Dubai: Food might bring delight to a lot of us, but for many it is a problem that has adversely affected their day to day life.
But it is not all doom and gloom. A support group called Overeaters Anonymous (OA), offers hope to everyone from compulsive overeaters and binge eaters to bulimics and anorexics.
Presently it is helping more than 54,000 people in 75 countries to recover from compulsive overeating.
“I have lost about 60 pounds in the last five years that I have been in OA, but it is not about weight loss. Even though I feel I need to be more into the programme, if I look back, five years ago I could not have imagined that I would be the person that I am today,” said Emi, a member of OA’s Dubai chapter.
“I am much more at peace and in touch with myself, my relationships have improved and my behaviour around food is more balanced now,” she added.
The group, which does not charge any fee, follows a “12 steps and traditions” programme along the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous and encourages its members to use tools like reading literature, attending meetings, using phone conversations, having a sponsor and writing one’s experience and providing service to the group.
A typical OA meeting focuses on a recovery story or a topic that is usually read out of the programme literature. The members are then asked to share their experiences that could be related to the topic or the programme in general.
“The first thing one feels at OA is acceptance, realising that you are not alone in what you are facing. It provides a big comfort. I have seen days when I would hide my food, cancel meeting people only because I wanted to eat. I never shared this as I thought I was abnormal. Once I started coming to the meetings, I began feeling comfortable about sharing my story, and that brings a lot of peace and I always look forward to the meetings,” said Reez, another member, who said she used to be a compulsive overeater and bulimic.
The group keeps the identity of its members anonymous. The members are encouraged to have a sponsor, a member who has usually been with the group for a while and is willing to help others follow the steps.
“It is not a diet club and you realise after you come here that you decide what you eat, when you eat and other things yourself,” another member said. The group has newcomers as well as members who have been part of it for more than 20 years.
Emi is glad that she discovered the group. “I have become more accepting of others and myself, I do not get as badly affected by insensitive remarks from others and feel I am much better at dealing with situations I would earlier not be really able to handle.”
In the UAE, the meetings take place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. (All names have been changed to maintain anonymity)
Monday and Wednesday 6.30pm at Sunset Mall on Jumeirah Beach Road
Saturday 4.00pm at LifeWorks Councellors on Al Wasl Road, Dubai
ABU DHABI MEETINGS
To know more, go to: www.oainuae.com