Overeaters Anonymous has proudly declared a new chapter in the Baltimore area where residents can seek solace and information to help them combat a wide variety of eating disorders (that are not just limited to overeating). There are absolutely no fees for being a member of Overeaters Anonymous, and the meetings are held in many different locations throughout the city. This program marks the latest addition to Baltimore growing arsenal of programs designed to combat eating disorders.
As their website (http://oabaltimore.org/) points out, members of Overeaters Anonymous come in all shapes and sizes, from dangerously obese to extremely underweight, and everything in between. Although the weight of members is easily visible, what is not so easily discernable is the amount of control over their eating behaviors. Sometimes these problems arise from starvation diets, while other times binge eating is to blame. Some members may abuse laxatives to gain weight, but nearly all members of Overeaters Anonymous share one thing in common – they each tend to have an obsession over the size and shape of their body that interferes greatly in their day-to-day living in some way or another, and they want to do something about it.
Just as their individual symptoms often share an overlapping origin, a similarly common practice unites the members of Overeaters Anonymous and greatly helps them to overcome their eating disorders. Overeaters Anonymous offers a 12-step program that is designed to give members the tools necessary to confront their disorder head-on, and to empower themselves to adopt healthier eating habits.
After admitting that food has made their lives unmanageable, members can adopt a higher power that can influence them to “restore us to sanity” (note: Overeaters Anonymous does not promote any single religion or moral belief system, so this higher power could be a family member or even a personal goal). After identifying the power, the members must turn themselves over to that power’s guidance so that they may eventually join them.
After a few sessions, members are then asked to make a list of the all the people who have been personally harmed from their eating disorder, and to seek a resolution with them in a way that matters. This helps members reflect on their behavior and see how others are impacted by their unhealthy decisions.
Overeaters Anonymous has worked for many, but for those who are willing to pay for treatment, the John Hopkins Eating Disorders Program is has an expansive array of evaluations, treatments, and inpatient, outpatient, and hospital day visits to take care of members.
Instead of a 12-step program, the John Hopkins program offers psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, job therapists, nutritionists, and other specialists to personally consult with you on a wide variety of weight issues. Gastroenterology specialists, allergists, internal medicine workers, neurologists, and other medical specialists integrate to form a multi-faceted approach to solving the patient’s eating disorder and restoring a healthy quality of life. According to their website, “our primary goals are to restore the functional capacity, to normalize the eating patterns, and to improve the quality of life of our patients”.
According to the Centers for Disease Research and Control (CDC), eating disorders such as “obesity is a serious public health issue in Baltimore City that not only impacts overall quality of life, but is also linked to serious health conditions”. These conditions can include cardiovascular complications, blood pressure problems and diabetic developments. Improving physical activity levels and consuming more fruits and vegetables are just two ways the CDC suggests conquering most types of weight disorders.
Between 25-30% of adult Marylanders consider themselves obese, according to a 2014 study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), but help exists for those who wish to regain a healthy body image at the John Hopkins Center and at Overeaters Anonymous.