Overeaters Anonymous


Wow…It doesn’t seem possible that I haven’t updated OveractiveFork since August 8, 2010! But alas, ’tis true.

I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if my critics (a/k/a Carbohydrate Phobics) assumed that I had gone into a major relapse into active food addiction. Thanfully those who would make such a terrible assumption are 100% WRONG! In fact, my weight has continued to slowly (read: safely) drop during the time I stopped posting regularly to this blog. I don’t take credit for my success — as always I’ll give God the credit and also salute fellow addicts and others who have provided me with support that has helped me continue “to do just the next write thing” — One Day At A Time!

So what did I do while “vacationing” from OveractiveFork?  It was hardly a vacation! As I”ve written previously, my addiction never takes a vacation, so neither am I allowed to slack off on my recovery efforts. Indeed the result of slacking off would undoubtedly be relapse!

Over the past year and four months I’ve made a subtle but important shift in the approach I’m using to work my program of recovery from food addiction. I have shifted away from attendance at face-to-face Weight Watchers meetings and am relying more on support from Overeaters Anonymous members and other 12 Step fellowship’s members to help me.

Please note: I am NOT anti-Weight Watchers! Back in November 2010 W.W. introduced the newest version of their POINTS food plan that included several changes I’m not comfortable with. Thankfully with the approval and support of my dietitian/diabetes educator, I continue to follow the previous version of the W.W food plan. My motto is “If it works, don’t fix it!” and in this case that means “If it works, don’t change it!” The previous food plan IS still working just fine, so I have NO need to fix it.

I still respect and incorporate into my recovery effort lots of ideas I learned from my many years of attending face-to-face W.W. meetings. But the overall underlying philosophy that guides my recovery comes from the 12 Steps that are the basis of the Overeaters Anonymous program of recovery AND the understanding of the “disease concept” and how 12 Step recovery is supposed to work as found in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. N.A. literature continues to provide me with the core of how I work and live the 12 Steps, one day at a time.

In addition to walking, I still exercise with the help of Richard Simmons’ videos (Sweatin’ To The Oldies and other ones he’s produced).

But above and beyond organizations and individuals, my recovery is guided by my Christian faith. I’m not saying that you have to be a Christian in order to recover from food (or any other sort of) addiction. I just don’t know of any better source for help to recover than I find in my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I’ve also started a Facebook-based group for both men and women who follow the Weight Watchers food plan (whichever version of it they choose to follow). Believing in the importance of providing a safe emotional space for MEN who struggle with food addiction, I’m also in the process of rolling out a new 12 Step fellowship known as Male Food Addicts Anonymous, which takes the place of the One Bite Fellowship.

Other than that, I’ve not been busy at all!  LOL!  :-D

When I use the phrase (as in the subject line of this message) “Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis”, I am NOT (repeat: NOT) – in any way, shape or form — talking about members of the Nazi organization, skinheads or other racist groups. Understood?

Instead the phrase in the subject line of this post refers to food addicts for whom ONLY ONE food plan exists (which is ALWAYS the one they are following — how convenient!) that the rest of us food addicts MUST be following if we are “really serious” about our recovery.  These nut jobs are not above shaming, shunning and degrading anyone who would dare to disagree with them. If they were not so extreme in their tactics and insane in their beliefs I doubt I would feel the level of anger I do about them.  I also realize that FEAR of these people also tiggers my anger toward them. I mostly fear the physical, emotional and spiritual damage they do to newcomers to 12 Step recovery.

These “craziest-of-the-crazies” food addicts can be found within the meetings of Overeaters Anonymous and many other so-called 12 Step fellowships. At least in the case of OA, they do NOT represent the official (let alone the best) thinking of that fellowship. These extremists are (at the most) a “cult” within OA, far removed from the mainstream of OA thought and practice.

