A recovery program, new to Vankleek Hill, has changed the life of a local woman we’ll call Ms. X.  And after losing 130 pounds and regaining her self-confidence and self-esteem, Ms. X has organized a local chapter of Overeaters Anonymous to help others who are anxious or depressed about their compulsive eating habits.

“Joyous and free,” is how Ms. X describes her current frame of mind. Two and half years ago, she weighed close to 300 pounds and was very sick. “I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea and kidney problems,” she notes. “I was afraid and ashamed.” Her doctor sent her to a registered dietitian, who developed a food plan for her.

“While I lost quite a bit of weight on the food plan, I did it through sheer willpower,” she says. “I was still unhappy and I still binged, only on bubbly water. I drank so much water that I started to faint because my electrolytes were out of whack.”

Her breakthrough came when she discovered Overeaters Anonymous, a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. “I was desperate for the peace of mind OA provides,” Ms. X says. Due to COVID-19, she attended Zoom meetings online and acquired a sponsor in England to help keep her on track with twice-a-week online meetings. Enthusiastic, she moved through the 12 steps in six weeks.

“OA process was a miracle”

Overeaters Anonymous (OA) was founded in 1960 in Los Angeles, California. Since that time, it has grown to about 7,000 meetings in more than 80 countries, with about 54,000 members. It offers physical, emotional and spiritual recovery for all types of compulsive eating disorders, including anorexia and bulimia.

“The OA process was a miracle,” she claims. “It is a spiritual program of recovery, but you don’t have to believe in God. I suddenly had no fear. This wasn’t a cure, but a daily reprieve from my compulsion to eat. I no longer even wanted pastries.”

With the fervour of a convert, Ms. X started spreading the word and became a sponsor for others. When one woman expressed a problem in dealing with online contact, Ms. X organized a meeting at The Creating Centre in Vankleek Hill in July. The group meets every Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. and observes all COVID-19 protocols. New members are welcome.

For more information, go to www.OA.org or call (613) 571-2662.