Where Can I Find A Free Overeating Support Group?

In a post about my crazy diet history, I mentioned going to an eating disorders support group. That prompted commenter Kate to ask:

I’m so intrigued by this eating disorder support group. Where did you find yours and how can I?

A therapist recommended my support group to me. But there are lots of places to look for free (or cheap) support no matter where you live. Start here:

1. National Eating Disorders Assocation
NEDA has a hotline that’s open to calls M-F 8:30-4:30 PST where you can get info, therapist referrals and help tracking down support meetings in your area: 800-931-2237

2. Binge Eating Disorder Association
Although BEDA doesn’t host it’s own support groups, the site has a (growing) list of groups and meetings such as “A Weigh Out” in Millersville, Maryland and a nice listing of other support sites like SomethingFishy.org.

3. Eating Disorders Anonymous
This 12-step based group (think alcoholics anonymous style) has meetings in 32 states, plus all-volunteer (as in no therapists) hotlines and phone meetings that you can call into no matter where you live.

4. Overeaters Anonymous
Another 12-step group, but this one has meetings and chapters in all 50 stats and internationally, as well as phone and online meetings if you don’t have a group in your town (or if a face-to-face meeting is a little intimidating at first).

5. Campus Psychological or Health Services
College students often have free–or super-discounted–access to group meetings or therapy sessions to part- and full-time students. (I know my alma mater had them! And I took advantage.)

6. EDReferral.com
This site has a huge listing of free meetings in 35 states and Canada, plus referrals to therapists.

Whew. I hope these resources will help Kate and others find the same kind of healing, acceptance and guidance I’ve found in the support group I’m lucky enough to attend. Please feel free to add any sites, hotlines or other resources you guys know about!

xo…Sunny
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Related links:
4 Books That Will Help You Get Sane About Food (And Get To A Healthy Weight)

25 Responses to Where Can I Find A Free Overeating Support Group?

  1. […] like on the outside, and that freedom allowed me to stop hating myself and start getting better. (Therapy helped, as […]

  2. […] out some books, support groups and other resources to help you along in your recovery. And feel free to share other ideas for […]

  3. Kate says:

    What do you do if there are no support groups where you live? There is OA where I am, but I’m not sure how I feel about attending their meetings (I attending meetings for years on Weight Watchers and by the time I quiet I was seriously ready to hurt someone).

    I really just want a group where I don’t feel alone, but don’t feel pressured to follow a “program.”

    • Kelly says:

      Have you ever thought about starting a group where you live? I have “opened” a couple of Eating Disorders Anonymous groups in Minnesota. I opened them because when I was inpatient in Arizona for my ED treatment, I was required to go to meetings and it was such a help to me that I knew I had to start a meeting once I got back. That was 3 yrs ago. Support groups are a great support! Go to EDA at http://www.eatingdisordersanonymous.org to read up on what EDA is all about. Balance, not abstience is the “saying”. It’s a very well balanced 12 step support group. Check them out:)

    • Song says:

      I too am looking for a support group. Me for compulsive eating. I find O.A. Too rigid for me. But wanting help and support from others who are struggling with these issues. Would like grass roots free or inexpensive phone meetings to talk and share. Be able to reach out to members inbetween meetings via phone calls to help get thru the rough, temptation , or post binge times. Somehow I believe this is possible….. What do you think?
      Song

  4. […] and heal their insides, their outsides start to match! In the meantime, I’d suggest you check out support groups in your area and, if you haven’t already, pick up a book or two to help you move forward in your recovery. […]

  5. […] really tackle the bingeing. To do that, I started going to weekly binge-eating support meetings (here’s how to find a support group of your own) and even did a little bit of cognitive behavorial therapy, an active type of therapy […]

    • FRIMET says:

      I EAT WHEN I HAVE NOTHING TO DO, OR RATHER DONT FEEL LIKE DOING ANYTHING BESIDES-EAT. I HATE THE WAY I LOOK. PEOPLE ARE COMMENTING ON MY PUFFY FACE…HELP

  6. […] remember a few year ago, after I started going to support group meetings and really focusing on recovery, my boss complimented me on juggling a newly increased and […]

  7. […] the Hungry Heart” by Geneen Roth–and continued it through psychotherapy and binge eating support groups while I went through college, moved to NYC and started my career nine years ago as an assistant […]

  8. […] telling about this issue—and in the meantime, why don’t you check out some info on books, support groups and therapy and inspirational stories that might help you […]

  9. […] routine?), using a food and hunger journal (not everyone finds them helpful, but I did), and support groups (have you ever tried a face-to-face support group? They’re truly kind of amazing. I went to […]

  10. Heather says:

    I think you need to be careful with certain groups, as some have a very strong religious base. This may be a plus for some, but for me this wouldn’t be right. I am very strongly of the view that recovery has to be by you, for you and you alone. Religion doesn’t factor.

