180: Overeaters Anonymous – Everything You Wanted to Know (Sort Of)

We are exploring the world of Overeaters Anonymous (OA). We have Grace join us for a conversation around the workings of OA. Does it work just like AA or NA? What kind of differences do people run into when trying to work the OA program than other programs. Can people who struggle with undereating also use the OA program? What kind of signs might tell us if we had disordered eating? Do you come up with your own definition of abstinence? Listen in as Grace helps us learn about the program of Overeaters Anonymous, and then share your thoughts with us.

From the episode:

⁠Overeaters Anonymous Website⁠

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or Fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature [Music]

welcome back it’s recovery sort of I am Jason a guy who has an interesting relationship with food and I’m Billy I’m a person in long-term recovery I’m Caroline I’m a person in long-term recovery and today we’re joined by Grace from Overeaters Anonymous who is going to help us explore the the OA program and everything around uh disordered eating and we will as always start with Grace taking over the show and telling us a little bit about herself and her story and and you know how she got here to talk to us today so go ahead Grace welcome well thank you I’m really excited to be here so I’m Grace and if I were in a recovery meeting I would say I’m a compulsive reader or food and sugar addict or restrictor all kinds of things just to remind myself that food kicks my butt so I’m going to give a little overview on OA um Roseanne as our founder in California she visited a gambler’s Anonymous meeting back in November of 1958 and over the course of a couple of years they founded Overeaters Anonymous and he became a 12-step program and it was a focus on food she went to GA and then asked the person there you know you think this would transfer to food and he said well I don’t know why not and so then it became and so January 19th of 1960 was the first meeting in her living room so our dining room table um so it was very humble humble beginnings so we’ll Flash Forward 62 years and I’ll give a brief overview of my story so I um had gone to um another Recovery Group I went to Alan teen and then Al-Anon back in the 70s and 80s so I had my exposure to recovery from that Viewpoint and um but I look at my whole food history and I think I was born with a flip top head I was always looking for food scrounging around for food and one particular thing when I was four years old my mom was um shall we say asleep on the couch probably after imbibing in a few uh Beverages and um I had been sick but you know baby aspirin back then was orange and fizzy and I was all about texture and sensation or whatever so I waited till she was asleep and I climbed up on the stove and we had the kind of stove where half of it had no burners it was just a flat top and I quietly climbed up opened up the jar sat down on the stove and ate it because I I knew it was medicine this was premeditation and I was almost four years old I remembered if it were as if it were yesterday so I ate those aspirin then I went and woke my mom up and told her that she had to take me to the hospital I had eaten a lot of medication so needless to say she wasn’t all that thrilled and I learned later that back in the day they used to have a hundred counts in uh medication for kids and now it’s 36 because that’s the top level before it becomes toxic so it was good there was probably a few I probably had at least 80. so oh but they were good anyway so that just gives you you know the whole thing is it was premeditated I knew it was medication but I was going for that thrill that fix so my whole life mine was always sugar was my crack cocaine shall we say in the food World um always going for it and doing whatever I could and the thing is I was just a sturdy kid you know I my weight didn’t really show up until I was in my 30s so um you know being a kid in the 70s you know in 60s and 70s you know we ran around we walked everywhere I mean it just it’s very different lifestyle than today but it wasn’t until I was 17 years old and I read um in a magazine about anorexia and I thought well that’s kind of like what I have I mean I had tried that whole thing and then um then in college then I had read um a Dear Abby article that talked about Overeaters Anonymous and um my whole thing with food is that that’s all I did I dieted and over ate and exercised and over eight and over eight and hid my eating and it was just never enough and then I’d feel great remorse you know it’s like oh tomorrow I’m going to do a differently and you wake up the next day and it’s the same old same old um start down the slope and I did the weird diets too um you know where it’s like I even when I gave up sugar I noticed I felt so much better but you know and then you start feeling good and you think well you know you just can’t stand all that success so you know you’re gonna you know go for it again so that’s what I did and I first went into away you know when I think about April 1st 1985 no fooling and I heard them say that um you know sugar uh like any other drug one is too many at a million is not enough and um and I I just couldn’t stop and I thought that’s me it’s a whole thing I couldn’t stop I couldn’t stop obsessing I couldn’t stop eating I couldn’t stop chasing it um it it was you know the highlight of my life and so at that time I went in at 150 I was in for about five years um I’m just gonna say I got in a relationship he didn’t understand what I was doing and um you know and there’s we know there’s a 12-step program for that so anyway um I just kind of threw all my recovery to the wind that’s what I did so then I went into a full 14-year relapse so when I first went into OA uh at 150 155 pounds and then when I went back in in 2004 um I went in at 260. so if people are listening overseas that would be 118 kilograms um I stand at five five I’m 140 pounds now at 63 kilograms maintaining I’ve been abstinent and I’ll explain what that is um for 18 plus years one day at a time and um I’m just going to say that Overeaters definition of abstinence is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight spiritual emotional and physical recovery is achieved through living and working the Overeaters Anonymous 12-step program so the 12 steps are patterned after that of Alcoholics Anonymous so we replace alcohol and we say food or compulsive beating and when we say to like the action of refraining from compulsive eating okay it’s overeating under eating binges grazing preoccupation with diets starving excessive exercise vomiting diuretics laxatives and I’ve done all that oh and fantasies about food I mean who needs sex you know just get your sugar on and you’re good um but it’s a constant preoccupation with food and so it doesn’t matter even though we say we’re Overeaters Anonymous we are from overeating to anorexia we cover everything it’s just that back in the 60s that’s what the