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Has anyone been to Overeaters Anonymous?


Gonna get slim
S: 29st4lb C: 28st8lb G: 18st5lb BMI: 57.4 Loss: 0st10lb(2.44%)

Been lurking here a while. I've just come back to Cambrige diet. My boyfriend broke up with me and i've just moved to a new area. I'm in dire need of support as I'm just not sure I can do such an extreme diet on my own (with over 10 stone to lose). I plan to start seeing a counsellor this week to address my depression associated with my weight (though am not really sure which one came first). I was just wondering if anyone had tried OA and if they were any good? Is there a range of differently sized people there? I don't want to go and be the fattest! I'd really appreciate any advice. Feeling quite isolated and alone at the moment.
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Silver Member
S: 21st0lb C: 13st4lb G: 11st0lb BMI: 30 Loss: 7st10lb(36.73%)
I've looked into it but it's involved with religeon and God and stuff which might help some people but doesn't sit well with me lol! Have you looked on the BEAT website?


Gonna get slim
S: 29st4lb C: 28st8lb G: 18st5lb BMI: 57.4 Loss: 0st10lb(2.44%)
No, i'll have a look there. Thanks sugar! I did read that in OA they follow the 12 step programme and that it refers to a higher being which for some people relates to religion but for others more abou spirituality generally. I was wondering if any any overweight people actually go or more sufferers of anorexia and bulimia. From the website it looks like it's generally a mix of people. Not sure if it's my cuppa tea either...hope someone who has been reads this post and replies!


Why Be Normal?
S: 192lb C: 192lb G: 138lb BMI: 33 Loss: 0lb(0%)
Hi --

I went to OA several years ago with a friend. There was no diet -- it was mostly just a support group. After a few weeks we realised that for us it was a big waste of time. Also, no one seemed to be losing any weight.

There was this ridiculous prayer that we were all supposed to chant at the during the meeting (maybe at the beginning and end) that really stuck in my craw. It ended with "... how foolish I have been."

Forget that -- we are NOT foolish because we are overweight (or have become, so). The last thing we need to do is denigrate ourselves.

If you need the support of a group -- I strongly recommend LL -- if it is done by a good counsellor. The Foundation Group Therapy setting (i.e. approx. 12 members closed sessions, workbooks, dvds, counsellor support) is good value for the money.

I lost nearly 5 stone and maintained my losses for some time. I am fairly certain that had I done the entire management programme I would not be using CD atm to relose the 50% I regained. I am doing okay -- I am about 20 pounds from goal and expect to be there by Apri (your losses go more slowly once you have done a VLCD as it affects your metabolism long-term).

I had tried many different diets for over 13 years of being overweight. I'd lose some, regain, etc. I never got to my goal until LL, and I did get there and even managed to stay there. And, I largely credit what I learned through LL's programme with my getting back to work before I was "obese" again (just barely).

Good Luck to You. I hope this helps.

Overeaters Anonymous, just like Alcoholics Anonymous, has helped countless people worldwide to learn to change their behaviour around their 'drug of choice', in the case of most here, food.

The OA Programme is spiritual, not religious. People of all shapes and sizes, all backgrounds, all colours and creeds, go there for acceptance, support and guidance as to how to leave the addictive behaviour and thinking behind and move on to freedom and peace of mind ('serenity').

Go on the Overeaters Anonymous website and find a local group or group leader/member. Ring that person and ask as many questions as you like. You won't have to give your name, nor any personal details, unless you want to share those things.

Much of our behaviour around food is triggered by guilt. OA teaches members how to shed that guilt. There is no set 'diet' but some find that cutting out white flour and sugar helps them to stop bingeing - these tend to trigger uncontrollable eating behaviour in susceptible people.

I think you would benefit by talking to someone from OA, even if you decide eventually not to get involved. OA is free! All that you may ever feel like giving is a small donation towards the cost of room hire lol.

Obviously I have only scratched the surface here.

Good luck hun!


Silver Member
S: 21st0lb C: 13st4lb G: 11st0lb BMI: 30 Loss: 7st10lb(36.73%)
You can also get 6 sessions with an NHS counsellor if you go to your GP, no 'sprituality' required. They can help you change the way you think and teach you techniques to change your behaviour, I'm coming to the end of mine now and have found it very helpful in changing my mindset.
By the way there are atheists in OA!

And the spirituality mentioned is one's own personal feelings and emotions, not a new age-y touchy feely thing. Although if someone prefers that, fine! Some do not place any value on spirituality. Others treasure it. Again the key thing is to not judge. Let others find their own way.

OA accepts compulsive overeating as an illness, a disease in the same way that alcoholism is a disease. Many people who come to believe this find that they no longer hate themselves, no longer feel weak and greedy and useless, just because they overeat.

