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Regional conference promotes healthy living, ‘sane’ eating habits

With mottos such as “we came for the vanity and stayed for the sanity,” Overeaters Anonymous convenes in Sacramento today through Sunday for a regional conference expected to draw hundreds from California and surrounding states.

Participants in Overeaters Anonymous learn a lot about themselves and healthy living and find a support network to help bring sanity to life and food, according to Judy, the chair of the convention. OA has a policy not to identify members beyond their first name.

Or, as Judy said, it’s about “principles not personalities.”

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OA uses the term “compulsive eating,” which Judy defines as behavior such as lying about what you’ve eaten, eating beyond being full, driving miles to get food in the middle of the night, or being out of control when your officemate puts a bowl of M&M on her desk.

OA is not a diet club, but a fellowship of people who share a common problem of compulsive eating, said one participant. There are no dues, fees, or weigh-ins. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop eating compulsively.

OA follows a “Twelve-Step” program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous that focuses on physical, emotional and spiritual recovery. The program includes key ideas such as acceptance of “things you cannot change” and “one day at a time,” which Judy describes as focusing on the day at hand and deciding, “What I can do today to better my program today."

OA has been around since 1960 and grown to include more than 7,000 meetings in 80 countries, with more than 50 groups meeting in the greater Sacramento Region.

Judy said she has seen members lose pounds, sometimes a hundred or more. She has lost 80 pounds.

An essential component of the program is the support network, according to participants. “When you loose weight, you still have to live life on life’s terms,” Judy said. The support network helps people work though things that “trigger” compulsive eating.

Triggers can be anything or anybody. For instance, your mom who says, “but you love the yellow cake with chocolate frosting; I made it just for you.”

The main purpose of OA members is to abstain from compulsive overeating and carry the message of recovery to those who still suffer. The group welcomes anyone who wants to stop eating compulsively.

The Sacramento conference is underway at the Hilton Sacramento Arden, 2200 Harvard St. and includes workshops, marathon Twelve-Step meetings and more.

For more information visit oar2.org

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to reflect the fact that Overeaters Anonymous does not ask participates to change their food plan on a daily basis, but rather to improve their overall participation in the OA program.

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