Overeaters Anonymousの12のステップと12の伝統

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous

The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous



Clearly, if we are to live free of the bondage of compulsive eating, we must abstain from all foods and eating behaviors which cause us problems. If we don't ever overeat, we won't trigger the reaction that makes us crave more. But this, too, has proven impossible for us to do by our willpower alone. Before we found OA, every diet or period of control was followed by a period of uncontrolled eating. This is because our malady was not just physical in nature; it was emotional and spiritual as well. We were obsessed with food, and no amount of self-control or weight loss could cure us. Because of this obsession, the day always came when the excess food looked so inviting to us we couldn't resist, and our firm resolutions were forgotten. Sooner or later we always started overeating again and gradually (or rapidly) the eating worsened until at last we were out of control.



We are compulsive overeaters. We do have an incurable disease. Diabetics who need to be on insulin risk blindness and possible death unless they recognize the truth of their diabetic condition, accept it, and take the prescribed medication. So it is with compulsive overeaters. As long as we refuse to recognize that we have this debilitating and ultimately fatal disease, we are not motivated to get the daily treatment for it which brings about our recovery. Denial of the truth leads to destruction. Only an honest admission to ourselves of the reality of our condition can save us from our destructive eating.

「私たちはオーバーイーターです。私たちは不治の病にかかっています」「私たちは身体を衰弱させ最終的には死に至る病である食べ過ぎ(compulsive overeating)という病気にかかっていることを認めない限り、回復への治療のモチベーションを持つことはできません」(太字強調部分を翻訳)



I am trying to be abstinent. I am willing to be abstinent.
A state of great frustration. A state of great humility.
Implies that I should know how butcan't come up with the right formula. Implies that I don't know how.
Involves condemnation. Involves acceptance.
I am closed to guidance. I am open to receive guidance.
I will fear failure and judge myself as a failure. Even "failure" may be used as a learning device.
Every setback reinforces that I will never No setback becomes a problem,?
find a lasting abstinence. for I know I will be shown.
The responsibility is on me. The responsibility is on my Higher Power.
It is like an act of separation. It is like an act of prayer.
Implies resistance and struggle. Implies acceptance and surrender.
If I am willing to be abstinent, and consciuosly choose to do so, my Higher Power will empower my choice, if I ask Him to do so.
adapted from an article in "The Sanctuary," reprinted in "Sharing Hugs"




Step 1 We admitted we were powerless over food - that our lives had become unmanageable.

In Overeaters Anonymous we begin our program of recovery by admitting that we're powerless over food. Some of us have difficulty with this admission because we've had so much experience in trying to control our eating. At one time, or periodically, most of us were able to do so. Our eating may be out of control right now, we persisted in thinking, but someday soon we'll again muster the strength of character needed to check our eating excesses, and this time we'll keep them under control. For all of us, however, the days of controlled eating grew fewer and farther apart, until at last we came to OA, looking for a new solution.

In OA we learn that a lack of willpower isn't what makes us compulsive overeaters. In fact, compulsive overeaters often exhibit an exceptional amount of willpower. But compulsive eating is an illness that cannot be controlled by willpower. None of us decided to have this disorder, any more than we would have decided to have any other disease. We can now cease blaming ourselves or others for our compulsive eating.

The disease of compulsive eating is threefold in nature: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Compulsive eating does not stem simply from bad eating habits learned in childhood, nor just from adjustment problems, nor merely from a love of food, though all three of these may be factors in its development. It may be that many of us were born with a physical or emotional predisposition to eat compulsively. Whatever the cause, today we are not like normal people when it comes to eating.

Like compulsive overeaters, normal eaters will sometimes find pleasure and escape from life's problems in excess food. Compulsive overeaters, however, often have an abnormal reaction when we overindulge. We can't quit. A normal eater gets full and loses interest in food. We compulsive overeaters crave more. Some of us even have a strange reaction to particular foods: while others can comfortably eat single portions of these foods, we feel compelled to eat another serving after we've finished the first… and then another… and another. Not all compulsive overeaters can identify particular foods which give us this trouble, but many of us can. What all of us have in common is that our bodies and minds seem to send us signals about food which are quite different from those the normal eater receives. We have found through much experience that no matter how long we abstain from eating compulsively, and no matter how adept we become at facing life's problems, we will always have these abnormal tendencies. Those of us who have returned to our former compulsive eating behaviors, even after years in recovery, have found it harder than ever to stop.

