For Family and Friends
If someone you love suffers because of food, there is help.
If you are reading this, you may have a family member or friend finding recovery in Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA). Or, perhaps, someone you care about is suffering as a result of their relationship to food and you wonder if FA can help.
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) is based on the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Unlike diet programs which rely on willpower and effort, FA addresses addiction and recovery is rooted in surrender. As a result, members find lasting freedom from cravings and maintain healthy weights for years and even decades.
FA members have found that we are addicted not only to foods made with flour and sugar, but to quantities of food as well. Many of us have been obese while others were underweight. Some of us maintained a healthy weight, but struggled constantly with obsession about our bodies. Without a program of recovery, we are unable to consistently make healthy choices about what we eat, regardless of the incredible willpower often evident in other areas of our lives.
For a basic understanding of food addiction and the program of Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA), and to read the experience of other family members with loved ones in FA, read the pamphlet To our Families and Friends. Here is a sample from that pamphlet:
We want to reassure you that although the beginnings may be difficult, in our experience, the result of the FA program can be a greater love and understanding of each other than was ever possible in the past. After a time, we thoroughly adjust to our new way of living. We participate in life fully and zestfully, enjoying birthday parties, meals out, holiday celebrations, vacations, and other special times with our family and friends. We come to value our families and loved ones more than ever before, and they tell us that they like the people we have become. If someone you love has just joined FA, we believe that there will be many wonderful times ahead for both of you!
What the husband of a food addict had to say about FA:
When I first met my wife, I was aware that she was overweight and unhappy about it. Only gradually did I come to understand what food addiction is and to recognize the often devastating effect it had on her and on us as a couple.
When during our early relationship she first got abstinent in FA, I began to see her lose weight and brighten considerably in terms of her moods and enthusiasm for life. This of course was pleasing to me.
Unfortunately, this period did not last. It was then that I began to see just how consuming and pervasive her disease of food addiction was. It adversely affected every corner of her life and a good deal of mine. She began to regain the lost weight, but this struck me as the lease of her concerns.
She became increasingly withdrawn, often focusing on some inner negativity. Occasionally, she tried to disguise this behind a rather transparent cheerful exterior, much in the way she hid her bingeing from me, only to be found out when I pulled discarded fast food containers and candy wrappers from beneath the car seats.
If I asked whether she was "eating," she would get defensive or angry and state that it was none of my business. However, the reactivation of her disease had considerable impact on me, personally. As a married couple, we were sharing financial accounts. Her spending on food and her need for new clothing to replace what she had outgrown, as well as her compulsive shopping (presumably to serve as a distraction from her discomfort), drained our accounts and built up a considerable credit card debt.
I never doubted that FA would be the means of salvation from the suffering caused by her disease of food addiction. Early on, I had attended a couple of meetings with her and had been sufficiently impressed by hearing the qualifications. I could plainly see that the Twelve Steps worked for people. But why wasn't it working for my wife? Being angry with her for seeming to fail proved irresistible. Occasionally, she would let on that she was frequently suicidal, information that I had no way of dealing with, especially given that I shared her perception that her situation grew more desperate day by day. Happy times were always overshadowed by a heavy emotional cloud due to her eating and my reaction to it.
When she got abstinent a few years ago, I held my breath. I hoped that a corner had been turned, and so it has. We have had a wonderful time during which we have rebuilt our relationship and paid off our debts. The pain of those early years is gradually receding in my memory, and I hope we will both remember that FA is the only solution. This is essential for her continued recovery and for our mutual confidence. One of my great teachers in life said, "Trust is the recognition of commitment in another." Though it was not always so, I can now say unequivocally and with much joy that I have complete trust in my wife.
For a deeper look, you can also read our book Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, or listen to the FA podcast.