Holidays are difficult for those battling addiction to food

By Kimberly Holmes – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19)  - What's the holidays without food? Dressing, pies and cookies are all tasty and tempting. For many, too tempting. Thousands of people are addicted to food and this is the hardest time of year for them.

The National Institutes of Health said the average person consumes tons of goodies and gains about a pound during the Holidays, but for compulsive eaters, the problem sticks around much longer. Fortunately, there are now 12 steps that can help.

Tony asked us not to reveal his full name. The Tri-State resident said holidays were horrible. Tony said as a child, family gatherings focused on food.

"People would not only celebrate around holiday times with extra food," Tony said. "But really any other time outside of that."

He tells us he's addicted to food; especially pizza.

"People talk about not being able to stop after just one," Tony said. "I can guarantee you that in my case. One piece of pizza was not enough. Two was not enough. The whole large size, family size was not enough."

That all changed September 29, 1993, after Tony joined Overeaters Anonymous or OA. He said he hasn't had a slice of pizza in 16 years. The on-going struggle has not only changed Tony's outlook on life, but his outlook on the holidays, as well.

"Instead of looking at or being focused on the food," said Tony. "I'm looking at the people and the relationships I have."

Connie knows that sentiment well. She also asked us not to reveal her identity.

"I'd get a flat tire and I'd binge," Connie said. "I'd lose my keys and I'd freak out. It seemed like my tolerance for discomfort shortened and I always answered the discomfort with food."

Connie said over the years, she gained 10 lbs. She said to make sure she didn't gain more weight, she'd exercise for nearly four hours every day. Connie said she was always injured and always angry. Connie said her sister first told her about OA, but Connie said it took a relative's death to make her realize how much she wanted to live.

"I thought that's great for you, {but not for me,}" said Connie. "I saw that I had to take care of this. I saw that it could kill me like it killed my relative."

Tony said he received the courage to call OA after a similar experience.

"My father dealt with addictions in his life and he passed away at an early age," Tony said. "I'm within five years of that age now. I think had he found something to deal with his problem, what I think his problem was, I think he'd still be here today."

Fortunately, both Tony and Connie found help. Tony has been involved with OA for 16 years. Connie has been a member and a mentor for a decade. Both now work on long-term solutions to what's eating at others so they'll stop obsessing over what they eat.

"There's a lot of things that people have to deal with daily and it won't stop simply because we've lost weight," said Connie.

Members of OA range from the morbidly obese to the anorexic. OA members work together to recover from compulsive eating. Participants work through the 12-step program with a sponsor. Weekly meetings offer group support and welcome anyone who might be in need of help. OA also offers podcasts, a magazine, online and phone meetings, literature, and email sponsors to keep members on track with their program.

OA members maintain anonymity, which enables the group to offer unconditional acceptance and support for all. There are more than 6,500 meeting groups in approximately 75 countries. It is not a religious organization and does not promote any particular diet.

If you'd like some help, you can call the Cincinnati OA hotline: 513-921-1922.

For local meeting times and more information, log on to:

Or email the group at

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