Counselling and CBT don't work for everyone. Gaining insight into why you overeat very often makes no difference at all when you are dying to scoff a whole cake and a gallon of ice cream. That is the addiction part.

Everyone has to find what works for them. For a long time OA worked for me when nothing else even came close. I will always be grateful for the friendship and non-judgemental support I found there. I lost a ton of weight, and found sanity around food.

I am still ten stones lighter.


Gold Member
I dont know how an atheist can actually follow this programme, with it being so heavily God orientated.

This is the twelve steps, copied directly from the OA website...

  1. We admitted we were powerless over food — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Its basically asking an atheist to suspend their belief in no existence of a God, and become a hypocrite to those beliefs.

If that's your bag, then fair play to you, it may well help.

If its not, then I cant see how it would. You can get support without any form of spiritual indoctrination from here, or a counsellor, or a GP.


Full Member
I have emailed them to ask how a person who does not believe in god do this , they said u don't need a belief in god just a higher being , which i don't believe in either so I decided that it wasn't for me!
I am really surprised at the hostility here. Someone in OA once said to me, scratch an overweight woman and you find a very angry one. I think that is very true and it applies to men, also.

Addicts who identify as addicts (by their own personal definition) need specialist help - from other recovering addicts. Rock stars such as Eric Clapton freely admit that AA/NA saved their lives. Clapton even toured with a band called The Character Defects.

The concept of a Higher Power, put simply, means trusting in a power greater than ourselves. As was explained to me - this could be the group itself, one group member, or The Christmas Tree Fairy so long as this WORKS for you as an individual. Many take their sponsor as their Higher Power. Others take their group, or a loving friend or teacher. Others still, perhaps already committed to their own religions, take their own concept of God.

The point of this is to remove the notion that we as individuals are the centre of the universe which, alas, addicts often mistakenly feel they are. Alcoholics in particular are notorious for being selfish in all things, because such an addiction consumes the person and steadily destroys the original personality. Likewise drugs. The moral compass becomes skewed and the ability to make the right decisions all but vanishes. Food may not affect people in the same way as drugs or booze and we need to eat to survive, we cannot go cold turkey but we can give up foods that trigger our binge eating. Compulsive overeating ruins lives, end of story. Those who don't feel they are compulsive overeaters may not need something like OA. I was and remain a compulsive overeater. I will always be at risk around junk food! But I learned to arrest my addiction, one day at a time.

The steps were created a very long time ago, when most people in the USA (where AA was born) did in fact accept the concept of 'God'. Also the steps were created to combat alcoholism in particular and later adapted to deal with Food, Narcotics, Sex, Gambling, and lots more.

If people have a problem with the Higher Power concept then they need not adopt it! Nothing in OA is rigid or 'fixed'. Suggestions are offered to help with the addiction - ideas, things that have worked for others, things that may help even in the darkest hours. Membership is voluntary and free. If a person does not like the sound of it they are at liberty to just not get involved! However it strikes me as very dubious to criticise something that helps so many without personal experience of it. Every meeting is different in that the people leading the meetings are human beings in all their frailty and are not clones. But the basic principles remain the same and members keep their own Recovery by continuing to help others.

There is a saying - 'take what you want, and leave the rest'. I will add to this, or take nothing at all. Walk on by if you so wish. But please do not denigrate and criticise such a valuable organisation out of personal prejudice.

That kinda says it all.


Gold Member
S: 19st7lb C: 19st7lb G: 11st0lb BMI: 45.4 Loss: 0st0lb(0%)
I can honestly say i have never felt as welcome or so accepted by others as I felt when I first came into the rooms of OA and AA (I'm cross-addicted, one addiction isn't good enough for me lol).

I attended OA regularly for two years until just before xmas last year when I hit a real low and decided I needed a break from it. I was frustrated at not achieving abstinence from compulsive eating, food is the most cruel of addictions as you need to eat in order to survive. I know if I don't go to pubs and don't buy alcohol then in all liklihood i wont have a drink but I can't seem to apply the same rules to my trigger foods.

for me being in a 12 step group is all about dealing with the demons from my past and learning how to become a better person. Progress rather than perfection. My fav slogan is 'you are no longer alone.'


On A Mission!
S: 17st9lb C: 10st9lb G: 10st7lb BMI: 23.3 Loss: 7st0lb(39.68%)
I have emailed them to ask how a person who does not believe in god do this , they said u don't need a belief in god just a higher being , which i don't believe in either so I decided that it wasn't for me!
The 'higher being' could be your own self conciousness, that knowledge in yourself that knows what is the right thing for you, or even your inner Fred, if you have read the Fred thread. In the 12 steps it does state God as we understand him, and i take that to mean whatever our individual belief is, or our own individual self knowledge.

