Step One
We admitted we were powerless over food
that our lives had become unmanageable.


Hi everyone, My name is Shlomo. I am a food addict and compulsive overeater.

Let us discuss some more basic concepts and then sum up.


OA says that abstinence is abstaining from compulsive eating, and a plan of eating is the tool that helps one to be abstinent. For alcoholics abstinence is very simple to understand. Don't drink alcohol at all in any shape or form. Alcoholics don't need a plan of drinking since they don't have a problem with water or other nonalcoholic beverages.

As a food addict I should stop eating trigger foods entirely. I do it one day at a time but I have to do it all my life.

This is not my only problem. I tend to overeat other foods that are not triggers and when I do that I eventually deteriorate to eating triggers too. This overeating is a behavioral problem, and is part of my human failings (part of my spiritual malady) . The way to deal with it in the program is by steps six and seven. But since we are dealing with food now, we are going to deal with overeating now.

One aspect of the way we deal with our failings (character defects) is to practice the opposite. The opposite of overeating is moderate eating. Since I am not in the habit of eating moderately I will practice moderate eating by limiting the number of meals I eat per day and not eating anything between meals. In addition I will weigh and measure the quantities I eat since I tend to put too much on my plate and then take seconds.. This is what is called making a food plan.

So I can say that I am abstinent when I eat a specific number of weighed and measured meals a day with no triggers and nothing in between the meals. Since we don't do the program alone we usually commit it to our sponsor.

There are two kinds of abstinence. There is what people in the program call white knuckled abstinence. It means I manage to stick to the food plan but I want to eat more and I want to eat triggers. This means I have to fight my mind in order to abstain. My experience is that I don't win such fights for long.

There is another kind of abstinence that is obsession free abstinence. I don't have to fight my mind since my obsession with food is removed. Obsession free abstinence Is the result of working all 12 steps. Usually what I have when I am only at step one, is white knuckled abstinence, and even that doesn't last if I don't continue with all the steps.


We have already discussed bottom but I think it is important to say a few more words. We have to realize that bottom is an internal feeling. And not outer circumstances. One may be rich healthy and thin and reach bottom and one may be poor sick and fat and reach bottom. One may binge and come from a disfunctional family and reach bottom and he may not reach bottom. I stress those points because if we think that our bottom is the external things we will try to change them in order to climb out of the bottom and it will have no lasting effect. We have to change the inside not the outside.


The word surrender does not appear in the program explained in the Big Book and it doesn't appear in the AA 12&12. But still it is an important concept in the program. Surrender means accepting the reality of my life.

It doesn't mean giving up, as it means in everyday use. It means opening my eyes and seeing the truth of what is going on with my life instead of denying or ignoring it or being blind to it. As a food addict I usually don't accept the reality of my life and I either try to fight it or bury it under my addictive materials . Usually I have to reach bottom in order to surrender. When I do surrender I can open my mind to solutions that deal with my reality in a way that helps me instead of trying to ignore it or bury it.

Now is the time to present Step One. "We admitted we were powerless over food - that our lives had become unmanageable" We are powerless over food because the physical and mental aspect of our disease, the cravings and the obsession, Make it impossible for us to use our self will in order to control our eating, and stay stopped from eating triggers after we decided to stop. We are powerless over food and food has all the power over us.

My life is unmanageable because of the spiritual aspect of the disease. All those negative feelings attitudes and actions make me feel restless irritable and discontented instead of happy joyous and free. A person who doesn't have peace quiet and happiness in his inner world has an unmanageable life even if in the outer world he is successful according to the regular standards.

After we understand the nature of our disease we become ready for step two, when we are convinced that we are food addicts and compulsive eaters and canot manage our lives, and when we are convinced that no human power can relieve us of our disease.


1. A) Make a written list of all your triggers that you manasged to identify. Use the motto "when in doubt leave it out." I suggest you discuss the list with your sponsor.
B) Write a food plan and comit it to your sponsor on a regular basis. Do it even if you don't succeed in becoming abstinent. This shows by your action that you have the willingness to recover even if you don't have the ability yet. Share your food plan and trigger list with us. We can mention food freely in this workshop assignments.
C)If you are abstinent, is it white knuckled or obsession free?

2.Share with us what 'surrender' means to you in the program.

3. Read step one in the AA 12&12, Mark the sentences that discuss defeat and bottom. Reflect on your bottom or bottoms in the light of what is explained in the book and in my shares If you reached a new understanding, share it with us.

4. Read step one in the OA 12&12 mark the sentences that describe or resonate with you Reflect and share with us.



Do you suggest counting days of abstinence?
Counting days is a personal choice. Do it if you feel that it helps you in your recovery process.

Please tell me how the words “slip” and “relapse” are used in OA. If they are different concepts, please explain. What breaks abstinence? A compulsive bite or a binge? ANSWER:
My personal answer is that if I don't follow my own food plan I am not abstinent. A slip is a one time deviation. A relapse is a longer term deviation.

Now to the OA answers:
Here are a few excerpts from the OA ask it basket:

Abstinence in Overeaters Anonymous is the action of refraining from compulsive eating. “Spiritual, emotional and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.”

As recovering OA members, we are either abstinent or not, either eating compulsively or not. OA’s primary purpose in part reads, “to Abstain from compulsive overeating.” To abstain means to refrain from something regarded as improper or unhealthy. If one is abstaining, he or she is refraining from unhealthy food practices, period.

It is plausible to describe a slip as making a mistake or erring in judgment regarding food and food-related issues. A slip is a temporary state. Returning to healthy food practices comes almost immediately, avoiding a prolonged period of a relapse -- a return of a disease or illness after partial recovery from it. If we’ve slipped, we are not refraining; if we are not refraining, we are not abstinent.


• What is the difference between a slip and a relapse?

Since OA’s policy allows each member to define his or her own abstinence, it would seem consistent to do the same with Slip and Relapse. The following contains an example:

“OA Bylaws, Subpart B, Section 4, [Trustee] Qualifications: c) 2)

Continual recovery including abstinence and maintenance of a healthy body weight throughout the entire term. Each person shall be the judge of his or her own recovery including abstinence and maintenance of a healthy body weight.”

Both “slip” and “relapse” describe a “deviation” from a recovery path, to use a board member’s word. Another board member referred to slips as behaviors that could lead to relapse. A surprising number of OA members share that they regained all of their lost weight while abstinent.

In an August 2004 Lifeline article entitled “Photo Fact” (p. 5), the writer’s “occasional ‘slips’” kept her 60 pounds (27 kg) overweight for eight out of her 12 years in OA while she proclaimed abstinence. She had lost 190 (86 kg) pounds but was unwilling to reduce her food intake to release the remaining weight that her doctor recommended. Finally, a photo of herself confirmed she was “still fat,” and she wrote the article for Lifeline to describe how the awakening process shocked her.

What does this have to do with the question about the OA definition of “slip” and “relapse”? Perhaps a slip is a smaller deviation from recovery than a relapse, judged by the individual OA member.



Step 2

WTS Home
The Twelve Steps
Recovery Home

© Copyright 2008 THE RECOVERY GROUP All rights reserved