In the beginning, in 1989 I went to meetings in NYC at least 4 times a week, but after years of struggle, including going through a lot of deaths in the family, I finally lost it completely, and learned that I had to surrender ALL THE PARTS OF MYSELF to this program. In 1998 after 1 year of back to back abstinence I married and moved here to Washington State where there are NO meetings really. So all those meetings I went to and LISTENED AND LISTENED AND LISTENED are still with me today. I have all those tapes too and listen to them frequently.

What Do I Do to Stay Abstinent?

  1. In the very beginning, I went to a greysheet meeting every day. Today 3-4 years later, I go to no less than 3-4 greysheet meetings a week. I do not substitute AA meetings for GreySheet, as I live in a city where GreySheet is in abundance. I seldom substitute phone meetings for live meetings.
  2. I go to therapy and Al-Anon 4 days a week as I ate because I hurt so much and need healing on an emotional level.
  3. I have belonged to a Buddhist group for the last 14 years so that is where I get my spirituality from and my prayer and meditation.
  4. I do lots of service in the GSA community. I help the next compulsive overeater.
  6. I keep an open mind.
  7. I study the Big Book especially the Doctor's Opinion and More About Alcoholism; for today, I don't eat no matter what.

Move a Muscle, Change a Thought

For me what has really worked throughout my abstinence is "Move a muscle, change a thought."  Whenever I want to eat, I first get out of the kitchen and away from the food. Then, as I do with my young children, I distract myself.  I do anything to forget that I am "hungry." I put my blinders on and I say "I'm not going to eat no matter what...not an option," so what else can I do for the next hour or so until it's lunchtime? Even making a cup of tea can be distracting and physically filling.

What Do I Do to Stay Abstinent?

In the beginning of my abstinence I did exactly what was suggested to do:
  1. Get on my knees each morning and ask for help to not take the first bite.
  2. Go to a meeting.
  3. Make 3 calls a day.
  4. Don't Eat No Matter What.
  5. Get on my knees every night and thank my HP for a daily reprieve from compulsive overeating.

What Do I Do to Stay Abstinent?

  1. Have a CD player in my kitchen where I prepare my food. I am then able to play my most favorite music (women singers, Celtic, bluegrass, new age, YoYo Ma) while I'm chopping, weighing and measuring. It makes the experience very pleasurable, and for me, who used to eat whole meals whilst I was preparing food (and then sit down and eat whole meals!) it just seems to keep me focused on taking care of myself and Not Eating No Matter What!  No Extra Bites during preparation. But I can listen to all the great music I want!
  2. For me is that abstinence is a promise. Food was destroying my life in many ways and I decided I wanted to live!  I also am a person who keeps promises, I guess from my earlier Girl Scout days. The words of an old Girl scout song was as I remember it:  "Whenever you make a promise, consider well its importance, but once you have made it, engrave it upon your heart." That's how I feel about following GreySheet, a promise made to myself, and when I commit my food to my sponsor, that's a promise I made to her! This thought has helped me for the past 5 years.
  3. I am organized today. I bring my breakfast and lunch to work. Bought a little scale, T spoon and 1 cup measuring cup in a little bag to bring with me every day.
  4. I have phone numbers to call and e-mail contacts. I made phone & email lists in Excel, printed a bunch of copies, and have them everywhere so I can find the info I need at a touch.
  5. I listen to my sponsor and do what she tells me.

What Do I Do to Stay Abstinent?

  1. Write a gratitude list daily.
  2. Drink 12+ glasses of water a day.

What Do I Do to Stay Abstinent?

