Overeaters Anonymous Takes On Food Addiction

Addictive behavior can include just about anything, including food, according to health officials.

Health experts said that people struggling with a food addiction battle a drug that is around them at all times, and one they need to survive ?- food. But people addicted to food have a local resource to turn to that can help them through the difficult holiday times — Overeaters Anonymous.

One local member of Overeaters Anonymous spoke anonymously to try and reach out with help to others.

“I was an expert at diet and exercise — I read everything,” said the woman. “I knew how to diet, I knew how to exercise, but my weight still went up and down and I still was a slave to food.”

The woman said that she found help and support at Overeaters Anonymous.

“Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of individuals whose primary purpose is to carry the message to other compulsive over eaters that life doesn’t have to stay the way it’s been,” said the woman.

She said the program works much the same way Alcoholics Anonymous does.

“It’s the same nuts and bolts as AA,” she said. “We sponsor, we have meetings, we do all the same things — it’s just we substitute food for alcohol.”

Organization officials said the disease is often difficult to conquer because the addiction isn’t viewed the same. While most people would never offer alcohol to an alcoholic, they offer food to overeaters all the time, according to members.

Members said avoiding foods that trigger addiction tendencies, such as sugar, can help them conquer the disease. They said overeaters are very aware of their actions, but many times are helpless to stop.

“I changed my life one day at a time — sometimes one meal at a time,” she explained.

She said she credits the group with giving her a life back, but also for saving it.

“People die from this disease everyday,” she said.

The woman said that she was skeptical at first, but lost 45 pounds the first year and has maintained it by attending weekly meetings for the past six years.

The group is diverse. It has members with a wide range of food addictions, including those battling anorexia, bulimia and obesity.