Tools of Recovery

In working with Overeaters Anonymous’ twelve-step program of recovery from compulsive eating, we have found a number of tools to assist us. We use these tools regularly to help us achieve and maintain abstinence and recover from our disease.

In Overeaters Anonymous (OA), the Statement on Abstinence and Recovery is:

Abstinence is the action of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working towards or maintaining healthy body weight. Spiritual, emotional, and physical recovery is the result of living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve-Step program.

Many of us have found we cannot abstain from compulsive eating unless we use some or all of OA’s nine tools of recovery to help us practice the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Tools of Recovery. © 2011-2021 Overeaters Anonymous, Inc. All rights reserved. 

As a tool, a plan of eating helps us abstain from compulsive eating, guides us in our dietary decisions, and defines what, when, how, where, and why we eat.

There are no specific requirements for a plan of eating; OA does not endorse or recommend any specific plan of eating, nor does it exclude the personal use of one. (See the pamphlets Dignity of Choice and A Plan of Eating for more information.) For specific dietary or nutritional guidance, OA suggests consulting a qualified health care professional, such as a physician or dietitian. Each of us develops a personal plan of eating based on an honest appraisal of his or her past experience. Many of us find it essential to take guidance from our sponsors to develop a plan of eating that reflects an honest desire to achieve and maintain abstinence.

Although individual plans of eating are as varied as our members, most OA members agree that some plan – no matter how flexible or structured – is necessary.

This tool helps us deal with the physical aspects of our disease and achieve physical recovery. From this vantage point, we can more effectively follow OA’s Twelve-Step program of recovery and move beyond the food to a happier, healthier, and more spiritual life.

Check out our Blog: Putting Together A Plan of Eating

Sponsors are OA members who are living the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to the best of their ability. They are willing to share their recovery with other members of the Fellowship and are committed to abstinence.

We ask a sponsor to help us through our program of recovery on all three levels: physical, emotional and spiritual. By working with other members of OA and sharing their experience, strength and hope, sponsors continually renew and reaffirm their own recovery. Sponsors share their program up to the level of their own experience.

Ours is a program of attraction; find a sponsor who has what you want and ask that person how he or she is achieving it. A member may work with more than one sponsor and may change sponsors. However, many of us choose to work with just one sponsor. In either case, it’s helpful to avoid changing sponsors frequently.


We’re at the ready to help you get started! If you’re interested in finding a temporary sponsor, then please send email to:

Meetings are gatherings of two or more compulsive overeaters who come together to share their personal experience, and the strength and hope OA has given them. There are many types of meetings, but fellowship with other compulsive overeaters is the basis of them all. Meetings give us an opportunity to identify our common problem, confirm our common solution through the Twelve Steps, and share the gifts we receive through this program. In addition to face-to-face meetings, OA offers telephone and online meetings that are useful in breaking down the deadly isolation caused by distance, illness or physical challenges.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to the pandemic and shelter in place public health order, our Silicon Valley face-to-face meetings, and events have all moved online.

If you’re ready to give OA a try, then we encourage you to attend at least 6 different meetings to see which meetings are the best fit for you. To check out what is available in Santa Clara County, please click here. By clicking on Find Meetings/Events, you’ll learn all about the types of meetings and events that OASV has to offer and be provided with an understanding of the differences for each.

If you’d like to hear from an abstinent OA member prior to attending a meeting so that you may get a sense of what is typically shared by a chairperson, or if you simply need some in-the-moment inspiration, we invite you to listen to one of our Podcasts.

Regarding Our Podcasts
OASV Podcasts feature the following range of speakers: anorexics, bulimics, overeaters, members that have released 100 pounds or more, over-exercisers, young people (typically ≤ 35 years of age), as well as OA members that self-identify as being part of the LGBTQ+, Black, LatinX, and/or Asian communities.  We are a highly diverse group!

Each of the speakers on these audio recordings have agreed, in advance, to be recorded and have provided OASV with their signed permission to share their stories of experience, strength, and hope with you.

If you’re interested in viewing a list of OASV events, rather than meetings, then please click here for details.

An action plan is the process of identifying and implementing attainable actions, both daily and long-term, that are necessary to support our individual abstinence and emotional, spiritual, and physical recovery. While the plan is ours, tailored to our own recovery process, most of us find it important to work with a sponsor, fellow OA member, and/or appropriate professional to help us create it. This tool, like our plan of eating, may vary widely among members and may need to be adjusted as we progress in our recovery.

For example, a newcomer’s action plan might focus on planning, shopping for, and preparing food. Some members may need a regular fitness routine to improve strength and health, while others may need to set exercise limits in order to attain more balance. Some of us may need an action plan that includes time for meditation and relaxation or provides strategies for balancing work, personal interactions with family and friends, and our program. Others may need help to organize their homes; deal with their finances; and address medical, dental, or mental health issues.

Along with working the Steps on a daily basis, an action plan may incorporate the use of the other OA tools to bring structure, balance, and manageability into our lives. As we use this tool, we find that we develop a feeling of serenity and continue to grow emotionally and spiritually while we make measurable progress one day at a time.

Check out our blog: One Member’s Action Plan

Overeaters Anonymous uses OA-approved literature to aid its members in working the OA Twelve Step program of recovery.  We also study and read OA-approved pamphlets and Lifeline, our magazine of recovery. Many OA members find that reading literature daily further reinforces how to live the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. All our literature provides insight into our problem of eating compulsively, the strength to deal with it, and the very real hope that there is a solution for us.

