Is an Overeaters Anonymous Food Plan Right for Me

Is an Overeaters Anonymous Food Plan Right for Me?

Overeating is one of the most common problems faced by those suffering from obesity. Although it may seem like a minor problem at first glance, overeating can have major consequences. For example, if you are overweight or obese, your risk of developing many chronic diseases increases dramatically. If you suffer from diabetes or heart disease, you could experience premature death due to these conditions. On top of all this, excessive weight can cause other health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and even cancer.

There are several types of eating disorders that include bulimia nervosa (BN), anorexia nervosa (AN) and binge eating disorder (EBD). Binge eaters often feel deprived when they do not consume enough calories; however, they will typically compensate by consuming large amounts of sugar or fat. They may also engage in self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse.

It is estimated that 1 out of every 5 women and 1 out of every 6 men will develop an eating disorder during their lifetime. However, there are no reliable statistics on how many individuals develop an eating disorder before they reach adulthood. Some experts believe that up to 50% of young adults will become clinically depressed as a result of developing an eating disorder.

If you are struggling with overeating and food addiction, it is important that you seek help as soon as possible. The earlier you address these problems, the easier it will be to achieve your goals. The following are some of the most commonly used treatments for overeating and food addiction.

Overeaters Anonymous

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses; however, research has shown that those who seek treatment have a much better chance of recovery. Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is a 12-step program for those who suffer from food addiction and other eating disorders.

It is a self-help group in which members attend weekly meetings to share their experiences, strengths and hope with each other. There are no professionals at these meetings; however a sponsor is assigned to help new members if they have any questions.

The first step towards recovery is to admit that you have a problem and can’t overcome it on your own. This is the first step in OA and your “Higher Power” can be anything you want it to be (e.g.

God, Buddha, the universe, yourself). OA is meant for anyone suffering from overeating problems; however, members may engage in binge eating, bulimia or anorexia nervosa.

Group therapy sessions consist of sharing personal experiences, reading literature and assignments. Members are encouraged to speak about their own struggles during these meetings; however, if you are not ready or willing to share, you may simply listen.

There is no cost for this 12-step program; however, some OA meetings place a stipulation that requires members to contribute by passing around a basket or envelope for donations. These meetings are run solely by volunteers and there are no professionals involved.

Most meetings take place in church basements or community centers; however, there are online meetings available for those who find it difficult to leave the house. To find an OA meeting near you, you can either call your local hospital or mental health center or search online under “OA” and your city’s name. You can also find more information about this organization by visiting the website at

Nutrition Counseling

Another option for treating overeating and food addiction is nutrition counseling. This type of therapy may be provided by a registered dietician, nutritionist or your family physician. The goal is to address nutritional deficiencies as well as eating habits and food choices.

These professionals are trained to help you determine your food habits and offer advice on how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. They will also work with you to address overeating, poor eating habits and food addictions.

Nutrition counseling sessions tend to be short in duration; however, the frequency of visits depends on what the patient’s needs are. Treatment plans may range from once a week to once a month. The costs for these sessions vary from one insurance provider to another.

Additionally, there are self-help books and materials available that can provide you with information on proper nutrition and weight loss. A quick internet search will provide you with many different resources.

Treating the Underlying Issue

Remember, food addiction is a symptom; a way of coping with life’s problems. It is essential to also address the root issue that is causing the addiction in the first place. Food addiction can mask deeper problems such as depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.

During your treatment plan, be sure to speak with a psychologist or psychiatrist about any underlying mental health concerns you might have. Dealing with these issues head on is the key to recovering from food addiction for good.

Also, it is important to make positive lifestyle changes and address any other poor habits such as smoking and alcohol abuse. Addiction is a disease that breeds multiple symptoms. It is vital that you seek help for the full scope of your condition.

Once you have completed your treatment plan, continued participation in support groups and practicing positive lifestyle habits will help prevent a relapse in the future.

Getting Help

If you or someone you know is suffering from a food addiction, make an appointment with your family physician to discuss treatment options. There are many ways to get the help you need; however, it is very important that you take that first step. Remember, food addiction is a disease that affects the mind and body.