Clearly, if we are to live free of the bondage of compulsive eating, we must abstain from all foods and eating behaviors which cause us problems. If we don't ever overeat, we won't trigger the reaction that makes us crave more. But this, too, has proven impossible for us to do by our willpower alone. Before we found OA, every diet or period of control was followed by a period of uncontrolled eating. This is because our malady was not just physical in nature; it was emotional and spiritual as well. We were obsessed with food, and no amount of self-control or weight loss could cure us. Because of this obsession, the day always came when the excess food looked so inviting to us we couldn't resist, and our firm resolutions were forgotten. Sooner or later we always started overeating again and gradually (or rapidly) the eating worsened until at last we were out of control. This mental obsession was something we couldn't be rid of by our unaided human will. Another power, stronger than ourselves, had to be found to relieve us of it, if we were to stop eating compulsively and stay stopped.

Most of us have tried to deny to ourselves that we have this disease. In OA we are encouraged to take a good look at our compulsive eating, obesity, and the self-destructive things we have done to avoid obesity - the dieting, starving, over-exercising, or purging. Once we honestly examine our histories, we can deny it no longer: our eating and our attitudes toward food are not normal; we have this disease.

Part two of step one, admitting "that our lives had become unmanageable," has also been difficult for many of us. We felt that we had managed very well in life, despite our problems with food and weight. Many of us held down responsible jobs and ran our households with reasonable success. We had friends who liked us, and many of us had fairly good marriages. That these didn't make us happy was surely due to the fact that we were fat (or felt we were). If we could just get to the perfect weight, life would be perfect. Surely it would be exaggerating to say we were incapable of managing our lives. We certainly could use some help with the compulsive eating, but with the rest of life, we were doing fine.

Again, an honest look at our lives helped us to take step one. Were we really excelling at our jobs, or just getting by (e.g. “C”) ? Were our homes pleasant places to be, or had we been living in an atmosphere of depression or anger? Had our chronic unhappiness over our eating problems affected our friendships and marriages? Were we truly in touch with our feelings, or had we buried our anger and fear in false cheerfulness?

We sometimes recognized we had living problems, but felt that life would be manageable if only we could stop the compulsive eating. Whenever we did stop, however, we found life without excess food unbearable. Even getting to our desired weight didn't cure our unhappiness.

Many of us believed that our lives would be manageable if only others around us would do as we wanted. We thought everything would be fine if only our bosses would recognize our worth, if only our spouses would give us the attention we needed, if only our children were well-behaved, if only our parents would leave us alone. Our lives became unmanageable when the car wouldn't start, the computer broke down, or our checking account wouldn't balance. We suffered from other people's unmanaged lives or from bad luck. What alternative did we have? We ate to sate the fears, the anxieties, the angers, the disappointments. We ate to escape the pressures of our problems or the boredom of everyday life. We procrastinated, we hid, and we ate.

Before we came to OA and began discussing our experiences honestly with other compulsive overeaters, we didn't realize how much we had damaged ourselves and others by attempting to manage every detail of life. It was only after we began to recover that we saw the childish self-centeredness of our willful actions. By trying to control others through manipulation and direct force, we had hurt our loved ones. When we tried to control ourselves, we wound up demoralized. Even when we succeeded, it wasn't enough to make us happy. We hid from our pain by eating, so we didn't learn from our mistakes; we never grew up. Some of us resisted step one because it seemed like negative thinking. If we tell ourselves we're powerless over food, we reasoned, then we program ourselves to go right on eating compulsively!