term was called and now you know we have everyone I have friends who’ve done the whole gamut I have friends who have burned all the enamel off their teeth because of their vomiting I’ve had friends who have severe osteoporosis because they starve themselves and their bones show a result of that um you know I’m going to have excess skin on me after losing you know over 100 pounds um you know later on in life and you know oh well um I’m just not going to do stomach modeling you know so I I gave up that dream I’m good but um you know I came in and just put the sugar down that’s what I did and the cool thing about OA recovery program is you only have one requirement and that’s just the desire to stop eating compulsively plain and simple yeah you know there are no Do’s or fees I mean we ask for donations you know to pay for the meeting room and you know that kind of stuff you buy literature or whatever but you know that’s it and then um and then you give yourself to the program and it doesn’t mean that you become an autonoton and you know you become a robot and you do everything but it’s kind of like I’ve had to learn to live my life without food you know oh I’m tired I have to eat I’m excited I have to eat I’m over agitated I have to eat you know it was always going to the grocery store after work it was like a hunting and Gathering Expedition you know I would spend you know an hour going up and down the aisles what am I going for what texture salty smooth crunchy chewy whatever get it all home get it all prepared and you know it was like a flash 15 minutes Gorge Gorge Gorge done and then as I got older and as my disease progressed I wouldn’t get that high you know I would get full before I’d get that high and I would get bit ticked off about it because it’s like I was cheated and um you know that’s where it shows so now you know I eat three meals a day I don’t eat sugar and there’s other things that I don’t eat and I don’t want to get so much into my food plan because then it sounds like a diet and I am not endorsing what I eat the thing is everybody gets their own food plan you work with a sponsor which is really like a mentor or a buddy in the program you know when you first come in and you get to ask all these questions and you you know you talk to people in your meeting and you get their phone number and you come out of your isolation and you you know we hell we all love to talk about our food so you know you’re never going to run out of people who are going to want to talk about what they do but um you know you end up with a food plan and again you know you find out you know what that is and what I do let’s say at the beginning is that you have your ABC list or your red yellow uh green food list so your green Foods or Foods you know uh let’s say in general you’re not going to overeat on you know let’s say baked chicken or carrots even though I’ve um binged on both of those because that’s all that was in the house but what’s my usual go-to with sugar fried foods you know junk food you know all the non-foods out there and then the yellow foods are you’re on the fence about or for example like me nuts I the only time I eat nuts is that they are measured plain and simple and my measurement is eight raw almonds there’s nothing sexy or pow about that it’s for nourishment and um you know and I’m fine with that but um you know everybody has their thing I mean you know some people go on the Keto Plan some people go on high carb plans some people do whatever the other thing I love about this program when you come in is that whatever your definition of a higher power is is the right one for you you know we don’t you know say we’re a religion or you have to follow this Spirit group or whatever it’s like no it’s your it’s your deal and it’s your journey if you don’t know and you feel estranged or you’re like what you had before doesn’t work great this is a great place to come so we’ve got meetings all over the world we have face-to-face we have Zoo meetings or I should say online meetings we have phone meetings we have uh non-real-time meetings where you’re uh you know typing in your computer and so on and now we have the hybrid due to covet you know so we’ve got meetings that have people in the room and people on the screen so um there’s all the opportunities there are different let’s say practices there are some that are much more structured where they want you to follow a certain process that you work with a sponsor and you call your food in every day and it’s not that oh you have to be watched or monitored it’s your decision it’s like man I can’t trust myself with food I really need an accountability partner and this is what works for me and you go with that and some people you know you you discovered as you go along so I guess I’d like to say you might you know if any of you are ever deciding you like to try out a meeting just go to one you’re allowed if you have the desire to stop eating compulsively hey we welcome you with open arms and if you find that that meeting is just not your jam then um try another one there’s you know meetings in oa.org they got a big sign on there it says find a meeting and um you can find any time of the day language if you have a certain focus group that you really you know are uh want a safe group and to you that would be bipoc or lgbtq um or all women all men 100 pounder LA Losers 200 Pounders you know Etc so there’s someone and something for you and you know it’s just um stepping in and doing that and um I think for me it’s just um it’s it’s just a great opportunity and like I said an abstinent from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors or you know 18 plus years this go around and before you know when I was in the food too when I was on my diet oh and then I was into bodybuilding I was going to become you know the next Ms Minnesota and until I went to a meeting at that time and all they talked about the last two weeks how they starved themselves so they could be cut and all of that and then the day of the competition when they were done how they binged and purged and I was in 08 the first time and I thought I can’t do that that’s that’s not recovery so um but I used to weigh myself 20 times a day you know go to the bathroom you know Excel all my weight or all my air you know breath I’ll take my rings off you know I’m surprised I didn’t shave my head I mean that’s how nuts I was then um you know and uh you know so now it’s like I I just have more calmness in my life and um things that used to bother me don’t and I’m not saying that you’re going to throw everything to the wind it’s just that what’s really important in life you know for me what’s important in life isn’t about well I have to look good and I have to be thin and um you know be super fit and so on and now it’s like am I kind and loving towards people and it doesn’t mean that I can be stopped all over it’s like you know am I a jerk um you know when I’m out in the world or do I take people and just Embrace people who they are I mean there’s so many you know as we