IDEA Day – International Day for Experiencing Abstinence: the Coquitlam meeting is hosting a workshop on The Difference between Abstinence and a Plan of Eating on Saturday, November 18th from 10 am until 2 pm at the King of Life Church, 198 Falcon Drive in Coquitlam. BRING YOUR LUNCH! The program is based on World Service’s materials. For more information, contact Mikayla at 604-949-0747. Need a ride from the Skytrain? Call Maureen at 604-785-2236. See you there!

International Day Experiencing Abstinence takes place the third Saturday of every November, i.e., right before the amateur overeating season known as “the holidays.” Last year on IDEA Day, ten people braved their way through a snowstorm to hear about ideas valuable to abstinence. (Quoted material below is from Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed.)

  • Compulsive eating is a disease, not a moral issue, and weight is only a symptom. It’s an obsession of the mind plus an allergy of the body. It’s progressive, incurable, and potentially fatal.
  • Food is only nourishment for our bodies—it’s not love, comfort, reward, or a solution. For some people, extra food, certain foods, and certain behaviors are drugs. Addiction can happen to anyone—no matter how smart, knowledgeable, strong, capable, or stubborn.
  • “The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed” (p. 30). Like other addicts, we are absolutely unable to stop compulsive behavior “on the basis of self-knowledge” (p. 39). “Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves” (p. 45).
  • We can each use our own conception of a Higher Power, whatever that may be.
  • When we take a sponsor’s suggestions regarding food, we’re surrendering and taking Step One. We turn our will, life, food, weight, and body image over to the care of a loving Higher Power. We don’t have to believe in God—we just have to believe that we’re not it. HP is the pause between the food thought and the action, a protection and shield. A Higher Power is one hundred percent love and one hundred percent honesty.
  • Our disease lives in the extremes—all or nothing, black or white. Our recovery is in balance—doing something in shades of black, white, and gray.
  • Self-care may be the opposite of self- will. One day at a time, one moment at a time, just don’t eat compulsively. We cannot make ourselves abstinent (if we could, we wouldn’t need OA), but we can make ourselves ready to receive the gift of abstinence from our HP.
  • Abstinence is a gift from God, dependent on the spiritual condition, so start each day with “I can’t. God can. I will let God.”
  • Abstinence is freedom.
  • Abstinence is being full of faith and an attitude of gratitude.
  • Nothing tastes as good as abstinence feels.
  • Use the Steps and Tools throughout the day to maintain abstinence. Thank HPeach night.
  • We never need eat compulsively again.
  • We are all abstinent right now.

Edited and reprinted from Out of the Cocoon newsletter, Milwaukee Area Intergroup, Jan/Feb 2016


Ask-It Basket – Service

Q. How can we encourage members to do service? Many take the view that they can’t do service before they recover!

When we first come into Overeaters Anonymous, we want recovery to be about us; then our sponsor mentions service. Service gives back to the program and helps us too. In order to keep what we have, we have to give back what was so freely given.

All members, newcomers and longtimers, are encouraged to do service to help their recovery. Newcomers can set up chairs, carry the literature for a meeting or the key to a meeting. Some meetings have coffee, which newcomers can set up. They can also make outreach calls to other members, participate in readings at meetings, make announcements, and visit their intergroup.

I was encouraged to go to intergroup by my sponsor. I didn’t need to be abstinent to go and see what an intergroup was all about. I went as a meeting rep. There were all kinds of things I could do without any abstinence requirements at all, like helping plan recovery events. I was good with computers, so I made flyers. I was able to place flyers and pamphlets in our local libraries and hospitals. My service helped carry the message to the still-suffering compulsive overeater. When I did reach required abstinence times, I was voted in as Secretary of our intergroup. I also became the region rep for our Region Eight assembly.

My love of service and OA took off from there. I served in many positions on the intergroup board and in my region. Here I am today—an OA trustee.

I love the journey of recovery. I meet so many people I never would have met otherwise. Doing service means we can trudge together that “Road of Happy Destiny” the Big Book mentions (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 164), and carry the message to other compulsive eaters; it is our primary purpose.

[Another trustee answers:]

Your second sentence, “Many take the view that they can’t do service before they recover” captures one of the many paradoxes in our program. Those who wait to be recovering or abstaining before they give service miss the fact that many who do service are gifted with recovery/abstinence along the way.

We can remind members that Service is one of our Tools of recovery; it can also be included in another Tool: Action Plan. A sponsor can request that all his or her sponsees do some level of service. When encouraging members to do service, include many ideas: members can help set up chairs and put them away at the end of meetings (they will undoubtedly share with others while doing this service). A newer person can become a “speaker getter” for the group, or be the group’s literature person. Two or more newer members can work as a team to do a service—this practice generates support and helps with commitment, and service becomes fun! All this while, any person who has a dilemma about putting service, recovery, or abstinence first gets to put aside intellectual argument and instead live in the solution.

Always remember that any person giving service can ask their Higher Power to be with them; that way they are working Step Eleven whether they realize it or not. And please remember too that we humans want to be asked to help.


Loner No Longer

“I never have to be alone again . . .”

