Article #6: Help! I Can’t Stop Eating
We often read that vegetarians, particularly total vegetarians, are slimmer than the population averages. Statistically, this may well be so, but anyone who is a compulsive overeater knows that whether on an omniverous or vegetarian eating plan, it is often impossible to stop pushing in the food.
Guilt and self-recrimination follow every binge, and well-meaning friends are always on hand with their favorite diet tips. But the tips don’t help, even if pride allows us to accept them. That’s because we’ve been on all the diets, to the doctors and the fat farms and the hypnotists and faith healers—but that first fatal bite always leads once again to uncontrollable gorging.
I would like to share what has helped me recover from this tragic illness: the 12-step program of Overeaters Anonymous taken directly from the time-honored Alcoholics Anonymous program. We use their steps to recover on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels, and we read the A.A. literature, simply substituting the word food for alcohol and compulsive eater for alcoholic. O.A., a fellowship which has no dues or fees, is wonderful for vegetarians because it is not a diet club and does not deal in diets, many of which would exclude a vegetarian from the start. Because we have come to believe that most of the fat is between our ears, the program works to help change our thinking so that we no longer want to overeat. That’s the beauty of it: it’s the miracle every compulsive eater has long dreamed of, to eat all he/she wants and maintain a normal weight. It’s only possible when all you truly desire is a normal amount of decent food.
Overeaters Anonymous is listed in telephone directories of most major cities. No one is too fat or too thin to recover. O.A. recognizes that anorexia nervosa, self-imposed starvation, and compulsive vomiting are other aspects of the basic disease of compulsive eating: a physical allergy to certain foods and large amounts of food, combined with a mental obsession that enslaves the victim to his/her addiction.
My own recovery has resulted in a slender body (a 68-pound weight loss maintained for two years, quite a miracle for a former yo-yo dieter), the indescribable joy of freedom from cravings and food fears, an emotional poise that I would never have imagined possible, and truly high-quality vegetarianism. Prior to embarking upon recovery from compulsive overeating, I felt like a hypocritcal vegetarian: who would want to give up meat if I were their only example of a vegetarian, a person physically unhealthy and emotionally unstable? Recovery has also meant that I’ve been able to become a vegan, something I’d wanted to do for several years but was not able to accomplish because of my love affair with a variety of foods.
You will notice that there is no name given for the writer of this article. That is because O.A. members remain anonymous at the public level. (When I share my program, I as an individual am not important; it’s a matter of “principles before personalities.” I keep my program and further my recovery by giving away what has been given me. I am responsible for extending the hand and heart of O.A. to all who share my condition, and that service orientation expands to enrich my family and professional life and my work for vegetarianism.)
If your eating is destroying your world instead of nourishing your body, there is a solution. It’s a tragic, disease, but a beautiful recovery.
- 1. Foreword
- 2. Quintessence
- 3. “Appetite” Is Not Hunger
- 4. Development Of The Habit Of Overeating
- 5. Overeating Undermines Health
- 6. The Remedy Mentality
- 7. How Overeating Vitiates The Body
- 8. If You Want To Eat More, Eat Less
- 9. Light Eaters Vs. Heavy Eaters
- 10. The General Rule
- 11. Building Health And Strength
- 12. Willpower Is Supported By Knowledge
- 13. Food Addiction
- 14. History
- 15. Today
- 16. Fasting Fanaticism Vs. Rational Fasting
- 17. Special Problems
- 18. Diet Fanaticism
- 19. Bulimia
- 20. A Rational System Of Weight Control
- 21. Heroic Methods For Compulsive Eaters
- 22. Knowledge And Wisdom
- 23. Epilogue
- 24. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: It’s All In the State of Mind By Walter D. Wintle
- Article #2: How To Make Yourself Over by Self-Programming
- Article #3: Say Goodbye to Compulsive Eating By Mehl McDowell, M.D.
- Article #4: Well! You Wanted to Know By Vivian V. Vetrano
- Article #5: Why I Don’t Fast To Lose Weight By Marti Fry
- Article #6: Help! I Can’t Stop Eating