know without look at all the recovery I mean there’s all kinds of addiction out there and it’s like I just look at it like we’re all kind of one big family in the sense that we all have something we struggle with and isn’t it great that there’s a place we can go to and talk to someone else who gets it we don’t have to like over explain ourselves we can jump into the middle of the story and people are like yeah yeah oh I know exactly what you’re talking about and and you feel uplifted and then you get to live the life you really want to live so I I could go on forever but it’s been 10 minutes and I want to be respectful of time so I’ll I’ll turn it back over to you that was uh that was an amazing introduction Grace thank you I mean we’ve had so many really fabulous and informative guests from different programs and and I don’t know man you’re like you’ve really shown through here this morning it’s been incredible uh thank you for all that information I I don’t know that there’s a right place to start for us or not but I think one of the things that grabbed my attention and I found interesting was really this idea that um grazing could could be listed as uh you know a behavior that’s not helping people and maybe uh like what is the definition of grazing and I think you said that was part of what what the program just find as not being okay or was that for you personally I wasn’t a great

agrees went in there and and you know like when they say like a wolf I did um but they’re grazing I mean here’s the thing if you are constantly thinking something isn’t right about it and you want to always stop you know with any kind of food Behavior and you think it’s not quite right then that’s something to look at so grazing um like the friends I’ve had in program who do that you know would eat all day long pick a little here a little there but it’s constant it’s continuous through the day you know every hour you’re eating something there’s no beginning in middle and end so like right now my food I have a beginning middle and end I eat breakfast I and I weigh and measure my food but again I just want to point that is not the only way um some people can do moderation I can’t um you know to me a bowl is a mixing bowl and um I know that that’s a little bit more than let’s say the national dietary people say you know you need another thing I think that that really I I don’t know it didn’t seem like you magnified this you were like my thing is I just had to quit sugar and like almost minimized at some and I’m like that is a huge undertaking in our society because I yeah so okay there was a six week period that I chose to see what would happen if I didn’t do sugar and it’s almost impossible to not have sugar and and it’s just it’s everywhere so like can you talk more about how like the challenges of trying to to take that on [Music] thank you

[Music] yeah thank you and that is that is a key Point yeah because like I said sugar is my crack and I’m not you know I don’t want to minimize those of you who are in a um but the thing is it is I mean I probably would have wrestled Christ to the ground um when I was in seventh grade I don’t know if you know what a sheet cake is a sheet cake um this is for food worms it says it serves 96 people okay that’s food whips one one inch by one inch squares so um that’s just my parents were yeah exactly yeah it is it’s kind of like really why bother um so when um so I was um you know my birthday’s the end of August my parents were teachers they bought a sheet cake for a family of seven okay so no addiction there anywhere you know that you would buy that large of a piece I look at my Normie friends and anyway I don’t think that I don’t know how they subsist but there was half that sheet cake left my sister started sharing it with the neighbor kids I locked them out of the house and I ate that half a sheet cake in 20 minutes me in a fork and then at dinner time I sat and ate I always ate at least three adult meals um so I had you know my two pork chops two baked potatoes two helpings of salad and again I was not fat I was not I was just an average middle Midwest kid and um so yeah that’s the that’s the amount of sugar that I would eat I mean it was a packs of cookies and packs of bags and bags so giving up the sugar um because I did often on you know prior to coming into recovery um yeah it was hard and I’d feel good and my body would function better and I wouldn’t be so raging I guess you know I I guess I just want to talk about what was my behavior um people would say you know Meg I think you have an anger problem and I would say no I don’t I get angry just fine so um I didn’t know how to be sad but no I was always you know someone was out to her you know hurt me someone’s out to do it in and whatever though that was my mind frame so when I really started seeing sugar was um oh because I was obsessed about it I mean as I bought it every day I mean I I would you know work every day and I would eat like a pound bag a bridge mix and six to eight Donuts I mean you know because I had to have that Mainline Mainline sugar um and then you know Candy Corn oh my god um that was you know the nasty at Halloween so anyway so giving that up yeah did I go through food detox yeah absolutely and but there was a part of me um that just knew somehow I’m gonna be okay it just needs to be different this time and um I think that’s where um you know relying on that Spirit part it’s like I look at it there’s an energy bigger than me in the world I mean it’s what helps us stay human and that we don’t completely kill each other but that it’s like I just prayed to the ethers and said you know you’ve got to help me with this one you got to help me and so then you know I would just eat healthy food and my food plan has changed over the years but um I really you know they it’s also encouraged to look at all the ingredients in your food and to stay away from food that has sugar that is you know the first four ingredients stay away from that because you know my philosophy and my belief is if I were to eat sugar then it’s already in my bloodstream it’s going to trigger me I never cared and the only reason I say that so I was in OA for five years the first time I didn’t eat sugar and then I had a Snickers and I’ll tell you that was my favorite candy bar and I remember taking a bite at that time and it was the most disgusting foul thing I had ever eaten but I was already committed my mindset was there and the let’s just say the dragon was awoken and you know I just went for it and then and then I just went for the kill I like I said I was 260 that was 18 years ago I’m 140 now if I were to go out back out into the food now I would probably eat like a 260 pound person and it would probably uh seriously hurt me or kill me I mean I’ve heard stories of people who’ve gone out and then they fortunately came back in um but it is a lot there I you know I could go on and on there’s lots of wonderful documentaries you can um watch out there to look at the food industry but in the 70s the food industry