For The Health Care Professional
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) provides free help for patients struggling with food issues
Do you have patients who have medical conditions that are related to weight, distorted body image, or unhealthy behaviors with food? FA can be a resource for you and your patients.
Meetings are offered every day of the week: over the phone, over zoom, and in person.
WHAT IS FA?
Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous (FA) is an international recovery program based on the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). We offer a solution to many whose behaviors in relation to food and body image can be understood as addiction.
WHAT WE MEAN BY FOOD ADDICTION
Food addicts have a relationship with food that parallels an alcoholic's relationship with alcohol. No amount of willpower can lead the food addict to normal eating or sane attitudes about food or body size.
Food addiction can manifest as follows:
- Obsession with food, weight, or body image
- Overeating or obesity
- Compulsive exercise or dieting
HOW FA WORKS
FA is distinctive because it focuses on addiction. Neither a diet program nor a religious group, FA understands addiction as a physical, mental, and spiritual disease. FA addresses these three dimensions with
- abstinence from flour and sugar, with measured portions of protein, vegetables, grains, fat, and fruit to help reduce cravings;
- daily help from a sponsor and fellow members;
- ongoing support in working the Twelve Steps of AA as adapted for food addiction.
We charge no dues or fees, and our meetings include no weigh-ins. We are not a medical group. We recommend that individuals considering the FA program consult with their health care providers
Survey Respondents Reporting Health Improvements
- 98% of members who had a mental health issue reported improvement (n=3862)
- 94% of members who had type 2 diabetes reported improvement (n=630)
- 93% of members who had prediabetes reported improvement (n=1062)
- 92% of members who had cardiovascular issues reported improvement (n=2917)
- 90% of members who had respiratory issues reported improvement (n=1513)
- 91% of members who had gastrointestinal issues reported improvement (n=2593)
- 88% of members who had foot problems reported improvement (n=949)
- 88% of members who had musculoskeletal issues reported improvement (n=3230)
- 82% of members who had headaches or migraines reported improvement (n=1339)
- 82% of members who had sleep issues reported improvement (n=2978)
- 63% of members who had urological issues reported improvement (n=1222)
BENEFITS OF FA
Long-term recovery has freed members from addictive behaviors and mental obsession with food, body image, and exercise. Many of our members have maintained normal weights and healthy ways of eating for over 30 years. Through daily use of the FA tools, we have also experienced more fulfilling relationships, better stress management skills, and increased personal effectiveness.
In 2016, 4,238 of FA's estimated 6,000 members completed a self-reported survey:
Improvements in weight management
- Of those needing to lose weight,
- 81% reported loss of over 20 lb / 9 kg
- 49% reported loss of over 50 lb / 23 kg
- 15% reported loss of over 100 lb / 45 kg
- Of those at goal weight,
- 83% had maintained it for over 1 year
- 64% had maintained it for over 3 years
Improvements in physical health
- Cardiovascular (92%)
- Gastrointestinal (91%)
- Musculoskeletal (88%)
- Of members who had type 2 diabetes,
- 94% reported improvement
- 40% reported their diabetes symptoms resolved
Improvements in mental health
- Reduced anxiety (95%)
- Reduced depression (93%)
- Improved stress management (87%)
TALKING TO YOUR PATIENTS ABOUT FA
- Keep in mind that denial is a hallmark of addiction. Few of us realized right away that the concept of food addiction might apply to us.
- Begin with a few simple questions like the ones below.
- Mention that you know a program that has demonstrated long-term success, and that it is free.
- Describe FA as a place where patients can find others who understand their experience.
- Guide them to the FA website, www.foodaddicts.org, where there is a list of meetings and more information.
- Encourage them to attend a meeting. If there are no local meetings, your patients can get help by calling (781) 932-6300.
- Suggest a follow-up appointment in one to three months.
"In my view, undeniably, food addiction is real. I see it every day. I refer all my patients to FA. I explain, 'Right now, you have a relationship with food that is taking you down a road you don't want to take. These people can help you.' FA seems to me to be a perfect solution. It works. No question about it."
- Carl Lowe, Jr., M.D., American College of Surgeons, Fellow. American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. Dr. Lowe has no financial or professional affiliation with FA.
QUESTIONS FOR YOUR PATIENTS
- Have you ever wanted to stop eating and found you just couldn't?
- Do you constantly think about food or your weight?
- Do you find yourself attempting one diet or food plan after another, with no lasting success?
- Do you binge and then "get rid of the binge" through vomiting, exercise, laxatives, or other forms of purging?
- Do you eat differently in private than you do in front of other people?
- Has a doctor or a family member ever approached you with concern about your eating habits or weight?
- Do you eat large quantities of food at one time (binge)?
- Is your weight problem due to your "nibbling" all day long?
- Do you eat to escape from your feelings?
- Do you eat when you're not hungry?
- Have you ever discarded food, only to retrieve and eat it later?
- Do you eat in secret?
- Do you fast or severely restrict your food intake?
- Have you ever stolen other people's food?
- Have you ever hidden food to make sure you will have "enough"?
- Do you feel driven to exercise excessively to control your weight?
- Do you obsessively calculate the calories you've burned against the calories you've eaten?
- Do you frequently feel guilty or ashamed about what you've eaten?
- Are you waiting for your life to begin "when you lose the weight"?
- Do you feel hopeless about your relationship with food?
Would you like more information?
We would be happy to answer any of your questions or to speak with your staff, clients, or patients. We can arrange a presentation for you and your colleagues, and can send you the book Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous, as well as brochures for your patients and colleagues. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (781) 932 6300.