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Overeaters Anonymous As the Diet Alternative

written by: Stephanie Mojica • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 4/21/2009

Overeaters Anonymous is a popular, but not always well-known, alternative to commercial diet programs such as Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or trying to fight the battle of the bulge alone.

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    Introduction

    Known lovingly by many members as “Alcoholics Anonymous for food,” Overeaters Anonymous is a non-profit, non-religious, 12-step based group open to all who have a problem with eating – no matter how minor or major it may seem. Anorexics and bulimics (purging and non-purging) are also welcome and a growing number have also found recovery through the support and fellowship of Overeaters Anonymous.

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    How It Works

    In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, one of the approved books for sale in Overeaters Anonymous meetings and online, it quotes, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” In Overeaters Anonymous meetings, there are members who have lost as much as 300 pounds. How did they do it? Well, the purpose of the group is to also offer emotional support and not just focus on the food. Most people who reach a point of needing to lose 100 or more pounds have used food like alcoholics use alcohol, to numb their feelings and/or celebrate life.

    Overeaters Anonymous does not recommend a specific “diet” but rather encourages its members to adopt a “plan of eating” that works for them. Meetings are held regularly on the telephone, online, and in most cities and towns in the world. They focus on “what’s eating them” more than what people are eating. In fact, most meetings bar mentioning foods by name to avoid possibly triggering members into overeating.

    Meetings, which are free, accept donations by passing a basket. This is totally optional, and helps cover expenses like meeting room rent and brochures.

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    How to Succeed in Overeaters Anonymous

    Attend at least six meetings before deciding whether or not Overeaters Anonymous is for you. Get some literature (some is free) and phone numbers. Don’t be afraid to call people or talk to them after the meetings and see how they are surviving and enjoying life without the bondage of extra weight and eating disorders. Many people are also willing to talk about their food plan aside from the spiritual tools of the program, but keep in mind Overeaters Anonymous is not made up of professionals and all food-related decisions should be run by your doctor. Good luck!

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    Resources

    Overeaters Anonymous Web Site

    http://www.oa.org

    The Recovery Group - A 12-Step Community (geared toward compulsive eaters, anorexics, and bulimics)

    http://recovery.hiwaay.net/