really wanted us Americans I’m gonna say d twice as many calories than what we needed they have fire surpassed that um the diet industry is a multi-billion if not trillion dollar industry and um we’re gonna shame you because you’re fat we’re gonna we’re gonna sell you non-food and then um then we’re gonna shame you and then we’re gonna sell you a diet and to me I don’t ever have to go on a diet Again by staying in OA because I’ve got I’ve got the solution here you know I’ve learned how to live my life without those kinds of foods I eat real clean Pure Foods because I’m a critical level addict that’s the way I look at it and um it is hard but it’s doable and the thing is you know your taste buds will learn how to appreciate new foods and you may also then say you know what I don’t really like that and there’s also healthy foods that just don’t have sleepovers at my house I don’t do grapes I don’t do cherries and I don’t do raw pie you know fresh pineapple if I’m at a restaurant and I’m at a salad bar and I’m going to you know have that as my serving of fruit I can because I know what portion I can have and that’s good but even though those are quote unquote healthy foods I don’t do dry roasted nuts because there’s just enough of a zing in there that you know I you know it’s kind of like you want to streak through you know the town um I just know yeah my taste buds and I just leave my food um it’s good though I eat good food it’s not like I’m gonna eat mush and it’s drudgery I feel so much um relief and joy I mean for the you know these last few years I mean I’ve honestly God felt happy in life and it’s like I I can you know and I look at it this way it’s so easy so I put down a Snickers or a piece of cake I mean I still can see and hear and talk and carry a job and make money and have friends and you know so I’m not eating a candy bar and um I’m grateful because my life was um just a living hell because that’s all I focused on and um you know I would uh you know not go out with my friends because I wanted to stay home and and hide and eat and then feel the shame of um you know my my weight and uh you know and I’ll just I’m gonna share an embarrassing story so I mean there’s many but I’ll give one so I was out with friends and and of course I was doing the diet soda scene and I’ve learned that even though it’s diet soda um the sweeteners are much sweeter they still hit those things in her head um for sweetness and um and so I’ve given all of that up because I was drinking like um 24 cans a day and then I would have um the Crystal Light I would drink four quarts of that in two quarts of water you know I wanted super potent everything had to be super potent and um anyway so I went out to lunch and I drank you know 4 900 you know diet colas or whatever you know my usual and we’re arriving back to work and I was in a it was in a two-door car and I was in the back seat and I’m trying to heft my my form out of the car and I was struggling and I finally got up and I just felt my um Pete run down my leg and um I of course it was very embarrassed and ashamed and thank God it was out in the sidewalk and um and I just you know barked at my friends you know back away I’m covered you know just leave me alone and waddle my way to the bathroom and took care of situations and like I said I’m glad I had black pants on and um somehow managed you know it fortunately didn’t hit the cloth but you know enough of my leg and my sock I think I threw it the socks away um yeah I mean you know and did that change me from that day no I went home and I ate over it you know I mean that’s that’s what I did so um I remember those times if I ever feel that Nothing in life has ever improved by eating a piece of pie nothing in my life not when life has gotten better it’s because I’ve reached out and called a friend or um you know someone let’s say in recovery who gets it you know I don’t have like I said I can just start in the middle of a story and it doesn’t matter what addiction a lot of times it’s just kind of like hey I’m struggling man um got some words for me and go from there and uh there’s a ton of food out there um that we can eat and you know for the first time in my life um I eat all the food I buy you know it’s not like I’m gonna buy all the good food and then it grows whiskers and uh a beard with then I can throw it away you know so yeah so you know I don’t do that anymore and um yeah and I even grocery shop every week and um it’s really lovely and food is not the highlight of my life and by not eating those trigger foods that and I mean there’s studies done that they show sugar lights up our head like cocaine and heroin I mean and yet we have people well you know you just need to um suck it up and it’s like I tried all that I remember I tried the cabbage soup diet and I made like a week and a half’s worth all at once it was so good I ate it in a day and a half I love vegetables I’m one of those weird people so and I’m glad no because I eat a lot of vegetables but anyway um yeah that’s a great question and there is a lot of there is a lot of junk out there and we just have to be diligent and the thing is um you know we if we stop buying that stuff maybe they’ll stop making it so yeah that’s a that’s a tough proposition to sometimes you know I just looking at the history of sugar like before the 1500s you know the amount of sugar in one Little Debbie Snack cake is more than people had in their whole life and then you know introduced to this idea of sugar and then throwing it in everything and Breads and cakes and and it’s yeah it’s it’s really everywhere so that’s a challenging one um I’m curious I think so we come more from a Narcotics Anonymous background and you know the n a program tends to say that the disease of addiction is like this core of self-centeredness this spiritual malady I guess is kind of our problem or the problem is spiritual in nature I guess um does does OA tend to say the problem is a specific thing or is it more just we don’t care what the problem is we’re here to fix it yeah yeah I mean we also say that you know it’s a spiritual you know sickness and all of that but um it’s kind of like all right so you know what come on in and um let’s put the food down and let’s let’s go on with our lives and you know um you know when I especially when I’m in my food and my narcissistic and self-centered oh absolutely because it’s all about me you know everything was all about me everyone was mad at me this at me that at me and now it’s like yep yeah you are self-centered and you know and got to have some discipline and yeah and here’s some steps because I didn’t know how to do it on my own and this guideline gives me the freedom to do it the the grace way shall we say you know I was also kind of surprised and thinking back to like this starting in 1960 and just like we I don’t even think you know obesity was on the radar of the public scope at that point right so to think it was starting already in in somebody’s you know living room um and then the idea that that Overeaters Anonymous