Overeaters Anonymous

“We have it in our head that if we fill our stomachs, we’ll fill our hearts.” ― Kate Wicker, Weightless: Making Peace With Your Body

Overeaters Anonymous (OA) provides individuals with compulsive eating issues a program of recovery using their “Twelve Steps” and “Twelve Traditions”.  Regular meetings held throughout the country, and in fact worldwide, offer camaraderie of strength, experience, hope and faith, all the while maintaining anonymity.  It is not only about obesity, weight loss, or diets.  Overeaters Anonymous speaks to the emotional, physical and spiritual health of its members, and membership is open to everyone who struggles with compulsive eating problems, including eating disorders of all kinds.  It is not a religious organization, and does not promote any specific diet or dietary intervention.  Everyone who struggles with compulsive eating issues is welcome, and there is never any charge, fees, or dues to attend and participate in OA meetings, as the organization is totally supported through its member’s contributions.  Except for a few national-level positions, OA is run entirely by volunteer members who have received life-changing benefit from the program and want to give back.

The OA Twelve Steps, tied to a spiritual ideal and having evolved from those with a similar moniker from Alcoholics Anonymous, form the foundational core of the Overeaters Anonymous program, and offers its members an opportunity to learn to live without the compulsive need for overindulgence of food.  The “Steps” help empower compulsive eaters with the necessary tools to lead productive, rewarding, healthier and happier lives.

The following are the Twelve Steps, and their related Spiritual Principles, of Overeaters Anonymous:

  • Admit we are powerless over food, and that our lives have become unmanageable – HONESTY.
  • Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can help us gain control over our addiction – HOPE.
  • Make the decision to turn our lives over to God, or other higher power – FAITH.
  • Create a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves – COURAGE.
  • Admit to God (or other higher power), yourself and others that you have made mistakes and admitting the exact nature of those mistakes – INTEGRITY.
  • Being ready to ask God to remove the defects of character found in your personal moral inventory – WILLINGNESS.
  • Asking God for help in dealing with our shortcomings – HUMILITY.
  • Making a list of all the people you have hurt, and asking them to forgive you – SELF-DISCIPLINE.
  • Making direct amends to the people we have hurt  wherever possible, except in cases where making amends would hurt them even more – LOVE.
  • Continuing to take personal moral inventory, and making the necessary changes to our lives as needed – PERSEVERANCE.
  • Work to improve your consciousness of God through prayer and meditation, praying for knowledge of His will for your life and the power to carry that out – SPIRITUAL AWARENESS.
  • Carrying this message to other people who are addicted to food so they can learn how these principles may change their lives – SERVICE.


In Overeaters Anonymous there are also the “Twelve Traditions”, which too have their origins in Alcoholics Anonymous, and are the foundation of maintaining a cohesive common cause.  These “Traditions” are to the groups what the Twelve Steps are to the individual members, and are designed help ensure the growth and continued existence of the numerous groups that make up OA worldwide.


The following are the Twelve Traditions, and their related Spiritual Principles:

  • Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon OA unity – UNITY.
  • For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern – TRUST.
  • The only requirement for OA membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively – IDENTITY.
  • Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or OA as a whole- AUTONOMY.
  • Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the compulsive overeater who still suffers – PURPOSE.
  • An OA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the OA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose – SOLIDARITY.
  • Every OA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions – RESPONSIBILITY.
  • Overeaters Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers – FELLOWSHIP.
  • OA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve – STRUCTURE.
  • Overeaters Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the OA name ought never be drawn into public controversy – NEUTRALITY.
  • Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films, television and other public media of communication – ANONYMITY.
  • Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all these Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities – SPIRITUALITY.


There is an abundance of additional information about Overeaters Anonymous available at www.oa.org.  There is at least one OA meeting six days a week in our local area.  The Channel Islands Intergroup, Overeaters Anonymous for Santa Barbara County and Northern Ventura County, has their meeting schedule available on their website which can be accessed at oaciig.wordpress.com