Overeaters Anonymous helps those who struggle with binge eating, anorexia, and bulimia by using a 12-step program. They have meetings all around the world and other helpful tools. At these meetings, people can share their stories and give each other support. They keep everything confidential in order to respect everyone’s privacy. You don’t have to pay any money to join. We rely only on voluntary donations from members.
Unlike other organizations, We are not just about weight loss, gain or maintenance; or obesity or diets. We address physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. We are not a religious organization and do 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.
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
- 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.
OA is a group of people who are recovering from compulsive overeating. We use a twelve-step program to help us stop eating compulsively. Anyone who wants to stop this behavior is welcome to join.
OA is not connected with any public or private group, religion, or political view. Members go to meetings and work on the twelve steps to help them stop compulsive eating. If you’re interested, try going to at least six meetings to see if it’s for you. You can contact us by calling the hotline at 801-997-0548 or texting.
The concept of abstinence is the basis of a person’s program of recovery. By admitting the inability to control compulsive eating 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. We don’t furnish food plans or diets, counseling services, hospitalization, or treatment; nor do we participate in or conduct research and training in the field of eating disorders.
If you want to learn more about healthy eating, you can talk to a qualified professional.
Overeaters Anonymous isn’t a diet. It’s a group of people who have had trouble controlling their eating behavior and come together to support each other. We don’t have a specific food plan, but the OA pamphlet Dignity of Choice. has some suggestions. If you need help, a member of the group or your sponsor can offer guidance until you can see a healthcare professional. We suggest working with a nutritionist or professional who can give you advice for your own food plan. You can find more information on the organization website oa.org.
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.
Our program helps with all three levels of recovery. We follow a set of principles in the Twelve Steps that create inner change, which our members can help you to understand.
As we discard old ways of thinking, we no longer feel the need for excess food. To recover, you can follow the Twelve Steps, practice them daily, and achieve lasting freedom from food obsession.
OA is a group that offers help to people who struggle with different types of problem eating, like eating too much, purging, restricting food intake, or over-exercising. If you have a desire to stop behaviors like these and improve your relationship with food, you are welcome to attend OA meetings.
Yes,! There are people at the meetings who have different types of problem eating, like anorexia and bulimia. Anyone who wants to stop eating compulsively is welcome at OA meetings. OA has information for people with anorexia or bulimia called the “Focus on Anorexia and Bulimia Packet“, which you can find on the website oa.org.
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 can help anyone, no matter how old they are. If you’re a teenager, we have a special booklet for you called “To the Teen” that you can get from our website, oa.org. You are welcome to go to any of our meetings, and if there’s enough interest, we could start a meeting just for young people. Some people have been members of OA since they were kids and still continue to be members many years later. Right now, there are young adults in their late teens to early twenties who are part of OA.
You can join Overeaters Anonymous if you want to stop compulsive eating habits, including bulimia and anorexia. There may be special focus groups such as men’s and women’s groups, but anyone can go to any “Open” meeting. Visitors can’t come to “Closed” meetings if they don’t have a problem with compulsive eating. You can check the meeting list to see which meetings are Closed.
In OA, anonymity is important because it helps us focus on our shared problem of compulsive overeating, rather than on individual people or their social status. When OA members share their stories publicly, anonymity protects their privacy and prevents any one person from becoming the face of OA. This ensures that OA continues to be led by principles rather than personalities.
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 doesn’t charge any money to be a member. Instead, they sell books and rely on donations from their members. At meetings, they usually ask for donations to cover any costs. OA doesn’t want any money from anyone outside of the group.
OA is not a religious group because you don’t have any religious beliefs to join. People with different religions, as well as atheists and agnostics, are members. In OA, members follow certain spiritual values but they can interpret them however they want or not think about them at all. Some people who join OA may not believe in the concept of a higher power, which we find important in recovery. OA has found that people who keep an open mind and go to meetings can figure out their own solution to this issue.
No. OA is not a religious program. OA is a group for people who want to stop eating compulsively. It doesn’t matter what religion you are, or if you’re not religious at all. All you need is a desire to stop eating compulsively. The group does encourage members to think about a higher power, but it’s up to each person to decide what that means to them. Even if you’re unsure about this idea, you can still recover from compulsive eating if you stay open and honest with yourself while participating in the group.
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?