If you are a newcomer to OA, then we recommend that you speak first with your sponsor to determine which books you will need in order to work the Twelve Steps of the OA program.  To view everything that is currently available, please click here to visit the OA bookstore.

These are the most commonly used books for our program of recovery:

Alcoholics Anonymous – Big Book – 4th Edition

Overeaters Anonymous, Third Edition

The Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions Of Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition

For Today – Daily Reader

Voices of Recovery – Daily Reader

To check out the various items that the OA Bookstore has to offer, please visit:Books


Digital Products

Lifeline Magazine

Coins – Recovery & Milestone Medallion

Member-to-member contact helps us share on a one-to-one basis and avoid the isolation that is so common among us. Some members call text or email their sponsors and other OA members daily.  For many of us, making 2-3 calls a day is simply part of what we do for our recovery.

These tools help us learn to reach out, ask for help, and extend help to others. Telephone or electronic contact also provides an immediate outlet for those hard-to-handle highs and lows we may experience.

Members should respect anonymity when leaving any type of voicemail or electronic message.

Helpful Suggestions

When attending an in-person meeting, it is common for ‘sign-in’ sheets to be passed around to enable the sharing of names and phone numbers (and email addresses if the person is willing to provide them). Including your name and contact information on the sign-in sheet is entirely voluntary.

Now that we are meeting virtually as a consequence of the pandemic, we’re able to continue to share our contact information via the ‘chat’ functions in our virtual meeting rooms. Again, it is important to note that the sharing of such information is entirely voluntary.

Many of us have grown comfortable by first sharing our contact information with just a few abstinent OA members that reached out to us during a meeting (either in-person or virtual). We may decide to ask one of these people to be our sponsor. With our sponsor, we come to develop a close bond made possible by getting into the habit of picking up that thousand-pound phone and making a call whenever we need help or special guidance.

Over time, our list of phone numbers grows, as does our comfort level in using the telephone as a tool of recovery.

You will come to find this tool extremely useful, and a great habit to develop. Such a habit – making daily outreach calls – helps to ensure that we begin to feel connected (and no longer isolated in our disease). It is this special connectedness that helps to strengthen our personal recovery.

Make sure to share your contact information when you’re at a virtual meeting (whether over the phone or via the internet) to encourage outreach and to build a list of OA members to call upon should the urge to eat compulsively arise. Many of us have discovered that using the telephone is just what we need to avoid reaching for that first compulsive bite.


If you are new to OA and don’t yet have phone numbers to call, please send an email to  We will help you to find meetings, learn about how our program of recovery works, and we’ll help you to get connected.

Welcome to OA.  Welcome home!

Most of us have found that writing has been an indispensable tool for working the Steps. Further, putting our thoughts and feelings down on paper, or describing a troubling incident, helps us to better understand our actions and reactions in a way that is often not revealed to us by simply thinking or talking about them. In the past, compulsive eating was our most common reaction to life. When we put our difficulties down on paper, it becomes easier to see situations more clearly and perhaps better discern any necessary action.

For a number of us, writing about our challenges (and our celebrations) in a journal has proven especially helpful and healing. Some of our sponsors have instructed us to write letters – that we never send – to those people with whom we have difficult or painful relationships so that we might get out the feelings over which we often turned to food for ease and comfort.

It’s not uncommon for us to share what we’ve written with our sponsor or a trusted friend in the program. In the sharing, we’ve been met with understanding, compassion, and kindness, and have received words of encouragement to continue to use writing as a means to help us better manage the feelings over which we often compulsively ate.

Check out our blog: Writing Out My Gratitude List

The noun anonymity comes from a Greek word meaning “without a name.” If you have anonymity, you have “namelessness,” and people will not know who you are. Some words that are the opposite of anonymity are “celebrity” and “fame.” Sometimes people request anonymity, as in “he phoned the police to report the break-in across the street but requested anonymity so the burglars wouldn’t know who turned them in.”

Within OA, anonymity guarantees we will place principles before personalities and assures us that only we have the right to make our membership known within our community. Anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television and other public media of communication means that we never allow our faces or last names to be used once we identify ourselves as OA members. While we are not anonymous to each other, within the Fellowship, anonymity means that whatever we share with another OA member will be held in respect and confidence. What we hear at meetings should remain there.

Tradition 12 states: Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all these Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Carrying the message to the compulsive overeater who still suffers is the basic purpose of our Fellowship; therefore, it is the most fundamental form of service. Any form of service – no matter how small – that helps reach a fellow sufferer adds to the quality of our own recovery. Members who are new to OA can give service by getting to meetings, agreeing to read at the beginning of the meeting, putting away chairs, putting out literature, talking to newcomers, serving as the meeting time-keeper, and doing whatever needs to be done for the group. Members who meet the abstinence requirement can give service beyond the group level in such activities as intergroup representative, committee chair, region representative or Conference delegate. There are many ways to give back what we have so generously been given. We are encouraged to do what we can when we can. “A life of sane and happy usefulness” is what we are promised as the result of working the Twelve Steps. Service helps to fulfill that promise.

As OA’s responsibility pledge states: “Always to extend the hand and heart of OA to all who share my compulsion; for this, I am responsible.”

Are you looking for a service position to help ensure your continued abstinence and recovery or to aid you in your recovery?  If so, please consider volunteering for one of the open positions within OA Silicon Valley by clicking here.