Food addiction is something that is debated in the medical world, but for the most part, we do believe there are changes in the brain that are seen with food addiction. As with other addictions, some people who struggle with food addiction may be able to seek treatment in the form of therapy or support groups. So, is there a 12-step program for food addiction like there are for drug and alcohol addictions, as well as behavioral addictions like gambling addiction?
The answer is yes, there are 12-step programs for people who addicted to food, and some of these options are detailed below. Many of the 12 steps included in the below programs aim for long-term recovery from binge eating and other unhealthy eating patterns. Along with helping participants stop eating in harmful or negative ways, the 12 steps might also include admitting you are powerless over food.
As well as 12-step programs for food addiction, we also encourage you to look at our list of the best books for food addiction, which can prove helpful as well.
The Types of 12-Step Programs for Food Addiction
There are several national 12-step programs for food addiction. Some of the most well-known are:
- Overeaters Anonymous (OA)
- Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA)
- Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA)
- Greysheeters Anonymous (GSA)
There are benefits to a 12-step program if you deal with food addiction. First, it provides a sense of social support. That sense of social support is integral to recovering from any addiction, and that’s why 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are so enduring.
With most 12-step programs, whether for food addiction or some other type of addiction, you attend meetings. These meetings might be in-person, or many 12-step groups offer online meetings as well.
You may also get a sponsor as part of your participation in a 12-step program to help you overcome food addiction. A sponsor is someone you can develop a one-on-one relationship with, and a person who will help you stay accountable as you overcome food addiction.
Below is a very general overview of what you might expect with each of the 12-step programs for food addiction named above.
Overeaters Anonymous (OA)
Overeaters Anonymous (OA) is a 12-step group for people who are compulsive eaters or who have an addiction to food. This is a group geared toward people who have spent their lives obsessively thinking about food or who have a negative relationship with food.
The goal of OA isn’t to tell people what they should be doing or help them with weight loss.
Instead, the mission of OA is to help you find self-acceptance as you currently are, how you were, and how you will be. You can share your problems and learn that others have similar struggles, and you can work toward recovery from your illness.
As a 12-step group, the central focus of Overeaters Anonymous is on the idea of developing a new way of life through the belief and reliance in a higher power, as well as the social support of the rest of the group.
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA)
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous or FA is a mutual support group for people who have problems maintaining a sense of control over the way they eat and for people who want help dealing with an obsession or addiction related to food.
According to the principles of FA, food addiction can take different forms, and it can include obesity, bulimia, and anorexia. FA is helpful for people who have eating disorders beyond just food addiction.
The common element between the participants in FA is that they have an unhealthy relationship with food, similar to the way someone in AA might have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. The goal of recovery is to maintain a healthy weight and healthy eating habits.
FA was established by former members of Overeaters Anonymous, and again it is a 12-step program.
Food Addicts Anonymous (FAA)
Food Addicts Anonymous or FAA is another program of recovery if you deal with food addiction or an unhealthy relationship with food. Food Addicts Anonymous suggests that you attend at least six meetings before you determine whether you are addicted to food, and also whether or not the program might be a good fit for you.
FAA offers face-to-face meetings as well as phone meetings and online meetings held daily.
The philosophy of Food Addicts Anonymous is that food addiction is a biochemical disorder that can’t be controlled simply by willpower or therapy. It’s not a moral failing according to the philosophy of FAA.
The FAA 12-step program follows the idea that you can manage your food addiction by eliminating certain foods that may serve as triggers, following a food plan and working the Twelve Steps.
GreySheeters Anonymous (GSA)
Finally, there is GreySheeters Anonymous. A self-described fellowship of men and women who want to share their experiences, hope, and strength related to compulsive overeating, the only requirement to be a member is that you have a desire to stop your compulsive eating.
To get started with GreySheeters Anonymous, you need to find a sponsor. A sponsor is someone with at least 90 continuous days of what’s called GS abstinence. The GreySheet is what the program and abstinence are based on, and it’s a food plan.
However, the GreySheet Food Plan isn’t available to anyone who doesn’t use a sponsor. You can find sponsors at face-to-face meetings, or during phone meetings. You can also connect with a sponsor by using the GSA Phone List or joining GreyNet, which is a private online group.
Summing Up—Is a 12-Step Program For Food Addiction Right For You?
Many people have found recovery and also solace in 12-step groups for compulsive eating and food addiction. However, as is the case with alcohol and drug addiction, these groups might not be right for everyone. You might find that another option is better for you as you learn how to overcome food addiction.
Even so, knowing the programs that are out there are the options that are available to you can help you make a good decision for yourself.