It was 1980, and my weight had climbed to 160 pounds (73 kg). I could not stop gaining weight and was looking for an easy dieting solution to regain my perfect size. OA seemed to be the answer, with no dues or fees, weigh-in requirements or foods to purchase.
When I walked into the meeting rooms 25 years ago and saw the gray sheet with various food plans, I was relieved. All I needed was to pick a food plan and follow it; I knew how to diet. So I made my choice and let my willpower kick into high gear. I cut out sugar and ate three times a day with nothing in between for four years. I dropped 40 pounds (18 kg) and looked marvelous.
Not surprisingly, my pink-cloud abstinence did not last; I relapsed. I thought I could handle my compulsive eating by myself. All I needed was to persist in cur-tailing my food intake. This approach met with limited success. The next 10 years my weight yo-yoed. I would lose weight only to gain back more. In 1995 I reached a new top weight of 185 pounds (84 kg).
Mortified by the possibility of weighing 200 pounds (91 kg), I conceded I could not be my own Higher Power. OA had worked in the past. Recovery depended upon my willingness to work my previous food plan and adopt other OA suggestions.
I again started eating three moderate meals a day with no sugar. I shared at meetings, wrote, read and called others in program. I even offered service. I led meetings and accepted service positions. The surrender process paid off. In less than a year, I lost 60 pounds (27 kg).
Continuous abstinence is not guaranteed, though. By 1998 I had slowly regained 20 pounds (9 kg). The insanity deepened. I opened the refrigerator, freezer and pantry doors a hundred times a day. I could not stop overeating.
It was time to take drastic action. In February 1998 I went to a nutritionist. She told me I felt wiped out in the morning from ingesting too many carbohydrates. I was shocked and angry. How dare she tell me to cut out breakfast foods that I thought were abstinent! She did not stop there, however. She told me to reduce my protein and fat portions and change my beverage choices as well—drink more water and fewer diet sodas. No, I was not happy about the changes. Nevertheless, I was desperate, so I followed her advice.
Going to the nutritionist helped me gain clarity. When the food fog cleared, I knew my compulsive overeating was at a critical level. Years of failed experimentation with controlled eating had left me demoralized. I could no longer have a say in what I ate. In the spring of 1998 I started working a more structured and disciplined OA program.
For the last six years, I have enjoyed the longest continuous abstinence in my life. I have recovery because I do what my nutritionist and OA tell me to do. I now eat six times a day. In addition to not eating sugar, I have also eliminated caffeine and binge foods from my food plan. I use OA tools daily. I write, read, pray, turn over my food, sponsor and call my sponsor and three other people in program. I weigh and measure my food, attend at least one meeting a week and do service. I admit my powerlessness.
Every morning I begin the 24-hour ritual of putting one foot in front of the other as often as needed. I ask for the willingness to accept my imperfections and follow God’s will.
After years of believing dieting was the only solution to my compulsive overeating, I am now able to accept a spiritual solution.
~ Nancy P., Midlothian, Virginia USA
From Lifeline Magazine, July 2014