(Reprinted with permission from the World Service Organization of Overeaters Anonymous)
On this page, you’ll find the following:
- Our Invitation to You
- Overeaters Anonymous Preamble
- The Twelve Steps of OA
- The Twelve Traditions of OA
- The Tools of Recovery
- What if I don’t believe in God?
- Unity with Diversity Policy
- OA Responsibility Pledge
Invitation to You
We of Overeaters Anonymous have made a discovery. At the very first meeting we attended, we learned that we were in the clutches of a dangerous illness, and that willpower, emotional health and self-confidence, which some of us had once possessed, were no defense against it.
We have found that the reasons for this illness are unimportant. What deserves the attention of the still-suffering compulsive overeater is this: There is a proven, workable method by which we can arrest our illness.
The OA recovery program is patterned after that of Alcoholics Anonymous. As our personal stories attest, the twelve-step program of recovery works as well for compulsive overeaters as it does for alcoholics.
Can we guarantee you this recovery? The answer is up to you. If you will honestly face the truth about yourself and the illness; if you keep coming back to meetings to talk and listen to other recovering compulsive overeaters; if you will read our literature and that of Alcoholic Anonymous with an open mind; and most important, if you are willing to rely on a power greater than yourself for direction in your life, and to take the twelve steps to the best of your ability, we believe you can indeed join the ranks of those who recover.
To remedy the emotional, physical, and spiritual illness of compulsive overeating we offer several suggestions, but keep in mind that the basis of this program is spiritual, as evidenced by the twelve steps.
We are not a “diet” club. We do not endorse any particular plan of eating. In OA, abstinence is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working toward or maintaining a healthy body weight. Once we become abstinent, the preoccupation with food diminishes and in many cases leaves us entirely. We then find that, to deal with our inner turmoil, we have to have a new way of thinking, of acting on life rather than reacting to it—in essence, a new way of living.
From this vantage point, we begin the twelve-step program of recovery, moving beyond the food and the emotional havoc to a fuller living experience. As a result of practicing these steps, the symptom of compulsive overeating and compulsive food behaviors are removed on a daily basis, achieved through the process of surrendering to something greater than ourselves; the more total our surrender, the more freely realized our freedom from food obsession.
“But I’m too weak. I’ll never make it!” Don’t worry, we have all thought and said the same thing. The amazing secret to the success of this program is just that: weakness. It is weakness, not strength that binds us to each other and to a Higher Power and somehow gives us the ability to do what we cannot do alone.
If you decide you are one of us, we welcome you with open arms. Whatever your circumstances, we offer you the gift of acceptance. You are not alone anymore. Welcome to Overeaters Anonymous. Welcome home!
Overeaters Anonymous Preamble
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 compulsive food behaviors and to carry the message of recovery through the Twelve Steps of OA to those who still suffer
The Twelve Steps of OA
- 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.
The Twelve Traditions of OA
- 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.
The Tools of Recovery
“In working Overeaters Anonymous’ Twelve-Step program of recovery from compulsive overeating, we have found that a number of tools are available to assist us. We use these tools … on a regular basis, to help us achieve and maintain abstinence and recover from our disease.”The Tools of Recovery, p1
A Plan of Eating
A plan of eating helps us abstain from compulsive eating. This tool helps us deal with the physical aspects of our disease and achieve physical recovery.
See the pamphlet A New Plan of Eating.
We ask a sponsor to help us through our program of recovery on all three levels, physical, emotional, and spiritual.
Meetings give us an opportunity to identify our common problems, confirm our common solution through the Twelve Steps, and share the gifts we receive through this program. In addition to face-to-face meetings, OA offers telephone and online meetings.
Many members call, text, or email their sponsors and other OA members daily. Telephone or electronic contact also provides an immediate outlet for those hard-to-handle highs and lows we may experience.
Putting our thoughts and feelings down on paper 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.
We read OA approved books, pamphlets, and Lifeline Magazine. Reading literature daily reinforces how to live the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.
An action plan is the process of identifying and implementing attainable actions that are necessary to support our individual abstinence. Just like our plan of eating, it may vary widely among members and may need to be adjusted to bring structure, balance, and manageability into our lives.
Anonymity guarantees we will place principles before personalities and assures us that only we have the right to make our membership known within our community. Anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television and other public media of communication means that we never allow our faces or last names to be used once we identify ourselves as OA members. 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.
Any form of service that helps reach a fellow sufferer adds to the quality of our own recovery. Members can give service by getting to meetings, putting away chairs, putting out literature, and talking to newcomers. Beyond the group level, a member can serve as intergroup representative, committee chair, region representative, or Conference delegate. 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.”
What if I don’t believe in God?
“The spiritual experiences and beliefs expressed by members of Overeaters Anonymous are as varied as those found in society at large. Some members have spiritual orientations; still others have come to OA with a history of religious conflict or do not accept the concept of God.”
The OA recovery program is based on acceptance of certain spiritual values. We are free to interpret these values as we think best, or not to think about them at all if we so choose. For more:
Unity with Diversity
As we extend the heart and hand of the OA Fellowship to those who still suffer, let us be mindful of OA’s Unity with diversity Policy, which respects our differences, yet unites us in the solution to our common problem. Whatever problem you may have with food, you are welcome at OA meetings, regardless of race, creed, nationality, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other trait.
Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this I am responsible.