Many of these carb-phobic folks identify themselves as being part of the “H.O.W. Movement”, which is an outrageous abuse  of the 12 Step acronym “H.O.W.”, which stands for the three foundations of authentic recovery: Honesty, Openmindedness and Willingness. The inference the control freaks are making is that ONLY THEY are “honest, openminded and willing” and rest of us are just deluding ourselves because we don’t follow their sicko food plan. Talk about elitist nonsense!

Other than the issues identified above, why do these Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis upset me so much? Probably because they prey on the vulnerability of newcomers to OA and other 12 Step fellowships. Newcomers desperate to find answers and hope to overcome their addiction.

They also make me angry because I’ve found out their food plan(s) (it comes in various versions, but virtually all can be traced back to the original Gray Sheet Food Plan that came from an OA member around 1962) is UNhealthy and can even be harmful to one’s physical health if followed for any significant period of time. Their food plan is RIGID and NOT scientifically or medically sound for most individuals. It is based on, at best, superstition. Remember that superstition is “an irrational belief or practice resulting from ignorance”!

Thankfully I’m following a food plan today that has been designed by health care professionals (not irrational addicts determined to control my food intake, who can’t keep their own food intake under control) based on my unique medical history and health concerns. At the same time, I don’t demand any other addict follow my food plan. I know their is a God and it is not me! Thankfully I’m part of Weight Watchers, as imperfect as that organization is, they at least strive to be on top of the latest medical research when it comes to nutrition and weight loss.

The idea that a fellow food addict would attempt to dictate to another adherance to a particular food plan is just plain NUTS! I would trust another food addict to tell me how much and what (and what not) to eat as I would trust a pyromaniac to work as a firefighter! Food addicts in control of other food addicts food intake is dangerous, scary and even has the potential of being deadly!

So yes, I’m going to speak out against the dangerous insanity of Carbohydrate-Phobic Food Nazis! I’m going to proclaim “freedom to those held captive” by the superstition of cabrohydrate phobia and to indiviudals who have been emotinoally and spiritually abused by the people who promote one or another version of the dangerous Gray Sheet Food Plan (regardless of the name it goes by in a particular fellowship or 12 Step group).

Occasionally I receive comments from readers of OveractiveFork that suggest I really have an “anger problem” based on the content of some of my posts.  Really…a food addict with “anger issues”?  How could that be? During the time I’ve spent in active addiction I’ve done my best to swallow my anger and faked being a “nice guy” (“Nice” = No Boundaries = People Pleaser = Doormat To Be Walked On). After all, doesn’t EVERYbody just love (not to mention) like anger-free people?  And surely in my active addiction I’ve been as hungry for love as I have been for Onion Rings!

So YES, in recovery, I darn well DO have anger. In recovery I experience a whole set of feelings that were numbed out during active addiction. So yes, I feel anger today.

I say GOOD for me having anger. Sometimes anger is a VERY APPROPRIATE emotion to have. I happen to believe that ALL people with any degree of SANE recovery will feel anger from time to time. How dare you (or me) expect me to be anything less than fully human? Yes, being angry IS part of the human experience!

Just for today my recovery allows me to have enough clarity so that I no longer confuse anger with other issues and emotions…

  • Anger is not the same thing as resentment. Feeling anger is therefore NOT the same thing as “re-feeling” it.
  • Anger is not always accompanied by hatred for the object of one’s anger.
  • I can feel BOTH anger AND love at the SAME time for the object of my anger.

Even Jesus Christ was known to get angry. Even the BIble says, “Be angry but sin not…” (Ephesians 4:26)…which, it seems to me, infers that it IS possible to be angry and NOT sin.  The same passage of Scripture also adds, “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger”, which tells me that healthy anger does not last forever.

Anger is not a bad thing, despite what one co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous wrote about it in one sentence of the thousands of sentences he wrote in that fellowship’s literature. I’ have much respect for the wisdom found in the writing of Bill W., but he is not God and his opinion (speaking for myself as a Christian) is not a higher authority than Sacred Scripture.

Just for today, I refuse to be shamed for my anger. Just for today, I refused to allow other addicts shame me into silence about what I’m feeling angry about. Just for today, I respect my right to feel and constructively express my anger.

