Long before my days of Overeaters Anonymous and abstinence, compulsive eating was my life. Food was my life. It occupied my every thought—how much I could have and how I could get it. Compulsive eating was so ingrained, I acted on food thoughts the second they came up. I gave not a moment’s thought to whether I wanted to eat. Well, I must be honest and say God was working on me even then. I would hear an intuitive voice say, “You shouldn’t eat that,” but I would eat anyway!
I could not have stopped eating compulsively in those moments, even if you’d put a gun to my head. I was “self-will run riot” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p.62). Somewhere along the line, my best friend, food, had become my worst enemy. It ruled and then ruined my life. I was desperate and fat. I hated myself. The more I thought about dieting, the more I ate. It was a vicious cycle and my lowest point. A friend told me about Overeaters Anonymous, and we decided to try it. That day changed my life.
As I walked through the doors of a Twelve-Step recovery program, I “came home.” What a blessing to know I wasn’t alone. Other people thought like me, and food talked to them too. Others had this strange compulsion they could not stop, but they also talked of a solution. Work the Twelve Steps, find your Higher Power, use a sponsor, get abstinent, go to meetings and use the telephone. It was new, exciting and scary! They talked about giving up the foods that gave me trouble. Living life without junk food! I didn’t think that was possible, but plenty of evidence suggested what they said was true.
It took me eight months in program and much more compulsive eating and pain to realize these people were right. “It is much less work to abstain and stay out of the food than it is to try to regulate and control it.” ‘‘Nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels.” “God could do for me what I could not do for myself.” “You can do this!”
I saw and believed. My 15th year of abstinence has just passed—just God and I fighting this compulsion one day at a time. But I had to become abstinent first. I had to make that commitment to God and myself and take the plunge. God has helped me through many food problems and situations. It isn’t always easy, but it is possible to remain abstinent with God’s help, one day, moment, second at a time. It becomes a way of life. Instead of turning to food in a crisis, I turn to God. Instead of eating to numb the pain, I work the Twelve Steps with my sponsor and learn to work through tough times and tougher emotions. Instead of stuffing myself through the holidays and gaining tons of weight, I eat sensible, planned meals and enjoy the holiday itself. Instead of being fat and hating myself, I enjoy a normal body size and do many activities I could not do when I was fat.
The biggest miracle of this Twelve-Step program is my first waking thoughts are with God, not food. I wake up and say, “Good morning, God. It’s me again.” I don’t even think about food until breakfast time.
How far I’ve come because 15 years ago I decided to take the plunge, trust God and become abstinent. It is the softer, easier way. I’m so grateful today!
— Denise H., Ottumwa, Iowa US
From the March, 2012 edition of Lifeline Magazine