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I keep hearing the term “food addict” when people introduce themselves at meetings. Is this okay today? I have always used the terms “compulsive eater,” or “compulsive overeater.” I personally do not care for the term “addict.” What is considered correct?

The answer is there are no rules concerning how people introduce themselves at an OA meeting. Some meeting formats encourage newcomers and visitors to use first names only to maintain anonymity. I have personally heard people who are not concerned with their own anonymity within the Fellowship use their full name. I have also heard people use their initials or another name that they would not use outside of the rooms.

As to the qualifier “food addict”, I have heard many different qualifiers in the rooms. The only limitation, I believe, would be that it does not violate the Traditions. I have heard people use “compulsive overeater,” “compulsive eater,” “anorexic/bulimic and compulsive eater,” “binger/starver,” “binge eater,” “food addict,” “sugar addict,” “grateful recovering compulsive eater,” “grateful to be in recovery today,” “abstinent today by the grace of God,” and so on. None of these is an outside issue; they merely reflect the diversity of members and levels of recovery in the program. All who live with the disease of compulsive eating are welcome. See the Many Symptoms, One Solution pamphlet for a more comprehensive list of symptoms. I personally say I’m a “compulsive eater” simply because I suffered from many of the symptoms of this disease and I was definitely addicted to certain foods.

As to why you are hearing the term “food addict” more often in meetings in your area, one reason might be that upon hearing someone introduce themselves that way, others felt that the term fit them as well and followed suit. (In other words, it may just be a trend at the moment.) Certainly, many people do consider themselves addicted to the foods from which they must abstain to be in recovery. Another possibility is that members from another Twelve Step fellowship are also attending OA meetings in your area and “food addict” is the term they use to describe themselves. Food is not an outside issue in Overeaters Anonymous, although many meetings may autonomously ask members not to share about specific foods.

If you find yourself continuing to be curious about the issue, why not stick around after your meeting and ask one of the food addicts why they use that term? Their answers may be enlightening.

— Members of the Board of Trustees provide answers to these questions

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