In the Overeater’s Anonymous group that I attend, we have a sentence in the meeting format that says, “Please do not mention specific foods in this meeting. If you are having trouble with specific foods, please discuss them with your sponsor.”
I have heard this phrase in many meetings, so it’s not that unique, but I really don’t know how I feel about it. I have so many conflicted feelings.
I am no one else’s Higher Power
I don’t think we should be bossing other people around. I don’t think we should be telling people what they can and cannot share. We are so isolated in this disease that when we tell others what they can share, it puts up a wall that I really think shouldn’t be there.
I don’t want to hurt anyone
At the same time, I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want to trigger them. I don’t want to make my friends in my meeting uncomfortable. If I mention food that is on my plan, it might not be on someone else’s plan. In fact, it might be a former binge food. I don’t want to cause anyone any pain.
I can’t shield you from temptation.
Then again, ANYTHING I say could be a temptation for you. It doesn’t matter WHAT I say, whether I’m talking about healthy food, exercise or other behaviors. There is nothing I can do to prevent you from being tempted.
I was reading in Alcoholic’s Anonymous (the Big Book) in Chapter 7 Working With Others and it said:
In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but he usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever. We have tried these methods. These attempts to do the impossible have always failed.
So many people have tried to control my eating, now they want to even control my talking about eating.
A big part of my disease stemmed from the fact that I was starved by my grandmother as a child. When people try to control what I can say about my food, it kind of reminds me of that. In fact, you could say that it triggers me.
The Big Book talks about that, too. (Chapter 7 Working With Others)
We are careful never to show intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution. Experience shows that such an attitude is not helpful to anyone. Every new alcoholic looks for this spirit among us and is immensely relieved when he finds we are not witch-burners. A spirit of intolerance might repel alcoholics whose lives could have been saved, had it not been for such stupidity. We would not even do the cause of temperate drinking any good, for not one drinker in a thousand likes to be told anything about alcohol by one who hates it.
It’s NEVER about the food.
Just like my sponsor says every time, it’s never about the food. If you want to eat something just because I mentioned it in my share, that has NOTHING to do with me and everything to do with you.
This is what it says about that in the Big Book Chapter 7 Working With Others:
Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn’t think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that this is not necessarily so. We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status.
Romancing the Food
Then again, if someone is going on and on about a specific food, it’s an indication that they aren’t spiritually fit. It’s called, “Romancing the Food,” and it means that you’re just setting yourself up for a binge. Limiting shares to focus on the positive and not the specific foods, might actually be helpful.
Control is one of my character defects
I have a BIG problem with control. The desire to control myself, others and my environment is one of my biggest character defects, so I have to be on the lookout for anything that feeds it. Telling other OA members what they can and cannot say is something that my desire for control likes very much, so it can’t be good for me, even if it prevents me from being triggered.
Principles Before Personalities
It seemed like our Twelfth Tradition might have been the answer to this question. It reads:
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all these traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
If we place principles (what is right) before personalities (people’s feelings), then it seems like we shouldn’t be limiting what our members can share. Then again, if we place principles (the desire to stop compulsive eating behaviors) over personalities (what people want to share), then we should limit their ability to mention specific foods. And I’m right back where I started.
I Don’t Know What’s Right
After all this research and thought about this issue, I don’t know what is right. I don’t want to hurt someone else. I don’t want us to control what people can and cannot share. If I was asked what I thought our group should do, I literally wouldn’t know how to answer.
Original Image Via: Disease Proof – The anatomy of a binge
Overeater’s Anonymous does not endorse anything on this entry or blog. I speak only of my personal experience and not for OA as a whole.