does anyone know about OA-HOW?

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  • my sponsor is following OA-HOW and introduced me to the program yesterday. just wondered if anyone else out there knows about it, follows it or has any comments to make about it. it's very popular in northern VA and Minnesota.

    it's a very structured approach to OA but for me that's a good thing. I am not following it exactly...but would like more information if anyone would like to share.

  • Hey Lisa-

    My last sponsor came from HOW. I haven't been to a HOW meeting, so I only have second hand information. From what I understand it is very structured. Members are told what to eat, how much, and when. If you aren't abstinent, then you aren't allowed to talk at a meeting. If you mess up, your sponsor will drop you. It sounds like there is an element of punishment involved.

    That's about all that I know-- like I said, I have no first hand experience with it. Hope someone out there can share their own experience.
  • I believe that any HOW group that prevents nonabsinent members from speaking at groups is directly in violoations of OA bylaws and could lose their OA affiliation.

    I found the following on the website. it's an excerpt from this page

    Frequently Asked Questions...

    How Groups

    What is a HOW group?
    Some OA members and groups choose to work their programs through OA-HOW. It is considered a subgroup of OA by many, known for its adherence to food plans and its disciplined sponsor/sponsoree approach. Whereas the OA program offers only suggestions and allows for individual flexibility, the OA-HOW method usually provides a set structure to follow. Both programs practice the Twelve Steps for personal recovery, but the philosophy regarding abstinence is different

    What are the requirements for a HOW group?
    The requirements for a HOW group are the same as for an OA group. Members meet to practice the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. All who have a desire to stop eating compulsively are welcome in the group. No member is required to practice any actions in order to remain a member or to have a voice (share at a meeting). As a group, they have no affiliation other than OA. A group may be formed by two or more persons meeting together as set forth in Article IV, Section 1 of the OA Bylaws.

    Are HOW groups sanctioned by Overeaters Anonymous?
    Yes. HOW groups must follow the Twelve Traditions and adhere to the bylaws just as all OA groups. For more information, see Policy 1992a in the Business Conference Policy Manual in the World Service Business Conference Final Report

  • Lotta political crud in this area. Personally I went to a few OA meetings and there was really limited recovery. A friend who had been in lots of meetings in both asked me to go to a CEA-HOW meeting with her and something stuck. I do not think CEA-HOW is affiliated with OA, it is separate. The letters stand for "compulsive eaters anonymous- honest, open, willing". It is more structured than OA as there are food guidelines and more perhaps like AA in counting days of abstinence, and yes not being allowed to share until you have 30 days or after 7 days if your sponsor approves your share ahead. I can't say I agree with it all, but it saved my life. My "sponsor" (you can sponsor someone in terms of they call you with their food for the day and you take them thru the thirty days of questions which are based on Steps 1,2, & 3 after you yourself have 30 days and have done the questions and gone thru a little ceremony with your sponsor). I can only tell you my experience, and even though this lady (sponsor) is not fully on program, I call her with my food every morning and we talk about what is going on. "Giving" your food away takes all the guesswork out of the day. If I hit a snag in terms of logistics, I just fall back on the basic food plan and that gives me comfort. They also have a list of about 150 questions which constitute your 4th step. I have completed those, but need to find a sponsor who has completed step 4 in order to do a 5th. Not a "perfect" program, but I am not obscessing about food, I have not had anything outside my food plan in 250 days and I weigh alot less and know that recovery is possible. Just my 2 cents.
  • marny, kaplods & tommy...thanks for your input. as i mentioned, i am not following HOW exactly but certain tenants of the program are working for me. i am calling my sponsor every morning and committing my food to her. HOW requires you to be sugar-free. i am about 90% sugar-free. HOW requires your food plan to be created by a doctor or nutritionist. I am following the 2nd food plan in the Dignity of Choice booklet. HOW requires you to call your sponsor if you are making any changes to your food plan. i do not call before a change but i always tell my sponsor about changes i made throughout the day. i'm not convinced HOW is for me but i do like working with a HOW sponsor. i have not started the HOW writing/reading assignments but my sponsor has asked me to start writing my food history and purchase an OA 12 Step Workbook.

    if you had said this structure and adherence to program was the way I should go 6 weeks ago...i would have said you were crazy! but like many parts of OA, there is a great paradox in the freedom I feel when I plan ahead and commit my food to another person. i was afraid it would be way too controlling...but it is so freeing! once i have it on paper and say it out loud, i don't have to think about it again. i don't have to stand in front of the fridge and figure out what to eat...possibly setting myself up for a binge. i am so grateful that i found this group (both online & f2f). i know i have a long way to go...but unlike any other attempt to control my overeating...i am focused on the hope and not on the results. i see hope for healing and i see changes in myself that i have never experienced.
  • Lisa-

