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Our Stories

By OA Member, Jul 4 2017 04:33PM

My earliest childhood memories are of me eating food in secret. Up until the age of 23, when I came into recovery, I went to great lengths to steal money from my family, friends and neighbours to buy food. No matter whose kitchen I was in and at any opportunity I had to be alone, I would raid the cupboards and the fridge. I had huge embarrassment about the way I ate as I recognised that others didn’t eat the same way. I never knew how much food was enough and during the times that I would eat with other people, I can remember feeling mortified if comments were made about the volume of food I had served myself. Whenever I had finished a meal, I would wait in anticipation for the next. I often overate until I threw up and on weekdays, before school started, I’d buy food from the store and hide it in the gym cupboard. This was my secret hideout and I would lock myself in there during break time to have my supply. My packed lunch would’ve been eaten daily before school even began. Growing up, I found it difficult to form friendships and relationships with people. I would make up stories, tell lies often and never felt comfortable in my own skin. Eating food was a way of escaping from feeling so socially awkward.

My eating got progressively worse over time. The quantities became greater and my obsession with food and how I could get my fix was constant. I hated the physical effects of gaining weight and became obsessed with exercise. I lost weight and I loved the attention it brought from others. I felt like I had discovered the meaning to my life and all I needed to do was get and stay thin. My thoughts and actions revolved around not putting on weight and so extreme dieting, exercise and the introduction of laxatives became a part of my daily living. I was very moody and gave a lot of grief to others, particularly to my family if they got in my way of what I was trying to achieve. This way of living was very difficult to maintain as I had a constant craving to want to eat. Sooner or later, I would find that I couldn’t stop eating again and all the weight I’d lost would go back on. It was despairing. I had no idea that the problem was within me and centred in my mind. I started drinking alcohol and taking pills and the obsession I had for these substances was instant. I believe I was an alcoholic before ever picking up a drink. All I needed was the substance of alcohol to set me off.

Through a number of circumstances, I was introduced to Overeaters Anonymous. I got great relief because there I found people who I could identify with and they openly shared (without shame or guilt) about what their eating had been like for them. I was amazed how they could live and be free from the constant calling to want to eat. I recognised that, for me, I had the disease of addiction and my whole life I had swapped one substance for another. It made sense to me that I needed to put down every drug (food, alcohol and pills) to have a chance at a sober life. I asked a woman to sponsor me and to show me how to work the 12 steps with the help of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. I had to set aside what I thought I knew about getting well and that my best efforts had brought me to a place of complete physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bankruptcy. The power of choice with food was gone for me, I had no idea what to eat, how much to eat, what foods were right for me to eat or what time I should eat. I started on a weighed and measured food plan to provide nourishment and energy for my body. I became open to the idea of a Higher Power and began to get a sense that I was being taken care of, the more I took action with the 12 steps and accepted I need help with all areas of my life. Today, the compulsion and obsession for food, diet, weight and exercise has been lifted. I have the peace of mind I always wanted and I continue to see this in others too. For my own recovery, it is imperative for me to share my story with others and pass on what I have been given. I’m truly grateful that there is a solution and that the members of Overeaters Anonymous continue to be there for me.

By OA Member, Nov 13 2016 09:05AM

I had no peace, no joy I just obsessed about my weight. I was focused on dieting and restricting and binging. I was never in between, to the degree that I would get really depressed if I ate more than I said I would in a day. And I would be really happy if I ate less than I said I would in a day. I remember one particular diet that I tried it was really restrictive and one day I walked into the kitchen and devoured an entire two boxes of cereal. I had absolutely no understanding of why I did this. I put all the weight on again for the millionth time. I moved country and moved in with a bunch a people we all lived closely together. I soon found it really difficult trying to manage food and I would find myself after work stuck in kitchen stuffing my face. I had no control.

I heard about a group that supports compulsive eaters, Overeaters Anonymous. I was initially very skeptical. But then after a while, I decided to go along to a meeting and the lady there described compulsive eating as an illness that was more of a mental problem than a physical problem.