Later we discovered that, far from being a negative factor, the admission of our powerlessness over food opened the door to an amazing newfound power. For the first time in our lives, we recognized, acknowledged, and accepted the truth about ourselves. We are compulsive overeaters. We do have an incurable disease. Diabetics who need to be on insulin risk blindness and possible death unless they recognize the truth of their diabetic condition, accept it, and take the prescribed medication. So it is with compulsive overeaters. As long as we refuse to recognize that we have this debilitating and ultimately fatal disease, we are not motivated to get the daily treatment for it which brings about our recovery. Denial of the truth leads to destruction. Only an honest admission to ourselves of the reality of our condition can save us from our destructive eating.

The same principle applies to our unmanageable lives. As long as we believe that we already know what is best for us, we cling to our habitual ways of thinking and acting. Yet these ways of thinking and acting got us into the unhealthy, unhappy condition we were in when we came to OA. In step one, we acknowledge this truth about ourselves: our current methods of managing have not been successful, and we need to find a new approach to life. Having acknowledged this truth, we are free to change and to learn.

Once we have become teachable, we can give up old thought and behavior patterns which have failed us in the past, beginning with our attempts to control our eating and our weight. Honest appraisal of our experience has convinced us that we can't handle life through self-will alone. First we grasp this knowledge intellectually, and then finally we come to believe it in our hearts. When this happens, we have taken the first step and are ready to move ahead in our program of recovery.

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Step 2 Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Many of us compulsive overeaters tend to look at this step and say: "Restore me to sanity? I don't need that. I'm perfectly sane. I just have an eating problem." But how sane are we, really?

When we look with complete honesty at our lives, we see that where eating is concerned we have acted in an extremely irrational and self-destructive manner. Under the compulsion to overeat, many of us have done things no sane person would think of doing. We have driven miles in the dead of night to satisfy a craving for food. We have eaten food that was frozen, burnt, stale, or even dangerously spoiled. We have eaten food off of other people's plates, off the floor, off the ground. We have dug food out of the garbage and eaten it.

We have frequently lied about what we have eaten – lied to others because we didn't want to face the truth ourselves. We have stolen food from our friends, family and employers, as well as from the grocery store. We have also stolen money to buy food (e.g. donuts/paper route). We have eaten beyond the point of being full, beyond the point of being sick of eating. We have continued to overeat, knowing all the while we were disfiguring and maiming our bodies. We have isolated ourselves to eat, damaging our relationships and denying ourselves a full social life. For the sake of our compulsive eating, we have turned ourselves into objects of ridicule and we have destroyed our health.

Then, horrified by what we were doing to ourselves with food, we became obsessed with diets. We spent hundreds of dollars (me?) on weight-loss schemes, we bought all sorts of appetite-control drugs, we joined diet clubs and spas, we had ourselves hypnotized and analyzed, we had major surgery on our digestive systems, we had our ears stapled or our jaws wired shut. All of this we did willingly, hoping we could someday "have our cake and eat it too."

Some of us went from doctor to doctor (me?) looking for a cure. The doctors gave us diets, but we had no better success with those than with the other diets we'd been on. The doctors gave us shots and pills. Those worked for a while, but we inevitably lost control and overate again, putting back on the weight we had worked so hard to lose.

Many of us tried fasting, with and without a doctor's supervision. Usually we lost weight, but as soon as we started eating again, the compulsive eating behavior returned, along with the weight. Some of us learned to purge ourselves with vomiting, laxatives, or excessive exercise. We'd stuff food in our mouths until we were in physical pain, then we'd "get rid of it." We damaged our digestive systems and our teeth while we starved our bodies of nutrients needed to live.

Those of us who were overweight got plenty of advice from others about how to get to our "ideal" size, but nothing permanently solved our problem. We found that no matter what we did to ease our turmoil, our compulsive eating eventually returned. Over the long haul, our weight went up and our self-esteem went down. After a while we became battle-weary and discouraged. Still we could never accept our powerlessness. The prospect of being obese, sick, and out of control for the rest of our lives led some of us to conclude that life was simply not worth living. Many of us thought about suicide. Some of us tried it.