is for um and I don’t want to use the term disordered eating Grace if that doesn’t feel like it fits the program but that’s like the term I know to use um I guess I was not aware that Overeaters Anonymous was also for other versions of disordered eating like like anorexia nervosa and stuff like that um so that’s interesting and I’m curious and you might not know this but was it always that way like even when it first started or was that kind of something that got included somewhere down the line I think it got included somewhere down the line and I’m sure some one of my fellows who this would be like Meg but no it started they wanted to call it glutton’s anonymous Fatty’s Anonymous so that was the focus it was about you know the losing weight yeah I yeah who would joined what is anonymous but even with Overeaters Anonymous you’re right you know some people are like well I’m not an overeater you know I um you know I’ve worked with people I worked with a woman who ate half of a sandwich peanut butter sandwich a day and she was in her mid-40s and had severe osteoporosis and she couldn’t stop I mean that is disordered eating it is it’s you know it is all about um you know compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors so whatever wherever your compulsion lies yeah and it doesn’t make sense you know I mean I in fact yeah I remember in sixth grade I remember telling a bosses once you know that I’d eaten a whole bag of M M’s and he said omeg everyone has in their life and I said yeah but how big was your bag and he’s like well you know the normal size bag and I said well no mine was a pound he goes oh that’s impossible of course a normie’s gonna say that um and I said well uh no it’s not and I’m not going to show you I was already back in recovery then but yeah I mean that’s that’s that was the serving so Grace um I think one thing that you you mentioned was that um you know this program potentially is for anyone that thinks they may have an issue or has any kind of concerns around their eating behaviors is that did I pick up on that correctly is that what you would say in terms of if someone’s thinking about whether OA is right for them yes I you know my rule of thumb is if you’re if you think maybe just come on in and if you’re still not sure try it for six weeks and if you need to hop around and I guess I would say too if you’re a bit shy on that you know like I said there’s Zoo meetings there’s phone meetings where you can go and just listen and hear if you’re hearing something that really speaks to your heart but um there is recovering these rooms I mean you know I have a sponsor you know my mentor you know I’d say my accountability person um who just celebrated 43 years of abstinence so that’s very humbling to me because it’s like that’s you know it’s those one day at a time but it’s really about living your best life and not being ruled by a substance and for us it just happens to be food but there’s recovery it’s learning how like I said to live life and I had to learn how to be assertive I under uh employed myself I always took jobs that didn’t really challenge me and then I’d be mad if people treated me less than I thought they should treat me I mean it’s just that’s so twisted and now it’s kind of like well you know I’m because I’m sober I’m I’m clear-headed and sugar clouded my head and that you’ll find recovering these rooms you’ll find people who are struggling I mean as we in all 12-step um rooms but um you know as a person I work with is like stick with the stickers you know stick with those people who make it through day by day and give their best self and put the substance down it’s interesting you made that comment about you know being in an under earner um which reminds me of a thing I heard in a Debtors Anonymous meeting right that they welcome the under earners and the overspenders right almost like these two opposite sides of the same problem and then we talk about OA and how they help people who overeat but also people who have disordered you know under eating I guess and I was wondering like man where’s the opposite people for like N A or a a where’s the people who are like I’ll never touch drugs like maybe they need the same help we need you know sorry I was wondering why they’re not there um you did mention something you kind of gave a list and I don’t know that they were necessarily like spot specific rules to to what’s up bro do you guys call it sobriety that’s a good question yeah we called abstinence is our usual our first term but also okay so so it sounded like there were some more specific guidelines around abstinence in OA which is kind of fascinating to me um having gone to some some sex addiction programs and learning of the uh you know in a couple of them there’s not a a strict version of of sobriety or or you know being abstinent it’s very much like what are your problem behaviors and let’s just avoid those and and I kind of anticipated that OA would be more similar to that so it was a little surprising it feels like maybe it’s more of a mixture of like we’ve got some guidelines but then also you create your own exact version of it can you type I mean I don’t know just tell me a little more about that I guess no that’s no that’s a great question and I think the thing is with food not an absolute was not eat so um everybody will have their own food plan so um you know we kind of have three formats we have the how format which is honest open and willing where they go to meetings and um you call your sponsor every day and you commit your food you say this is what I’m going to eat and you weigh and measure your food and you also call other people in the program every day and then you have a mixture of you know the more structured approach to the more I would say we call it traditional but um you know and I I follow that format the traditional format in that um you know what works for me and my sponsor um but you know what I do with um let’s say new people new in program and who want to work with me is that I help them find out what their binge foods are um and you know a lot of times you know people know right off the bat yeah I can’t seem to stop eating a b and c but then you start finding out some other things and the thing is there’s people who binge on rice and then there’s people who binge John trigger and there’s people who binge on salty foods and there’s people who binge on um casseroles and so it’s like okay you can’t say well no more well you know casseroles I mean it’s like that’s where you work I guess I do individually with someone to help them find what’s going on and then also we are encouraged to encourage people we work with to seek the help of a dietitian or nutritionist and hopefully someone who’s aware of a readers anonymous because they’re still dietitians and nutritionists out there say that you can eat sugar in moderation the majority of us cannot I cannot eat sugar I don’t know what moderation is and um but at least to get a food plan that um works for you because some people have been eating let’s say