The purpose of this special day, International Day Experiencing Abstinence, is to encourage members to establish or reaffirm their own abstinence.

Many people ask what abstinence is, so we will look to the OA Policy on Abstinence and Recovery:

“The WSBC 2019 accepts the following definitions:

  1. Abstinence: The act of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight.
  2. Recovery: Removal of the need to engage in compulsive eating behaviors.

“Spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is achieved through working and living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve Step program.”

Notice that the policy doesn’t say anything about specific foods or triggers?  As our recovery grows and as we grow as beings living in the solution, so does our understanding of abstinence. It grows and forms and changes.

If you break it down, we can ask ourselves, “What are my compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors?” Are they the rituals I have around how and when I eat things? Bingeing, purging, or starving? Weighing myself several times a day? Eating in secret? Eating in the car? Eating spoiled food from the trash bin?

Our compulsive eating and food behaviors are as individual as we are. We may find others who have done some of the same things, but no one is identically the same. Every journey is our own, and with this in mind, we should create our abstinence. Some may come in and pick up another person’s food plan. It will work for a while—it may work for years—but at some point, it will stop working because it wasn’t tailored for them and the choice was rooted in a diet mentality, which has failed many of us so many times.

For those who struggle to maintain abstinence on a daily basis, why not plan a day to try out abstinence no matter what? For just one day, from midnight to midnight, can you avoid your compulsive eating behaviors around food? Remember, we all only have one day at a time.

For those with established abstinence, why not share how you manage your recovery? This is a program of attraction. You never know to whom you are holding out the hand of fellowship by sharing your experience, strength, and hope.

Or, just spend time contemplating what abstinence means for you. Write it down; define it clearly. Are you addressing all your compulsions around food and eating? Think of ways to work around issues that can endanger your abstinence. Share this with your sponsor, sponsees, and friends in the Fellowship—you never know whom you might enlighten with your approach to abstinence!

— Edited and reprinted from Region Nine Weekly Announcements

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