“I couldn’t run as fast as I could eat”- Charles

Listen to Charles’ Experience Podcast

It Took Two

My therapist suggested Overeaters Anonymous during an appointment. I responded with a rough equivalent of “thank you for sharing.” I figured I was okay now that I had lost a lot of weight, but really it was just the low end of a yo-yo loss and gain. (MORE)

After several months of compulsive overeating leading up to a terrifying gain of one pound (.5 kg) per day during the holidays, I was convinced finally to heed her suggestion.


My very first meeting was in a local church basement. About twenty-five women and one other guy and I were seated in a circle. I did not know what to say so I listened. I heard enough to feel comfortable introducing myself and say this was my first meeting. The members were very welcoming and encouraged me to return. It turned out to be the gateway to my recovery. I listened to the call to keep coming back.

It was at my second meeting at another location where my mind was opened. What I heard amazed me. Members discussed what they used to do with food. I thought I was the only one who did such crazy things. They gave me hope as they talked about the weight they lost and the joy they found when working the OA recovery program. What sealed the deal was when a gentleman introduced himself and said he would be my sponsor. He not only introduced me to abstinence and a healthful food plan but also led me on my first journey of the Twelve Steps. His willingness to reach out to a stranger and give of himself not only saved my life but launched a recovery that has given me a good life beyond what I could comprehend at the time.

I am forever grateful to the people in my first two meetings who introduced me to the possibility of freedom from the pain of compulsive overeating. Newcomers are encouraged to try six meetings to decide if OA is for them, but it took just two meetings for me to know. Many years and a couple thousand meetings later, OA is still for me. – reprinted from Lifeline


“I’m not thinking about food all the time.” – Bob

Listen to Bob’s Story Podcast

OA Men and Other Minorities

When I started in OA years ago, I was usually the only man at meetings. That’s still true today. I’m not sure why, because many men share our disease. (MORE)

I’ve heard that most men don’t come to Twelve-Step programs by choice, but because they have received an ultimatum by a doctor, wife, boss or judge. They are told to stop their compulsive behavior or lose their freedom, job, marriage or life. But our society doesn’t have laws against overeating.
Wives and employers seldom connect family and work problems to our disease. Those of us who are seriously obese receive plenty of advice from doctors and others about losing weight but are rarely referred to OA.

I felt uncomfortable at first being the only man in an OA meeting. I wondered if the women were judging me, and I was uncertain about the rules. Later I realized I had felt similarly when I started another Twelve-Step program, and mostly men attended that one. Fortunately, people in OA greeted me as a newcomer, gave me suggestions and made me feel welcome. Thanks to the motivation of desperation, I was willing to do whatever I was told. Soon I met the handful of other guys in OA in this area and became close friends with several of them. We helped each other learn that men can work on emotional issues, too.

I found it helpful to learn about recovery mostly from women. I think the emotional aspect of compulsive overeating is a bigger factor than in other compulsive behaviors. I cannot just stop using my drug of choice. Much of my overeating has been to numb unpleasant feelings. As a guy, I thought I had learned to ignore feelings and to focus on logic and action. I learned in OA that beneath my denial, emotions drove my actions. In OA I learned about the importance of feelings as signs of whether I was on the right spiritual path. I have found my OA sisters to be helpful guides to the wonderful world of feelings.

Not only men feel out of place in OA. Bulimics have told me they have felt out of place in OA because they thought our program was only about losing weight. This seems to be even more so for anorexics. Young people can also feel out of place, as can racial and ethnic minorities.

Having been in the program a while, I feel responsible for reaching out to other men in OA, especially newcomers. I think our intergroups could ask people to work with groups who may feel they don’t fit in. Ideally, a bulimic could help the bulimic newcomers. However, we don’t have to be just alike to help one another. If I had had to wait until I ran into another OA man before I found help, I would not have stayed in this program. Fortunately, the ladies of OA greeted me warmly from my first day. – reprinted from Lifeline

Listen To the Man Who Wants to Stop Compulsive Overeating, Welcome. Podcast or buy here.