It is not a weakness and you cannot simply “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and get better all by yourself.

Don’t suffer in silence. Reach out for help today. You don’t have to face this alone.

Seeking help is a sign of courage and strength. Addicts who don’t get help are prisoners of their addictions. You don’t want to be a prisoner of anything.

You want to live life on your own terms.

You can get better. One day at a time. It’s worth it.

Remember, you are not alone. There is help available.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

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Get Help Today

If you are in need of immediate assistance, please consult your doctor or local medical resource to discuss your addiction and how to get help.

Never stop fighting. Never give up. There is always hope.

You can do all things in Christ who gives you strength.


Food Addiction Symptoms

The following are a list of symptoms that may indicate a food addiction. Note that everyone may not experience all symptoms and that the intensity of each symptom may vary from person to person.

Do you experience any of the following?

You eat when you’re not hungry (you don’t feel physical hunger)

You eat much more than normal amounts of food in a sitting or within a given time period.

You eat when you’re depressed, stressed, or bored.

You eat alone or in secret.

You’ve tried unsuccessfully to stop or cut back on your eating.

Your eating habit has caused problems in your relationships.

You’ve lied about your eating habits to friends and family.

You continue to eat certain foods even though you know they cause you trouble.

You feel sluggish or fatigued after eating certain foods.

You need to eat more and more food to feel satisfied.

You feel bloated after eating certain foods.

You suffer from stomach pain, indigestion or heartburn after eating certain foods.

You sometimes eat to the point where you feel like you’re going to vomit.

You suffer from diarrhea or constipation after eating certain foods.

You experience tooth decay or gum disease from eating sweets or junk food.

Eating is the main thing you think about doing.

You’ve stolen food, shoplifted or taken other things just so you could exchange them for food.

You eat in isolation to prevent people from trying to stop you.

You sometimes eat alone because you don’t want to stop anyone else from eating.

You sometimes eat things that you throw up or almost immediately throw up.

You sometimes eat until you feel like your stomach is going to explode or you pass out.

You sometimes only eat certain foods in certain sizes, such as small, medium or large.

You have strange food rituals such as eating the crust on the edges of a pie first.

You use food or eating as a way to comfort yourself when you’re upset.

You sometimes have to cook or prepare certain foods in a very specific way.

You eat large quantities of food in one sitting or over a short period of time.

You feel disgusted, depressed or suicidal after you’ve eaten certain foods.

Food Addiction Treatment

If you are ready to take back control of your life, it is important that you seek professional medical assistance immediately. Do not give up hope; there is a solution to your problem and it can be achieved if you’re willing to do the work.

When seeking treatment for food addiction, it is very important that you find a treatment facility that addresses food addiction specifically. You may need to speak with your physician in order to get a referral or look online for some local treatment centers.

Treatment for food addiction can be very different from traditional addiction treatment, so it is important that you find a facility that can accommodate your needs. For example, if you have specific dietary or nutritional needs due to health conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, make sure the facility will be able to meet those needs.

Research has shown that inpatient or residential programs may be more effective for treating food addiction than outpatient programs, so keep this in mind when seeking treatment. Inpatient or residential programs will usually enforce a set meal schedule and may even provide a structured eating plan that will slowly retrain your brain and digestive system.

Above all else, remember that you are not alone. Food addiction is very common, and there is help available. Take the next step toward a healthier, happier life by contacting a treatment specialist today.

Sources & references used in this article:

How does overeaters anonymous help its members? A qualitative analysis by S Russell‐Mayhew, KM von Ranson… – … Journal of the Eating …, 2010 – Wiley Online Library

An analysis of the role of overeaters anonymous in women’s recovery from bulimia nervosa by DH Wasson, M Jackson – Eating Disorders, 2004 – Taylor & Francis

My discourse/myself: therapy as possibility (for women who eat compulsively) by L Elisabeth – 1993 – Hazelden Publishing

The Lived Experience of Individuals in Addiction Recovery Participating in Alcoholics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous by C Hopwood – Feminist Review, 1995 –