What does working the program mean?

OA is a Twelve-Step Fellowship much like Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s our one-day-at-a-time approach plus our members that make us different from other solutions you may have tried. You may not be familiar with a twelve-step program—and that’s okay, we’re here to help!

There is more information deeper in our website that will discuss in detail how to “work” these Steps. For now, let’s uncover some terms you may not know.

A handy guide to terms and concepts

Abstinence: the act of refraining from compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining a healthy body weight

Recovery: removing the need to engage in compulsive eating behaviors

Tools: we have nine Tools that help focus us while we work our program of recovery, including:

  • A Plan of Eating
  • Sponsorship
  • Meetings
  • Communication (telephone, writing, and reading our literature)
  • Action Plan
  • Anonymity
  • Service

Plan of Eating: This gives us a daily guide to avoid trigger foods and any destructive eating behaviors.

Sponsorship: Sponsors have been working the program to the best of their ability and walk you through the Twelve Steps. They help you understand each step and how to work the program in the best way for you. Sponsors go beyond being a supportive friend; they are truly a gift to the program.

Meetings: We offer over 6,000 face-to-face and virtual meetings worldwide, and in languages other than English. Find a meeting that will work for you and your schedule. Meetings help us learn about the Tools and Steps, and also provide fellowship, which is critical to our recovery. We have discovered we need each other to get well.

Telephone: We reach out to one another between meetings, for support for ourselves and to offer help to others.

Writing: Some call it journaling. When we put our difficulties down on paper, it becomes easier to see situations more clearly and determine any necessary action.

Literature: OA has excellent books, and pamphlets–that help us understand how to “work the Twelve Steps” and give us examples of what life in recovery looks like.

Action Plan: This Tool helps incorporate the use of all the other OA Tools to bring structure, balance, and manageability into our lives and helps us work our program consistently.

Anonymity: Anonymity gives OA members freedom of expression and safeguards us from gossip. A deeper understanding of this Tool is that it assures that we each are one among many. OA has no stars.

Service: You will hear a lot about service in OA. This Tool is addressed in greater detail deeper in our website. But, for now, please know that any form of service – no matter how small – helps reach a fellow sufferer while adding to the quality of our recovery.

Now that we’ve covered key parts of the program, let’s see what it might look like to work the program on a daily basis.

Your day starts with reading some program literature, or taking time to pray and meditate on what you have read or on something about the day ahead. You might phone, text, or email a program friend or your sponsor to go over your Plan of Eating for the day. You might even get to a meeting. At the end of your day, you may reflect on what happened and what you learned. This simple routine keeps us on track.

If you have yet to actually go to a meeting, find one now.

Find a Meeting

If you are still not sure OA is for you, listen to a podcast or check out our bookstore. The “Where do I Start” pamphlet is a good choice.