Step One

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

Part A
Part B

Leader's Share and Step Questions

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

When we come to this program we have to put our preconceived ideas aside and approach it with an open mind.
Here is a nice prayer that will help us do just that.

Please help me set aside
Everything I think I know
About myself, my disease, these steps,
and especially a Power greater than myself,
So I can learn with an open mind
And have a new experience
With myself, my disease, these steps,
and especially a Power Greater than myself.

Let me first explain my understanding of a few basic ideas and concepts that are specific to compulsive eaters.

Alcohol vs. Food
We don't need to drink alcohol in order to live.
We do need to eat in order to live.
Therefore eating is a basic survival instinct.
A recovered alcoholic lives his life without feeling any need to drink alcohol.
But a recovered compulsive eater has to eat.

Compulsion-is a strong irresistible impulse to act.

Obsession-is compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or unwanted feeling.

Now let me share some of the information I got from the Big Book.
The Big Book is the basic text book of the program we are going to study and apply here.
About a hundred alcoholics participated in its writing and they present themselves as people who recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.
They show us in this book precisely how they recovered.
This means that If we follow their directions precisely we too can recover.
We are also told that permanent recovery is possible.
During this workshop we will learn what exactly is meant by the word recovered.

The Big Book also tells us in the first four chapters that we have a two-fold disease.
A disease of the body which manifests as a physical desire for more when we begin eating, especially when we begin eating certain foods or food substances which I call triggers.
This desire for more when eating is usually an irresistible feeling beyond our mental control, called cravings.

And most importantly, a disease of the mind which is composed of obsessive thoughts.
Those thoughts nullify our willingness to refrain from eating our triggers and convince us to start eating compulsively again after a time period of refraining from compulsive eating by using our will-power.

'Therefore the main problem of the compulsive eater centers in his mind rather than in his body" Big Book page 23.
It is our obsession which is the main problem, since if it was gone we would never begin eating compulsively again, and will not feel any need to begin eating foods or food substances which we know will cause us cravings and therefore bingeing.

The disease is always with us. It never leaves us.
It is chronic-doesn't have a cure, which means that we carry it with us all our lives.
"Once a compulsive eater, always a compulsive eater".

It is progressive, which means that it gets worse with time, even if we stop eating compulsively.

In that respect it is similar to diabetes, which cannot be cured but can be dealt with by medication like insulin which stabilizes the blood sugar level.

Since diabetes cannot be cured, one has to take the medication every day of his life since if he stops the disease will take over.
This is also true for the disease of food compulsion.
Our medication is conscious contact with a power greater than ourselves, and we take it by working all 12 steps and continuing with steps 10-12 every day of our lives.
When we do this we recover.
This doesn't mean that the disease left us.
It means that our disease doesn't control us but we control it.
If we stop and try to rest on our laurels, the disease will take over again and will be more severe than before.

The disease is fatal -it will kill us if it is not restrained by recovery which removes our food obsession.

In order to begin recovery from a disease we have first to be aware that we have it and diagnose it.
The Big Book tells us the following : "we learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were compulsive eaters.This is the first step in recovery" page 30.
I call this step "STEP ZERO". It is the first step we have to take in order to begin our journey to recovery, but it is not step one of the twelve steps.

1. Explain in your own words what is meant by this step and why it is important.
Do this step by saying it to yourself, to your H.P and to your sponsor or another person who understands.

2. The Big Book tells us that our problem is our inability to deal with our Disease by our will power and that other persons cannot deal with our disease for us.
It says: "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". page 45.
Contemplate this quote carefully, since in it lies the answer to this assignment.
Explain why we are powerless over our food compulsion.

3. Read page 52 in the Big Book. Mark and copy the bedevilments.
Read page 62 mark and copy the sentences that deal; with selfishness-self-centeredness, and other negative feelings and actions.
Read page 64 mark and copy the sentences about the resentments.
Read page 67 mark and copy the sentences about fear.

Those pages describe our spiritual malady-unmanageable life.
Contemplate on it.
Explain this in your own words.

4. Read pages 44-45 " If a mere code of morals........they failed utterly"
Read the whole paragraph. Mark and copy, and contemplate on it.
Explain why we are powerless over our spiritual malady-unmanageable life.

5. Read page 45 "Lack of power.......which will solve your problem" copy, mark and contemplate.
Explain what is the purpose of this book , of this 12 step program.

