Organizations (TOPS, OA, etc.)
Losing and maintaining weight is a difficult and intimately personal struggle, but it's not one that anyone needs to go through alone. There are literally millions of people forging their own paths to their better selves, and together, they offer support, advice, and inspiration to one another.
The Twelve Steps
Most recovery programs, including many for food and weight-loss related support, are based on the Twelve Steps. Despite inherent religious references, Twelve Step groups welcome members of all faiths, or even none at all. Roughly, these steps are, following the tradition of Compulsive Eaters Anonymous (described more below) :
1. We admitted we were powerless over food that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to compulsive eaters, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Compulsive Eaters Anonymous HOW (CEA-HOW)
For those struggling with overeating, CEA-HOW offers support and guidance to help you to end your battle with food. By adopting the Twelve Steps, members encourage and remind one another to focus on their goals and use the tools of the group to gain strength. Focus not on negative issues, but rather on sharing recovery feedback and stories and discussing the weighing and measuring three healthy meals per day with no snacking in-between, and relies largely on a phone tree for support. They offer both in-person and online support groups with no dues or fees around the world. The group is self-supported through contributions. And their online meetings host chats, scheduled at various times to meet many needs. Some literature is available for free download. In all, the program reaches out to focus on three main areas; spiritual, physical, emotional. More information can be found at http://www.ceahow.org .
Eating Addictions Anonymous/SANE (EAA/SANE)
Eating Addictions Anonymous helps people dealing with a wide range of body image disorders, ranging from anorexics to bulimics to compulsive overeaters and everyone in-between. They stress that a spiritual, holistic approach is absolutely necessary to overcoming this disease, and pledge, using their 12-steps, to spend each day refraining from using food as a drug-type alternative and addressing body image issues. In addition to the Twelve Steps, the group focuses on the SANE philosophy or method—Spiritual Surrender, Absolute Commitment, Necessary Action and Emotional Healing. There are no fees or dues. For locations near you, contact Eating Addictions Anonymous, General Service Office, PO Box 8151, Silver Spring , MD 20907-8151. USA Telephone: (202) 882-6528. For more information, visit http://www.eatingaddictionsanonymous.org .
Eating Disorders Anonymous (EDA)
The only requirement for joining Eating Disorders Anonymous is a desire to end one's struggle with an eating disorder. Their goal is balance, not abstinence. This self-supporting agency has no fees, dues or food plans. They invite people with disorders of all types and severity come together to find common ground and reach common goals. The group stresses that one can end an eating disorder with the right support and the right steps. Members are empowered to see past food and begin living with the ability to see and make alternate choices. Find a meeting location online or email: firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information, recovery stories downloadable at no-charge in Microsoft Word format, pdf brochures, and more, visit http://www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org .
Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA)
Food Addicts Anonymous relies on the Twelve Steps and a food plan (not a diet) to conquer addictions to food, specifically sugar, flour and wheat. Fats and high-carbohydrate refined, processed foods are also on their watch list, eliminating binging, cravings and shame. Instead, members focus on progress a single day at a time and are empowered with the understanding that being addicted to food is like a chemical dependency; as with any other drug, the only way to fight the addiction is to stop ingesting the chemical. There are no special foods to buy; simple, regular grocery store food is used. There are over 150 FAA chapters around the world to join. For more information, meeting locations and times, chatroom meetings, the Online Loop (a Yahoo email-based daily communication network) and more, visit http://www.foodaddictsanonymous.org .
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA)
With membership open to anyone of any age experiencing difficulty with food-related issues, including anorexia, bulimia and overeating, Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous offers stability and support to those in need. It is based upon the 12-Steps. With frequent meetings, no dues, fees or weigh-ins, a warm and caring community is built where members find the strength they need to end their harmful addiction to food and achieve and maintain a healthy weight. For more information, location and times of meetings in your area, inexpensive pamphlets for purchase and more, visit http://www.foodaddicts.org .
National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA)
Working to fight against discrimination against fat people, the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance offers literature, support and guidance to all its members. They publish a newsletter, write articles, run action campaigns, and host events and conferences, all with the goal of empowering the heavyset person to embrace and love themselves as they are. Within NAAFA are multiple support groups, including separate meetings for children, men, women, diabetics, and more. Annual dues are required. For additional information, resources, event dates, brochures, local chapters, Persons with Disabilities Law Center and more by clicking on http://www.naafa.org or contact them at: NAAFA, Inc., PO Box 188620, Sacramento, CA 95818. Call: (916) 558-6880.
Overeaters Anonymous (OA)
Similar to groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Overeaters Anonymous offers group support for anyone struggling with a variety of weight-related difficulties. It utilizes the Twelve Steps to empower members to overcome their problems and begin changing their lives for the better, with over 1500 chapters internationally.
Participants in OA experience a wide range of problems associated with food and their weight. An obsession with food, weight, and/or physical appearance is generally shared by all members in some form. Some are binge eaters, some are compulsive exercisers, and some are anorexics. Still others are diet pill addicts, bulimic, and/or so engulfed in yo-yo dieting that they are putting their life at risk.
There is no membership roster, no participation requirement, and no associated cost. Small donations are often sought at meetings to help meet costs, however. You never have to share your name or any personal identifying information about yourself. For more information, visit http://www.overeatersanonymous.org .
Taking Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS)
Taking Off Pounds Sensibly is a group similar to Overeaters Anonymous and other Anonymous groups, TOPS has over 10,000 chapters in the United States alone. Through frequent support groups, private weigh-ins, and positive energy, its members are encouraged—and encourage one another—to lose weight safely and sensibly, and keep it off. The group sells a Nutrition and Fitness software application on a CD that runs on Windows for around $40. It helps track and analyze foods and exercises for up to two users. And it boasts a database of 18,000+ food items from the USDA Database for Standard Reference, 9,000+ Brand Name foods and information featuring 3,200+ restaurant menu items, including many from the most popular national chains. It also has the ability to track up to 88 nutrient factors, including 37 vitamins and minerals. Annual membership dues are required, around $20 US, $25 Canada, plus 50-cents - $1 per week for chapter dues. Membership includes receiving a monthly print 40-page magazine filled with inspirational stories, healthy recipes and news from TOPS chapters around the world mailed to your postal address. The group sites these statistics on their website:
Current Obesity Statistics: (Source: Centers for Disease Control)
61% of adults in the U.S. are considered overweight; 26% are considered obese.
The percentage of children and adolescents who are overweight has doubled in the last 30 years.
Each year, 300,000 deaths are attributable to poor diet and inactivity.
Health care costs related to an unhealthy weight and sedentary lifestyle are more than $117 billion annually.
For more information, success stories, online ecards to mail others for encouragement, message board, online members area, chat room and more visit http://www.tops.org .