When most people think of addiction, they think of things like heroin, cigarettes, meth, alcohol and other drugs. But there are some people who, though they might not realize it, are addicted to food.
Well, you might say, of course they are. Everyone is, because without food you can’t survive. But there is a difference between eating from hunger, and eating from addiction.
Given the obesity epidemic now raging in America, it’s likely that food addiction is a bigger problem (pun intended) than most people believe.
So what is the answer? Diets work, at least at first. But the problem with diets is maintaining the weight loss over time. It’s not that difficult to lose weight on a reduced food diet, but once most people have success, they return to the kinds of eating habits that got them overweight to begin with.
Especially for the food addict, it takes a powerful intervention to take and keep the weight off. And a lot of people have found that help in various 12-step food programs.
On Saturday, Nov. 10, Overeaters Anonymous will have an open house at the Veterans Memorial Hall, 930 Ward St., to demonstrate the effectiveness of that program, and to introduce the benefits of OA to those who may be desperate for a solution.
“This program has given me special things that have happened in my life,” said Donna M., who has been in OA since 2004. “It’s a good place to share what drives compulsive overeaters to eat and not stop – to take a look at the stress we put on ourselves and the bad habits that we’ve developed over the years.”
The program follows the 12-step traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s free and open to everyone who wants to stop eating addictively. The groups are all self-supporting, and though there is a spiritual component, it is not a religious program. Everyone is invited to find a higher power of their own choosing, whether it’s the traditional idea of God, or just the group itself, or anything else, as long as it’s not you.
The program has helped Dorothy regain some sanity around food in her life.
“I can walk into Costco now and get kitty litter and toilet paper and not spend another $300,” she said. She entered the program weighing 190 pounds, and she’s maintained her present 140 pounds for years.
“And I can’t believe how much you get to eat on this program,” she added.
The Nov. 10 meeting with feature various speakers and describe the basic and maintenance food plans, the spirituality aspects, and discuss food-related issues such as anorexia and bulimia. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. and lasts until 4 p.m.