Admitting Powerlessness


May 3, 2021

Admitting Powerlessness

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over food — that our lives had become unmanageable.
Once we honestly examine our histories, we can deny it no longer: our eating and our attitudes toward food are not normal; we have this disease. Overeaters Anonymous Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions, p3

I have heard people say Step One is the only step we have to do perfectly. Before coming into OA, I had spent years going up and down and up and up the scale, dieting, starving, bingeing, lying about my food. Every time I started a new diet, I believed I had power over the food, that this time would be different, that I could control and manage my food with just enough willpower and motivation. And every time, I failed completely.

In all those years, I would never have been able to accept the concept of powerlessness. It would seem ridiculous to me that I, with all my intellect, with all my ability to problem solve and logic my way out of any difficulty, could be completely beaten by a pile of flour and sugar. And unmanageability? Me? I was doing just fine, thank you very much. Sure, I was alienating my family and friends, and yes, I hated myself. But what about all these other things I had been able to accomplish?

But things kept getting worse, and by the time I walked into my first meeting, I was done. I had tapped out, given up. I knew my way was not working, and I had stopped fighting. I was ready to do whatever I was told, just for the hope that one day, maybe, I wouldn’t be so miserable anymore.

When we admit powerlessness we open the door to recovery.

Because I am powerless over food, because my life is unmanageable by me, I am willing to do whatever it takes to find another way to live. I’m willing to do the work to find and connect with and turn things over to a higher power of my understanding. I’m willing to do the soul-searching of the fearless moral inventory. I’m willing to bare my soul to another person, admitting my wrongs, letting go of my character defects, making amends. And I’m willing to keep doing that one day at a time, continuing to build my relationship with my higher power, and give back what I’ve learned to others. I’m willing because I know I am powerless. I know my life is unmanageable. And I know there is a solution in OA. As long as I can remember that, I will do the work I need to do, and because I do the work, I can be happy, joyous and free.

Journal Prompt: Have I fully accepted that I am powerless? That my life is unmanageable? What am I still holding on to that I’m not willing to let go?

Please send your story to 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.