About a year and a half ago, I saw a film on the RAVE diet which is a low fat vegan diet. The film was a bit sensational but I still believed that eating low fat vegan was healthier and might also help me lose the last twenty pounds that I have been trying to shed for nearly three years now. I halfheartedly tried to follow the diet. Doing this, I managed at least not to gain any weight and when I had my cholesterol checked last spring. My LDL was 105 with high HDL.
Last May, I did an enormous amount of research for an Honors Project at City College of San Francisco on the theory that a low fat vegan diet can not only prevent but also reverse heart disease. Although I searched for data that would refute this claim I found the only credible criticism was I could find was that the regimen was just too hard to follow. Having read all this research I was convinced, I was going to try this routine.
So I purchased a kindle version of Neal Barnard's 21 day plan. He advocates not counting calories but just to eat to satisfy hunger and don't eat any animal products or processed foods especially white flour and sugar. But telling a food addict to eat what she wants is like telling an alcoholic that it is OK to drink a beer or two occasionally.
Although the food cravings had diminished and I had a lost a few pounds over several weeks, I still occasionally overate compulsively. I was still occasionally using food the way I used to use drugs and alcohol. I decided to try attending Overeaters Anonymous meetings regularly. I had attended a few meetings in 2009, unfortunately, those meetings were run by a sub-group of OA that is more like a cult than a self-help group. These groups, which refer to themselves as OA-HOW or greysheeters, violate the the traditions of OA which are identical to those of Alcoholics Anonymous. Two of the cornerstones of AA are that the program is based on attraction rather than promotion and that AA unity is paramount. These HOW and greysheet people violate both these traditions by pouncing on newcomers and telling them that they must follow their strict food plan (no flour no sugar) that they must call their food plan in to their sponsors and that they must make five outreach calls per day. I knew this was not not for me so I tried Weight Watchers again, a program which had helped me lose most of my weight but for the fifteen or twenty pounds.
On July 25th, 2011, I found an OA meeting that was not HOW or greysheet. In fact, most of the other members had the same negative experience with HOW that I had had. Since that day, I have attended meetings every week and have maintained my abstinence. (I have a very complex set of rules that I have devised to define my own food abstinence, which I will detail in a future blog.) I am losing nearly two pounds a week and am confident I will reach my ideal weight soon.
Last Friday night, I made the mistake of attending an OA HOW meeting. The meeting was fine but after it was over, a woman, who by her appearance was a bit less successful maintaining her weight than I was, accosted me and informed me that I was obligated to follow their plan. I avoided a confrontation but firmly told her I had a plan that was working. She tried to tell me that I would need a medical clearance to follow any plan other than the standard HOW plan. I told her I wasn't going to do that and she made me feel that I was not welcome on that group.
In the few weeks since I have been an active OA member, I have read OA official literature exhaustively. OA does not endorse any particular food plan. Still, all the suggested food plans advocate eating meat and dairy products. So the thought occurred to me that if these wacko HOW people can have a sub-group of OA so can we vegans. So I decided to start my own sub-group of Overeaters Anonymous and bought the URL OAvegans.org. I have not done much but put up a single web page but every journey starts with one small step.