It was June 1989: I was powerless over food and my life was unmanage- able. I had just lost forty pounds (18 kg) again and quickly gained ten pounds (5 kg) back. I was on my way up the scale and full of anger and rage. I felt totally helpless, hopeless, desperate, and alone. My highest weight was around 213 pounds (97 kg), and I thought my problem was a moral issue: I was the only one who ate like this. I was a glutton. I was a “foodaholic.”

On June 16, 1989, I attended my first OA meeting and for the first time ever felt at home. I belonged; I was “a part of”! I heard, saw, and felt the strength, hope, and recovery that this wondrous program offers. I listened to people who used to do what I did with the food, but they’d found a solution. I was no longer alone!

I did not get abstinent initially, but I started recovering that day and kept coming back. I did not get a sponsor right away, but I kept coming back. I went to three or more meetings a week. Meetings were the only times I felt at peace, so why wouldn’t I keep coming back? But since I’m also a loner (as a military brat, I moved locations every three years and learned never to trust or let anyone inside), I remained apart and distant.

After six weeks, I finally got a sponsor, someone who would give me the discipline and flexibility I needed, guide me through the program, and love me until I could love myself. Because of her, I learned I could not remain a loner in this program. I had to learn to trust and be willing to be part of the OA family to recover. This was my first introduction to being an active piece of the OA puzzle.

I’ve learned many things through my years in program. I slowly realized that one of my assets, my piece of the puzzle, is my ability to appreciate and gently welcome newcomers who might not want hugs or who want to be left alone. I can also lovingly and gently welcome people who are returning. This role is simple: I say, “Welcome back. I’ve missed you,” and remind them to keep coming back.

There is no one way to work this program and no one way to recover. Because of the Steps and certain mentors, I have learned that I am enough, the way I work my program is just right for me, and I always have an opportunity to help someone else recover. I am no longer a loner, nor do I want to be. Today I am grateful to be a piece of the OA puzzle, sharing and giving to all who share my compulsion.

~ Tina C.

You Are a Piece of the Puzzle: Part of the Mosaic

We all belong! We all belong! We are like pieces of a puzzle individually coming together to form one picture, not because of our differences, but because of what we share—compulsive overeating.

Most of my life I didn’t feel as though I fit anywhere. I was a fat child suffering the indignities of what today would be called bullying; then I was a young adult watching others live their lives but not living mine. Even when I had a good job, a husband, and a child, I never felt accepted by the world. After years of this, I went to my first OA meeting on January 11, 1992. Everyone welcomed me at that meeting –  they even talked to me – but I didn’t trust this group that talked about gratitude and a Higher Power. They were happy, though, and said what they had to offer me was the gift they had received: a place of acceptance.

It took a very long time for me to believe them, but I found value and self-worth through working the Twelve Steps. OA has no requirements for membership other than a desire to stop eating compulsively. We are more than just the meetings we attend, or the members we know – we are so much more than that. We all belong to the mosaic of OA. No matter how we work our programs, the basis of all is in the Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, and Twelve Concepts of OA Service. With the nine Tools of recovery as a guide, we begin to feel a part of something. I am a piece of a magnificent picture: Overeaters Anonymous.

Note: OA’s 2017 Strategic Plan includes a focus on growing OA unity worldwide. Region chairs and members of the Board of Trustees are contributing articles on this theme.

~ Karen C., Everett, Massachusetts USA


Sea to Sky Intergroup – October Update


Welcome to Autumn and an update on activities in our region!

Check out the October Newsletter for all the latest information about upcoming events and workshops plus a great article by Greta H on Recovery Day in BC. Feel free to print extra copies for your meeting or share by e-mail. Submissions for the November newsletter can be sent to

The Northshore OA Recovery meeting is hosting a hands-on Abstinence Workshop on Saturday, October 28th from 1 until 430 pm at the Northshore Alano Club, 176 East 2nd Street, North Vancouver. We will be working with the OA definition of “abstinence” and working out (or refining) what it means in our recovery day to day. There will be directed readings, writing prompts, collage making and sharing. RSVPs are requested to Please bring your journal or a notebook, pens, scissors and a glue stick if you have one.

IDEA Day – International Day for Experiencing Abstinence: the Coquitlam meeting is hosting a workshop on The Difference between Abstinence and a Plan of Eating on Saturday, November 18th from 10 am until 2 pm at the King of Life Church, 198 Falcon Drive in Coquitlam. BRING YOUR LUNCH! The program is based on materials from World Service. For more information, contact Mikayla at 604-949-0747. Need a ride from the Skytrain? Call Maureen at 604-785-2236. See you there!

The October Meeting Directory is now available to help you find meetings throughout the month. Are you starting a Step Study Group soon? Please let your newsletter editor know by e-mail so we can put the details in the newsletter We are getting inquiries from people looking to join a study group!

The OAsis Meeting in Burnaby is hosting speaker meetings on an on- going basis. Please to join them at 730 pm on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday at the Burnaby Fellowship Centre, 7638 6th Street.

