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Bitter is Better

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I am a 62-year-old male, and since I came into program at the end of March 2015, my marriage has been restored and my family is mostly on good terms with me. My depression has lifted. I have excellent friendships inside and outside the Fellowship, and I feel a joy in daily living I had not felt for forty or fifty years. I’ve lost over 6 stone (38 kg; 84 lbs) and recently underwent a full medical assessment with excellent results. Considering how hard I’d tried to lose weight before finding OA, I am amazed and delighted.

As suggested in OA, I practice abstinence, which for me includes refraining from all sweet foods and drinks and other foods I am compulsive about. Luckily, I have been guided to an easy way to be totally free of sugar and cravings for sweetness: I eat bitter foods. I find this key when I am unable to avoid processed or restaurant foods made with sugar.

I reluctantly learned to eat bitter foods, but, for me, it was either eat bitter foods or that first compulsive bite. Initially, I ate bitter foods in small amounts, but as my physical demands for sugar became more urgent, I increased the amounts of bitter foods I ate. Now I eat a fresh lemon daily as part of my food plan.

I had used sweet foods and drinks for emotional comfort for so long that I felt a real sense of loss about having to let them go. When I shared this grief in the rooms and admitted my defeat, the grief departed. Now I am able to look forward to my wonderful, abstinent foods.

It took courage to accept change into my life because I hated that it meant drawing attention to myself or standing out and not being one of the crowd. I feared being seen as “over-the-top,” both inside and outside the Fellowship, because I eat bitter foods. (I shared this fear, and it is slowly leaving me.) I would not have had belief in myself to persevere if not for the steadfast support of my sponsor, who unrelentingly would ask “What are you getting from this?” If I left off eating my lemons, he would demand to know why I was interfering with something that was working for me.

Lemons and other bitter foods like limes, rhubarb, and diluted apple cider vinegar are key for me. One day at a time, they help remove my craving for sugar.

Naturally, I accept that this by itself will not solve my compulsive eating. For that, I am a very grateful member of Overeaters Anonymous.

—Mort M., Ireland

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