Our Stories

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.

By OA Member, Jun 30 2015 09:08PM


My earliest childhood memories are of me eating food in secret. I would steal food and money for food. I had great shame and guilt about the way I would eat and I never ate the same way in front of others. As a young girl I can remember being invited to birthday parties and being so excited about what food might be there. I always ate the most out of everyone. I would often miss school so I could go and eat and be very distracted from school work by the thoughts of food. Usually I’d have my lunch eaten by the time arrived for school.Growing up I have found it difficult to havefriendships and relationships with people as I was a demanding girl. I looked for attention, seeked approval and would tell lies a lot. I never felt comfortable in my own skin.

My eating was getting progressively worse. I hated the way it made me feel and the physical effects of weight gain really depressed me. It was during my mid teens I found exercise and used it as a way to compensate for the amount food I was eating. Very quickly I lost a considerable amount of weight and I loved the attention and comments it brought from others. I started to feel confident for the first time and began to feel accepted and noticed by my peers.

This pattern of gaining weight and losing weight was to continue for a number of years. I tried many different ways to control what I ate including diet clubs, restricting quantities of food, exercise, laxatives and I tried to induce vomiting. I had a constant obsession and a compulsion to want to eat and at the same time be thin. When I was losing weight I would feel in control, life was ok, I was managing. When I couldn’t stop eating and all the weight I’d lost was going back on, I was in the pits of despair. I didn’t know what my problem was and I blamed other people in my life. I thought If I moved overseas my life would be different. It never occurred to me that the problem was within me.

It was when I came to Overeaters Anonymous I learn’t I had a disease that was affecting me mentally and physically. When I ate it would set off the compulsion for more food. I started to attend Overeaters Anonymous meetings. I could identify with other members and began to get some hope that this 12 Step Programme could work in my life and help me to get well. It was suggested I keep coming back. I could see that those who shared about what it was like for them when they were eating no longer had that same pull towards food and their lives were changing for the better. I was particularly attracted to the peace of mind that I saw in others. I found it difficult to give up my old ideas of trying to manage this problem myself, but as soon as I asked another recovering compulsive overeater for guidance and directions the effect was immediate. I have learn’t my addiction swaps from one substance to the next (food, alcohol, pills) and I have needed help with all areas in 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 to. Life is good and the challenges that need to be dealt with are so much more manageable. I’m truly grateful that there is a solution and that OA and the members continue to be there for me.