Happy H.O.W. Members

A visitor to my blog, identified as “deb3283”, posted the following comment/question regarding the H.O.W. Movement within the Overeaters Anonymous fellowship. Her comments were originally posted in a space that was intended for responses to the entry 8 Calls Within 21 Hours.

So as to not confuse the topic of the subject matter (which has nothing directly to do with Weight Watchers), I’ve moved her comments to the body of this entry. My response will follow.

deb3283 writes…

I recently read your writing(s) regarding H.O.W. and the rules and regulations imposed by this “cult”. I am very interested in your thoughts here, as I just finished speaking with my therapist re “O.A. vs. H.O.W.”

Though I have been able to give up sugar (such an addiction for me) and white flour, I am just not able to feel one bit healthy on their food plan. I don’t feel comfortable in the meetings either, though I am a long term member of AA. I have gained weight in the 2 years of attending my weekly HOW meetings. They seem to focus more on the rules/regulations/stringent food plan and “positive 3 minute pitches” then the root problems of compulsive eaters (shame/body image/prior eating disorder behavior, etc). I just wanted to get your further thoughts on this as I am attempting to make a decision whether to continue (and edging toward O.A., frankly). Thanks so much. — Deborah

Dave (a/k/a OveractiveFork) responds…

What I believe you are referring to is something that I shared on my One Bite Fellowship website (www.onebite.net). I’m glad you’ve asked my thoughts, because at some point I should definitely post that information here on OveractiveFork.My four cents worth (as adjusted for inflation) on this topic goes like this…

The so-called “H.O.W. movement”, as found within Overeaters Anonymous as well as the basis for several other 12 Step fellowships, is DANGEROUS on many levels.

Nutritional Danger: Food plans, IMHO, should never be written/prescribed by fellow addicts. Yet H.O.W., in it’s various incarnations, continues to offer a food plan that was originally written by someone other than a nutritionist.

Over the decades since it was first written, it has been re-written by dozens of other addicts — so when they push their so-called “perfect food plan” down our throats, it is only fair to point out that what they have is probably NOT the original Grey Sheet food plan written by an Overeaters Anonymous member back in the early 1960’s. So how do they know that their version is the most perfect, let alone ONLY food plan appropriate for all addicts? Where is the logic?

IMHO, no addict has any business  to write or promote a food plan. Food plans should ONLY be written by a medical profesional. While we trust professionals to assist us with our recovery, we addicts should remain focused on living and working the 12 Steps, one day at a time.

Emotional Danger: Everything that has originated within the H.O.W. movement is emotionally toxic!!! Just two examples:

1) H.O.W. oldtimers tell newcomers all the time that they should take the H.O.W. food plan to a “health care PROFESSIONAL” and abide by that person’s guidance — yet they shun, verbally abuse and even outright harrass members who were told by the professional that they consulted to NOT follow such a rigid, low-carbohydrate food plan. This is abusive…No addict deserves to be treated inappropriately just because another addict (= fellow insane person) does not approve of her/his food plan!

2) To insist on “positive pitches” is just another way to say to us that we need to “stuff our (authentic) feelings” — Wasn’t that what we were already doing (e.g., stuffing down our pain) with excessive amounts of food?!? Thanks, but I don’t think that the “face of a person in recovery” should go around with a fake smile plastered on his/her face!

We only begin to change when we have the ability/freedom to get REAL about our feelings. “Positive pitches” aren’t about being real. Insisting on “positive pitches” is a way of shaming others for their very REAL feelings.

Spiritual Danger: Nearly EVERYthing that the H.O.W. movement REALLY believes and stands for is in direct contradiction to the principles found within the 12 Traditions. Coercion, control (a/k/a rules and regulations) and abuse don’t mix well with spiritually-sane recovery.

I hope you RUN far away from the drama and insanity that the H.O.W. movement offers in the name of recovery and stick with traditional OA! OA may have its problems (perhaps it doesn’t offer enough structure that most of us need?), but what it offers seems to be MUCH saner than anything the H.O.W. extremists have to offer.

Tanslation to non-12-Steppers: “H.O.W.” is a reference to the 12 Step approach to recovery known as Honesty, Openmindedness and Willingness. I’ve always found it rather arrogant that this movement makes use of a name that would infer that they have the corner on these virtues! Isn’t grandiositycharacter defect?

Maybe my “Weight Loss Buddy” would feel more at home in a H.O.W. group that she does in Weight Watchers? <big evil grin>