Most of us, however, never reached suicidal desperation. Instead we took comfort in a feeling that everything was all right as long as we got enough to eat. The only trouble was that as our compulsive eating progressed it became harder for us to get enough. Instead of bringing comfort, the overeating backfired. The more we ate the more we suffered, yet we continued to overeat. Our true insanity could be seen in the fact that we kept right on trying to find comfort in excess food, long after it began to cause us misery.

Once we honestly looked at our lives, it became easy for us to admit we had acted insanely where food and weight were concerned. Many of us, however, were able to confine our compulsive eating to the hours when we were alone and to carry on with relatively normal lives. We worked hard during the day and ate hard at night. Surely we were sane in most respects.

More self-examination revealed many areas in which our lives were out of balance. We had to admit that we had not acted sanely when we responded to our children's needs for attention by yelling at them, or when we were jealously possessive of our mates. Too much of the time we had lived in fear and anxiety. More comfortable with food than with people, we sometimes limited our social lives. We drew the drapes, disconnected the telephone, and hid in the house. When we were around other people, we smiled and agreed when we really wanted to say no. Some of us were unable to stand up for ourselves in abusive relationships; we felt we deserved that abuse. Or we focused on others' faults and thought for hours about what they should do to solve their problems, while our own problems went unsolved.

Compulsive overeaters are often people of extremes. We overreacted to slight provocations while ignoring the real (BIG picture) issues in our lives. We were obsessively busy, then we were "wiped out" and unable to act. We were wildly excited, then deeply depressed. We saw the whole world in black and white. If we couldn't have it all, we didn't want any; if we couldn't be the best, we didn't want to play the game.

Little by little, we saw how much pain our way of living was causing us. Gradually, we came to believe we needed to change. In all of life, as well as with the food, we were irrational, unbalanced, insane. If our willpower and determination couldn't change our unsuccessful way of living, what could? Clearly a power greater than ourselves had to be found if we were to be restored to sanity.

At this point most of us had trouble for one reason or another with step two. Some of us did not believe in God. We despaired of finding a solution to our problems if that meant we had to "find God." Some of us walked out of our first meeting when we heard that three-letter word mentioned and didn't return until years more of compulsive eating had made us desperate. Those of us who stuck around made a wonderful discovery. OA doesn't tell us we have to believe in God - only that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. We are invited to define that power however we wish and relate to it in whatever way works for us. OA only suggests that we remain open to spiritual growth and show tolerance for others by neither criticizing nor promoting specific religious doctrines in OA meetings.

Ours is a spiritual program, not a religious one. We have no creeds or doctrines, only our own experiences of recovery. Atheists and agnostics are welcome in OA and have found recovery.

How have we who were not believers in God come to believe in a Higher Power?

It usually started as we sat in an OA meeting and experienced the camaraderie of our fellow compulsive overeaters. Here were people who understood us and cared about us. We could be totally honest about ourselves and they still accepted us unconditionally. This acceptance grew into love, carrying with it a power that seemed to stay with us as we left our OA meetings. It was not too great a leap of faith to believe that this shared love was a power greater than ourselves that could lead us to sanity. The love of the group, then, became our Higher Power.

Before long we usually asked other OA members to be our sponsors. Most of us chose someone with whom we felt a kinship or in whom we saw recovery. As we developed personal relationships with our sponsors, the love of the OA group came to us in a deeper way. They answered our questions, listened to our problems, shared our tears and laughter, and guided us in recovery as they helped us apply OA principles in our lives. For the first time ever we felt the relief of not having to face our problems alone. This relationship was a Higher Power in which we could believe.

However, OAs are human. Sometimes, when our groups or sponsors failed us in some way, we felt cut off from the support which had come to mean so much to us and our new sanity seemed threatened. We now needed a more reliable way of relating to a Higher Power. At this point we learned we could "act as if." This didn't mean we were to be dishonestly pious or pretend we believed in God when we didn't. It meant we were free to set aside theological arguments and examine the idea of spiritual power in light of our own desperate need for help with our lives.

Some of us began by asking ourselves: "What do I need from a Higher Power? What would I like such a power to be and to do in my life?" Once we identified this power for ourselves, we found we felt at ease with it. Then we began to act as if such a power existed and we found good things happening to us as a result. Little by little, as we experienced changes for the better in our lives, we came to believe in a power greater than ourselves which could restore us to sanity.

