"Would someone please read an excerpt from Chapter Three of the book Alcoholics Anonymous? We have adapted this selection to deal with compulsive overeaters."
Yes, thank you. My name is Charlie, and I'm a compulsive overeater from Oklahoma.
Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real overeaters. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our eating careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove that we could eat like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his eating is the great obsession of every compulsive overeater. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.
We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were compulsive overeaters. It is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.
We compulsive overeaters are men and women who have lost the ability to control our eating. We know that no real compulsive overeater ever regains control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals—usually brief—were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced that compulsive overeaters of our type are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.
We are like people who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones. Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment which will make compulsive overeaters of our kind like other people. We have tried every imaginable remedy. In some instances there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse. Physicians who are familiar with compulsive overeating agree there is no such thing as making a normal eater out of a compulsive overeater. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn't done so yet.
Despite all we can say, many who are real compulsive overeaters are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule; therefore non-compulsive eaters. If anyone who is showing inability to control his eating can do the right-about-face and eat like a normal person, our hats are off to him. Heaven knows, we have tried hard enough and long enough to eat like other people.
Here are some of the methods we have tried: Eating one meal only; limiting the amount of sweets or starches; never eating alone; never eating breakfast (or lunch or dinner); never having any snack foods in the house; never eating during working hours; switching from regular food to health foods; eating only certain foods; dieting as part of a bet or an agreement; swearing off a particular food forever; taking a trip: taking a solemn oath; going to health farms; going the shots and pills route; going to a sanitarium; reading inspirational books; going to gyms for exercise; purging—we could increase the list ad infinitum.
We do not like to pronounce any individual a compulsive overeater, but you can quickly diagnose yourself. Step into the kitchen and try some controlled eating. Try to eat and then stop abruptly. Try it more than once, It will not take long for you to decide, if you are honest with yourself about it. It may be worth a stomachache if you get a full knowledge of your condition.