6. Read the ninth step promises on page 84 and the tenth step promise on pages 84-85. Mark and copy them.
Those promises materialize when we work all the 12 steps in order to reach the Goal of finding a Power greater than ourselves and developing conscious contact with it.
Mark and copy those promises.
Read the bedevilments again and notice that the ninth step promises are the opposite of the bedevilments, and the tenth step promises are the opposite of our food obsession.
Contemplate on this , and answer the following:
Do we remain powerless when we reach recovery by working the steps and having conscious contact with a Power greater than ourselves?

That's all for now.
Your questions and comments are most welcome.
Send the assignments to:
Send your questions and comments to:

Workshop leader.


Part B

Hi everyone,
My name is Shlomo
I am a compulsive overeater and leader of this workshop.

STEP ZERO: We had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were compulsive eaters.

STEP ONE: We admitted we were powerless over our food compulsion-that our lives had become unmanageable.

Let me explain those two steps in a nutshell.

In step zero I concede that I have a disease.

In step one I admit that my disease controls me and has power over me with regard to food and with regard to my life(thoughts feelings and actions).
The reason the disease has power over me is because in step one I still don't have a remedy for it.
The remedy is presented in step two.

Let me sum up what we learned and did so far.
I have a disease called compulsive eating.
Two folds of the disease are:
1. An abnormal reaction of the body to certain foods and food substances which I call triggers.
Eating those triggers leads to cravings which are a desire and feeling for more, generally beyond my mental control.
This abnormal reaction is activated by eating and especially strong for those certain foods and food substances that I am sensitive to.
Such abnormal reactions are the evidence of a certain biochemical imbalance in my body for which there is no known cure.
The disease is chronic and it gets worse with time no matter how recovered I am.
The only way not to activate the abnormal physical reaction to triggers is by being free of the desire to begin eating foods that activate cravings.

As long as I am not free of this desire I will always begin to eat compulsively even after a period of regular eating that didn't wake up cravings.

2. The second more serious aspect of my disease is a disease of the mind. I have an obsession of the mind which convinces me to desire and eat triggers and therefore I cannot stay stopped from overeating and bingeing.
That is why abstinence fails again and again when it is based on my will to stop eating compulsively.
My obsession redirects my will to a will to eat food that harms me, reassuring me that this time it will be ok, or making me not give a damn about the destructive results.
This is called insanity in our program: repeating the same action (eating foods that cause me cravings) again and again and expecting different results or not caring about the results.

My problem is complicated by the fact that I tend to overeat abstinent foods too, and this can and will bring me back to eating triggers.

Compulsive eating is therefore a disease that takes our eating instinct to destructive extremes like overeating and bingeing, like bingeing and purging (bulimia), and like starving ourselves to death (anorexia).
The disease distorts our perception of our reality.
Therefore we are often confused and believe what our mind tells us about ourselves as the truth.
But what it tells us about ourselves is a delusion.
We are deluded by our mind to believe lies and do not see the truth.
This is the main cause of the development of the third fold of our disease our spiritual malady on which I will write presently.

We have to understand that the abnormal reaction of our bodies to food will always stay with us even if we recover.
But this is not our main problem.
Our main problem is our obsession that causes us to return to compulsive eating after periods of not eating compulsively by using our willpower.
If our obsession was somehow removed we wouldn't feel the need or desire to eat triggers or at least not succumb to that desire.
And then we will not activate our abnormal bodily reaction to triggers.

The first thing I have to do is to admit that I have this disease, since denial will leave me stuck in it.
When I admit that I have this disease I can seek ways to deal with it.
So the zero step I have to take is to "concede to my innermost self that I am a compulsive eater".
When I do concede and internalize it I can now try to find a remedy for it.
How disappointed I was when everything I tried didn't work.
Diets or food plans based on my willingness to follow them seemed to work but eventually my obsession made me begin to eat compulsively again.
So I tried to get all kinds of professional help and it didn't help either.

Eventually I reached bottom.
Bottom is not what happens to me or around me.
Bottom is an internal thing. It is a feeling of complete defeat and despair.

I realize I have nowhere to turn. I cannot help myself and others cannot help me either, and there is no way out.
Bill W., describes his bottom in the chapter Bill's Story before he meets his friend who recovered.
Page 8 "No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found in that bitter morass of self -pity.
Quicksand stretched around me in all directions. I had met my match. I have been overwhelmed. Alcohol was my master."
Only when I reach internal bottom will I really try to sincerely practice the solution offered by the twelve steps.

After reaching bottom I can truly admit that I am powerless over my compulsive eating.
The result of being powerless is that I cannot stay away for long from the foods that cause me cravings and overeating and bingeing, and I relapse again and again and again.

The program tells me why I am powerless.
The reason I am powerless is because I don't have a Power greater than myself in my life with regard to my disease.