    That is awesome. The freedom is amazing! I'm proud of you for finding what works for YOU!
  • My future sister in law were about the same size (overweight) when I first met her almost two years ago. She's been on the OA HOW diet for almost 9 months now, I believe. It's incredibly strict but it's paying off for her. She's down to about 135-140lbs. She was over 200 when she got married in 2007. I started going to OA before her but I was really put off by the whole atmosphere. But seeing her results and the support she's gotten to help her continue, I'm considering giving it a second go-round.
  • Sometimes we are not "ready" the first time around and I would certainly give it another try,JayQue.

  • How-oa
    Although the original post on this is two years old, I wanted to respond (found through a good old google search).

    I've been in HOW-OA for only 20 days but I wanted to say that the program is amazing. It is strict and won't be for everyone, but if you need structure it could save your life. Participants do follow a very strict food plan, give up sugar and flour, follow the steps, read/write, make calls, go to meetings, all the regular OA "stuff". It feels more aligned with AA in that you are working towards abstinence, giving up those things that cause compulsive eating.

    If you slip your sponsor doesn't drop you, you just start at day-1 again. It's a different level of committment than OA. You also have to find a sponsor that fits what you need.

    Also HOW doesn't require your food to be created by doctor/nutritionist (maybe it used to?) It gives you a food plan to follow and this can be altered by a doctor/nutritionist if it needs to be.

    Since I found HOW, I have discovered other off-shoots of OA, you need to find what works for you.
  • this sounds like EXACTLY what i need. I can't be allowed too much freedom like choosing my own foods because I find myself saying "one bite won't hurt". I am definitely a food addict. I am going to check this out!
  • hello. i am wondering if anyone here might direct me to a HOW sponsor and/or online HOW meetings. i have been in OA for 3 months and am through step 2. i fully intend to work all of the steps and am committed to the program. unfortunately, in my area, there is only 1 HOW meeting and due to distance, i am unable to attend. most of the meetings i go to are anti-HOW, don't want to talk about food or "diets" or any sort of restriction due to a large amount of bulimics, anorexics, and generally people that are less than 20 pounds overweight. i know i need this structure to lose weight. i have about 70 pounds to lose and i know that it's not going to magically fall off by prayer and meditation. i do believe those things help and i do believe those things will help me stay abstinent and follow a food plan, but i believe i need the structured approach of HOW. if anyone would be willing to sponsor me and/or direct me to a sponsor, i would be incredibly appreciative.
  • this is an old post....
    But i would like to say that I have been on the oa/how program for 18 months. I have released 130 pounds.

    It is a program for people who need structure, but there is no punishment. The only punishment for slips is what you tell yourself.

    We are our own worst enemy and this program taught me how to love myself.

    I had a slip yesterday and my sponsor was more loving to me then I was to myself.

    the 90-day format of OA has speaking/sharing restrictions. You have to have 90 days of abstinence to speak/share at the meetings.

    If you have a problem finding OA/HOW meetings in your area you can contact me and i will see how I can help.

    This program gave me life, and my purpose is to spread the message
  • Thanks you Oaktie.....
  • OA-HOW saved my life
    Hi, I know this thread hasn't had posts in a while, but I just wanted to share that HOW saved my life. After attending traditional OA meetings and hearing about the "spiritual recovery" but not seeing any physical recovery I stumbled into a HOW meeting. The program is very structured and disciplined, but it is a program for those who have tried everything else. I need to call my sponsor for food changes, because for me two cups of veggies and two cups of ice cream are the same thing. I see no difference between them. Meal plans need to be put together by a doctor or nutritionist (or come out of the dignity of choice pamphlet) because we have tried to put our own things together all our lives and it didn't work. At my meeting there is no abstinence requirement for reading or pitching, but there is for being on the sponsor line. That is because we cannot give what we do not experience.

    I have been in the program for 7 months and no longer crave sugar. I don't obsess over food anymore. I am experiencing recovery on a threefold level; emotional, spiritual and physical. I haven't had wheat or sugar for 7 months. And I can feel my feelings without needing to eat myself into oblivion to escape them.

    The last thing I will say is something I read in the Big Book, but I can't remember the page. If you're not in the program then bad mouthing it is "contempt prior to investigation." I have experienced a variety of people in the program, some cant be controlling, but you can find that anywhere. Mostly I have experienced other compulsive eaters who are understanding and supportive.
  • Here is the HOW website: