Meetings provide a vital connection for our members and OA-curious people. Most of us find that the more we listen to each other the more we realize how alone we are NOT. If suffer from food and/or body obsession, shame or any of the many negative emotions that come with untreated food addiction please, attend six different meetings before you decide if OA is for you.
If you are part of an underrepresented group in OA, you may want to try a Special Focus Meeting. There are Special Focus Meetings for a variety of underrepresented groups. Some external websites listing these are on our special focus page HERE. Please note the time zone for each. All OA meetings are open to ALL members; however, Special Focus Meetings can help some members feel more at home.
And don’t forget our tradition of anonymity to those outside of the meetings:
- Have you ever wished you could lose 10 pounds, 20, 40, or 100 or more? Have you ever wished that once you got it off you could keep it off? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you sometimes felt out of step with the world, like a homeless orphan without a place where you really belonged? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever wished your family would get to work or school so you could get busy eating? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever awakened first thing in the morning and felt happy because you remembered that your favorite goodie was waiting for you in the fridge or in the cupboard? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever looked up at the stars and wondered what an insignificant person like you was doing in the world anyway? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever cooked, bought or baked for your family and then eaten everything yourself so you wouldn’t have to share? We in OA know you because we are you. Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever wanted to hide in the house, without going to work, without getting cleaned up or even getting dressed, without seeing anyone or letting anyone see you? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever hidden food under the bed, under the pillow, in the drawer, in the bathroom, in the wastebasket, in the cupboard, in the clothes hamper, in the closet or in the car so you could eat without anyone seeing you? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever been angry, resentful, defiant-against God, your mate, your doctor, your mother, your father, your friends, your children, the salesperson in the store whose look spoke a thousand words as you tried on clothes-because they were thin, because they wanted you to be thin, and because you were forced to diet to please them or shut them up or make them eat their words and their looks? We welcome you to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever sobbed out your misery in the dark night because no one loved or understood you? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever felt that God (if God existed) made the biggest mistake when God created you? Can you see that this is where such feelings get turned around? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever wanted to get on a bus and just keep going, without once looking back? Did you do it? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever thought the world was a mess, and if others would just think and act like you, the world would be a lot better off? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever thought that OA people must be a bit nuts? That they might be compulsive overeaters, but you just have a weight problem, which you can take care of beginning tomorrow; they might be one bite from insane eating, but you are just a little, or a lot, overweight? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever told anyone who would listen how great you are, how talented, how intelligent, how powerful-all the time knowing they would never believe it, because you didn’t believe it? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever lost all your excess weight and found that you were thin-unhappy instead of fat-unhappy? Welcome to OA; welcome home!
- Have you ever worn a mask or hundreds of masks because you were sure that if you shared the person you really were no one could ever love or accept you? We accept you in OA. May we offer you a home?
- Overeaters Anonymous extends to all of you the gift of acceptance. No matter who you are, where you come from or where you are heading, you are welcome here!
- No matter what you have done or failed to do, what you have felt or haven’t felt, where you have slept, or with whom, whom you have loved or hated-you may be sure of our acceptance. We accept you as you are, not as you would be if you could melt yourself and mold yourself and shape yourself into what other people think you should be. Only you can decide what you want to be.
- But we will help you work for the goals you set, and when you are successful we will rejoice with you; and when you slip, we will tell you that we are not failures just because we sometimes fail, and we’ll hold out our arms, in love, and stand beside you as you pull yourself back up and walk on again to where you are heading! You’ll never have to cry alone again, unless you choose to.
- Sometimes we fail to be all that we should be, and sometimes we aren’t there to give you all you need from us. Accept our imperfection, too. Love us in return and help us in our sometimes-falling failing. That’s what we are in OA–imperfect, but trying. Let’s rejoice together in our effort and in the assurance that we can have a home, if we want one.
- Welcome to OA; welcome home!
In working Overeaters Anonymous’ The OA 12 Twelve-Step program of recovery from compulsive overeating, we have found a number of tools to assist us. OA has defined nine tools to help members achieve and maintain Abstinence. You are not alone!
The 9 Tools of the OA Program
The 9 tools of the OA program are: A Plan of Eating, Sponsorship, Meetings, Telephone, Writing, Literature, Action Plan, Anonymity and Service, which are detailed below.
