In CEA-HOW members recover on three levels: Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual. On a physical level we find relief from the craving for sugar and carbohydrates and we achieve a healthy body weight. On an emotional level we find relief from the mental obsession with food and the feelings of deprivation that dieting usually brings up. On a spiritual level we come to have faith in and dependence upon a Power greater than ourselves. As we work through the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions of CEA-HOW, we find peace and serenity and a design for living that is no longer controlled by food.
Members of CEA HOW come from all walks of life and from all over the world. We include compulsive overeaters, food addicts, anorexics and bulimics, to name a few. Some of us had hundreds of pounds to lose, and some just a few. Others needed to gain weight. Some of us had surgery, lost the weight, and were in the process of gaining it again. Some of us were just obsessed with food. No matter what our reason for coming in the door, we all came to realize that we were powerless over food. It controlled us and made our lives unmanageable.
Compulsive eating takes many forms. A compulsive eater may overeat, undereat (anorexia), binge eat (binge eating disorder), binge and purge (bulimia), eat all day long, or exercise compulsively to maintain his/her weight.
CEA-H.O.W. is a fellowship of men and women who are recovering from compulsive eating. Founded upon the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous' Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, CEA-HOW is a 12-Step program for people who cannot control their eating. We come together to share our experience, strength, and hope with one another so that we can solve our common problem and help each other to recover from compulsive eating.
- Losing weight over and over (Yo-yo dieting), often gaining back "just a little more" every time.
- Eating normally in public and bingeing in private while under the delusion that people won't know that we overeat.
- Hiding evidence of our compulsive eating from those around us.
- Eating a handful of chips or candy, and then another and another until the entire bag is gone.
- Sitting in front of the television with a half gallon of ice cream.
- Eating sweets even though we are diabetic or pre-diabetic.
- Eating foods high in fat despite having high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, or other serious medical conditions we know are worsened by the way we eat.
- Stopping at one or more fast food restaurants on the way home to eat dinner.
- Pretending to order for more than one person at the drive through.
- Driving across town in the middle of the night to get a favorite binge food.
- Eating leftovers from other people' plates (our kids, spouse, guests).
Thinking "Why bother?" when offered any of the following portions of food:
- Pizza by the slice - a large pizza is more like it.
- A serving (1/2 cup) of ice cream - a serving is at least a bowl full.
- A cookie - we want the whole bag.
- A piece of cake - we'll eat the leftovers when everybody leaves.
- A bite sized piece of candy - we'll start with a handful of pieces and go from there.
- Wanting to be thin while continuing to eat foods high in calories and low in nutritional value.
- Believing that life will be better once the weight is gone.
- Thinking about food immediately after finishing a meal.
- Saying “I’m not a compulsive eater. I just can’t lose weight.”
As compulsive eaters we obsess about food, we go to any length to get it, and once we start eating, we can't stop. Then we hate ourselves for doing it and swear to never let it happen again, only to start again, perhaps the very next day.
Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness.
- Honest with ourselves and with others.
- Open-minded to spiritual matters and to the ideas and concepts of the program.
- Willing to believe in a Power greater than ourselves.
- Willing to go to any length to recover from compulsive eating.
We have a food plan - a plan that allows us to attain a health body weight, maintain it over time, and stop our mental obsession with food.
A diet is a temporary way of eating that we endure in order to lose weight. Once we have achieved our goal, we go back to our old habits and return to our original weight. A food plan, on the other hand, is a permanent part of our way of life. Whether we are in the process of losing, gaining, or maintaining our weight, we consider the food plan as only one of several tools that we use in working the CEA HOW Twelve Step Program.
The CEA HOW food plan, "Forever Abstinent", is designed for people who have what we think of as an allergy to carbohydrates. Therefore, we abstain from all sugars, flour, and refined starches, as well as alcoholic beverages, sweets of any kind, nuts, and fried foods. We weigh and measure our food, and we eat three meals a day with nothing in between except for sugar free gum and zero calorie beverages.
“Oh, I can’t do that! I don’t have that kind of willpower” you might say. We said the same thing. We don’t have the willpower either. But by consistently using the Seven Tools of CEA HOW, we were able to do it, and we continue to do it one day at a time.
- Following the food plan as written
- Eating only those foods that are on the food plan
- Not eating between meals
Structure and discipline. The CEA HOW Concept states: "The CEA-H.O.W. plan of eating, steps, traditions, and tools of recovery are not suggested. Rather, we accept them as requirements for our recovery." Accordingly, we are rigorous in our adherence to the food plan. We use the tools of the program on a daily basis. We communicate daily with with our sponsors, committing to a plan of eating and answering questions designed to take us through the 12 steps of the CEA-HOW program and continue in our recovery.
We find this structure is what works for us. By using all of the tools of the CEA HOW program on a regular basis, we are able to stay focused on recovery and out of the food.