A new support group for people who compulsively ‘overeat’ held its first meeting in Banbury on Monday.
Overeaters Anonymous is an international organisation aiming to help people with eating disorders get to the root of their obsession with food.
One day it clicked and I still can’t believe it.Peter from Overeaters Anonymous Banbury
A group has been running successfully in Oxford and the organisation is branching out to the north of the county.
Peter, who wishes to remain anonymous, is the treasurer and was helped by the group after joining 18 months ago.
“I’m in a common group of overeaters as I binge eat, so one day I can eat normally and other days I can eat way more, like a binge drinker,” he said.
“I didn’t worry about what I had I just bought what I wanted and ate it.
“But I stopped a year ago and have been free from any food binge issues for three months, thanks to this group.”
Overeaters Anonymous is set up very similarly to Alcoholics Anonymous, with members of the fellowship working through the physical, emotional and spiritual issues they face with food.
There is a 12-step plan to tackling the addiction and Peter said the first step is admitting you are powerless to food.
“That’s where we start from and if anyone feels like that then they may find success with us,” he said.
Overeaters Anonymous is not a diet club – there is no calorie counting or fees, only a discretionary donation.
“We’re not here to tell people what they should and shouldn’t be eating, our job is to help with having a healthy relationship with food by having an emotional, spiritual and physical assessment of why people overeat,” he said.
“We are there for people who try to lose weight but are struggling.
“It’s a really difficult position to be in as you will never turn someone who overeats into someone who eats normally unless they follow a process.
“We want people to get on the road to recovery.”
Peter said popular diet clubs can often make people feel judged and as they are businesses, it undermines how much they can care about its members.
Diets can lead to weight loss, Peter added, but once you stop the diet it can be easy to put the pounds back on.
Overeaters Anonymous aims to get to the heart of why people eat too much, or too little, which Peter says makes it more likely to maintain a healthy weight.
“There are people who come hoping we can give them an immediate answer that will work tonight and they will lose weight tomorrow and that’s not the case. It takes longer to lose wight as it’s a 12-step programme,” he said.
“We’re not saying ‘walk 12 miles a day’ or ‘run 21 miles’, we look at why you eat, not the background.”
Peter said he went with no concept of what to expect but after listening to others who had similar experiences to him, he started to think it could help him.
“I walked into a room full of people who shared openly their battles with food, these people were not thin or muscular, these were people who all had the same issues and the same relationship problems with food,” he said.
“They were able to help and they listened to me and I read the literature with an open mind and one day it clicked and I still can’t believe it.”
Anyone who wants to join, the group meets every Monday at 7.30pm at the Dupuis Centre in St John’s Church in South Bar Street.
For more information, call the group secretary Emily on 07549 046994.