Food addiction help

By Heather Thompson

Do your holiday pounds last into the rest of the year? If so, you are not alone.

Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is a free program that helps people abstain from addictive eating habits such as over-eating, bingeing, purging, and under-eating. It helps members deal with a variety of problems such as obesity, bulimia, and anorexia through shared experiences and mutual support, with the goal of long-term recovery.

“Before coming into this program, food controlled my life,” said Susan, a Calgary FA member who preferred her real name not be used. “After working with this program for 20 months, I’m 78 pounds lighter, but the best part is that mentally I no longer beat myself up for being so weak.”

FA is found in communities across North America and Europe, with three chapters in Alberta. The Calgary chapter, founded in 1996, meets Mondays and Saturdays for an hour and a half. Their 12-step program follows the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous, and unlike most weight-loss groups, is not based on self-discipline, but rather on an understanding of weight management based on the physical, mental, and spiritual level. Although members do follow a strict diet plan, there are no weigh-ins, age restrictions or fees.

“FA has taken off like wildfire in other places, like Boston, California, and Germany, but unfortunately it’s not very well known here,” said Susan. “It’s a simple program that works beautifully. I found it highly successful, and I’ve tried many things.”

Members are matched up with sponsors, who are members themselves that have been abstinent for at least six months. Members talk to their sponsors for 15 minutes every day, in addition to attending meetings.

“It’s so supportive,” emphasized Susan. “In addition to talking to your sponsor every day, there is also the group support at the meetings.”

FA will have an open house in Calgary on Sat., Jan. 18, in the auditorium of the Peter Lougheed Hospital from 10 a.m. until noon. The open house will feature an information session and speeches from successful members from California.

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