Those of us who arrived at OA with a set of religious beliefs usually looked at this step and said, "No problem. I'm beyond that step. I already believe in God." Then, to our dismay, some of us found ourselves having more trouble with the OA program than the agnostic or atheist. Sometimes we religious ones had trouble because we believed in God's existence, but we didn't really believe God could and would deal with our compulsive eating. Perhaps we didn't believe that our compulsive eating was a spiritual problem, or we felt that God was concerned only with more important matters and expected us to control such a simple thing as our eating. We failed to understand that God loves us in our totality and is willing and able to help us in everything we do, that God will help us with every decision, even food choices and amounts.

Many of us asked God to help us control our weight and this prayer hadn't worked. Later we understood why our pleas for help seemed to fall on deaf ears. What we were really asking God to do was remove our fat while allowing us to go on eating whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Most of us also needed to learn to ask other people for help and let God speak to us through our fellows. In OA, God's healing power comes to us through a caring community of other compulsive overeaters. Before we joined the OA fellowship our prayers for help might have gone unanswered simply because we were never meant to face this disease in isolation. We were meant to open up so that we might learn to truly love others.

Whatever the case, after years of making vows and saying prayers but then eating compulsively again, we were left without faith that God could restore us to sanity about food. We believed intellectually that God could do anything, but deep in our hearts we "knew" God couldn't help us with this area of our lives. It was this negative concept about God we had to change if we were to find recovery. How could we do this? We became willing to start fresh with our Higher Power. Our heartfelt concept of God wasn't working, so we became willing for it to be changed. Just like the atheist or agnostic, we could begin to do this by asking ourselves what, exactly, we needed and wanted God to be to us (my Daddy) and to do for us (relieve me of my 8 deadly compulsions). Then we acted as if God were really exactly what we wanted and needed our Higher Power to be. We became willing to let go of any concept about God which wasn't helping us to recover from compulsive eating. We had to replace our old ideas about God with a faith that worked. This was both humbling and frightening for us, but once we became willing to do it, surprising things began to happen.

For all of us - atheists, agnostics, and religious ones alike - coming to believe was something that happened as we began taking actions which others told us had worked for them. Whether or not we believed these actions would work for us didn't seem to matter. Once we took the action and saw it work, we began to believe. Then we tried other suggestions and our lives began to be transformed.

This willingness to act on faith, then, was the key to step two. It was the beginning of a healing process that would relieve us of the compulsion to overeat and bring stability to our unbalanced lives. As we responded with action to the love we had been shown in OA, the result was a new faith in ourselves, in others, and in the power of that love. We had begun to develop a new relationship with a power greater than ourselves, and we were ready to move ahead with our program of recovery.

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Step 3 Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

It has been said that the first three steps of the Overeaters Anonymous program are simply: "I can't; God can; I think I'll let God!" In step one we became convinced that we could manage neither our eating nor our other living problems by our own will alone. In step two we added to this acceptance of our utter helplessness a newfound faith that there exists a power greater than us which can relieve us of the obsession for food and restore us to sanity in all areas of life.

It is impossible to take step three until we have taken the first two steps. Once we have fully acknowledged our fatal powerlessness and have come to believe that there is a solution, however, the third step is simple. If we want to live free of the killing disease of compulsive eating, we accept help without reservation from a power greater than ourselves. We now say yes to this power, deciding from here on to follow spiritual guidance in making every decision.

Note we have said this step is simple; we have not said it is easy. It is not easy, because for every one of us this decision means we must now adopt a new and unfamiliar way of thinking and acting on life. From now on, we let go of our preconceived notions about what is right for us. When faced with choices, we earnestly seek guidance from our Higher Power, and when that guidance comes we act on it.

