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Trigger Food Taboo

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Q.

Why is mentioning a specific food or restaurant considered a trigger in an OA meeting? Is there an official OA stance on this subject?

A.

OA does not have an official stance, and mentioning or not mentioning trigger foods is not addressed in OA literature. Tradition Four gives groups the autonomy to make this decision for themselves, but the other Traditions should be considered as well: Would the unity of the group be best served by allowing mention of specific foods or not? Which decision helps our particular group carry the message of recovery?

It seems that some groups decide to ban the mentioning of specific foods in an attempt to protect their most vulnerable members. Other groups decide that it’s much more triggering when the food is not mentioned but instead is “talked around” in a way that’s even more distracting, causing vulnerable members to become distracted trying to figure out what binge food is being talked about.

My personal belief is that my story includes specific problem areas and I’d like to talk about them. But I also understand that it’s hurtful to others (and myself!) to romanticize these foods. In fact, when I was in relapse in 1993, someone approached me and suggested that I might want to attend a meeting about 30 minutes away, specifically because they did talk about specific foods and specific triggers. This wasn’t romantic recounting, however. Instead, foods might be mentioned only in discussing the roots of our problems and the need for spiritual solutions. If I’m looking to recover from my addiction to a certain substance, it’s not going to help me to keep that substance a secret.

In my experience, if something said in a meeting (or anywhere) triggers me, it’s about me, not about what was said or the rules or anything outside myself. If someone mentions a specific food and I go out and eat that food, I might want to blame them, but really, I need to look at my program and my own spiritual condition. When my spiritual condition is fit, the mention of specific foods is not a trigger for me.

I hope this is helpful. If you or someone else in your group is struggling with this, I suggest a group conscience to see which way your group wants to go on the issue.

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