Hi! My name is Stephanie and I am a compulsive overeater. I said this greeting for the first time in 2007 when I attended an overeaters anonymous (OA) meeting. Overeaters Anonymous (OA) by definition is a community of people who support each other in order to recover from compulsive eating and [other] food behaviors. Through this journey, I’ve learned three important things about my eating disorder.
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I’m Not Alone in my Eating Disorder
I will never forget my first overeaters anonymous (OA) meeting. As I sat there listening to other people’s stories, for the first time ever I felt like I had found people who understood my struggles. Here I found myself in a room filled with people of all different sizes, ages, and ethnicities, yet we were all bound by one common disease, an eating disorder.
Overeaters Anonymous is for those who suffer from compulsive overeating, under-eating, food addiction, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or over exercising. When you walk into an OA meeting you may find people who are average weight, underweight, and overweight. Some may be in recovery, while others may be in the thick of their disease. Everyone, however, will have one thing in common; a desire to stop eating compulsively.
Compulsive Overeating is a Disease
Compulsive eating is a disease like alcoholism is a disease. Do not let anyone tell you that you overeat because you lack self control. No, this is not the case. Our minds are powerful and uniquely wired by God. A compulsive overeater’s mind is wired differently than that of a “normal” healthy eater.
The sooner we recognize that we are powerless over food, the sooner we can take the actions necessary to regain control. The first step of the 12 Steps of OA, in fact, is to admit that we are powerless over food and that our lives have become unmanageable.
Can we control our compulsive overeating? Yes, but only with help from God and others.
It’s a Journey, Not a Destination
Daily, sometimes hourly, I must ask God to help me with my compulsive overeating. There is not a moment of my day that I am not thinking about food. As soon as a wake up, right after a meal, while in the shower, etc. I am thinking about food.
When I lose weight or am exercising regularly, I still must ask God to help me with my compulsive overeating. It may be easy to think, “I no longer have a problem. I am recovered.” It is in these moments however, that the disease is most dangerous.
Would you invite a recovering alcoholic to meet you at a bar? No, of course not. Sadly, it’s not that easy for a compulsive overeater. The uniqueness of an eating disorder is that food is all around us. Every holiday, every party, every meal, every store, etc. Daily, sometimes hourly, we must ask God to help us with our compulsive overeating.
There is hope. I wholeheartedly believe that you can and will overcome your eating disorder. We’re in this together.