Our new way of life begins with a willingness to adopt a whole new attitude about weight control, body image, and eating. Our twelve-step program is the most important way OA differs from the diet and weight-loss programs we tried in the past. Those systems gave us diets to follow but made us responsible for adhering to them. In OA we are given no diets. Weight loss is not our only goal, and we accept that even a "perfect" body (if there were such a thing) would not make us happy. Our primary purpose is to abstain from eating compulsively, and we know that in order to do so we will need help.

At one time or another since we joined OA, most of us have experienced a period of complete freedom from the obsession with food and the compulsion to overeat (i.e. abstinence became a “habit”). For many of us, this freedom came when we took step three and turned the entire problem over to our Higher Power. Suddenly we no longer thought much about food and eating. When mealtime came, we ate moderately, felt satisfied, and stopped eating. It was as if some miracle had given us a healthy attitude about food and eating.

For most of us, however, this reprieve didn't last forever. Gradually food regained its dominance in our thoughts. Eventually the day came when we again wanted food we didn't need, and staying away from eating compulsively became more difficult for us. Did this mean that we really hadn't taken step three after all? Sometimes that was the case, but usually it simply meant the OA honeymoon was over. What we needed now was a way of being abstinent over the long haul and living sanely through good times and bad.

Often we caused ourselves problems because we didn't realize that there were some kinds of eating we could handle comfortably and some kinds we couldn't. Many OAs have been able to identify certain eating behaviors or foods which tend to lead us into compulsive eating. Acceptance of these facts about ourselves gives us hope, for we know that by simply eliminating these eating behaviors and foods from our lives we will experience fewer struggles with our disease. In OA, however, there's no list of foods and measurements or dos and don'ts which define abstinence. We are individuals with our own individual nutritional needs, and we've found that what is a healthy choice for some of us might be lethal for others. People who come to OA are sometimes confused by the lack of dietary regulations. "If OA doesn't give us any rules to follow," they ask, "how are we to find the guidance we must have to avoid compulsive eating?" The decision we have made in step three answers this important question. We have found that when we give up self-will regarding food and completely turn our lives over to our Higher Power, we receive all kinds of guidance.

For instance, after years spent in the struggle with this disease, some of us have been able to take an honest look at our past experience and identify for ourselves the specific kinds of eating that give us the most trouble. Others of us have been given eating restrictions by qualified professionals because of special physical problems or needs. Many of us know much about sound nutrition, but we have never before been able to put this knowledge into effect because our food obsession interfered. Now that we are working the steps, we have been given the power of choice about our eating. Our common sense will tell us to avoid our own particular problem areas and follow sound nutritional guidelines.

At times when we have felt confused about abstinence, many of us have been helped by discussing our particular problems with our sponsors. Of course, the final responsibility for what we eat and don't eat rests with us, but we have found that a sponsor can often make suggestions which help us find our way.

All of this experience, knowledge, and help is augmented by a source of wisdom inside us that becomes more powerful as we recover from compulsive eating and develop our relationship with our Higher Power through prayer and meditation (e.g. reading steps 1-3 daily). This inner resource is our intuition. When we place our will and our lives in God's care in step three, we give God our intuition as well. Intuition is supposed to be God's direct line into our minds and hearts, but our problems and our self-will have interfered with this connection. As we work the steps, the interference begins to be removed, and intuition begins to function properly, helping us focus on God's will, both for our eating and for the living of our lives.

It is important to bear in mind that knowledge about ourselves and our nutritional needs is useless without the kind of help we find in OA, because we remain powerless to apply it. Many of us have tried for years to find the perfect way of eating and stick to it. In order to continue being abstinent, we will have to have a power greater than ourselves operating daily in our lives. This is always available to us as long as we continue working the twelve steps and living out our decision to trust God’s guidance in everything we do. As we become aware of what our eating guidelines should be, we ask God for the willingness and ability to live within them each day. We ask and we receive, first the willingness, and then the ability. We can count on this without fail.

As we continue abstaining, we find we can depend upon God to eliminate our yearning for the kind of eating that harms us. Much of the time, we no longer want to eat unwisely and we come to prefer foods that are good for us. This miracle of sanity is an everyday reality for thousands of recovering compulsive overeaters. We find we are seldom obsessed with eating and food, so that it is possible for us to continue eating moderate, nutritious meals, one day at a time, day after day, month after month, year after year.