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 or recommend any specific plan of eating, nor does it exclude the personal use of one. (See the pamphlets Dignity of Choice and A Plan of Eating for more information.) 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 avoid.
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 should also have a sponsor. Sponsors help others by sharing their experience, strength and hope around living without eating compulsively, working the 12 Steps of OA , and being 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 one-to-one 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 in our step work, most of us have found writing to be an indispensable tool in our recovery.
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. It is also helpful to share what we’ve written with our sponsor or another trusted, close-mouthed friend. 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, Second Edition, The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous and For Today.
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 daily, 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.
Literature can be purchased through OA World Services, some OA meetings.
An action plan is the process of identifying and implementing attainable actions, both daily and long-term, that are necessary to support our individual abstinence and emotional, spiritual and physical recovery.
While the plan is ours, tailored to our own recovery process, most of us find it important to work with a sponsor, fellow OA member and/or appropriate professional to help us create it. This tool, like our plan of eating, may vary widely among members and may need to be adjusted as we progress in our recovery.
For example, a newcomer’s action plan might focus on planning, shopping for and preparing food. Some members may need a regular fitness routine to improve strength and health, while others may need to set exercise limits in order to attain more balance. Some of us may need an action plan that includes time for meditation and relaxation or provides strategies for balancing work, personal interactions with family and friends, and our program. Others may need help to organize their homes; deal with their finances; and address medical, dental or mental health issues.
Along with working the Steps on a daily basis, an action plan may incorporate use of the other OA tools to bring structure, balance and manageability into our lives. As we use this tool, we find that we develop a feeling of serenity and continue to grow emotionally and spiritually while we make measurable progress one day at a time.
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, 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 refrain from discussing 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 compulsive overeaters.
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.”
Tools of Recovery © 2011 Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. All rights reserved.
In OA we practice the 12 steps and 12 traditions, however most of us find it harder, and for some impossible to recover without becoming abstinent.
Definition of Abstinence
Abstinence in OA is the act of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight. Recovery is the removal of the need to engage in compulsive eating behaviors. Spiritual, emotional and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.
Suggestions for Newcomers
We suggest that newcomers and persons interested in Overeaters Anonymous:
The Twelve Traditions do for the OA Group what the Twelve Steps do for the individual. Just as freedom for the individual comes from the Twelve Steps, so freedom for the groups depends on knowledge and practice of our Traditions.
- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity.
- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority, a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
- The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.
- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or OA as a whole.
- Each group has but one primary purpose to carry its message to the compulsive overeater who still suffers.
- An OA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the OA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
- Every OA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
- Overeaters Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
- OA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
- Overeaters Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the OA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television and other public media of communication.
- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all these Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Permission to use the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous for adaptation granted by AA World Services, Inc.
Here are the steps as adapted for Overeaters Anonymous:
- We admitted we were powerless over food, that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Permission to use the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for adaptation granted by AA World Services, Inc.
Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. This series of questions may help you determine if you are a compulsive eater:
- Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
- Do you go on eating binges for no apparent reason?
- Do you have feelings of guilt and remorse after overeating?
- Do you give too much time and thought to food?
- Do you look forward with pleasure and anticipation to the time when you can eat alone?
- Do you plan these secret binges ahead of time?
- Do you eat sensibly before others and make up for it alone?
- Is your weight affecting the way you live your life?
- Have you tried to diet for a week (or longer), only to fall short of your goal?
- Do you resent others telling you to “use a little willpower” to stop overeating?
- Despite evidence to the contrary, have you continued to assert that you can diet “on your own” whenever you wish?
- Do you crave to eat at a definite time, day or night, other than mealtime?
- Do you eat to escape from worries or trouble?
- Have you ever been treated for obesity or a food-related condition?
- Does your eating behavior make you or others unhappy?
Have you answered yes to three or more of these questions? If so, it is probable that you have or are well on your way to having a compulsive overeating problem. We have found that the way to arrest this progressive disease is to practice the Twelve Steps recovery program of Overeaters Anonymous.
Overeaters Anonymous is a Fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, strength and hope, are recovering from compulsive overeating. We welcome everyone who wants to stop eating compulsively. There are no dues or fees for members; we are self-supporting through our own contributions, neither soliciting nor accepting outside donations. OA is not affiliated with any public or private organization, political movement, ideology, or religious doctrine, we take no position on outside issues. Our primary purpose is to abstain from compulsive eating and to carry the message of recovery through the Twelve Steps of OA to those who still suffer.