People addicted to food need extensive support in order to work their way through recovery from their condition. A food addict may find this support from family and friends. But it is often the case that the extraordinary amount of support needed is too much for family and friends to supply, even with support by professionals experienced in dealing with food addiction. If this is the case, a peer support group of some kind, such as those described below, may prove to be helpful.
Support groups are a place to find a concentrated number of food addicts actively working on their own recovery, program literature and regularly scheduled meetings. All peer support groups are not the same, however, even those that are part of the same network of groups! When looking for a group that will meet your particular, very individual needs, you may want to consider: Is the group committed to abstinence-based recovery from food addiction?; Does the group have members who have several years of abstinent recovery?; Are abstinent members willing to coach or sponsor someone new?
12 Step Groups
12 step groups (or “fellowships”) look at addiction as a physical, emotional and spiritual disease. Each person is encouraged to develop their own understanding of spirituality. But these programs are not religious. Most individuals – whether religious, agnostic or atheist – can adapt them to their own particular beliefs. Listed below is information on a variety of 12 step groups. You will see that each group is a little different when it comes to the foods eaten or avoided. We have gathered some information about each group to help you begin your search for the right group for you. Remember that trial and error in searching for support can be necessary for food addicts to find recovery.
The oldest, largest and most diverse food-related 12 step fellowship is based on the twelve steps of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous. There is no requirement to weigh and measure food. OA does not endorse a specific food plan. The OA pamphlet Dignity of Choice outlines several suggested food plans.
Food is weighed and measured. No refined sugars and starches/carbs.
Named GreySheet because the food plan was originally written on grey paper. Clearly defined abstinence. Actual food plan is given to newcomer by a sponsor w/over 90 days of abstinence. Food is weighed and measured, as agreed upon with a sponsor, without exception, under any and all conditions. No sugar, grains or alcohol.
Fairly large fellowship. Rigid rules. Does not provide the food plan unless you are working with a sponsor. Food is weighed and measured. No sugar or flour.
HOW = Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness. A very structured program. Food is weighed and measured. Must follow food plan given by a nutritionist/dietitian.
RFA’s main text is, “Food Addiction: The Body Knows.” Follows the Kay Sheppard Food Plan. Food is weighed and measured. No sugar, flour, or wheat.
Provides a copy of its food plan on its website. Specific food plan, not a reducing diet. Food is weighed and measured. No sugar, alcohol, flour, wheat, caffeine, or sweeteners.
HOW = Honesty, Open-mindedness, and Willingness. Food is weighed and measured.
For those who have a problem with “compulsive overeating, anorexia, bulimia, obsession with food or other food addiction.”
For those who have unhealthy “eating practices.”
OAPP focuses on the program of recovery as outlined in the Big Book. The focus is not on food or specific foods. Individuals rigorously work the steps and take others through the steps. Food is not weighed and measured. No elimination of any type of food. The focus is on eliminating the “behavior” of compulsive eating.
The primary focus is the utilization of the 12 steps and 12 traditions as developed in Alcoholics Anonymous to recover from addictive eating and to help others achieve recovery.
OABBSG focuses on the program of recovery as outlined in the Big Book. Focus is not on food or specific foods. Individuals rigorously work the steps and take others through the steps. Food not weighed and measured. No elimination of any type of food. Focus is on eliminating the “behavior” of compulsive eating.
Visionaries focus on the program of recovery as outlined in the Big Book. Individuals rigorously work the steps, take others through the steps with a focus is on spiritual growth. A large repository of online recorded meetings. Individuals work with a nutritionist to develop an abstinence-based food plan.
Bible immersion and a Shepard-program-specific food plan is worked out with a sponsor. Food is committed. Facebook group and phone meetings available. Foods are eliminated based the individuals need.
This is a Christian recovery group with a specific food plan suggested. Food is committed. Facebook group and phone meetings available. Foods are eliminated based the individuals need.
This is an international network of Christ-centered twelve step support groups which ministers to individuals who suffer from the consequences of any addictive behavior
Members abstain from compulsive overeating and practice detachment from co-dependency. Food plans, programs or church affiliations are not discussed.
Create Your Own Peer-Support Group
Create a peer-support group in your own community to support each other. There are many food addicts in your local community – some may be friends, coworkers, or family members. Begin talking to them about food addiction and share the FAI resources with them. Food addicts need extensive peer support to build their lives around their recovery.
You can start a vibrant peer support community that will support you and others. The following are ideas on how to start a peer support group:
- Call one or two others and invite them to invite one or two others to participate.
- Agree on a time to meet weekly for 30, 60, or 90 minutes.
- Use a free conference call service (phone bridge) or online Zoom or Skype platforms to “meet up” if not geographically close.
Create a format for your meeting: Introduction, a commitment statement repeated weekly to affirm each person’s individual goals (1) food related and (2) another life change unrelated to food, a request for time to share accomplishments and to ask for feedback, sharing by each of the members on the eating goal and the second goal, closing with commitments for the coming week, and reiteration of time and date for the next meeting.