Rogue for many years and don’t know what a serving size really looks like you know it’s not a mixing bowl to my shock and Chagrin but so that’s why I think it’s so um you know like for example like I said I couldn’t eat cherries grapes or pineapple but um someone else can’t eat like I said rice or milk you know or certain certain things and there’s you know we all have our you know for example I I don’t eat peanut butter very often because um I’ve let’s say have you know done my quantity um in a lifetime yeah so I totally can relate to that I have a number of foods that I just can’t keep in my house because I cannot sugar peanut butter like the peanut butter that has like the added sugars and the hydrogenated oil I call it sugar peanut butter can’t keep that in the house certain kinds of cheese I mean I um I can relate to a lot of this I will say that I over the years certainly have toyed with the idea of uh of attending a OA or a similar program and and haven’t uh visited myself but this is definitely a very interesting topic to me and something that I can relate a lot to sugars definitely um can be a real problem for me and uh so I I appreciate the the struggle and the information Grace this is this is really really interesting I I find it fascinating in a way I feel like the struggle that people face when going into OA is unique from any other one and I don’t know that I noticed this before like when I was thinking about the idea of sex addiction like generally people aren’t down for the idea of I just want to give up sex forever right uh and coming from a background of Narcotics Anonymous like that is the main goal like hey I want to give up these drugs forever and just never touch them and that going into sex addiction meetings and realizing that like that was not the goal it almost seemed way harder like it was easier to just oh I can cut that out of my life forever and never touch it whereas you know with sex addiction it’s like well I hope to do this in a healthy way or find a healthy relationship with this activity but in sex addiction and in anything else you would want to do that with you can take a period of abstinence to step away from it for a while to kind of reconfigure your relationship with it and with overeating you cannot that is not a possibility and I think that uniquely makes it like maybe possibly the most challenging one to deal with [Music]

I’m going to agree with you on that one and you know not like oh that makes me special or whatever I think that’s just the main struggle overall because it’s it’s not it can’t be super clearly defined you know like Caroline you’d mentioned you know the cheese thing I don’t do cheese either because um cheese and I like I said I’ve eaten some foods that have you know satisfied a small nation you know over a millennia um and yet you know let’s say Jason you know I mean if let’s say I was going to work with each of you and let’s say Jason year are like I can’t do trips and I can’t do pretzels and I can’t do you know your salty foods are your thing and let’s say Billy let’s say your thing is um you know you’re the Comfort Foods you know and so it’s like you know and that’s why working with nutritionists so let’s say Billy yours is the Comfort foods and um then that person’s you know hopefully that nutritionist is going to say well you know you can have bread you know just once a day and whatever and it’s like well no I can’t do bread because I’ve I’ve passed the point of no return we all have our Foods I guess where we pass the point of no return so now we have to find a food plan that has doesn’t have those Foods in it so for example I don’t eat artificial sweeteners anymore because I’ve had so many I haven’t had artificial sweeteners since 2006. and that means gum that means soda and whatever I no longer drink caffeine because I have over I mean though those are those little fine tuning and again that’s years in you know so I mean I and again I’m just one person one voice in this program but it’s like it’s it’s a process and you refine that over the years and it doesn’t mean that I was an abstinent then I knew what my high octane um you know Foods were and I stayed away from those and then as my body started healing and getting better and I started feeling better it’s like wow you know the caffeine is not really doing it for me I’m I’m I need to live my life differently like oh maybe get more sleep oh maybe stop some of the stressors in my life because I’m not sleeping well or whatever or instead of jacking myself up I mean again it’s a substance and yes it’s legal just like food is legal and I think too with food we have so much emotion tied with it it’s like you come to my house or you go to a family gathering and it’s like you know Aunt Bertha gets all upset because you didn’t eat her special bake and um I mean the there is so much with that and I and again this is just the world according to Grace but it’s like I look at let’s look at the Depression era that’s all we had in World War II that’s all we had to give people was food and we’ve carried that over into today where we have an overabundance I mean we are encouraged to overeat all of our advertisements we are encouraged to and we don’t need to and yet people we instead of saying you know no no thank you no thank you I mean I with way of my food plan I bring my food with me to events because I eat differently than a lot of people and I don’t have um sadness about that I’m like oh thank goodness I don’t have to worry you know if if I just take a little of this and oh am I taking too much of that you know because that’s where my mind went and and um you know my life is just a lot easier so we all find our own way you’re right it is it’s specialized there’s a main focus but it’s specialized well I had a quick so similar to that for addicts I mean for most of us as we get into recovery it’s a little easier to avoid like heroin or crack those are slightly harder to find you don’t see them at Wendy’s yeah alcohol a little you know less hard to avoid but you you still can you know kind of places that are gonna have it but then in our society like weddings you know family parties picnics like all these things are so centered around food like what kind of advice do you have for people around these social events like how do you still have a social life but manage your your diet plan or your plan but all of those things that you just named Billy also are centered around alcohol weddings picnics what was the third one yeah I mean it depends like I don’t know if you’re around more Christian centered people I’d say not less as much yeah yeah that was that was sorry I jumped in there so Grace if you want to answer that but oh no that’s right that’s no and that’s a great question and great discussion and the thing is I mean for me I’m at a point you know early on I mean do my eyes get interested well yes but um I just know it’s not mine you know it the thing is um if I’m going into an event where there’s soothers whatever that Soother is is it food is it alcohol you