I don’t to speak on behalf of other addicts, but I believe that if I don’t “face my stuff, I’m going to stuff my face”.  So facing and expressing and  working on my anger is a whole lot healthier than “stuffing it down” with excess food, let alone a whole lot wiser than trying to “numb” my anger though avoiding doing physical movement.

It takes courage for me to face and feel my anger. It takes discipline to use the 12 Steps to work through my anger (working  through it sure beats “overeating over it”!) so I don’t remain stuck in it.

These Are Some Of My "Recovery Pieces" -- What Are Yours?

These Are Some Of My "Recovery Pieces" -- What Are Yours?

My approach to recovery from food addiction incorporates many sources of information and support.  I have found that my “Al-A-Carte Approach” to recovery (which is only approach that makes sense to me) offends and even outright angers numerous fellow addicts and “earth people” alike.

Some of the support I seek out for my recovery comes from 12 Step-focused resources (e.g., literature from the Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon and Overeaters Anonymous fellowships).  My food plan comes from Weight Watchers and my exercise plan is centered around Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ To The Oldies videos.  Both my food plan and my exercise plan have the input and approval of a whole host of health care professionals. My faith in God keeps me stong in my recovery. My connection with other addicts (of every sort — NOT just food addicts) reinforces my commitment to sane eating, one day at a time.

What I just listed in the previous paragraph are the major sources of support for my recovery effort.  They are by no means the only sources of help.

I give myself permission to “add” and “subtract” from my list of resources as often as I choose.  Although I don’t believe I could stay in recovery without God’s help — so hopefully He will always be on my “short list” of where I seek help.

Sometimes it makes me want to S-C-R-E-A-M when fellow addicts and “earth people” “Should All Over” me (e.g., “You SHOULD try ______ diet”, “You SHOULD exercise at least ___ minutes per day OR your exercise really does NOT count!” “You SHOULD avoid (this food)… to loose weight”, “You SHOULD be losing weight faster!”, etc.). The only thing that  keeps me from losing it on the know-it-alls (and MOST of the time I don’t lose my temper on them) is remembering that when people (regardless of their “best intentions”) offer UNsolicited advice, they are acting out of their own co-dependency issues.  So their “SHOULD-ing” isn’t about something being flawed or defective in my approach to recovery (though after being “should-ed on” I’ve often gone away feeling attacked or demeaned).  Rather should-ing is really about the need of the “should-er” to control one or more aspects of another person’s life (e.g., MY life) that is NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS in the first place.

Whether you refer to your recovery approach as “Al-A Carte” or think of it as being a puzzle (or mosaic) with many pieces, the various pieces/parts/elements/sources that make up YOUR recovery process are uour’s to choose as we see fit. So the self-appointed Committee of Should-ing Know-It-Alls SHOULD keep their hands off our stuff and keep the focus on their stuff.  Not that it is my job to control the should-ers.  I think I’ll leave that job to God.

Occasionally I receive feedback from my readers that indicates they feel that I strongly dislike Overeaters Anonymous. So I want to take this opportunity to clarify my feelings about the OA fellowship.

I’m no stranger to Overeaters Anonymous, as I regularly attended meetings from 1978 until 2000. So for nearly half of my life I’ve been an active member of OA. When I write about OA I hopefully know a lot about my subject matter. Disagree with my opinions about OA all you like, but I hope y’all will at least acknowledge that I have done my in-person homework for more years than you have probably even known OA exists. :-D

Generally speaking, I am pro-Overeaters Anonymous, but with reservations. I have NO problem whatsoever with the pure, unpolluted message of OA.

However, where I can and do draw the line is with the anti-carbohydrate hysertia of the sub-set of Overeaters Anonymous members who believe that following their rigid food plan (with it’s dozens of insane rules) is the ONLY way to REALLY abstain from compulsive overeating (e.g., the only way to achieve food sobriety).

