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Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) – 12 Step Program

What is Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous and when did it begin?

The fellowship of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous began informally around the early 1980s by former members of Overeaters Anonymous. The program was a part of another program, but formally switched over in 1998 to its own program. The 12-step program bases its steps and traditions on the same basis as Alcoholics Anonymous, although it has no affiliation with that particular group.

The group is open to people of all types, men and women, and deals with the addiction with food or weight. Whether an individual struggles with being overweight, underweight, bulimia, or they are obsessed with food and weight, it is intended for anyone who is unable to lead a “normal” life due to these struggles. As of 2011, the program had over 500 groups and over 4,000 members in six countries. In 2012, the first official piece of literature was published titled “Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous” and more literature has been published since then for members of the program.

How does Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous work?

The fellowship of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous creates a safe environment for individuals to discuss issues with food and weight when they feel like they have nowhere else to turn or nobody to turn to. The group defines food addiction just like any other addiction; an illness of the mind, body and spirit. Because it is an illness, instead of trying to find a cure for these problems, the fellowship focuses on finding a way to recover and live a successful and healthy life by obtaining abstinence.

The first step of the program allows members to admit their powerlessness over food and that their lives had become unmanageable. Although meetings are a good place for newcomers to start and try to identify their problems, attending meetings is more important than just to admit there is a problem. Meetings are encouraged because they help individuals end isolation, provide a place to share stories of experience, strength and hope, and build strength in members from being in a fellowship.

Once new members have begun committing to members, it is strongly suggested to obtain a sponsor in the program. Longtime members of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous can help prove that the program works by showing their manageable weight and long periods of healthy eating. A sponsor can also explain which foods to abstain from, provide members a listening ear for at least 15 minutes a day and be available to talk about anything and everything. Asking for help from another person in the program can be a humbling experience in the process of recovery. Some of the things members are guided to do include avoid snacking in between meals, weighing and measuring meals, avoiding flour or sugar and avoiding binge foods.

Why does Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous work?

The fellowship has proven successful for many members who follow the steps, work the program, get a sponsor and continue abstaining from unhealthy eating practices. Because Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous addresses all areas of food addiction, it leaves membership open to a diverse group of people who suffer from struggle with food or weight.

Newcomers to the program are guided towards abstinence; not the removal of food but a disciplined way of eating that will allow individuals to recover from food cravings, obsessions and self destructive behaviors. While that is the beginning of the road to recovery, changing what is being consumed is not enough. Working the program will allow individuals to address their feelings of insecurity, fears and their compulsions that drive them to eat. The emphasis on attending face-to-face meetings is crucial for newcomers and is strongly recommended because it increases humility, builds strength in members just by showing up and builds strength by seeing others members changing and recovering from their addiction.

Getting a sponsor and working the steps of the program is a good place for members to start, but service in the program and in themselves continues beyond that. Members can keep seeking out serenity by writing gratitude lists, keeping it simple, being patient and taking quiet time to themselves to calm their racing minds and bodies.

One of the biggest tools of recovery suggested in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is to regularly write down all thoughts or feelings, a daily food plan, or even a letter to a higher power requesting patience and understanding during recovery. Once members have obtained 90 days of abstinence, they are even qualified to write stories for “Connection,” the Food Addicts in Recovery magazine. More tools of recovery include the literature available in the program, including “Twenty Four Hours a Day” and the “Big Book”, the literature of Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also copies of “Gratitude in Action,” the official newsletter, available online dating back to 2004 for members to read.

Common Questions about Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous

Does the program cost money?

There are no dues, costs or fees for membership to Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop eating addictively. The program is self-supporting through their own contributions and never accepts outside contributions. Members are encouraged to contribute what they can and when they can but there is never an obligation to.

How do I know if I am a food addict?

Before joining the fellowship, many members had questions or concerns as to whether or not they were a food addict. Although there was control in some areas of their lives, when it came to food, there was none. While some individuals are capable of demonstrating some self restraint on a diet, it never lasted very long. Because food addiction can come in various forms, answering a questionnaire can help individuals decide whether or not they have a food addiction problem. The questionnaire can be found on the official website, here.

Where can I find a meeting?

Meetings can be found to all of the available Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous groups on the official website. It’s important to call ahead to ensure that face-to-face meetings are still available due to the pandemic. To find meetings local in the area, the official website lists them here.

What if there are no meetings available near me?

While attending face-to-face meetings is strongly encouraged, if it is unable or not an option, there are virtual and telephone meetings available on the website. Because success in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is extremely important for all members, a long-distance sponsor list is available for individuals who have no meetings local to them, as well as other options to ensure that abstinence continues in the program. The phone list guide can be found here.

What is the abstinence plan in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous?

An abstinence plan in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is something done carefully and accurately with the help of a sponsor in the program. The plan goes as follows:

  1. A daily food plan – Writing down and committing to a food plan each day to know what and how much is being eaten.
  2. Weighing and measuring – Eating only what you are committing to eat to; writing, weighing and measuring instead of guessing on amounts of food.
  3. Planning ahead – Preparing food in case of home absences, making grocery lists to minimize food shopping trips and not waiting too long to eat each meal.
  4. Simple food – Cooking simpler foods to continue maintaining freedom.
  5. Boundaries – Maintaining moments of quietness around eating, sitting down without interruption and keeping hot beverages plain and milk as milk.
  6. Restaurants – Checking the menu ahead of time, remembering less is more, asking your higher power to help maintain abstinence and remembering to keep it simple when ordering.
  7. Body size and weight – Learning to accept body weight and size and allows individuals to focus on healthy eating habits instead of numbers on a scale.

12 Steps of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA)

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

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

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

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.


12 Traditions of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA)

1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on FA unity.

2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority —a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.

3. The only requirement for FA membership is a desire to stop eating addictively.

4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or FA as a whole.

5. Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the food addict who still suffers.

6. An FA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the FA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

7. Every FA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.

8. Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

9. FA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues, hence the FA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.

12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

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