of OA is to help members "abstain from compulsive eating." To do so, the group uses the Twelve Steps, which are based upon Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). The steps provide a new way of life for members. Also borrowed from AA is the Twelve Traditions, which are guiding principles to how the group itself is run.
Eight Tools of Recovery for Overeaters Anonymous
Overeaters Anonymous encourages its members to use several tools in their recovery process. Each tool has been identified for the special needs it meets in a person with a compulsive eating problem.
- Plan of Eating-Developed with a dietician, physician, or nutritionist, it guides the OA member in his/her dietary decisions. Every member needs to have some sort of plan, no matter how flexible it is.
- Sponsorship-Members who follow the Traditions and Steps are sponsors for new or struggling members. Sponsors share their personal experience and help guide others in their recovery process.
- Meetings-Meetings occur when several members come together to share their personal experiences and provide fellowship with others. Meetings are frequently conducted in similar manners. New members should visit several different meetings before deciding which group to join.
- Telephone-The telephone is used to prevent isolation and to share with each other one-on-one. Members can phone each other, their sponsors, or their sponsorees. It is a gesture of asking for help and the extension of a hand to others when they need help.
- Writing-Members are encouraged to write an inventory and list of people wronged as part of the Twelve Steps. However, most groups and members find it beneficial to keep journals or diaries of their thoughts and feelings. It helps sort out problems on paper in ways people may not have thought of when keeping things bottled up.
- Literature-Using OA approved pamphlets, books, and magazine articles in the recovery process. The AA book is also frequently used.
- Anonymity-Keeping meeting information and stories shared a secret. Members keep other members identities a secret as well as any meeting information. Only individuals have the right to make their membership known.
- Service-Carrying the message of OA through service within the organization is a way to recover. Helping out at meetings by talking to newcomers, setting up chairs, or cleaning afterwards are ways to provide service within the organization.
Is OA Right for Me?
To determine if Overeaters Anonymous is a group that you can benefit from, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I eat when I am not hungry?
- Do I go on eating binges for no known reason?
- Does my weight get in the way of my daily life?
- Do I eat to escape my anxiety or problems?
- Does my weight make myself or others unhappy?
More identifying questions can be found on the website. Answering "yes" to three or more questions may mean that you have a compulsive eating problem. Overeaters Anonymous provides online help, literature, and a local meeting search of your area.
Taking the first step is admitting you may have a problem. Do not let your issues with food control your life.