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OA Terms

Often used in Overeaters Anonymous

Abstinence: (Abstinence was redefined at the 2019 World Service Business Conference.) The act of refraining from compulsive eating and compulsive food behaviors while working toward or maintaining a healthy body weight. 

Recovery: Ongoing elimination of the need to engage in compulsive eating behaviors. Spiritual, emotional and physical recovery is achieved through working and living the Overeaters Anonymous Twelve Step program. Recovery is a process. Recovery is not a cure.

Anonymity: Within the Fellowship, anonymity means that whatever we share with another OA member will be held in respect and confidence. What we hear at meetings should remain there. 

Anonymity guarantees we will place principles before personalities and assures us that only we have the right to make our membership known within our community. 

Big Book: The Big Book refers to the Alcoholics Anonymous text which also is used in Overeaters Anonymous. It is our basic piece of literature and is used to help us recover from compulsive eating and to stay in recovery. 

Cross Talk: “Feedback, cross talk, and advice-giving are discouraged during all Overeaters Anonymous meetings and events. Cross talk during an OA meeting is giving advice to others who have already shared, speaking directly to another person rather than to the group, and questioning or interrupting the person speaking/sharing at the time.” (from the OA website at “Suggested Meeting Formats”) 

Group Conscience: Group conscience is based on Tradition 2. When a group wishes to determine how best to conduct meetings, spend funds, organize special events, and deal with issues the affect the group or OA as a whole, business meetings are conducted by group conscience. Group conscience is the special way (unique to 12-step fellowships) in which the individuals in the meetings are inspired to enable the group to agree on best decision. 

HOW meeting: This is a type of OA meeting designed for those who would like to have a more structured program to follow. HOW stands for Honesty, Open-Mindedness, and Willingness. Some aspects of HOW meetings include: recommendations about getting a food plan; a more structured use of the tools; and a suggested outline and questions for working on the 12 steps with a sponsor. It also suggests that members have at least seven days of abstinence to share at the meeting. 

Newcomer: A person new to OA and/or the 12-step program is considered a newcomer. There is no time limit on when someone may be considered or consider themselves a newcomer. 

OAers: Those attending and participating in Overeaters Anonymous often are called OAers. 

Outreach Calls: Calls to other OAers between meetings just to check in, to get support, or to discuss aspects of the program. It is suggested that more intense issues be discussed with one’s sponsor

Overeaters Anonymous: Overeaters Anonymous is a Fellowship of individuals who, through experience, strength, and hope, are recovering from compulsive overeating. 

Plan of Eating: A plan of eating is one of the tools members use to practice abstinence. The plan includes refraining from particular foods, especially binge foods and/or compulsive eating behaviors. It is our individual guide to nourishing foods in appropriate portions and at appropriate times. It helps us move toward achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. 

Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” This is the prayer that many groups use to begin and/or end meetings. 

Service: Service is one of the tools of Overeaters Anonymous. Service is anything you can do for OA and is available at all levels of the program. For example, in group meetings service positions include secretary, and treasurer. At Intergroup, positions include board members, intergroup representatives and several committee positions. Service at the Region and World Service levels are also available. Everyone is encouraged to do service. 

Sponsorship: Sponsorship is one of the tools of OA. A sponsor is an OA member who helps another person work the 12-step program of recovery by sharing his/her own experience, strength, and hope. Each person is encouraged to have a sponsor to answer questions about the program and to get help with working the Steps. Each person is encouraged to become a sponsor after completing the first three steps of the program. A member can sponsor to the level of his or her experience. There are several types of sponsors including Step (works with someone primarily on working the 12 steps), Food (works primarily with someone to hold to their food plan), Maintenance (for continuing to work the program after weight loss) or a combination of these. 

Sponsee: A sponsee (or sponsoree) is person who is being sponsored/helped through the program. Each person is encouraged to be a sponsee and to find a sponsor who has what he or she wants. 

Tools: There are 9 Tools of Recovery that help us to work the 12 steps and abstain from compulsive eating. The tools are: plan of eating, telephone, literature, writing, meetings, sponsor, anonymity, service, and action plan. See the OA pamphlet The Tools of Recovery for complete descriptions of the tools. 

Twelve Steps: The OA program of recovery for individuals is based on the 12 Steps which are defined and explained in the OA and AA literature. 

Twelve Traditions: The 12 Traditions are a means by which groups remain unified in a common cause and community. They ensure smooth functioning, survival, and growth of the meetings. 

WSO: The World Service Office (WSO) is the worldwide service body for OA. WSO helps clarify the use of the steps and traditions and reaches out to the public to attract newcomers. See for more information.

Are You Struggling with Abstinence?

Whether you want to avoid relapse, you’ve been slipping, or you’re struggling to break free from relapse, there are resources available that can help. Click below for a reading list as well as questions that may help get you back on track. This tool can also be used as a worksheet for sponsors and sponsees. As an additional aid, on you will find Recovery from Relapse meetings in both virtual and hybrid formats. For your convenience, below are hyperlinks that will take you directly to those meetings, hosted on the days of the week specified.

Monday, Tuesday
Wednesday, Thursday
Saturday, Sunday

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