Utah Soaring Intergroup
Of Overeaters Anonymous

Frequent Questions

Overeaters Anonymous offers a program of recovery from compulsive eating using the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. Worldwide meetings and other tools provide a fellowship of experience, strength, and hope where members respect one another’s anonymity. OA charges no dues or fees; it is self-supporting through member contributions.

Unlike other organizations, OA is not just about weight loss, gain or maintenance; or obesity or diets. It addresses physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. It is not a religious organization and does not promote any particular diet. If you want to stop your compulsive eating, welcome to Overeaters Anonymous.

Here are some frequent questions asked about Overeaters Anonymous. Left-click on the question to open the answer.

If you still have questions, feel free to either call the hotline or send a text ( 801-997-0548 or text) or email us at  oautah@gmail.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

In Overeaters Anonymous, you’ll find members who are extremely overweight, even morbidly obese; moderately overweight; average weight; underweight; still maintaining periodic control over their eating behavior, or totally unable to control their compulsive eating.

OA members experience many different patterns of food behaviors. These “symptoms” are as varied as our membership. Among them are:

  • obsession with body weight, size, and shape
  • eating binges or grazing
  • preoccupation with reducing diets
  • starving
  • laxative or diuretic abuse
  • excessive exercise
  • inducing vomiting after eating
  • chewing and spitting out food
  • use of diet pills, shots, and other medical interventions to control weight
  • inability to stop eating certain foods after taking the first bite
  • fantasies about food
  • vulnerability to quick-weight-loss schemes
  • constant preoccupation with food
  • using food as a reward or comfort

Our symptoms may vary, but we share a common bond: we are powerless over food and our lives are unmanageable. This common problem has led those in OA to seek and find a common solution in the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions, and the nine tools of Overeaters Anonymous.

Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is a fellowship of individuals who, through shared experience, strength, and hope, are recovering from compulsive overeating. Patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous, OA offers a twelve-step program for recovery from compulsive eating. Everyone who has the desire to stop eating compulsively is welcome.

OA is not affiliated with any public or private organization, political movement, ideology, or religious doctrine; we take no position on outside issues. Members attend meetings and work the Twelve Steps to achieve abstinence and freedom from compulsive eating. We encourage you to attend at least six different meetings to see if OA is for you. You can also call the hotline (801-997-0548 text).

The concept of abstinence is the basis of OA’s program of recovery. By admitting the inability to control compulsive overeating in the past and abandoning the idea that all one needs is “a little willpower,” it becomes possible to abstain from overeating — one day at a time.

While a diet can help us lose weight, it often intensifies the compulsion to overeat. The solution offered by OA does not include diet tips. We don’t furnish food plans or diets, counseling services, hospitalization, or treatment; nor does OA participate in or conduct research and training in the field of eating disorders. For weight loss, any medically approved eating plan is acceptable.

OA members interested in learning about nutrition or who seek professional advice are encouraged to consult qualified professionals. We may freely use such help, with the assurance that OA supports each of us in our efforts to recover.

Overeaters Anonymous is not a diet. It is a fellowship of individuals who through shared experience, strength, and hope are recovering from compulsive behavior with food. OA does not recommend or endorse a specific plan of eating, although the OA pamphlet Dignity of Choice (available from www.oa.org) offers some suggestions on food plans. An OA member or your OA sponsor can help you get started until you see a healthcare professional. OA members are encouraged to work with a nutritionist or other professional for specific advice regarding their own food plan.

We offer unconditional acceptance and support through readily available OA meetings, which are self-supported through voluntary contributions.

We in OA believe we have a threefold illness — physical, emotional, and spiritual. Tens of thousands have found that OA’s Twelve-Step program affects recovery on all three levels.

The Twelve Steps embody a set of principles that, when followed, promote inner change. Our sponsors help us understand and apply these principles. As old attitudes are discarded, we often find there is no longer a need for excess food.

Those of us who choose to recover one day at a time practice the Twelve Steps. In so doing, we achieve a new way of life and lasting freedom from our food obsession.

OA can help people with many forms of problem eating, including compulsive overeating, binging, purging, restrictive eating, over-exercising, and others. Anyone with a desire to stop eating compulsively and to change their relationship with food is welcome at OA meetings.

Yes! Anyone who has the desire to stop eating compulsively is welcome to attend OA meetings. In OA you’ll find members with many forms of problem eating, including anorexia and bulimia. Anyone with a desire to stop eating compulsively is welcome at OA meetings. Overeaters Anonymous has a packet of material addressed to those suffering from anorexia or bulimia: “Focus on Anorexia and Bulimia Packet” that is available from www.oa.org.