"Beyond Our Wildest Dreams" offers a wise and isightful history of the Overeaters Anonymous fellowship, as seen through the eyes of one of the fellowship's co-founders.

"Beyond Our Wildest Dreams" offers a wise and isightful history of the Overeaters Anonymous fellowship, as seen through the eyes of one of the fellowship's co-founders.

If you will read the wonderful book Beyond Our Wildest Dreams, written by one of OA’s co-founders, you will discover the REAL meaning of the concept known as “abstinence” and how it has NOTHING to do with which food plan is “better” than another. This book also does a fabulous job of tracing it’s bizarre beginnings the anti-carbohydrate idiocy of the so-called H.O.W. Movement.

I support the OA-compatible concept that each fellowship member is free to choose their own food plan (with the consultation of a health care professional). On the contrary, the anti-carb-obsessed elitists of the H.O.W. movement generally do not respect the right of OA members to make this choice. Their attitude toward choosing a food plan is best described as “My Way Or  The Highway!”…and that is NOT compatible with OA’s pure message of tolerance admist a diversity of food plans followed by it’s members.

Overeaters Anonymous? I love it’s simple, powerful and inclusive approach to recovery from food addiction.

On the other hand, The H.O.W. extremists I avoid. If I wanted to be emotionally abused, I sure wouldn’t seek it out in the form of their brand of so-called “12 Step recovery”. Their INtolerance is NOT compatoible with my understanding of OA’s message of inclusiveness.

If the OA meeting(s) you attend do not sell Beyond Our Wildest Dreams, you can order it from OA’s World Service Office (www.oa.org). If you find yourself as enthusiastic as I am about this volume, then I hope you’ll ask your local group(s) to order some so other members can familiarize themselves with OA’s history.

When it comes to achieving long-term recovery from an addiction, RESENTMENT is a very important issue. From what I’ve experienced in my own life, read in recovery literature and heard from other addicts, ALL addicts (including myself) MUST face/release our resentments in order to be able to “stay stopped” from acting out with our drug(s) of choice. To clarify, while we may not have to face/release resentment(s) in order to become sober, we definitely must face/relase our resentments in order to stay sober, one day at a time.

The dictionary definition of resentment notes that it “is the feeling of displeasure or indignation at some act, remark, person, etc., regarded as causing injury or insult.”

Many years ago I learned from a recovering alcoholic that the Latin meaning for this word implies that we actually choose to “re-feel” our injured feelings, thoughts and perceptions in order to experience the feeling of resentment. So to feel recentment means that we have a choice — three choices actually: we can deny our resentment or we can admit we have resentment and then (once admited or faced) we can chose to take action in order to release our resentment. To my understanding denial, admission and release all involve choices.

The “Big Book” (Alcoholics Anonymous) points out that “…resentment is the number one offender” for alcoholics and, I would assume, for all types of us addicts.  It also states that in order to stay sober (e.g., stay in active recovery) that we must be freed from our resentments.

To this background about my understanding of the meaning of the word “resentment” I’ll now focus on answering the specific question that was posed by a reader of this blog, which was…

I bring up the topic of resentment because of a comment/question I received from a reader of this blog. This person’s words should be understood in the context of my blog entry dated November 15, 2008 (Did Science Finally Catch Up With 12 Step Recovery? AND…How Much Urine Does My Bladder Hold?). The comment/question I received read,

“I do feel like you seem to have a LOT of resentments towards some people in recovery. Does writing about them in this blog help you get over them?”

As to the content of the specific journal entry in question, my answer is: absolutely not.

Thinking back to the definitions of resentment I shared above, an Overeaters Anonymous member stating that HER “bladder works list a still” and therefore “it converts urine into alcohol” has NOTHING whatsoever to do with me. It is a statement referring to another OA member’s reality. Therefore I could not have been “injured” or “insluted” by her comment (remembering that resentment is about what has “injured” or “insulted” us).

