Utah Soaring Intergroup
Of Overeaters Anonymous

The Twelve Steps

The Twelve Steps are the heart of the OA recovery program. They offer a new way of life that enables the compulsive overeater to live without the need for excess food.The Twelve Steps are important in the OA recovery program. They help people who overeat to live without abusing food.

The steps come from Alcoholics Anonymous and reflect the ideas of many wise people throughout history. The most important thing about the steps is that they work! People who have problems with food have found them helpful and are living happier lives because of them. The steps are the basis of OA.

The Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous

  1. We admitted we were powerless over food—that our lives had become unmanageable.
    To admit powerlessness over food, we mean we cannot control or solve our binging, starving, purging, or other compulsive eating behaviors .
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    This step gives us hope: we don’t have to solve the problem alone. We can rely on a power greater than ourselves. This Higher Power may be God, the universe–anything from which we derive strength.
    The last part of this step is “restore us to sanity.” Insanity is living in unhealthy places where we are unable to control our behaviors with food.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
    The third step is deciding to let our Higher Power come into our lives and help us with our food problems. By taking this step, we show increased willingness. We let this Higher Power do for us what we could not do for ourselves. We rely on our Higher Power to guide us and give us strength.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
    Here we make a comprehensive list of our resentments, fears, guilt, and other concerns that we find may be causing us to find refuge in food. This will involve deep reflection.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
    We can find help with our food addiction by admitting our discoveries, acknowledging what we discover in the fourth step to ourselves, and then releasing it to this power greater than ourselves. Then we take the brave, but so, so rewarding, step of confiding these issues to another person whom we trust. This person may well be another compulsive eater in the program who understands our struggles.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
    After taking the first five steps, we have increased our willingness to release our harmful character defects. These might include: people pleasing, overscheduling, procrastination, and perfectionism, as well as  resentments and fears. All of these may underlie our food problems. By taking Step Six, we affirm that we are willing to let go of anything that stands in the way of our healing.

  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
    Now we are asking our Higher Power to remove anything that interferes with our recovery from compulsive eating. We are requesting that our Higher Power remove our character defects. Once this change happens, we will feel more able to deal with our food behavior.

  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
    With this step, we become stronger by facing the wrongs and the guilt we feel. When dealing with the guilt issues we have found and admitted, it is necessary to face the consequences of our actions. More than apologizing, we need to make ourselves whole as best we can for any damage we have caused. It is important to carefully consider each item on this list with our sponsor.

  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
    We are now ready to offer to make up for the damage we have caused to another person or institution. This step needs careful examination with our sponsor to make sure that we are honest and able to make amends. We may not be well received by some of those with whom we wish to make amends. This is acceptable; we made the offer, and now we are done with the issue. We can walk away knowing that our debt is cleared.

    It may seem like a daunting task, and may take some time, but if we are painstaking with Step Nine, we will surely see amazing results.

  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
    This step maintains the progress accomplished in the earlier steps by helping us stay in touch with ourselves and others. As challenges arise, we can return to Step Three and turn the problem over to our Higher Power. If resentments arise, we can use Step Seven and ask to remove these shortcomings. If we become aware of more people we have harmed, we can return to Step Nine and make amends.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

    In order to maintain our progress, we need to keep in contact with our Higher Power and call on that power for guidance whenever needed.

    The second part of this Step is “praying only for the knowledge of God’s will for us…” The problem is interpreting what that will is. We want to live happy, useful lives free from the suffering of compulsive eating.

    Once we understand this Higher Power’s will for us, we can ask for the power to carry it out. When we are tempted, we can ask that our compulsion be removed. Help is always available. Our part is then to do the footwork: using the Tools and the support of our fellow OAs.

  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive overeaters and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

    Upon reaching Step Twelve, we find that we have had what we can call a spiritual awakening to the possibilities within us. We are able to create a loving environment and an orderly life.

    One of the best ways to maintain a free life is by setting a good example and passing on what we’ve learned. Within the program of OA, we can offer service as payback for what we’ve been given. With the experience, strength, and hope we have gained in the program, we can know the joy of helping others.

    As we practice these principles in all our affairs, we will discover the serenity, freedom, and fulfillment we have sought.

(Permission to use the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous for adaptation granted by AA World Services, Inc.)

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