STEP ONE ~ INTRODUCTION
Hereís a checklist of sorts to consult periodically as you go through this step study.
Are you abstinent? If youíre still eating compulsively, working the steps ≠ even just talking about them ≠ will become progressively more difficult. Some people believe that you can work the steps and working the steps will get you abstinent. Iím not one of those. Working the steps will remove the *obsession* for food; only abstinence/refraining from eating compulsively will remove the craving and allow you to work the steps, which will remove the obsession for food. So the question "are you abstinent?" is really a serious one. If youíre not ≠ if youíre still turning to excess food to get through your day, your problems, your life ≠ then what are you willing to do today so that you avoid eating compulsively, so that you avoid the compulsion?
Do you have a food plan? A plan of eating is a wonderful tool that helps give structure to food and helps us put down the foods that cause us to binge (called ≠ obviously enough ≠ binge foods). Work this out with your sponsor! Which brings me to ...
Do you have a sponsor? If you donít, get one. Find someone who has what you want and ask that person how s/he is achieving it. Do you want thin? Then find someone whoís thin. Do you want serenity? Find someone whoís got it. Do you want serious structure in your food? Find someone who weighs and measures everything s/he eats. Do you want someone who can answer the phone or respond to an e-mail immediately? Make sure the person you choose can give you what you want ≠ itís really important to be as up front as possible. If you find someone, and it doesnít work it, you can change sponsors as you wish; just let the person know. You can work with more than one sponsor (although that can be tricky).
Are you getting to meetings? It really helps to be with other people who have also eaten out of garbage pails, have eaten frozen food, have eaten boxes and boxes of whatever, have eaten to the point of vomiting and then have eaten some more, have starved and then binged. You know ≠ other people who are like you! You can find people on line or at a F2F (face-to-face AKA "live") meeting.
Do you have OA literature? It really helps to have a copy of the OA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (the OA 12&12), "Alcoholics Anonymous" (the Big Book) and maybe even the AA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (the AA 12&12). You can order them via Overeaters Anonymous at their website http://www.oa.org/literature_catalog.htm.
Penny (compulsive eater/food addict)
Hi, friends. My name is Penny, and I am a compulsive eater/food addict and leader for the WTS 2nd Quarter Step Study.
This step is such a relief. Why did I binge when I wanted to eat moderately? Because Iím powerless over food. Why did I eat this or that when I had sworn that I wouldnít? Because Iím powerless over food. Why did I think about food all day long? Why did I eat when I was sad or tired or bored or happy or wide awake or busy? Because Iím powerless over food. Why wasnít being thin my antidote to gaining weight back? Because Iím powerless over food.
To help you work Step 1, I want to give you some definitions (from Merriam-Webster):
1. Compulsion: 1 a: an act of compelling: the state of being compelled b: a force that compels; 2: an irresistible impulse to perform an irrational act.
2. Obsession: a persistent disturbing preoccupation with an often unreasonable idea or feeling.
3. Craving: a: to want greatly: need (craves drugs) b: to yearn for (crave a vanished youth); to have a strong or inward desire (craves after affection)
Now I can continue. There are different kinds of food powerlessness.
One kind of powerlessness is the physical kind ≠ this is the easiest one to understand. Simply put, there are some foods and some food/eating behaviors that I cannot eat without developing the craving for more. Being physically powerless over food doesnít have anything to do with moral values or ethical behavior or being a good person or a louse. It has nothing to do with being intelligent or dim, street-smart or naÔve. Itís not personal, itís not moral, itís not a matter of intelligence. It just is. Being physically powerless over food means that if I eat certain foods, my body is going to crave more. I can use all the will power in the world, and if I eat some of these binge foods, my body is going to demand more. There arenít enough of these foods in the world to satisfy me once Iíve started; I want more.
