An international organization that helps people overcome food addictions by employing techniques similar to Alcoholics Anonymous is coming to Bay Ridge next month to spread its message of healthy eating and self-acceptance.
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous Inc., a nonprofit group founded 30 years ago in the Boston area, will hold an informational meeting on April 28 at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 9511 Fourth Ave., from 1 to 3 p.m.
“We are a 12-step program for people who have trouble controlling the way they eat. Think of it as Alcoholics Anonymous, but for food,” said a Food Addicts (FA) member named Alyssa. “We want to get the word out that there is an answer for you if you are addicted to food.”
Meetings typically last for 90 minutes and include many of the same elements as an Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) session, including the recitation of the “Serenity Prayer” and the sharing of personal stories by members using their first names only.
Alyssa, who asked that her last name not be published, has been a member for six years. “People come to us after having tried other diets. That’s what happened to me. My whole life was spent on planning diets that were going to start Monday. I kept putting it off,” she told the Brooklyn Reporter.
Another FA member, Katrina, said she was in denial for a long time over her food addiction. “I didn’t even notice that I had a problem. My doctor noticed,” she said. “I was in denial a long time. I never realized how messed up my head was.”
Katrina, who also requested that her last name not be used, traced her troubles with food to nine years ago. Her workload on the job was suddenly reduced and she had difficulty coping.
Katrina thought her willpower would be enough to help her lose weight, but she found that not to be the case. “Food is just the symptom,” she said.
“It’s not about being a weak person,” Alyssa said.
Katrina recalled having an epiphany while taking a relative food shopping. “When we got to the cashier, I looked at her cart. It was filled with healthy foods. Mine was filled with junk food,” she said.
Katrina told her doctor she believed she was addicted to sugary treats. He told her that there were organizations that could help her. After conducting research online, she found FA.
Karina joined the group five years ago and has lost 80 pounds.
FA helps members by taking a holistic approach to losing weight, focusing on the physical, spiritual and mental aspects of body issues.
One of the first things new members are asked to do is give up food containing sugar or flour.
The idea is to clear out the sugary and floury foods so that the member can concentrate the mind and focus on why he or she is addicted to food. “Sugar and flour are like the first sip of alcohol for an alcoholic,” Alyssa said.
Giving up sugar and flour is an important part of the program, Katrina said. “It clears your brain so you can deal with the issues facing you,” she said.
“The first thing we address is the food itself. We talk about food as an addiction. We identify triggers,” Alyssa explained.
The end game is not to become a fashion model. ““The goal is to obtain the right size body for you,” Alyssa said.
For more information, visit www.foodaddicts.org.