From Relapse to the H.O.W. Plan of Recovery

June 29, 2012

In 2009 and 2010, I was a member of OA, was abstinent from sugar and white flour, worked the 12 Steps, and managed to release 70 pounds. Since I figured I knew what to do to continue with my recovery, I thought I could go it alone. Relapse ensued and I regained 40 pounds. It didn’t take long for me to get deeper into my disease of food addiction and compulsive overeating.

I wanted to lose weight, but I desperately wanted to be able to eat anything and everything like other people. I joined a “weigh and pay” where the food plan allowed me to eat whatever I wanted in moderation (my dream food plan). This actually fuelled my disease as I have no control when it comes to food. As my disease worsened, I isolated more and more to be with my drug of choice. I became very depressed, lonely, and satisfied every craving. I became crazier and crazier with my obsession with food. In May, the depression was so bad that I began having suicidal thoughts. I could not see my way out and did not want to continue living this way. I felt hopeless and helpless.

In my misery, I reached out to God for help and was reminded of my previous success in OA and abstinence from sugar and white flour. I began re-reading my literature on compulsive overeating and food addiction. Despite having read in the past that food addiction can lead to depression and suicide, I did not believe it. I sure do now! I realized that there was a way out of my pit of despair by getting sugar out of my diet, but how? I was so out of control and did not want to give up my coveted food! I knew I needed to make some serious changes and fast. I recalled hearing something about a HOW program in OA and made some enquiries.

I learned that HOW (honesty, open-mindedness and willingness) is a very structured and disciplined  program where the members abstain from sugar and white flour, use the Big Book and the AA 12&12 literature, and utilize all the tools of recovery on a regular basis. If I made the decision to commit to the HOW program; I had to get a Sponsor right away; become abstinent; start working the 12 Steps; attend 1 HOW meeting and another OA meeting weekly; talk to my HP, Sponsor and another OA member daily; weigh and measure food; and tell my Sponsor my food plan daily. In addition to that, I was given 30 questions related to the first three steps and had to answer 1 question daily and send the answer to my Sponsor. All that was a very tall order, and none of it did I ever think I could or would do. I knew that it was case of accepting this solution to my addiction or die. I chose to live and decided to embrace HOW.

Overall, I found jumping through all these hoops much easier than I thought. Following the HOW plan of recovery turned out to be very liberating. The biggest challenge for me was giving up the food. I knew that I had to take my addiction very seriously and that I had to remove everything with sugar and white flour (listed in the first 5 food ingredients) from my kitchen. I set aside a day to do that, but was unable to get rid of anything as I was so attached to the food. I began consuming as much as possible and became more depressed. Again, I reached out to God for help and the next day I was given the willingness and strength to dispose of my sugar and flour. It went from there and took me 3 days to let go of my precious drug of choice. Various items went in and out of the fridge and cupboards countless times before I could let go of them. I am happy to say that by the grace of God, I now have an abstinent kitchen.

I am very grateful for my incurable and destructive disease of food addiction and compulsive overeating, and that God led me to the HOW program. The rigid structure of HOW inspired me to take immediate action, as I knew it would work. HOW has helped save me. In a few short weeks my life has been enriched beyond measure. I have re-connected with God and have strengthened my faith and spirituality by reading the AA literature and answering the questions related to Steps 1, 2, and 3. Food is no longer my god! God has given me the willingness and strength to become abstinent from sugar and white flour (since June 11), and as a result, I am being restored to sanity. I have relief from my obsession with food and no longer have cravings, which is a miracle. I am happier, have more energy, am losing weight, and my ankles no longer swell. My overall health and well-being are improving, and I am spending less money on food and beverages. I am not as lonely and I have met some wonderful, supportive people to help me with my HOW recovery. I am becoming Happy, Joyous, and Free!

From the AA 12 &12, Step 3:

We who are “food addicts and compulsive overeaters” can consider ourselves fortunate indeed. Each of us has had his/her own near-fatal encounter with the juggernaut of self-will, and has suffered enough under its weight to be willing to look for something better. So it is by circumstance rather than by any virtue that we have been driven to “OA/HOW”, have admitted defeat, have acquired the rudiments of faith, and now want to make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to a Higher Power.

Thank you God and HOW!

Wendy A.