August 16, 2021
Tradition Three – The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.
The doors of Overeaters Anonymous are open to everyone who wants to seek this way of life. There are no bars to entry, no boxes to check to make us worthy of membership. There is just one requirement: a desire to stop eating compulsively. That desire is all it takes, but it is required. I have known many people who came into the doors of OA just wanting to lose some weight. They did not see themselves as compulsive overeaters, and they did not have a desire to stop eating compulsively. They wanted a food plan, a diet. When someone in that situation asked me to be her sponsor, I suggested perhaps OA was not for her. There are plenty of diet clubs that help people who just want to lose a few pounds. On the other end of the spectrum, I have been to meetings with people who admit they are compulsive overeaters and come into OA to have a place to talk about their eating excesses and get support while staying in the disease. I was at a meeting early on with someone who said, “my inner child is in pain and needs to eat ____, so I eat as much as I want.” That person had no desire to stop eating compulsively.
OA is a loving, welcoming and gentle place, and I am so grateful for the people who loved me until I could love myself. I am especially grateful for the people who did not mince words with me and told me that abstinence matters, that staying in the food was killing me. Abstinence matters. The desire to stop eating compulsively matters. Even after all these years, I still have to check in with myself to be sure my thinking isn’t sliding into unhealthy patterns. Am I using OA as a diet? Am I using OA to seek justification for my desire to eat compulsively? Or do I have a sincere desire to stop eating compulsively, which gives me the impetus to do whatever it takes to stop and stay stopped?
Journal Prompt: Do I have a desire to stop eating compulsively? Do I stand up for tradition three by representing that desire in my life one day at a time?
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