When I heard what she said it made total sense and it was totally me. I undertook the 12 step Overeaters Anonymous program and met up with my sponsor. She helped me through the steps quickly. After a week and half and getting into the solution she said that if you want to see that your recovered you need to work your steps 10, 11 and 12. So, I did, I just started to do it. I distinctly remember calling her two days after I was ‘recovered’ crying because it was a miracle this thing really worked.

Before working the program I would have been in the kitchen everyday after work stuffing my face with anything from bread to chocolate to a bag of carrots or oranges. It has been over two years since I worked my steps and got my solution which I continue to live in today. They have been the best two years of my life. I genuinely am happy, joyous and free. I wake up every morning feeling full of purpose. I

I would love to help anyone out there if you have been where I have been. There is a solution to compulsive eating.

By OA Member, Jun 30 2015 09:16PM

I am a compulsive overeater. I have always loved food – the buying, eating, baking, reading recipes, watching cookery programmes, going to restaurants – all of it. As a child I’d bake on a Saturday at home. I would make twice or three times the volume suggested in the recipe. As an adult, going out for meals was a pleasure and an easy way for me to socialise. I’d a double life though. I’d eat a certain way in front of people and at times another way when on my own. I started to binge eat in my late teens. I’d eat an extra breakfast or have a lunch that went on and on switching between sweet and savoury foods. I’d hope that the family would be off out so that I could eat unnoticed. Not that they ever criticised what I ate but I knew I didn’t want to be seen to be having another slice of cake or going back again for yet another sandwich/bag of crisps/ ice-cream – whatever was in the house. If I thought someone was on their way back into the house I’d scurry to put the packaging in the bin, tie it and put it outside. I’d feel so awkward if I was ‘almost caught’, afraid that it might be written all over me what I was up to. How could I explain that I’d just want another piece or a bit more but that when I’d have that I’d want still more?

Over the years the binges got more frequent and larger and I had the physical consequences of eating more food than I needed. I tried to control the effect of the food by exercising, going to weight loss clubs, only buying low fat foods, watching calories, only eating certain foods if I was out, only buying certain foods and lots of other schemes. I tried to slow my eating by using a small spoon or chopsticks! I had various ‘success’ with these measures but in reality I wasn’t able to manage my weight or the food. My weight went up and down but mainly up and my obsession with food took over more of my head space. My excuses that I once had – I’ve to study, I’m tired, I’m getting used to a new job were no longer relevant. My outside world was largely what I’d hoped for but I still couldn’t manage to stay away from the food. I wanted to lose weight and eat.

As things got worse I’d swear to myself (again) that I wasn’t going to eat like that tomorrow, that I’d start again and eat normally, eat like other people, that I’d get home without pulling into the shops but my promises just faded the next day. The obsession to have something was greater than my resolve to ‘be good’. I was desperate to stop what I was at because I hated the physical effects of the food; not being able to get the clothes I wanted and being embarrassed about how I looked. In addition feeling miserable, hopeless and that I was self-destructing after the binges was awful. Just knowing I’d a problem and promising to do better were not enough to bring about a change. In the end I felt hungry all the time, I couldn’t be satisfied and I couldn’t not eat.

Somewhere in me I realised that I was beaten, that I couldn’t go on like this and yet I’d no idea how to do anything any different. I’d seen a notice that said “Is food a problem for you?” with a contact number for Overeaters Anonymous. I got the courage to ring the number. Although I was nervous, within seconds I had the feeling that the woman knew what it is like. I met up with a member of OA and she shared her story of what it had been like for her. It was a relief to hear her share about her previous food life. Meeting her gave me hope that things could change that I wouldn’t have to live the way I was. In time I experienced the programme of OA which is a 12 step fellowship based on that of Alcoholics Anonymous. I have found a way of life that works for me today. The food isn’t calling to me. I’m not fighting it or avoiding it. It is in its right place. Just for today I don’t have to self destruct. There is a solution, a way out.