While I did back in 1990 (and still now in 2008) find the OA member’s comment odd, illogical and humorous, it never injured or insluted me. I’ve NEVER overate over that member’s words — although I might have accidentally spat out food while laughing uncontrollably when considering the preposterous nature of her words (If I did, would that make me guilty of “unintentional bulimia”? Probably not.

In any case, I journaled about the “Still” comment because I do find it  offensive when any OA member (as in the case of the woman who made the “Still” comment) inserts into the context of an OA meeting (or other OA-sponsored event) comments of a highly controversial nature. Why does THAT bother me? The answer can be found in the 12 Traditions.

Tradition 10 reads, “Overeaters Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the O.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”  Further, the Big Book states that “No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues…”  And it seems only logical that what applies to AA (the grand daddy of all 12 Step, 12 Tradition fellowships) should also apply to OA.

In my opinion, anger is an appropriate response to Tradition violations. At the same time I will acknowledge that the late Bill W., co-founder of the AA fellowship, wrote on many occasions that it was important for alcoholics to avoid anger at all costs.

In 36 years of coninuious sobriety, I find it very difficult to believe that Bill W. never once felt anger. To never once feel anger throughout a 36 year period is not being human. Given all of the unkind things that were rumored about Bill W. and fellow co-founder Dr. Bob during the early days of the AA fellowship, I know that I would have felt anger if those things had been said about me!

As a Christian I also take into consideration the words of Saint Paul where he writes that it is OK to be angry — so long as we don’t allow our anger to cause us to sin (Ephesians 4:26 & 27: “Be angry without sinning. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the devil any opportunity [to work].). As a Christian I have a right and duty to place the teaching of Scripture above Bill W.’s opinion. Nothing against Bill –But as a Christian I place the Bible as a higher authority than the words of another addict.

Rather than to pretend that I don’t feel anger, what I find to be a more reasonable approach to dealing with anger (so anger doesn’t threaten my recovery journey), is to 1) Feel anger. 2) If possible, do something LOVING with my anger (e.g., pray, work for change, etc.) and/or 3) Confront what I feel needs confronted. In the context of the Serentiy Prayer (which is not taken from Scripture), I am pointed toward the truth that PRAYER is absolutely neceessary to know when to “let go” of anger about things outside of myself.

But enough about anger. Resentment is the primary focus of this journal entry.

it is no secret that the Overeaters Anonymous fellowship has lost thousands of members over the past decade for any number of reasons, including the introduction of “controversial outside issues”. Among the most controversial of such issues that has divided this wonderful fellowship is the discussion of theories regarding nutrition. Believing that one’s body is capable of “converting sugar and flour into alcohol” is (at best) “controversial”, is it not?

Another point: Since when does any addict (myself or others) NOT have a right to openly discusss whatever is bugging us (regarless of whether or not such things cause us resentments)? When did the toxic behavior of other addicts (that take place within the context of fellowship meetings and other fellowship-sponsored events) become something that I have to “keep secrets” about? In my recovery from dysfunctional family issues I’ve learned that keeping secrets is UNhealthy.

As to the reader’s direct question, “Does writing about them in this blog help you get over them?”, my answer is not really.  While writing IS a key tool to help release resentments (along with prayer), the writing I’m doing on OveractiveFork is not intended to be a substitute for working the 12 Steps. We need look no father than the pages of the AA Big Book to discover, in the context of working Step 4, a five column format for working through one’s resentments.

Beyond writing about resentments when working Step 4 (as instructed by the Big Book), I’ve found it very important to work Steps 5 – 9 to help me get to the point of releasing my resnetments. Then after and in the process of) working Steps 4 – 9, I can’t emphasize strongly strongly enough the importance of PRAYING about our resentments — and if need be, praying about then just ONE resentment at a time.

We PRAY to find release from the RESENTMENT we feel for those people, places and situations that have injured and insulted us -- One Resentment At A Time!

We PRAY to find release from the RESENTMENT we feel for those people, places and situations that have injured and insulted us -- One Resentment At A Time!