It is a bit of a cop out though, if they want to spread the net so wide they should drop the god bit altogether, and just appeal to our sense of guilt.


Gold Member
S: 19st7lb C: 19st7lb G: 11st0lb BMI: 45.4 Loss: 0st0lb(0%)
It is a bit of a cop out though, if they want to spread the net so wide they should drop the god bit altogether, and just appeal to our sense of guilt.
I dunno if that was meant to be funny or not but it made me smile.:) Personally I've had it with feeling guilty, it's an awful, destructive emotion (go me! lol).

I once read online that G.O.D. was an acronym and stood for Gravitational Omnipresent Deity, granted it's a bit of a tongue-twister but I took it to mean higher up, always there and a deity can be interpreted however you wish.

A 12 step group isn't for everyone and is usually a last resort but each to their own.


Full Member
S: 13st8lb C: 9st8lb G: 6st12lb BMI: 24.5 Loss: 4st0lb(29.47%)
I found OA to be good too.

I think it's good for yo-yo dieters. The type of person who loses a lot of weight successfully on diets but doesn't manage to keep it off. To each his own.

I tried Weight Watchers, it was great for CBT behaviour modification re food and exercise. They have some stuff on emotional eating but that part of the programme was/is the weakest. They do mention positive thinking, positive language, distracting yourself when you have food cravings, go for a walk...it's a bit like N.L.P tbh. The main emphasis is on the weighing scales, whether you lose weight each week. Of course, that is great but I still had disordered eating I needed to tackle. I couldn't keep the weight off as they have a lack of focus on maintenance. The support from the group and leader is good but again, it is focused on *losing* weight, not maintaining. I think maintaining is 10 times harder than losing.

All they give you is a booklet about maintaining and then the rest of the meetings are geared towards people losing weight. I also think theres slightly too much emphasis on the food and less on actually exercising! I found all the emphasis on swapping high fat food for low fat food and recipes would trigger off my food cravings. However, it did teach me how to cook as well as other things too which I am internally grateful for. I know this thread isn't about weight watchers but I just wanted to describe my experience of a traditional slimming club vs overeaters anonymous.

The pros of weight watchers would be planning your meals in advance. I was told to do a weekly shopping list and weekly meal plan out, then track my meals each day. This is something that OA does too, only with the help of a sponsor too. I found the motivational stories inspiring and they helped me lose weight but it never quite got to the bottom of my emotional eating. There are two weight watcher habits "Manage your feelings" and "manage your thoughts" but I never quite knew how to do this which is definitely where OA would come in handy for anyone.

I also think Weight Watchers changes their food plan too often to retain their market share against other companies such as Slimming World. I stayed with the same food plan but I found the changes a distraction quite frankly.

I think OA is good if you are an all-or-nothing person. Say if you have a packet of biscuits, would you eat all of them or would you be able to limit yourself to one? I am an all-or-nothing person so I cut out my "trigger" foods altogether. Some people can do moderation and if so, something like Weight Watchers, Slimming World et al will probably do the trick but for those of us that can't, OA works best.

I think most overeaters' trigger foods are carbs and processed foods so natural food ands reduction/elimination of grains from the diet generally works best as well as no alcohol. However,OA don't endorse any particular diet plan, you are free to use whatever sensible diet plan you like as long as you abstain from overeating.

I went to OA several years ago with a friend. There was no diet -- it was mostly just a support group. After a few weeks we realised that for us it was a big waste of time. Also, no one seemed to be losing any weight.

I found that most of the people in the OA group I attended were slim and were able to apply the steps successfully. The members were really helpful and friendly, told me to attend regular meetings. I wasn't ready for it at the time but it is a good programme.

I think OA is quite a simple programme too. It is not a quick fix solution but it isn't long winded or complicated, so that is a plus too.


Gold Member
S: 19st7lb C: 19st7lb G: 11st0lb BMI: 45.4 Loss: 0st0lb(0%)
I'd forgotten about this thread! My home group is very small, usually 3-7 people once a week. They say recovery is three-fold: physical, emotional and spiritual yet I saw very little physical recovery, me included.

I had a telephone sponsor for about six months but we parted company as I wasn't able to do what she suggested. I asked another woman to sponsor me but she was 'busy with work' and a third lived about 60 miles away and I don't drive and didn't think it was fair to ask my dad to drive me up and down once a week although he was prepared to.

I have only been to about 6 meetings in the past 3 months and whereas I used to love going I really don't now. My unwillingness to follow a food plan and lack of sponsor to take me through the steps was building resentment in me.

I have a great sponsor in AA now since Feb and I try to get to at least 2 meetings a week. Sometimes I think to myself do I really need two programs, surely my HP will help me with every problem I encounter? lol

When I get down and depressed I wonder if I will ever beat my food addiction. :(:cry: