As a fledging group, Food Compulsions Anonymous needs the guidance of those who walked ahead of us. Alcoholics Anonymous blazed a route to recovery that has proven extraordinary.
Founded on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, Food Compulsions Anonymous takes their traditions seriously.
Their Third Tradition states, “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
This tradition has much to teach us, as we grapple with writing our own literature. And it impels us to face a daunting task: Honestly admitting the nature of our food addiction. (See footnote.)
AA does not say, “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking too much,” or “stop drinking milk.”
It says, “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.” This clearly means alcohol.
And AA oldtimers quickly add, for newcomers, “A single alcoholic drink sets up an overpowering urge to drink more—not even one drink is safe. It is a program of total abstinence.”
If we’re brave and honest about our version, it must be “The only requirement for F.C.A. membership is a desire to stop eating sugar, refined carbohydrates, and other addictive foods.”
And we explain to newcomers that, for us, even one bite of sugar, refined carbohydrates, and other addictive foods impels us to eat more of those substances or otherwise act compulsively with food (e.g, binge on healthy foods). We strive toward total abstinence.
This could be misunderstood. Here are clarifications:
1) You will not be asked to abide by rules. We simply share our approach with those interested in applying it to their own food problems.
2) You are welcome to attend meetings, as long as you want, so you can find out whether your problem is like ours, and whether our solution is right for you.
3) You will not get thrown out or shamed if you slip. Compulsive food behavior is not a moral failing or sign of weakness. You should not be shamed about it any more than you should be for having the flu.
4) There’s a difference between a desire to stop eating sugar, refined carbohydrates, and other addictive foods—which is the membership requirement—and an ability to do it.
A foundational concept of FCA’s first step is having no ability to stop! The first step is “We admitted we were powerless over sugar, refined carbohydrates, and other addictive foods—that our lives had become unmanageable.”
As long as people want to stop, or are trying to find out whether they want to stop, they’re welcome here.
5) Note the phrase “admitted we were powerless.” FCA founder, Lily Joy, says, “In taking the first step, I admitted that I am not the only person powerless over this addiction. It would be insane of me to judge others for this powerlessness. Instead, I focus on two things:
* gratitude for the steps, because they’ve given me long term abstinence;
* step twelve: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to food addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” This step means my purpose at meetings is only to share the steps—not to judge anyone, tell them they need the steps, or talk them into using the steps. I just carry the message of the steps and let go of the results.”
You never have to be alone again. Welcome!
Footnote: FCA is not the only twelve step program for food addicts. Each one has their own view of food compulsions and recovery methods. There are also many non-twelve-step recovery paradigms. Food Compulsions Anonymous does not seek to convert anyone to our views. If you do not relate to FCA’s ideas of food addiction or recovery from it, we support you to find a recovery style that suits you. And we will remain accessible if you decide FCA might be a good supplement to your primary choice. We are here only to share the FCA approach with those interested, and we wish you the best on your road to recovery, whatever road you choose.
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