Overeaters Anonymous comes to Park City
The organization for compulsive eaters is now a resource Parkites can take advantage of without commuting to the Salt Lake Valley.
A local who wished to remain anonymous and be referred to as Jackie spoke with The Record about her experience with Overeaters Anonymous, and her decision to organize local meetings.
"I started going and it was just amazing," she said.
Jackie said she was always a little more overweight than most and began dieting in high school.
"It didn’t seem like I ate that much more than most people," she said.
Her weight continued to increase and she gained approximately 60 pounds during her pregnancy. When she read about Overeaters Anonymous it seemed like her last hope after trying many unsuccessful programs and diets.
At the heart of Overeaters Anonymous is a 12 step program adopted from Alcoholics Anonymous, which Jackie said helped her lose 95 pounds in a year.
"The 12 step program is like magic," she said.
Alcoholism, like overeating, is a compulsion she explained and both are treated in a very similar way. She said that like the alcoholic who cannot just have one drink, overeaters have a hard time controlling what they consume. Jackie also said studies have shown many overeaters have a history of alcoholism in their families.
It helps, she said, that much of the program addresses the spiritual, social and physical reasons behind compulsive eating.
"This is the program that deals with it all, because it gives you a lifestyle plan to follow," she said.
Jackie noted that it is not a diet, but more a support network with 12 steps and a mentoring program. There is also a spiritual component, but agnostics and atheists are welcome.
"Agnostics or atheists make the group their spiritual house of power," she said.
What separates Overeaters Anonymous from other programs is its spiritual nature, Jackie said and clarified the group is not a religious organization.
"That’s the real difference, the focus is not on having to do it yourself or having the will power," she said.
The group also welcomes those who are underweight or binge eaters, because the organization tries to address different forms of food compulsions.
"Lots of people do this in one form or another and they hide it from their family and friends," she said.
When people start coming to meetings Jackie said they are encouraged to attend for at least six weeks, buy the books and come back to discuss them. The books address the 12 steps and other recovery tools.
All of these materials help people with what Jackie describes as a complex problem. Just as there are many different types of cancer she said there are a variety of different reasons people become compulsive about food.
Often times, she said, it has nothing to do with lack of willpower.
"A lot of us in the program are incredibly disciplined in other areas," she said.
Jackie explained compulsive behavior towards food might be linked to a chemical imbalance or some kind of predisposition for it.
Whatever the cause, Jackie stressed there is help out there for people who need it.
Overeaters Anonymous meets at Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church Monday evenings at 7 p.m. The church is located at 4501 N Hwy 224. For more information call the Park City Overeaters Anonymous contact at: (801) 494-7815.
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