FAQ

Who belongs to OA?
In Overeaters Anonymous, you’ll find members from all walks of life. Some are extremely overweight, even morbidly obese; others are moderately overweight; many are average weight; others are underweight, some extremely so. Some members are maintaining periodic control over their eating behavior, while others are totally unable to control their compulsive eating.

What is compulsive eating?
Compulsive eating takes many forms. A compulsive eater may overeat, under eat, binge eat, binge and purge, or eat constantly all day long.

What are the symptoms of compulsive eaters?
OA members experience many different patterns of food behaviors. These “symptoms” are as varied as our membership. Among them are:

  • obsession with body weight, size, and shape
  • eating binges
  • constant grazing
  • preoccupation with reducing diets
  • starving
  • laxative or diuretic abuse
  • excessive exercise
  • inducing vomiting after eating
  • chewing and spitting out food
  • use of diet pills, shots, and other medical interventions to control weight
  • inability to stop eating certain foods after taking the first bite
  • fantasies about food
  • vulnerability to quick-weight-loss schemes
  • constant preoccupation with food
  • using food as a reward or comfort

Symptoms may vary, but OA members share a common bond: a problem with food.
OA has a list of questions to help you decide if OA is for you.  Are you a Compulsive Overeater? 

Is OA for me?
Only you can decide that question. No one else can make this decision for you. We who are now in OA have found a way of life that enables us to live without the need for excess food. We believe that compulsive eating is a progressive illness, one that, like alcoholism and some other illnesses, can be arrested. Remember, there is no shame in admitting that you have a problem; the most important thing is to do something about it.

How do I join OA? 
No one “joins” OA in the usual sense of the word. There are no membership applications to be filled out. If you believe you have an eating problem, simply attend a local OA meeting of your choice. Anyone who says he/she is a member of OA is a member.

What are the requirements for membership?
Our Third Tradition states, “The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.” Nothing else is asked or demanded of anyone.

Can I join if I only have five or ten pounds to lose?
Yes. There are no weight requirements to join or stay in OA. The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.

Can OA help me if I am bulimic or anorexic?
Yes. Anyone with compulsive eating behaviors is welcome and can recover.

I had gastric bypass surgery. Can OA help me?
Yes. OA helps you to deal with the issues that drive unhealthy food behaviors. Gastric bypass surgery may have helped you deal with excess weight, but not with the reasons for the eating behaviors that caused the excess weight.

How much does OA membership cost?
There are no joiner fees or weekly dues. The OA recovery program is available to anyone who wants to stop eating compulsively, no matter how much or how little money they may possess. OA is self-supporting through members’ voluntary contributions.

Is OA a religious society?
No. OA is not a religious society. It requires no religious belief as a condition of membership. OA has among its membership people of many religious faiths as well as atheists and agnostics. OA is, however, a spiritual program based on each member’s personal interpretation of a higher power.

Do I have to believe in God for OA to work for me?
No. OA has a pamphlet entitled What if I don’t believe in “God”?, in which members like you share their experiences.

What diet does OA have?
OA is not a diet club and does not endorse any particular food plan. Each member develops a plan of eating that is right for them. This is usually done with the help of a health care professional and/or other OA members.

What happens at an OA meeting?
OA meetings have a variety of formats, but at any meeting you will find compulsive eaters talking about what their lives were like while they we misusing food, what happened when they came to OA, and what their lives are like now. More Details

Why should I believe OA will work for me?
OA has worked for thousands of individuals who through OA did what they couldn’t do alone.

What’s a sponsor?
Sponsorship is one of the keys to success in OA. Sponsors are OA members who are living the Overeaters Anonymous program to the best of their ability and are willing to share their recovery with others. You can think of a sponsor as your guide and mentor.

How do I get a sponsor?
A great starting place to find a sponsor is at a meeting in your local area. Attend as many meetings as you can to find candidates. Look for people at meetings you identify with and who have what you want. You may need to attend several meetings before you find a sponsor.

I tried to find a sponsor, but failed. Now what?
Make phone calls… lots of them. Send email. Take names, numbers, and email addresses from the “We Care” lists that are circulated at the meetings. Talk to people often. Sometimes a sponsor can be “full,” but will make room for you if you have spoken to them regularly. Ask someone who has not sponsored before; you may become their first sponsee. Anyone with more experience than you is a candidate. It is best, however, that your sponsor has a sponsor.

If you cannot find a permanent sponsor, ask someone to be your temporary sponsor while you look for a permanent one. Each meeting has a list of people willing to answer your newcomer questions and guide you until you find a sponsor. Ask someone at the meeting to see the “Getting Started” list.

Telephone and/or online meetings are another resource for sponsors.

You are not alone!

More questions?
Contact us via email
or call our local OA information line 518-292-0666
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© 2008 Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. All rights reserved. Some answers partially excerpted and extensively adapted 2017