Woman looking to start local Overeaters Anonymous group

‘Having a community group is very important’

There’s a local Overeaters Anonymous (OA) group starting up with the first meeting on June 5 and subsequent meetings every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Health Centre.

Anita is starting the group and says she’s been struggling with food since she was a teen. She requested we don’t use her last name or picture as OA rules state “When we break our anonymity in digital media, we may inadvertently break the anonymity of others. Others may rightly or wrongly assume that our ‘virtual friends’ are OA members.”

“[At about 13] I gained about 10 pounds in two months eating candy, suppressing emotions, dealing with issues. Then it was kind of just a rollercoaster since then, up and down, up and down.”

Sugar and desserts are the primary problems for her, she says, but flour can be an issue as well.

In OA, foods are divided into red light foods (which they can’t eat), orange light foods (which they need to be careful with) and green light foods (which are safe to eat).

Red light for her are things like candy, ice cream and any kind of baked goods, she says. Orange light foods are things like bread and pasta.

She says her struggles with food have primarily impacted her self-esteem.

“Never feeling good enough, thin enough, attractive enough. I was married to a man who constantly criticized me because of my weight. Especially after pregnancy. I didn’t nurse my babies long enough because I needed to diet to get rid of the weight.”

Feeling fat and ugly leads to too much shopping.

“If I buy a new dress or a new blouse I don’t feel so bad about the way I look.”

Anita went to a treatment centre in Vancouver, which was very helpful, she says, as were the support groups afterwards.

“Focussing on recovery from the disease rather than dieting to lose the weight. That was really big.”

She started one last year but says that it dwindled with the fires and the winter.

“Having a community group is very important.

“I was sitting with a friend, having a glass of wine and he wasn’t because he’s an alcoholic and he said ‘I really wish I could have just one glass of wine.’ And I said, ‘I can understand that. Can you have a bag of cookies in your cupboard?’ [He said], ‘yeah.’ ‘Well, I can’t. One cookie leads to a binge and binge is the disease of overeating.”While the group is called Overeaters Anonymous, it’s open to people with other eating disorders as well, such as anorexia or bulimia.

“Part of the disease is thinking you can put it off to tomorrow, one more binge, one more carton of ice cream and then I’ll get back on track.”

Certain things punch you in the back of the head and say “wake up” and for Anita that was being borderline diabetic, she says.

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