  1. Being totally desperate and willing to do whatever a qualified abstinent person said to do to get relief.
  2. Not waiting until I had self-esteem, faith, loved myself, or found a loving and kind sponsor that I bonded with.
  3. Following directions even when they were illogical, inconvenient, or expensive or given to me by someone I didn't admire.
  4. Making three GS connections a day (this is where graduate student poverty forced me to invent the GreyNet to avoid long distance phone calls from Kalamazoo, MI. Desperation to be abstinent may be the mother of invention.)
  5. Driving three hours to Chicago or two hours to Ann Arbor to GS meetings even though I was too busy with studying or too broke to buy the gas
  6. Starting a GS meeting in Kalamazoo even though it was often just me, copies of the GS, and my Big Book for weeks on end
  7. Working with newcomers after I had 90 days even though scores and scores (maybe even hundreds and hundreds!) never came back
  8. Going to the NYC Round Up, the Cambridge Marathons, and the Chicago Retreat (those were the only GS gatherings in my early years - now there are many to choose from) (again, despite being much too busy, much too afraid of financial insecurity, and terrified of GS people I didn't know)
  9. Listening to GS tapes in the car, as I walked around campus, and when preparing and eating my GS abstinent food, i.e., whenever I wasn't studying or in class
  10. Promising myself that I would eat tomorrow but since I had committed my food that morning, I would be abstinent today
  11. Chewing pack after pack of sugar free gum (that lasted a year) and drinking gallons and gallons of diet soda (that lasted years) whenever I wanted to eat
  12. Calling my sponsor on time everyday, calling in food changes, and calling with GS questions or dilemmas
  13. Throwing out all non GS foods and stocking up on emergency GS supplies
  14. Going to the grocery store to make sure I had the food I committed
  15. Going to AA meetings everyday in the absence of GS meetings even though I didn't think I was an alcoholic
  16. Eating huge meals
  17. Trying everything vegan on the greysheet at least once and constantly expanding my soy choices
  18. Napping after my meals to get through the tragedy of 4 ounces.

Things I Do with Free Time

Hi, I'm [Anonymous], a Co, and I W&M 3 meals a day from the GS, DENMW in between, write my food down, commit it to my wonderful sponsor, and Abstinence is the MOst important thing in my life today, because without it I don't have a life. I was really touched by the person who said she had time on her hands didn't know what to do with it and not eat. I still have those times, I'm a stay-at-home mom and although that gives me plenty to do, I still find those times when my soul is bored and my mind is stretched, and the food begins to call to me. Here are some of the things I do instead of eating:

  • First, I call other GSers.  I find that what I'm doing is feeling some feeling I can't identify.  In the beginning of abstinence, it was often grief over letting go of the food.  Not an easy feeling to sit with.  Really powerful, and it's good to talk to someone who understands the feeling.  If anyone needs a copy of the GS Phone List, you can email to request a copy.
  • Read or listen to the GS shares on the website:  Written/Audio Qualifications.
  • GET TO A MEETING.  I don't have any GS meetings here in MN, so I attend LOTS of GS Phone Bridge Meetings.  There are phone bridge meetings every night at 9pm EST and three times a week at other times.  I get to most of them, to build the defense against the first bite.  When I lived in a face-to-face GS community, I went to almost daily (if not more) meetings.  I need the "brain washing" that I get at meetings.  Gratitude flows when I'm in a meeting.  Meetings are NOT just for newbies.  The oldtimers I know still go to many meetings a week.  As I've always been told "Meeting Makers Make It."
  • Write to the GreyNet and share where I am.
  • Call my sponsor.  I always encourage my sponsees (or any other GSer) to call me when feeling 'discombobulated'.  We don't have to do this alone.  It's a "WE" program.
  • Take a bubble bath (sometimes accompanied by two kids and wandering cats, sometimes blissfully alone). I take a nice book and a cold drink in to the bathroom and I soak and read and dream.
  • Give myself a pedicure. There's nothing I love better than a pedicure, so it's really very special to give myself one.  If I can go out and have someone else do it, all the BETTER!
  • Give myself a facial (see above).
  • Go to a movie. During the day there isn't so much munching, and if I need to, or can, I bring my lunch and munch to my heart's content.
  • Bring a movie in. Can't do that anymore, since I gave away my TV and VCR 18 months ago, but I used to do that and it was a nice alternative.
  • Clean out the fridge. If that is too close to the food, I don't.
  • