The idea of having a support buddy in times of temptation kind of appeals to me, the ability to call somebody and talk out what is going on with me at that particular moment might actually yield some benefit. However, the other side of the coin is having your support buddy calling you at some inopportune time when you really don't feel like listening to it. This give and take thing could be dicey, especially for someone like me who is, admittedly, a little selfish with his time. Don't get me wrong, I'm a great listener and I'm interested in people; why they do the things they do, how they think, why they think that. But I really don't have an interest in being available 24/7 to listen to someone have a crisis over a slice of pizza late at night after being out at the bar. I probably wouldn't make the best support buddy.
The other problem I'm having with OA is the religion thing. They've modeled their program on the 12 steps program created by Alcoholics Anonymous. I'm going to list the 12 steps here as presented on OA's website.
The Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous
Notice the overarching religious slant? If you are Christian, this is probably not an issue for you. But what if you are not? Say you are Muslim? Or Buddhist? Or *gasp* atheist? You can see how this program and its religious overtones were created back when America (and Canada for that matter) were primarily christian. With our global community now firmly entrenched, this program seems horribly outdated. And what's this crap about turning our will and our lives over to God so that He can save us from the double bacon cheeseburgers we so crave?
Going over them, I'm okay with the fist one. I do feel powerless over food, it has a strange hold over me. It's the ultimate love/hate relationship. I love food and eating brings me so much pleasure but I feel such self loathing when I eat. The back and forth that goes on in my head when it comes to food is maddening. Numbers two and three begin the surrender and acceptance of God where Him and only Him can save us from the terrible food demons that haunt us. A problem if you don't buy into theistic thinking. Number four is fine, making a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves makes sense. Five, six and seven take us back into God country where we ask for salvation from our shortcomings and defects of character (defects of character???). Admitting to others our wrongs? I'm sorry, did we kill and eat babies in some hunger lust? Try to eat a spouse during sleep? Steal slices of pizza meant for orphans?
Eight, nine and ten are ridiculous in this context. Make a list of people we harmed and make amends? I can see how some alcoholics may need to do this as they may have actually harmed others in a drunken stupor or rage. But fat people? Who did they harm? Too much cheese on that pizza send them into a gooey psychotic episode where lives were endangered? Was the garbage man injured on the job while collecting that enormous pile of pizza boxes stacked at the end of your driveway? Silliness. Finally, eleven and twelve return to the God thing and again, if you are not a believer in such things, well...
I did a little research (I cannot stress enough the word "little") and found out that the religious thing does play a large role in meetings with many members being quite militant in their beliefs about the 12 steps and how God is central to their success. This flies in the face of what OA itself proclaims on its website about not being a religious organization. Sure, they are not advocating a particular religion but you can't deny the Christian slant to everything they do. Some former participants reported the heavy handedness of religion and prayers ending each meeting which made them uncomfortable and they did not return. As an atheist, I know I couldn't sit there and listen to them talk about surrendering themselves to some imaginary being in the sky because they can't find the will power to make it happen on their own. A better approach might be to help people find that will power, to encourage them and teach them how to tear down their toxic relationship with food and rebuild that relationship in a healthy productive manner. Showing them that they aren't defective people with terrible shortcomings who need to apologize to others for being fat.
I don't know what kind of success rates an organization like this actually has. I've read that AA doesn't really have that great of a success rate either, I guess it depends who you ask. I'm still curious about OA and whether it might be of some benefit to me, but I have too many questions and concerns at this time. And from what I've read about it, I'm not sure I want to find out.