The Tools of Recovery
working Overeaters Anonymous' Twelve-Step program of recovery from
compulsive overeating, we have found that there are a number of tools
available to assist us. We use these tools-a plan of eating,
sponsorship, meetings, the telephone, writing, literature, anonymity
and service-on a regular basis, to help us achieve and maintain
Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is "the action of refraining from compulsive
eating." Many of us have found that we cannot abstain from
compulsive eating unless we use some or all of OA's eight tools of
A Plan of Eating
a tool, a plan of eating helps us to abstain from eating compulsively.
Having a personal plan of eating guides us in our dietary
decisions, as well as defines what, when, how, where and why we eat.
It is our experience that sharing this plan with a sponsor or
another OA member is important.
are no specific requirements for a plan of eating; OA does not endorse,
recommend or distribute any specific food plan, nor does it exclude the
personal use of one. For specific dietary or nutritional guidance,
OA suggests consulting a qualified health care professional, such as a
physician or dietician. Each of us develops a personal plan of
eating based on an honest appraisal of his or her own past experience;
we also have come to identify our current individual needs, as well as
those things which we should avoid.
individual plans of eating are as varied as our members, most OA
members agree that some plan-no matter how flexible or structured-is
tool helps us deal with the physical aspects of our disease, and helps
us achieve physical recovery. From this vantage point, we can more
effectively follow OA's Twelve-Step program of recovery and move beyond the food to a happier, healthier and more spiritual living experience.
are OA members who are living the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to
the best of their ability. They are willing to share their
recovery with other members of the Fellowship and are committed to
ask a sponsor to help us through our program of recovery on all three
levels: physical, emotional and spiritual. By working with other
members of OA and sharing their experience, strength and hope, sponsors
continually renew and reaffirm their own recovery. Sponsors
share their program up to the level of their own experience.
is a program of attraction; find a sponsor who has what you want, and
ask that person how he or she is achieving it. A member may work
with more than one sponsor and may change sponsors at will.
are gatherings of two or more compulsive overeaters who come together
to share their personal experience, and the strength and hope OA has
given them. Though there are many types of meetings, fellowship
with other compulsive overeaters is the basis of them all.
Meetings give us an opportunity to identify and confirm our
common problem and to share the gift we receive through this program.
telephone helps us share on a one-to-one basis and avoid the isolation
which is so common among us. Many members call other OA members
and their own sponsors daily. As a part of the surrender process,
it is a tool with which we learn to reach out, ask for help and extend
help to others. The telephone also provides an immediate outlet
for those hard-to-handle highs and lows we may experience.
addition to writing our inventories and the list of people we have
harmed, most of us have found that writing has been an indispensable
tool for working the Steps. Further, putting our thoughts and
feelings down on paper, or describing a troubling incident, helps us to
better understand our actions and reactions in a way that is often not
revealed to us by simply thinking or talking about them. In the
past, compulsive eating was our most common reactin to life. When
we put our difficulties down on paper, it becomes easier to see
situations more clearly and perhaps better discern any necessary action.
study and read OA-approved pamphlets; OA-approved books, such as
Overeaters Anonymous, The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of
Overeaters Anonymous and For Today; and we read Lifeline, our monthly
magazine on recovery. We also study the book Alcoholics
Anonymous, referred to as the "Big Book," to understand and reinforce
our program. Many OA members find that when read on a daily
basis, the literature further reinforces how to live the Twelve Steps.
Our OA literature and the AA "Big Book" are ever-available tools
which provide insight into our problem of eating compulsively, strength
to deal with it, and the very real hope that there is a solution for us.
referred to in Traditions Eleven and Twelve, is a tool that guarantees
that we will place principles before personalities. The
protection anonymity provides offers each of us freedom of expression
and safeguards us from gossip. Anonymity assures us that only we,
as individual OA members, have the right to make our membership known
within our community. Anonymity at the level of press, radio,
films and televison means that we never allow our faces or last names
to be used once we identify ourselves as OA members. This
protects both the individual and the Fellowship.
the Fellowship, anonymity means that whatever we share with another OA
member will be held in respect and confidence. What we hear at
meetings should remain there. However, it should be understood
that anonymity must not be used to limit our effectiveness within the
Fellowship. It is not a break of anonymity to use our full names
within our group or OA service bodies. Also, it is not a break of
anonymity to enlist Twelfth-Step help for group members in trouble,
provided we are careful to refrain from discussing any specific personal
aspect of anonymity is that we are all equal in the Fellowship, whether
we are newcomers or seasoned long-timers. And our outside status
makes no differnce in OA; we have no stars or VIPs. We come together
simply as compulsive overeaters.
the message to the compulsive overeater who still suffers is the basic
purpose of our Fellowship; therefore, it is the most fundamental form
of service. Any form of service-no matter how small-which helps
reach a fellow sufferer adds to the quality of our own recovery.
Getting to meetings, putting away chairs, putting out literature,
talking to newcomers, doing whatever needs to be done in a group or in
OA as a whole, are ways in which we give back what we have so
generously been given. We are encouraged to do what we can when
we can. "A life of sane and happy usefulness" is what we are promised
as a result of working the Twelve Steps. Service helps to fulfull
OA's responsibility pledge states: "Always to extend the hand and heart
of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this, I am responsible."
From: "The Tools of Recovery"
Copyright 1981, 1989, 1996 by Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.
Reprinted by permission of Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.