Why is prayer important to releasing resentment? Because I believe that prayer helps me to connect with God and that God can do for me what I can not do for myself. If you can release your resentments apart from the grace of God, good for you! I can’t. I need His help!

How do we pray in order to become free of our resentments? Here’s what is suggested from the same AA Big Book I’ve referred to many times in this journal entry… 

“If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or thing that you resent, you will be free.  If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free.  Ask for their health, their prosperity, their happiness, and you will be free.  Even when you don’t really want it for them, and your prayers are only words and you don’t mean it, go ahead and do it anyway.  Do it every day for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.”

Wine OR Urine? Only NASA & Anti-Carb Food Nutjobs Know For Sure!

Wine OR Urine? Only NASA Scientists and Anti-Carb Nut Jobs Know For Sure!

With this journal entry, I will discuss two similar, yet somewhat different topics. Both have to do with urine. Consider yourself warned! :-D

Truly I have heard many wonderful and inspiring things at Overeaters Anonymous (OA) meetings over the years. OA, in many ways, is a wonderful fellowship. So what I’m about to share should be filtered with the understanding that while I may have problems with things spoken by individual OA members, in no way am I putting down the central OA message of recovery, let alone the OA fellowship as a whole.

Back in 1990, soon after I moved to Louisville, Kentucky, I heard a long-time OA member include the following odd remark when she introduced herself to those attending a weekend workshop, “My body works like a still: When I eat sugar and flour it’s converted into alcohol.”  Being the sarcastic individual I am known to be at times, it was all I could do to resist responding, “So are you going to bottle your urine as a new form of Lite Beer?!?”

Instead of mouthing a response to this “sugar + flour = alcohol” idiocy, I just laughed to myself and rolled my eyes over yet another assinine comment from a carbohyrdrate-phobic member of the OA fellowship.  While OA is NOT officially anti-carbohydrate (let along carb-phobic), unfortunately I’ve found many of their members are anti-carb in the extreme.

So here some 18 years after hearing the “body = still” equation spoken at an OA meeting, earlier today I read in a legitimate news story (NOT a parody, this is LEGIT!) that claimed our own space shuttle astronauts (yes, NASA astronauts) are en-route this weekend to deliver to the International Space Station a $250 million “wastewater recycling” gizmo that is supposed to CONVERT URINE (and other liquids) INTO WATER SUITABLE FOR DRINKING!!!

“We did blind taste tests of the water,” said NASA’s Bob Bagdigian, the system’s lead engineer. “Nobody had any strong objections. Other than a faint taste of iodine, it is just as refreshing as any other kind of water.” “I’ve got some in my fridge,” he added. “It tastes fine to me.”

In a word: YECH!!! What I want to know is will — at long last – our OA carb-phobic friends have a device to legitimately convert their sugar-and-flour based urine-turned-alcohol into a SAFE alcoholic beverage? Think of the money they could make! :-D

Just think, if carbs actually create WINE, the late Orson Welles could have intoned, “I will drink no URINE before it’s time!”

And now onto a related but somewhat different topic…

You may not be able to identify with this, but I know that many food addicts CAN identify with the strange obsession that I have for weighing myself at the lowest weight possible…even if that means making an unplanned trip to the rest room!

Yes friends, at Weight Watchers weigh-ins I have frequently requested to be weighed TWICE: the first time with a full bladder and the second time with an EMPTY BLADDER.  And yes, I must indeed have a massive bladder since my “pre-pee” and “post-pee” weights can vary as much as 1 1/2 pounds!!!

As if my bladder is the source of my obesity.  It isn’t.

And yes, I always insist on weighing-in “post poop” and with ALL pockets empty and withOUT my shoes on!  Apologies: I know the “post poop” mention was “too much informtion on a need to know basis”…and you didn’t need to know. But hey, we’re just as sick as my worst secrets. And at least now I’ve “dumped” my “post poop” secret.

Wow!!! I suddenly feel five pounds lighter! :-D

What secrets would you care to dump?

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