know and is there a little illegal do it under the table going on because there’s all elements going on or a little Nookie in the you know the back room um I am just going in and if if it’s at meal time I will bring my meal and people will gawk and oh what do you well uh well gee that’s a lot of vegetables and oh you know and it’s like yep yep yep and I in my head I’m like so grateful because I’m not focused on the food I’m focused on the people and um I’m gonna walk out clean and sober basically and and I’m showing maybe there’s someone else in that event that’s like wow well I wish I could do that you know and I’m not doing that because of that I mean my number one is that’s what I need to do to stay clean and um I am still just so grateful to be clean that um but is it hard yeah and so if you’re new and you’re working with your sponsor your Mentor accountability partner whatever is that you talk about that before you go you plan for it and you know if you feel you need to you know I mean again it’s your food plan is is personal um or you work uh with your buddy and you know you come up with backup plan and maybe you save your you know I’m just going to say something just one basic thing you save your Apple to eat so that you don’t feel like you’re the only one who’s not eating because it is odd we are focused around food we just are and so when you do something different then you stand out and I’m a person to people notice that I’m fine with it but I also have friends who are like they don’t want to be the center of attention and so I’m going to speak to those people is just find a way that um that will work for you that you feel you know somewhat Serene and that you can manage this and yeah it is a learning it is a learning so I’m sitting here thinking you know of maybe our listeners who are thinking that maybe they they are struggling with some of these issues but then hearing kind of what it takes to to get to a healthy place it could potentially be really daunting and maybe because I’m thinking of that for myself too right like this idea of like oh my goodness if I were to go to OA I would have to give up all sugar and I would have to bring my own meals to events like that’s a very daunting proposition for someone um but then as I’m thinking of it it’s like okay but like coming into n a we say you have to give up all drugs even if you don’t think that you have a problem with that marijuana over there like you need to stop that alcohol is a drug and so I guess it’s really just about like when the pain becomes great enough like what lengths am I willing to go to to to um to get relief right and I think for for the three of us in this room like we had to get to a point where it was like we were willing to stop all of it so that we could get to a point of relief and and maybe I don’t know Grace would you say that that is kind of where people need to get with with overeating as well to have that level of surrender yes I mean I you know you can’t see I have tears in my eyes there’s a part it’s so humbling to be at that point to be at that turning point and say I’m done and um it’s a miracle and the thing is with the food if I were working with new people right now we would be having conversations and you know I’m only again one person there’s other people who do things but you come to a meeting and you hear that person has what you want and you reach out to that person and you have dialogue with them and you find your process um I am not the type of person where all right that’s it you need to cut it out and so on it’s like I’m the person to have you say what it is what are your um you know red level Foods what are they so that you have ownership and accountability to that because I’m not your mom I’m not your babysitter I’m not God um oh thank God um and you know we get we we get to learn with this the thing is with food I’m I think it’s um it’s a slower burn you know you’re going to end up being overweight let’s say I mean many people right or you’re going to be underweight and you’re going to end up you know with a heart attack or uh chronic heart failure or diabetes may take you out and it’s going to be a 20-year deal I think with alcohol and drugs and again this is just my opinion is that it’s more immediate and and you don’t need it I need food to subsist and so what’s that going to look like and um I knew off the bat sugar was it I mean so that was easy for me to put that one down um easy in the sense of let’s say in practice but you know like I said I went through you know physical withdrawals um with it because it is a drug you know and people say well Sugar’s natural it’s like no it’s all processed it’s all processed so so Grace some questions that probably aren’t going to apply to your program but because they’re on our typical questions list it made me curious um I’m imagining you guys don’t have to sign Court slips

so that that does not apply right right right and and I also uh one of the things that I find at least in previous years in in maybe some certain 12-step recovery groups and maybe this expands more to most of them but uh dating in the program is usually something that is talked about in recovery from from certain things and I can’t imagine that that’s a huge issue in Overeaters Anonymous either but correct me if I’m wrong please I’m curious no I mean I mean not that I’ve been um exposed to and so on and I’m just going to put that out there we’re more of a female happy organization women will walk into these rooms faster than men but the male population is growing and um no I think I I’ll just say a lot of times the food addict we’re too busy hiding out in our homes we’re not so so we probably would probably do us go to date right right yeah I was I was came across the question on my list I was like I don’t picture that or Court slips um but you got a little bit into demographics there which is another place I was curious about going so it does you’re saying seem to be more female than male in the meetings even though that’s slowly changing what about age ranges do you see a pretty typical age range or is it very very yeah it’s usually I would say probably mid 40s are when people start coming in more because they see that the 87 diets they tried before didn’t work so maybe we’ll try away um you know and that’s what I did I well I mean I first went in when I was 26 so um and I’m in my mid 60s now but that’s it it’s like I’ll I’ll try it you know because we think I think I can do it on my own you know because there’s a new book or a new diet or a new this or new that and I’ll try this and and I’ve tried it all I’ve tried it all I’ve given up Dairy I’ve given up caffeine I’ve given up um sugar I’ve given up you know all of those isolated things but the crazy was still there and I imagine as you mentioned that Slow Burn idea it’s by then so a lot of the health consequences are probably starting to catch up as well yes so what about crosstalk like I was thinking of this and maybe the it’s a bigger question of uh just what does a meeting look like like