In working Overeaters Anonymous' Twelve-Step program of
recovery from compulsive overeating, we have found that
there are a number of tools available to assist us. We use
these tools-a plan of eating, sponsorship, meetings, the
telephone, writing, literature, anonymity and service-on a
regular basis, to help us achieve and maintain abstinence.
In Overeaters Anonymous (OA), abstinence is "the action of
refraining from compulsive eating." Many of us have found
that we cannot abstain from compulsive eating unless we use
some or all of OA's eight tools of recovery.
A Plan of Eating
As a tool, a plan of eating helps us to abstain from eating
compulsively. Having a personal plan of eating guides us in
our dietary decisions, as well as defines what, when, how,
where and why we eat. It is our experience that sharing this
plan with a sponsor or another OA member is important.
There are no specific requirements for a plan of eating; OA
does not endorse, recommend or distribute any specific food
plan, nor does it exclude the personal use of one. For
specific dietary or nutritional guidance, OA suggests
consulting a qualified health care professional, such as a
physician or dietician. Each of us develops a personal plan
of eating based on an honest appraisal of his or her own
past experience; we also have come to identify our current
individual needs, as well as those things which we should
Although individual plans of eating are as varied as our
members, most OA members agree that some plan-no matter how
flexible or structured-is necessary.
This tool helps us deal with the physical aspects of our
disease, and helps us achieve physical recovery. From this
vantage point, we can more effectively follow OA's
Twelve-Step program of recovery and move beyond the food to
a happier, healthier and more spiritual living experience.
Sponsors are OA members who are living the Twelve Steps and
Twelve Traditions to the best of their ability. They are
willing to share their recovery with other members of the
Fellowship and are committed to abstinence.
We ask a sponsor to help us through our program of recovery
on all three levels: physical, emotional and spiritual. By
working with other members of OA and sharing their
experience, strength and hope, sponsors continually renew
and reaffirm their own recovery. Sponsors share their
program up to the level of their own experience.
Ours is a program of attraction; find a sponsor who has what
you want, and ask that person how he or she is achieving it.
A member may work with more than one sponsor and may change
sponsors at will.
Meetings are gatherings of two or more compulsive overeaters
who come together to share their personal experience, and
the strength and hope OA has given them. Though there are
many types of meetings, fellowship with other compulsive
overeaters is the basis of them all. Meetings give us an
opportunity to identify and confirm our common problem and
to share the gifts we receive through this program.
The telephone helps us share on a one-to-one basis and avoid
the isolation which is so common among us. Many members call
other OA members and their own sponsors daily. As a part of
the surrender process, it is a tool with which we learn to
reach out, ask for help and extend help to others. The
telephone also provides an immediate outlet for those
hard-to-handle highs and lows we may experience.
In addition to writing our inventories and the list of
people we have harmed, most of us have found that writing
has been an indispensable tool for working the Steps.
Further, putting our thoughts and feelings down on paper, or
describing a troubling incident, helps us to better
understand our actions and reactions in a way that is often
not revealed to us by simply thinking or talking about them.
In the past, compulsive eating was our most common reaction
to life. When we put our difficulties down on paper, it
becomes easier to see situations more clearly and perhaps
better discern any necessary action.
We study and read OA-approved pamphlets; OA-approved books,
such as Overeaters Anonymous, The Twelve Steps and Twelve
Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous and For Today; and we
read Lifeline, our monthly magazine on recovery. We also
study the book Alcoholics Anonymous, referred to as the "Big
Book," to understand and reinforce our program. Many OA
members find that when read on a daily basis, the literature
further reinforces how to live the Twelve Steps. Our OA
literature and the AA "Big Book" are ever-available tools
which provide insight into our problem of eating
compulsively, strength to deal with it, and the very real
hope that there is a solution for us.
Anonymity, referred to in Traditions Eleven and Twelve, is a
tool that guarantees that we will place principles before
personalities. The protection anonymity provides offers each
of us freedom of expression and safeguards us from gossip.
Anonymity assures us that only we, as individual OA members,
have the right to make our membership known within our
community. Anonymity at the level of press, radio, films and
television means that we never allow our faces or last names
to be used once we identify ourselves as OA members. This
protects both the individual and the Fellowship.
Within the Fellowship, anonymity means that whatever we
share with another OA member will be held in respect and
confidence. What we hear at meetings should remain there.
However, it should be understood that anonymity must not be
used to limit our effectiveness within the Fellowship. It is
not a break of anonymity to use our full names within our
group or OA service bodies. Also, it is not a break of
anonymity to enlist Twelfth-Step help for group members in
trouble, provided we are careful to refrain from discussing
any specific personal information.
Another aspect of anonymity is that we are all equal in the
Fellowship, whether we are newcomers or seasoned
long-timers. And our outside status makes no difference in
OA; we have no stars or VIPs. We come together simply as
Carrying the message to the compulsive overeater who still
suffers is the basic purpose of our Fellowship; therefore,
it is the most fundamental form of service. Any form of
service-no matter how small-which helps reach a fellow
sufferer adds to the quality of our own recovery. Getting to
meetings, putting away chairs, putting out literature,
talking to newcomers, doing whatever needs to be done in a
group or for OA as a whole, are ways in which we give back
what we have so generously been given. We are encouraged to
do what we can when we can. "A life of sane and happy
usefulness" is what we are promised as the result of working
the Twelve Steps. Service helps to fulfill that promise. As
OA's responsibility pledge states: "Always to extend the
hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for
this, I am responsible."
About OA Copyright 1979-2003 by Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.
Reprinted by permission of Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.