Only when I have conscious contact with a Power greater than myself will my obsession be removed and sanity returned and I will recover from my disease.
When I am recovered, I stop being powerless and become Powerful.
I can now follow diets and food plans and not desire to eat things that cause me harm and awaken cravings, and I will not have to relapse ever.
The Big Book says that permanent recovery is possible. And it is.

Now to the first step of the twelve.
"We admitted we were powerless over our food compulsion-that our lives had become unmanageable."
The second part of step one is described by the bedevilments that appear in the chapter We Agnostics on page 52, and the self centeredness, resentments, fears, screwed up relationship, and negative feeling described in the chapter How It Works.
All those describe our unmanageable life which is a manifestation of our spiritual Malady.
The word "spiritual" means feelings and the word "Spiritual" concerns something incorporeal like a Power greater than ourselves, or H.P., or God etc...
So when we talk about the solution to our disease it is entirely and only Spiritual.
When we talk about our disease we talk about our obsession, about our bodies abnormal reaction, and about our spiritual malady.
Our solution is entirely Spiritual.

Our recovery plan of action deals with overcoming our spiritual malady as part of the solution that helps remove the blocks (negative feelings attitudes and actions) that prevent us from conscious contact with a Power greater than ourselves.
Other parts of the Spiritual solution are composed of prayer and meditation.

When we refer to our spiritual malady we mean a malady of negative feelings attitudes and relations with the world around us, which are called character defects in our program.
Every person on this planet has this malady to some extent.
But in addicted persons which includes compulsive eaters, it is strong enough to block any connection we may have had with a power greater than ourselves with regard to our disease.
That is why the recovery program deals with our emotions.
We are not only powerless over our food compulsion but we are also powerless over our spiritual malady.
So when dealing with overcoming the spiritual malady we also use prayer as a means of beginning to have some initial contact with a Power greater than ourselves.

Just one more remark about suggestions and directions in the big Book.
The 12 step program is suggested as a program of recovery. But once I have decided to do this program I have to follow the directions exactly and in full.
Otherwise the program will not work. Not following the directions means resorting to half measure. And the Big Book says quite explicitly "Half measures availed us nothing".
The 100 alcoholics who participated in writing this book made every effort to tell us exactly how they recovered.
Meaning that if we do exactly what they did we will recoverer too.
It also says that if we decided to have what the writers of the Big Book had, which is recovery, we have to go to any length to get it.
So we can pick and choose only if we want to do the program or not.
But if we choose to do it we have to follow directions or remain in our active disease.
Well I hope this summing up made some things clearer.

We cannot just end this post without assignments so here they are.
In my next post we will deal with step two.

The following assignments prepare us for step two and more.


1. The Big Book tells us in the chapter HOW IT WORKS page 58 "Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely".
Say the SET ASIDE PRAYER on a daily basis which means every day.
This will help you to let go of the old ideas you brought with you to the workshop and learn the new ideas (new to you) given in the Big Book.

2. Read page 12 and 47 in the Big Book.
Mark and copy the sentences which explain that this program is Spiritual and not religious.

3. Read page 47 again, mark and copy the sentences that tell us what is needed to begin the recovery program.

4. Read the chapter We Agnostics.
Mark and copy the arguments if any, that convinced you to be willing to believe the existence of a Power greater than yourself.

5. Explain your understanding of the meaning of the proposition "either God is everything or else He is nothing.God either is, or He isn't. What was our choice to be?" page 53

6. Read page 55, mark and copy the sentences that tell us where we find our connection to a Power greater than ourselves.

7. Some suggestions for daily disciplines and practice that I recommend you begin immediately.

a. have a food plan without triggers.
You may use professional help, but be sure not to let them persuade you to put triggers in it.
there are always abstinent substitutes.
I recommend committing your food to your sponsor on a daily basis.
Remember that relapsing is inevitable as long as we are not recovered.
But also remember that the actions we take are our responsibility but the results are not.
They are in our H.P.s hand

b. write a daily review of your feelings that day (good and bad), and try try to feel them strongly again when you write.

c. Develop an attitude of gratitude by writing daily 7 things you are grateful for that day.

d. Say the serenity prayer several times during the day.

I recommend sharing those daily disciplines with your sponsor and if you can.
Please share them with us too.

That's all for now folks. Do carry on.

Even if you find it difficult to keep up with this pace don't give up, and do the assignments at your own pace.
The important thing is to keep doing.

And please don't hesitate to send me questions and comments even if they seem trivial or silly.
There are no such thing as silly or trivial questions. every question is important.
So don't be shy. I am here at your service.

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