  11. […] suggest you check out support groups in your area and, if you haven’t already, pick up a book or two to help you move forward in your […]

  12. […] us) has been to search for any and all of that in food. Speaking of support, have you ever tried a group? I know you’ve been part of this HealthyGirl.org group online for a long time, and […]

  13. […] helped me immensely. And what helped me get rid of that secrecy and shame most was going to a support group filled with other women who had eating issues. Now, please share with Georgie, and with me: […]

  14. […] was about 32 months ago, when I was a few months shy of age 40. I immediately started going to support group meetings and therapy. Later, I entered the amazing blog community of the eating […]

  15. […] how about reading a new book about your relationship food? Or finding an outpatient therapist? Or support group? Let me know what you decide, OK? As long as you take a step, any step, you’ll be headed in […]

  16. Andrea says:

    I weigh 300 lbs.i gained 80 of it after loosing my apt and from depression meds in less than 8 months. I do realize i have made chocolate a food group. I also have really broken teeth so i have trouble eating a lot of different types of food. Can you help me figure out what to do. I dont work so i would need something that doesnt cost or require health benefits. What should i do…i need help. Thank you!

    • Ali says:

      I hear you on chocolate becoming a food group. I have been there (for 3 decades), and easily return if I do not eat enough normal, reasonably nutritious, ample meal foods (as opposed to sugar-sweetened dessert foods, such as chocolate, soda, cake, ice cream, cookies, candy, pie, etc.)

      Chocolate provides three main things that dieters (under-eaters) crave: calories, simple sugar (fastest source of calories to the blood stream), and fat.

      We crave sugar, fats, and calories when we diet/under-eat to try to lose weight, or otherwise skip or under-eat meals.

      The solution is to stay filled up on normal (non-dieting), heart-healthy meal foods at consistent meals & snacks throughout the day. Try eating 6 meals a day (not “small” meals, but eating the meal until you feel full and no longer feel like picking up the fork each time.) Eat these 3 meals and 3 snacks 3 hours apart, my nutritionist says, (i.e. 6 am, 9 am, noon, 3 pm, 6 pm, 9 pm.) Eat a combination of starches (mostly whole grains, and starchy vegs with skins left on, such as potato skins left on); lean proteins (poultry, fish, beans, tofu, soymilk, granola) and heart-healthy fats (nuts, nut butters, full-fat soymilk, granola, plenty of avocado, olives and olive oil) at each meal.
      Every meal or snack should have starches, protein, fats, and either a fruit or veg. A good model for this is a closed face sandwich with a protein & fat filling, served with fruit or a veg. Another model is a bowl of cereal with nuts & full-fat soymilk (or nonfat milk, to avoid saturated fats.)

      Eating this way 6 times a day will keep you filled up on nutritious, balanced meals, and dramatically reduce the dieting-induced cravings for chocolate, I promise. (Women love chocolate primarily because so many women severely restrict our eating, then binge.) So don’t blame yourself for your weight or your chocolate cravings: you probably have been trying to follow the horrible advice doctors dish out to lose weight and to do so with dieting and exercising. Exercise is important, but we need to eat more, not less, to ensure we aren’t undereating when exercising regularly.

      Here’s how I apply this:

      Breakfast:
      4 slices whole wheat bread
      2-3T peanut butter
      jelly if desired
      fruit & juice smoothie

      Or:
      Granola, then a bowl of bran cereal
      calcium-fortified full-fat soymilk
      fruit & juice smoothie (calcium-fortified oj)

      Snack:
      Nut muffins
      veg (carrot, celery, jicama, snap peas, etc.)

      Lunch & snack (1 sandwich at lunch, 1 at snack):
      4 slices whole grain bread or sourdough
      1 can tuna
      2 T mayo
      lemon juice
      minced parsley & celery

      Dinner:
      Fish or chicken
      2 medium to large potatoes (have a vegetable source of starches daily)
      salad or green veg

      Snack:
      ready-to-eat cereal or cooked oat bran (1/2 c. oat bran, 1 c. water, stirred in pan for 2 minutes – yum!!!)
      raisins
      soymilk
      almonds

      Believe me, eating this way is very filling, super healthy, and with all of the starches, fruit, and fat in the meals & snacks, chocolate cravings diminish dramatically.
      Best wishes, and I hope you can get help for your teeth soon and have the smile you deserve. And I know it’s hard being plus-sized, but all of us very plus-sized women need to start noticing things we like and love about our bodies, and not let anyone tell us we aren’t beautiful at the size we are:)

  17. […] my college psychological services center, then a little more therapy, then eventually another, big support group in my late 20s. I wanted to be sane and all better instantly, but it doesn’t always work like […]

  18. […] any of you who are where I was: If you keep stepping forward, keep seeking help, reading, getting support, and moving forward with healing, you can be normal about […]

  19. […] can be tough, and it can take a years for some of us, but if you keep going, keep seeking help and trying new steps toward recovery, you can be free of bingeing and food obsession. Did Nina’s story bring […]

  20. […] step you’ve never taken before. Try something new for your recover, whether it’s books, support groups, inpatient eating disorder treatment, or therapy. Your mom, as much as she loves you, can’t […]

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Sunny Sea Gold

About the Author

Sunny Sea Gold is a media-savvy advocate and commentator specializing in binge eating disorder, cultural obsessions around food and weight, and raising children who have a healthy body image.