Author: Anonymous

One of the first phrases I heard when I started coming to meetings back in the late 1980s was “a grateful heart doesn’t eat.” And I thought that was odd. How did gratitude factor into compulsive overeating? What did gratitude have to do with anything really?
And yet the longer I am abstinent, the more conscious I am of gratitude and the importance of gratitude in my program. One time many years ago I was lamenting to another OAer that often I do not pray throughout the day. That I felt disconnected to God except when I was at a meeting or on my knees morning and night. And this person said to me “whenever you practice gratitude or thank God for something in your day, that is a form of prayer.” I loved it! So, I was “connecting” with God without even knowing it!

In the beginning of my abstinence, I relied on that “a grateful heart doesn’t eat” so I said “thank you God” for everything …and when something negative was happening I thanked God for that too! I would just turn it around to gratitude! A food thought would become, “thank you God that’s not my food” or “thank you God for reminding me that I am a food addict.” Late for work? “Thank you God I have a job!” Or a challenging colleague became “thank you God for this colleague and for teaching me patience.” Gratitude became this amazing paradigm shift and got me through that first year or two when I was so raw and so filled with food thoughts and was one big, exposed nerve.
As I continued in my abstinence and it got easier and easier to keep the food down, I stopped practicing gratitude as much. It is amazing how such a well-honed “skill” could become a tool I stopped using. And as with all things, practice makes perfect.
Lately, I have noticed that I have been saying “thank you God” and my phone calls have been more gratitude based and less complaint based. I am not sure what caused this change, but it feels SO GOOD!

I think that the more I work the Steps the more aware I am of how truly powerless I am over people, places, and things (the food!) and how reliant I am on God and His grace. Perhaps some would say it is maturity or getting older; but I believe it is humility. The longer I am abstinent, the more conscious I am of what a gift my abstinence is. I realize more and more how precious this gift of abstinence is and how truly blessed I am to have it. The longer I go along in life the more I realize there are so many health issues and life issues that do not affect me simply because I am abstinent. Because I weigh and measure my food and abstain from sugar and flour, I do not have high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties. And what about the obsession, compulsion, near stalking behavior I had in the food – trying to get enough of the food, find the food, sneak the food all without you knowing or seeing! And the money I spent on food! And the behavior when I was in the food – the rage, the resentment, the jealousy, the fear, the self-focus!

I am so grateful to be abstinent and to be living the OA 12 Steps of Recovery. I heard someone say recently at a meeting, “the tools provide me relief; the Steps transform me.” Gratitude is part of that transformation happening to me. When it stopped being a practice and began to be a way of life.