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Questions & Answers

What do you mean by compulsive overeater?
Must I be a certain amount over my normal weight to come to OA?
I’ve failed at every diet. How can I prevent these “slips”?
Will OA help me with a diet?
How can OA help me if I am bulimic or anorexic?
If I have a thyroid condition or a water retention problem, how can OA help me?
How does an individual join OA?
How much does OA membership cost?

What do you mean by compulsive overeater?
By definition, "compulsion" means "an impulse or feeling of being irresistibly driven toward the performance of some irrational action." It isn't only how much we eat that makes us what we are, but the ways in which we try to control our food. Some overeaters eat in secret, while others publicly flaunt their overeating. Some binge and purge, while others alternate between overeating and starving. All compulsive overeaters have one thing in common, however; they are driven by forces they don't understand to eat more or less than they need, and they eat this food in ways that are not rational.

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Must I be a certain amount over my normal weight to come to OA?
No. Experience has shown that OA works for almost anyone who wants to stop eating compulsively, no matter what size the individual may be. There are as many degrees of overweight as there are OA members, ranging from normal weight to those who have hundreds of pounds to lose. Whatever their weight, all who have a desire to stop eating compulsively have equal advantages in coming to Overeaters Anonymous.

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I’ve failed at every diet. How can I prevent these “slips”?
No one fails in OA. As long as a person is willing to keep coming back, recovery is possible.

“Slips” into compulsive overeating do not need to happen in OA, but some persons experience them. Although “slips” may be sometimes be brief, they can also lead to eating binges and weight gain. Whenever a “slip" occurs, members are encouraged to reach for all the help available to them through OA.

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Will OA help me with a diet?
For those who seek help with a diet, OA recommends consulting a qualified professional. The OA program enables compulsive overeaters to abstain from excess food one day at a time. Overeaters Anonymous, therefore, supports any member who wants to follow a professional’s nutritional advice.

OA is not a diet club. Members recover by practicing OA’s spiritual program. They find, among other things, freedom from food obsession, power to act rationally in difficult situations, and a better way to live.

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How can OA help me if I am bulimic or anorexic?
All who decide they belong in OA are welcomed in love and fellowship. Overeaters Anonymous supports each person’s efforts to recover and accepts any member who desires to stop eating compulsively. When individuals ask about medical matters, OA always recommends they seek professional advice.

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If I have a thyroid condition or a water retention problem, how can OA help me?
OA recommends that persons who need help with a specific medical condition such as thyroid or water retention consult a qualified physician. OA does not give medical advice. OA members who have suffered with similar medical problems have found that the OA program enabled them to follow a doctor’s recommendations with less difficulty.

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How does an individual join OA?
No one “joins” OA in the usual sense of the word. There are no membership applications to be filled out. Once we have heard about OA and believe we have an eating problem, we simply attend local OA meetings of our choice.

It might be noted that OA members don’t have to attend any set number of meetings during a given period. Some members may attend one meeting a week while others prefer to attend more often when such opportunities are available.

The kindly reminder, “Keep coming back,” is based on the experience of most OAers who find that their recovery suffers when they stay away from meetings too long.

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What are requirements for OA membership?
There are no “requirements,” in the usual sense of the term. The Third Tradition states, “The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.” Nothing else is asked or demanded of anyone. The acceptance and practice of the OA recovery program rests entirely with the individual.

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How Much Does OA membership cost?
There are no financial obligations of any kind in connection with OA membership. This recovery program is available to all who want to stop eating compulsively, no matter how much or how little money they may possess.

From the pamphlet “Questions & Answers about compulsive overeating and the OA program of recovery.” © 1979, 1988, 1999, 2001 Overeaters Anonymous, Inc.

For more Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about OA, please visit the OA World Service site's Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you have additional questions, please contact an OA member.

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"Experience has shown that OA works for almost anyone who wants to stop eating compulsively, no matter what size the individual may be."

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