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Pressure-Free

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How did I come to Overeaters Anonymous? A therapist who saw successful recovery in her clients recommended OA to me. I’d gone to a meeting years ago and wasn’t sure if OA was for me. But I’d certainly had a lot of experience with heavily promoted commercial plans and products. OA was free. What did I have to lose?

What a surprise to find a room full of down-to-earth people operating a welcoming, supportive, in-depth program. They worked as a group using contributions only, offering modestly priced or complementary literature, free of sales pressure. No one had to “sell” me on the program. The personal stories shared were evidence enough that Overeaters Anonymous was not just another diet plan. In contrast to diet groups, OA offers meeting times devoted to recovery-based sharing, using a strong, three-prong system that addresses physical, emotional, and spiritual components.

Compulsive eaters know our struggle isn’t with the occasional overeating that normal eaters can do. I’d often tuned out well-intentioned comments and suggestions from normal eaters; they didn’t really understand compulsion around eating. People who experienced compulsive eating personally—and survived it—presented OA to me. Compulsive eaters recognize the need for support to always be vigilant in this baffling and cunning disease. We know that success depends on turning struggles over to a Higher Power, while using Steps and Tools to identify and treat root causes.

Of course, the public needs to know where and when OA groups meet, but we don’t have to spend enormous funds on advertising, celebrity spokespersons, and dozens of side-products. Much more effective is the sincere sharing of our struggles, abstinence, and recovery with those who inquire. Also helpful are one-on-one conversations with healthcare and therapy providers. My physician was totally unaware of OA until I spoke up.

As a compulsive overeater, I once enjoyed talking about my compulsion while offering little advice about treating it. In recent months, my conversation has turned instead to the solution I’ve learned in OA: that recovery means more than losing weight. Recovery brings clarity to my previously food-muddled mind, and refreshes energy that my old eating patterns had destroyed. Even when my progress doesn’t show on my body as quickly as I’d like, it shows in my attitude and energy with others. Who could understand that but another compulsive eater?

— Edited and reprinted from OA Today newsletter, St. Louis Bi-State Area Intergroup, November 2015

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