Abstinent Holidays


March 21, 2022

Abstinent Holidays

“Once we become abstinent, the preoccupation with food diminishes and in many cases leaves us entirely.”
— Our Invitation To You.

Before I came into OA, my disease didn’t know the difference between a holiday and a regular day. Any Tuesday in the middle of September was an excuse to overeat. Holidays just made it socially acceptable to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted in front of other people because they were doing it too, and food was everywhere.

Just Another Day

Putting down my trigger foods helped with the physical cravings and mental obsession. It became easier and easier to follow my food plan and eat moderate portions at planned times. I learned to shop for groceries and prepare healthy meals. I experienced freedom from fear about not having enough food, and I learned that it was okay to feel hungry.

Six months later, I was facing one of my worst nightmares: Thanksgiving. Suddenly, I was terrified. How would I survive all the parties, the food everywhere, the license to overeat? I asked my sponsor what I should do, and she said, “What if you just eat like it’s a normal Thursday?” That was a revelation. I woke up that morning and ate my meals. I went to a meeting. I did service. At my mom’s house, the place I had always overate the most, I ate a moderate dinner and that was it. It was a normal Thursday.

I used the same thinking to get through all the other holidays too. If I was feeling agitated or obsessive, I found ways to be of service. Holidays are a great time to be of service, and I knew service would help me stay abstinent. I volunteered, I led meetings, I washed dishes. I ate only the foods that are right for me and followed my food plan like it was any other normal day. I learned to arrive at parties late and leave early. I made phone calls, and I told my sponsor whatever was going on.

That strategy worked year after year, holiday after holiday. Over time, I learned to accept holidays as just another day where food was concerned and focus instead on connecting with my friends and family. After all, isn’t that really what it’s all about?

Journal Prompt: What are strategies I can use to navigate the holidays abstinently?

Please send your blog submissions to blog@oasv.org. We look forward to hearing from you and to sharing your story of experience, strength and hope with others on this amazing journey of OA recovery from compulsive eating through the Twelve Steps.