I compare it to my allergy to cats. I love and adore cats. Iíd kill to be able to have a cat, especially a nice furry one that only wants to cuddle. Iím also allergic to cats ≠ I break out in itching and asthma when Iím around them. Without help, I am powerless over this reaction. Some people are allergic to certain foods or plants; their faces swell up and they develop hives. Without help, they are powerless over these reactions.
Surrenderís another Step 1 word. Back to the dictionary: to give up completely. Working Step 1 requires me to give up completely all the attitudes I had towards diets, weight loss, body size ≠ in short, everything related to food.
It took me a long time to get over my defiance and denial of this truth. I wanted to be able to eat whatever I wanted; I just wanted to eat those things in moderation. Iíll tell you a secret: I canít eat these foods in moderation. When it comes to these foods, my "moderator button" is permanently on "off." I knew other OAís who said they avoided certain foods; I was going to be different. They were into control; I was into spirituality. Well, guess what? They were losing weight and feeling serene and content around food; I was not. Clearly my way wasnít working, but it took a few years for me to surrender.
A second kind of powerlessness is mental. I used to think about food all day long: when, where, how much I was going to eat and how I would feel afterward. When I was on a diet, I made weight-loss charts and thought about when, where, how much I was going to eat and how I would feel afterward. Itís called obsession, and no matter what the perfume commercial says, itís not a good thing for a compulsive eater. Even in OA recovery there are times I think a lot about food; itís one way I can tell that I need to connect with my Higher Power ≠ the Power thatís a lot stronger and bigger and better than I am that can take away the obsession. While I certainly thought about eating when I felt negative emotions and thought negative thoughts, I also thought about eating when I felt happy and thought about the people I loved. Holidays, family gatherings, social events, even lunch with a friend brought up obsessive food thoughts: Iíd have this or that, I couldnít have this or that. How come I had this obsession with food? Because Iím powerless over food; Iím a compulsive eater. Again, itís not moral, ethical, intellectual, religious, whatever. It just is. Alcoholics think about alcohol, drug addicts think about drugs, compulsive eaters/food addicts think about food. Thatís the nature of the beast.
True story: several years ago I took my car out of the garage and smacked the side-view mirror on the garage door. My first thought? There was this stuff in the refrigerator that I could eat. Thereís a saying that when normal people get a flat tire, they call the car club; when addicts get a flat tire, they call suicide prevention. When overeaters like me get a flat tire, we call take-out. Thatís the obsession ≠ and Iím powerless over that, too.
Part two of Step 1 talks about our lives being unmanageable. Letís see what I was like before OA: I was being led by the nose by my emotions. If you were my friend, you were my friend for life, like the saying, "I didnít make friends, I took hostages." I was either the lowest form of life on the planet or I was the best thing in the world. I was never good enough, and I was too good for people who wanted nothing to do with me. I tried to control every one and every thing ≠ even (sort of) believing that I could control the weather by worrying about it. Unmanageable? Yup. I was, and I knew it.
One challenge with admitting unmanageability is that it is so hard for others to know what youíre talking about. Thatís probably because we donít like to think of ourselves as not being able to take care of our affairs. And if *I* canít control/manage my life, then what? Not to worry ≠ help is on the way!
With the blessing of peace,
Penny (compulsive eater/food addict)
STEP ONE QUESTIONS:
1. Whatís the difference between being obsessed with food and being compelled to eat it?
2. How do you see food obsession in your life? Describe the emotional/mental aspect of your powerlessness over food.
3. How do you food compulsion in your life? Describe the physical aspect of your powerlessness over food.
4. What does it mean for you to be powerless over food?
5. Do you think that you can "eat normally" like other people? Do you really want to?
6. Can you identify with the "allergy" response to food(s)?
7. Are you powerless over all foods or just some?
8. Itís said that Step 1 is the only step we can do perfectly. What does that mean to you?
9. How is your life unmanageable?
10. Are you powerless over food? Is your life unmanageable? Are you willing to surrender what you think you donít know that you think you know about food, weight, body image, etc.?
The Twelve Steps
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