how is it organized or oriented you know typically depending on what area you go to you go to a 12-step meeting you’re going to have some kind of basic format of like either a speaker shares their story or it’s a topic that everybody’s talking about um there tends to be rules around crosstalk even though I’m finding that’s not as expansive to other programs as it is to maybe n a and a a um tell us a little bit about that like meeting design and what it would feel like and look like for somebody please here I would say a typical meeting and then you know there’s also a special Focus meetings but um like my meeting um we’re a step meeting so we um you know we also have open meetings as well where we have open topic but we go through the 12 steps you know multiple times a year and we have our you know business portion at the beginning we have tools that we um that assist us and that we talk about that help us live our 12-step recovery program and that is abstinence action plan plan of eating service sponsorship anonymity telephone uh literature and writing so there’s nine tools and so we’ll read you know read a bit on that and share on it and then a person will share um on the step so let’s say step one I’m going to do a parallel or silver food that your life had become unmanageable and then um we’ll break into small groups and discuss um you know what we learned you know you know whatever um Insight we’ve gained from that and we go around the room there is we we say it in our our opening you know there is no crosstalk and if you have questions please leave those at the end but um you know and who you see here when you you know leave here let it stay here and um here here so it’s very yeah very structured that way um there’s other meetings where it’s like a two-hour format where they read all the tools they read you know we read the 12 steps and whatever and then they’ll have two people um speak and then there’s no sharing afterwards you know it’s just two speakers share on you know this step or the topic um and then there’s you know some groups out there I mean you’ll see when you look at oa.org Find meaning that some of them we have like a a body image book and and all of our literatures written by Compulsive Eaters um you know just like the other programs you know it’s people from within and so that I would say is looking more at the physical aspect initially but then you know all the workings around that so but a lot of it you know is 12 steps and um you know that’s that’s how I live my life and you know it’s like I you know took my inventory and shared it with another human being and I’ve done more than one and you know my immense face to face when I can and you know rinse and repeat you know start that all over again and um and deepen my recovery as I go you know I’ve been around the bend many times but you know even though I know I’m powerless over food but what else do I need to learn I’m powerless over because that’s food hid everything and then if I ever have food thoughts you know people panic you know oh my God I had food thoughts you know and it doesn’t mean you’re gonna run out and you know dive your head into a gallon of ice cream to me that’s the only thing that will get my attention that something’s wrong our food thoughts and what I mean by food thoughts is like you know you start thinking about cookies or you know the you know the the binge Foods let’s say and what that usually means is like maybe I’m tired or maybe I didn’t um conduct myself well when I was in a store I was you know crabby with a clerk um or um I need to like I said assert myself at work well let’s see and so I look at those as warning signs but again back at the meeting it’s really about hearing how people live the recovery program and get new insight from that and Grace I think one of the probably the last question I can think of that that’s on my mind that might assist people is if you could look back at maybe some of your your earlier behaviors or earlier practices in your life that you know at the time you couldn’t see were part of this disordered Behavior process for you um can you point to anything that could possibly help people recognize this earlier for themselves or or maybe even you can point to things that stood in the way of you recognizing it I’m not sure which one would would be more relevant or stands out more to you but could you talk about that please I would say I felt my unhappiness was due to everyone else it wasn’t of my making and how that manifested I would say is that um I was irritated at my boss I was irritated at my co-workers people were jerks on the road of course that can be another discussion um but um it was you know if only everyone else would do this if only everyone else would see how special I am if only everyone else would you know hear what I really have to say and yet and then I complained all the time too complain complain complain you know my house is a mess I just can’t seem to get it together why can’t I get this food thing right I mean just always talking about that so always obsessed but again it was always all about me my unhappiness or my inability to act a certain way a better way a different way and that um and taking everyone else’s I mean since we’re talking the vernacular everyone else’s inventory well if they weren’t such this way or that way or whatever and of course oh I have all the answers I know everything and it’s like wow you know who died in crowned me queen and um you know and it’s because I just didn’t really want to look at myself and how miserable I was so it’s just really feeling unhappy with who I am and feeling like is this all life is and I mean that was the main demoralization of my food but um you know I mean I still had fun with friends and so on but I just always felt something was missing or I felt like I never fit in you know just didn’t know how to do it so you know and now I just know that um you know sometimes I’m quirky and so on but um I’m with like-minded people in the sense that um yeah I’m addicted to a Soother and um I’ve put that down and um I have a much better life and I’m great that’s that’s awesome Grace I I think we are out of questions and and that’s great because it’s right around our time frame of how long we wanted this to be which is perfect and Grace I I can’t thank you enough for for coming on to you know talk about this program and and what might be signs that we needed and and how to seek out the support we need to you know find healing and growth through that um issue we’re dealing with and and just you know for being the person you are in your life like you’re showing up and assisting people on a regular basis and I think that just is really close to all of our hearts here and just so thank you for being you and for for coming out today to talk about it yeah thank you so much for coming on yes thank you thank you I really I deeply appreciate this so oh thank you thank you so have a have a great Sunday Grace okay [Music]

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thank you