NOTE: Delegates at the 2011 World Service Business Conference (WSBC) approved a
    definition of the Action Plan tool and expanded the Statement on Abstinence. Both of these
    changes are included in the text below.    

    In working Overeaters Anonymous’ Twelve-Step program of recovery from compulsive
    overeating, 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.

  1. A Plan of Eating
  2. Sponsorship
  3. Meetings
  4. Telephone
  5. Writing
  6. Literature
  7. Action Plan
  8. Anonymity
  9. Service

    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 a 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.

    A Plan of Eating
    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.

    Sponsorship
    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.

    Meetings
    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.

    Telephone
    Member-to-member contact helps us share on a one-to-one basis and avoid the isolation
    that is so common among us. Many members call, text or email their sponsors and other
    OA members daily. As part of the surrender process, 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.

    Writing
    In addition to writing our inventories and the list of people we have harmed, 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.

    Literature
    We read OA-approved books such as Overeaters Anonymous, Second Edition; The Twelve
    Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous; Voices of Recovery; For Today; and
    Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book). 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, strength to deal with it, and the
    very real hope that there is a solution for us.

    Action Plan
    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 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.

    Anonymity
    Anonymity, referred to in Traditions Eleven and Twelve, is a tool that guarantees we will
    place principles before personalities. The protection of anonymity offers each of us freedom
    of expression and safeguards us from gossip. Anonymity assures us that only we, as
    individual OA members, 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. This protects both the individual and the Fellowship.

    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.
    However, we understand that we must not allow anonymity to limit our effectiveness within
    the Fellowship. It is not a break of anonymity to use our full names within our group or OA
    service bodies. Also, it is not a break of anonymity to enlist Twelfth-Step help for group
    members in trouble, provided we are careful to refrain from discussing any specific
    personal information.

    Another aspect of anonymity is that we are all equal in the Fellowship, whether we are
    newcomers or seasoned longtimers. And our outside status makes no difference in OA; we
    have no stars or VIPs. We come together simply as compulsive overeaters.

    Service
    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, putting away
    chairs, putting out literature, talking to newcomers, 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.”

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