By OA Member, Jun 30 2015 09:15PM

My name is Julie and I am a recovering compulsive overeater. My addiction to food started when I was 3. For as long as I can remember I always got comfort from food. When my emotions and life were bothering me I would use food to block out the pain. Throughout my childhood I used more and more food, I just felt I never had enough. I never liked sharing food, my disease progressed, my mood was low and I felt sad and lonely a lot. I never understood why I felt this way. I could honestly say I never knew what it felt like to have contentment. Throughout my teenage years and early twenties my disease changed. I was very unhappy about my self-image and the thought of seeing my reflection disgusted me. I rarely ate breakfast. In the afternoons I would eat very little and as soon as it was night time I would binge eat. Some days I would feel a lot of shame about the amount of food I had consumed and then I would try and control the food. I never had the willpower to stop eating sugar once I’d started. I always ate way past the point of feeling full. Diets never worked, I would start on a Monday and by the evening I would be back binging again. I would see my friends sticking to diets and healthy food plans. I could never do it. My disease wears many different masks. It can seep out into all different areas of my life. My whole life I used food, drugs, shopping and cleaning to make myself feel better about the person I was. I searched outside of myself for the answers. None of them worked. My life became more unmanageable and out of control.

Today my life is very different. When I came into Overeaters Anonymous I learned that I had a disease called compulsive eating. As I heard other members share their experience I identified with their stories and began to feel a part of the group. To me this gave me a sense of peace. For the first time ever my food behaviours all made sense. I realised that I could not do this alone. All my life I had been trying to manage my eating disorder. With the help of the overeater anonymous fellowship I am learning a new way to live. My whole attitude and perception of life has changed. My food plan is 3 meals a day. To me this is a miracle and has transformed everything. Today I have a real sense of peace and serenity, my mind is no longer clouded by excess food. I am forever grateful to OA and its members.

By OA Member, Jun 30 2015 09:12PM

I think I was born with a tendency to overeat, an addiction to food, an inability to stop eating once started - whatever this disease is. I’ve experienced all the different modes of the disease – bingeing, starving, diet clubs, purging, and ending up with constant grazing, unable to stop. After many years of trying unsuccessfully to control my eating and my weight, I finally admitted defeat and decided to give OA a try. I found it a great relief to hear at meetings that other people had problems with food too – it wasn’t just me. I started going to meetings regularly and soon got involved in service in order to make a commitment to OA and to my recovery. I got a food sponsor early on, because I desperately wanted to stop overeating and to stop gaining weight. My life started to improve dramatically. Because I no longer suffered from ‘food hangovers’ and I was no longer overeating, I began to feel better about myself, and this translated into better relationships with my children, husband and friends. I could get up in the mornings and do the things I needed to do as a mother without dragging myself around in a haze. I knew I needed to keep progressing in my recovery though, in order to stay well. I had to get on to the steps. I tried a few sponsors and worked through some of the steps, but it wasn’t until last year that I really made a commitment to the steps and found a sponsor that worked for me. This was partly in desperation – I had been confronted about my behaviour while I had been in the food, and was in a lot of pain. Emotional pain is a great driver towards recovery! I started back with step one, admitting again that I was powerless over food and that my life was unmanageable, and worked my way on through. I learned a lot while writing my fourth step inventory – I learned to understand and forgive my mother, something I had never been able to do. I also learned to forgive a neighbour of mine from when I was very young, who used to bully me because I was fat. I realised she had her pain that caused her to act in that way. I am still working my way through the steps, it is an onward journey towards emotional and spiritual health. With the support of the OA fellowship and my Higher Power I never need to overeat again, one day at a time. I remind myself every night of how much I have to be grateful for in this new way of life – I can enjoy the sunshine, meet with friends, love my family, and be part of the wonderful fellowship of OA.