The Ladner Thursday Thrivers Meeting is hosting a special speaker on Thursday, October 26th. They meet from 130 to 230 pm at Ladner United Church, 4960 48th Avenue in Ladner.

“Developed through long and sometimes painful experience, the Twelve Traditions embody spiritual Principles for living. Those who have studied them carefully have found that these Traditions can be applied effectively to all human relationships, both inside and outside OA. With this in mind, we turn our attention to the Traditions, trusting that, as we come to understand them better, we will be better able to keep OA strong and healthy and ourselves spiritually fit in the face of all challenges.” – The Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous 2017.

As part of OAs Strategic Plan under the topic of Growing OA Unity Worldwide a committee has been working on a set of brief presentations that will introduce and then cover each of our twelve traditions. Check out the introduction video, and find the whole series on the OA Podcast page.


Your Intergroup is thriving! In August 2016, we did not have a quorum. At the meeting at the end of August, we had a record 27 OA’ers at Intergroup! The following Intergroup positions are still vacant if you are looking for a service opportunity: marathon & retreats coordinator and 12th step within coordinator.

All OA members are welcome at Intergroup meetings. Join us! Check out the position descriptions and feel free to attend the next Intergroup Meeting on Saturday, October  28, 2017 at 10 am (1630 Edinburgh Street in New Westminster). All are welcome.

Responsibility Pledge
Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this I am responsible.

Spiritual Principle: Integrity in Recovery

Integrity: We continue to take personal inventory and continue to set right any new mistakes as we go along. We vigorously commenced this way of living as we cleaned up the past. We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime. (Big Book, p. 84)

One of the hardest things to admit is that we have lied to ourselves.

Lied about our eating or our food behaviours. How many of us have binged and then “forgot” just a day or so later? We think we have the flu or food poisoning or we didn’t sleep well. In reality, we make ourselves suffer physically when we binge, restrict or purge. Like any other addiction, compulsive food behaviours are a form of self-abuse. The dishonesty we have around our food behaviours is also self- harming. It destroys our trust in ourselves.

Step 5 asks us to “admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” The underlying spiritual principle to this step is integrity. The courage to be this honest, to act with integrity going forward, is the cumulation of doing a Step 4 Inventory and sharing it honestly with our sponsor or another trusted person in Step 5. We face our behaviours, our fears, our resentments, our self-seeking and other character defects squarely. We acknowledge our past. We face the truth about what we are like and how we got to this point in our lives. As the 12 & 12 text says:

In steps four and five we learned courage and integrity as we faced the truth about our defects of character. Applying these principles in all our affairs means that we are no longer ruled by a fear of admitting our mistakes. We have the integrity to show the world our true selves. No longer needing to appear to the world as perfect people, we can live more fully, having the courage to face up to our mistakes and test our strengths in the challenges of life. – OA 12 & 12, p.104

Have you ever realized what goes on in your head does not match what the outside world sees? Many times, I’ve heard at a meeting a fellow acknowledge feeling “fake” or like an “imposter” sometimes. If people knew what you are really thinking sometimes, would they be shocked or appalled? In completing Step 5, telling someone what you have done, what your resentments are, how they affected your life, what your part is, what you fear, how you have distorted relationships – all these things help in the process of aligning your thoughts with your behaviors. This realignment requires integrity.

When we move forward in our recovery with integrity, we embrace the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; a spiritual uprightness in our daily lives. We are now in a state of being whole and undivided.

No longer do secrets – big and little – haunt us. We have made peace with our past. We are ready to move forward, whole. There may still be wreckage in our past to clear – that’s what we have the amends process for in Steps 8 and 9. But in taking Step 5, we commit ourselves to acting honestly and with integrity, not just in the eye of our High Power, but in our own mind’s eye and that of our fellows.

Step 10 encourages us to maintain this place of honesty and integrity daily. We continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong, promptly admit it. A nightly inventory keeps us honest:

When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? … After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken. – Big Book, p.86

The Big Book assumes we are sober when doing our nightly inventory. In OA, we add “was I abstinent today?” to the inventory. If not, we honestly acknowledge our relapse to ourselves, to our Higher Power and another fellow. We look at our behaviours and rework the Steps. Am I willing? Do I surrender? Have I asked for help? What “corrective measures” do I need to take? Integrity demands we ask ourselves the hard questions. We are only as sick as our secrets.

Need to add to your plan of action on integrity? Some members use an AEIOU method to take their inventory daily: was I Abstinent? Did I Exercise? WhatdidIdotodayformyself?WhatdidIdotodayfor Others? What Unfinished business or Underlying issues do I need to deal with? YAHOO!!! What 5 things am I grateful for today?

Others find it helpful to use a recovery app on their phone, like the free 10th Step app on iTunes or My OA Toolkit app (iTunes or Google Play). Still others use pen and paper, in a journal or with a template such as this OA Daily Worksheet. or these Step 10 & 11 Worksheets.

OA Region 1 also sells a daily program journal that some people find helpful. Any of these tools can help us work The Steps. The only important thing is that we have the integrity to work our program daily. You got this. You’re worth it.

~ Jennifer S, North Vancouver