Do we ever achieve a permanent freedom from food obsession? Yes and no. OA veterans do have this miraculous freedom most days, but occasionally the obsession returns. How do we get through these times without overeating? We don’t panic. Instead we quietly reaffirm our personal guidelines and ask our Higher Power to help us continue living within them. Then we turn away from food and eating to focus our attention on our OA fellowship and the twelve steps. As we work the steps, using the tools of the program – abstinence, literature, writing, meetings, the telephone, sponsorship, anonymity, and service – we find the help we need. OA friends lovingly remind us that “this too shall pass.” It does pass, and our obsession is lifted again. This abstinent way of life continues on a daily basis so long as we continue to trust a Higher Power with our lives, renewing our step-three commitment daily.

Inexperienced in this way of living, many of us have asked, “How do I reach this decision to turn my will and life over to a Higher Power? What exactly do I have to do?” It helps to understand that once we make this decision, our approach to all choices will be like our approach to our food and eating choices. We will no longer simply do what we feel like doing or what we think we can get away with. Instead, we will earnestly seek to learn God’s will for us, then we will act accordingly. We give up fear and indecision, knowing that if we are sincere, our Higher Power will give us the knowledge of our best course in life, along with the willingness and ability to follow that course, even when it seems difficult and uncomfortable.

In learning God’s will, we may again refer to our experience, knowledge, common sense, intuition, and the wisdom of spiritual mentors. If something has repeatedly worked well for us or for someone else in a similar situation, we may assume it will work in our present situation, ultimately bringing good to us and to others, which is God’s will. For instance, we might find from experience that when we’re feeling unstable, going to OA meetings usually restores our sanity. Thus, we can assume it’s God’s will for us to keep attending meetings regularly, even when we don’t feel like it. Or, when we’re in a group of people who are gossiping about someone we dislike, we might be inclined at first to join in with a few comments of our own. But we’ve learned from experience that gossip is not good for us, so we know it’s God’s will that we not take part in the damaging conversation. We need no burning bush and ethereal voice to tell us what God wants for us in most of our choices each day. Honesty, common sense, and a sincere willingness to follow our new spiritual path are sufficient to show us the way.

When we face indecision, we remember the words of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous: “Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind.”(p86-87)

In making major decisions, of course, we will not assume that every thought which comes into our minds is inspired by God. When we’re considering taking an unusual action we will want to consult with a sponsor or spiritual guide. It is not this person’s job to decide for us; no human can do that. But a person who is detached from our immediate situation and has some experience in this way of life can help us apply sound spiritual principles in learning our Higher Power’s will for us.

This, then, is how we will operate our lives, once we have made the decision called for in step three. None of us can follow this way of life perfectly, but we find that our success in recovery and our freedom from food obsession are in direct proportion to how sincerely we try to live in this manner.

What it takes to work step three is a real willingness to live by God’s will, one day at a time. Having this willingness, we do not let any doubt or confusion we may still have keep us from acting. We concentrate on wherever or whatever we think God might be, and we say out loud, in words of our own choosing, that we now turn our will and our lives over to our Higher Power, holding nothing back.

When we say this prayer and mean it, we have made the key, life-changing decision which will lead us to recovery. We have taken the third step. We now have a new reaction when we face a problem or a decision, whether it has to do with food, with life, or with our own runaway emotions. Instead of acting on impulse, we pause long enough to learn God’s will. Then, instead of resorting to willpower, we relax and reach out to receive help from our Higher Power. All we need say is, “God, please help me do your will.”

Once we compulsive overeaters truly take the third step, we cannot fail to recover. As we live out our decision day by day, our Higher Power guides us through the remaining nine steps. When we falter, we are reminded of our commitment to live by God’s will alone, and we trust that the willingness and ability will come if we only ask for them. When we get off track, our Higher Power will guide us back, as long as we are sincerely trying to know and do God’s will. We can confidently face any situation life brings, because we no longer have to face it alone. We have what we need any time we are willing to let go of self-will and humbly ask for help.