Yes. Overeaters Anonymous is not a diet. At its core, OA is about dealing with the issues which drove us to engage in unhealthy behavior with food. Gastric bypass surgery helps deal with the excess weight but not with the reasons for the behaviors that caused the excess weight.

OA works for anyone of any age. We have a pamphlet written especially for teens, “To the Teen”, that is available from www.oa.org. Teens are welcome at all meetings and with enough interest, we could start Young Peoples’s meetings. There are members who have worked in OA’s program of recovery from the time they were pre-teens and are still strongly committed OA members decades later. There are currently young adults in their late teens and early twenties.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to refrain from compulsive eating behaviors (these behaviors also include bulimia and anorexia). There are some special focus meetings (men’s groups and women’s groups for instance) but nobody is ever barred from attending such a meeting. Most OA meetings are open meetings and all members are welcome.

Your friends are welcome to join you at an OA meeting, but keep in mind that each meeting has its own guidelines for who can attend. There are two different kinds of meetings: open and closed. If your friends or loved ones want to attend a meeting with you, but they do not have a problem with compulsive eating, they are welcome at any OPEN meeting. CLOSED meetings are open to only those who have a desire to stop eating compulsively, or anyone who thinks they may have a problem with compulsive overeating. Please check the meeting list to see if the meeting your friends want to visit is not marked as CLOSED.

Anonymity allows the Fellowship to govern itself through principles rather than personalities. Social and economic status have no relevance in OA; we are all compulsive overeaters. Anonymity at the level of press, radio, television, film, and other public media of communication provides assurance that OA membership will not be disclosed. This ensures that no one person is taken to speak for OA and no one becomes an OA “superstar.”

OA defines abstinence as:

“Abstinence is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight. Spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.” 

  Most, but not all, members abstain from specific foods or behaviors that cause them trouble, such as binging, purging, or eating between meals. Abstinence is as varied as our members, and each of us is free to define our abstinence for ourselves. It is suggested that newcomers work with a sponsor (someone who has what you want) to define their abstinence.

Overeaters Anonymous has no dues or fees for membership. It is entirely self-supporting through literature sales and member contributions. Most groups “pass the basket” at meetings to cover expenses. OA does not solicit or accept outside contributions.

OA is not a religious society since it requires no definite religious belief as a condition of membership. OA has among its members people of many religious faiths as well as atheists and agnostics.

The OA recovery program is based on the acceptance of certain spiritual values. Members are free to interpret these values as they think best, or not to think about them at all if they so choose.

Many individuals who come to OA have reservations about accepting any concept of a power greater than themselves. OA experience has shown that those who keep an open mind on this subject and continue coming to OA meetings will not find it too difficult to work out their own solution to this very personal matter.

No. OA is not a religious program. Anyone who wants to stop eating compulsively is welcome; there are no other requirements for membership. OA has among its members people of many faiths, as well as atheists and agnostics. There is only one requirement for membership: A desire to stop eating compulsively. What you believe in is not important to us.

OA is, however, a spiritual program. In OA, we are encouraged to define and relate to a higher power as we understand it. Many people who come to OA have reservations about accepting any concept of a power greater than themselves. Our experience in OA has shown that it is possible for anyone to recover from compulsive eating, so long as they stay open on the subject and honest with themselves.

This series of questions may help you determine if you are a compulsive eater. Many members of Overeaters Anonymous have found that they have answered “yes” to many of these questions.

  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
  • Do you go on eating binges for no apparent reason?
  • Do you have feelings of guilt and remorse after overeating?
  • Do you give too much time and thought to food?
  • Do you look forward with pleasure and anticipation to the time when you can eat alone?
  • Do you plan these secret binges ahead of time?
  • Do you eat sensibly before others and make up for it alone?
  • Is your weight affecting the way you live your life?
  • Have you tried to diet for a week (or longer), only to fall short of your goal?
  • Do you resent others telling you to “use a little willpower” to stop overeating?
  • Despite evidence to the contrary, have you continued to assert that you can diet “on your own” whenever you wish?
  • Do you crave to eat at a definite time, day, or night, other than mealtime?
  • Do you eat to escape from worries or trouble?
  • Have you ever been treated for obesity or a food-related condition?
  • Does your eating behavior make you or others unhappy?

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