Restrictive Diets Suck; Here are My Hangups with Overeaters Anonymous

Hello loveliest of friends. After blogging here weekly for 5 months it feels strange to be taking a break. I’ve been writing more than ever, though and have exciting pieces coming up soon. <3

I’ve thought long and hard before sharing today’s post, but have come to the conclusion that it’s worth sharing. I walk the delicate balance between breaking the stigma of being a person in recovery from all sorts of issues and respecting the tradition of anonymity in the 12 step programs I participate in. I want to say that I am not representational of the communities I’m in, I’m merely sharing my experience as an individual using different programs to aid my recovery.

Originally, I wrote a letter to my favorite body positive/anti-diet podcaster with the intent of it being shared anonymously. Julie Duffy Dillon of the Love, Food Podcast reads letters about complicated relationships with food and answers them on her show. I also shared a link to my diet culture blog post in the body of the email when I sent my letter. Julie ended up asking if she could share my blog post as it’s relevant to my letter. I gave her permission after considering the fact that I would have written the letter differently had I known it was not going to be anonymous.

In a way, though, the letter is more special. It came from a place where I was willing to be deeply vulnerable. I spoke about issues on sex and love that I’ve never publicly talked about before, which is saying a lot for me because I’m an open book.

The premise of my letter was to talk about how total abstinence from alcohol and drugs has saved my life. I identify as a drug addict and alcoholic without reserve. I also have dabbled in support for sex and love addiction without identifying myself as an addict in that program. I found Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous helpful, though, to change my behaviors and to keep myself safe. The problem is that despite my adoration for 12 step programs, I deeply disagree with the premise and practices in Overeaters Anonymous (OA). I have a hard time listening to people around me who are part of that program because restriction was just another manifestation of my disease.

The absolute crucial piece to my recovery from unmanageable disordered eating has been totally letting go of restrictive behavior. No restrictions mentally, physically, spiritually, or emotionally. I ascribe to the Fuck-It Diet and I deeply believe that any sense of food addiction comes from deprivation and restriction. This is a topic of much debate in the 12 step community where it’s the norm to cling to total abstinence. The reality is that I only found freedom when I dropped ALL dieting and weight loss. Every last bit of it.

So, at the risk of offending many people and some being angered that I may be imposing on AA’s 11th tradition, here’s the podcast. Give it a listen, the episode is 20 minutes long. Julie is gentler and more open-minded about OA than I am, but still on the same page as me. Let me know what you think in the comments here or shoot me an email. I want to hear it all: disagreement, agreement, neutrality, whatever comes up for you.

This post isn't meant to explore all the facets of my position on the topic of OA, body acceptance, anti-diets, restriction, etc.  Rather, it's to frame the podcast episode and provide context for my readers. 

Originally published on January 16, 2017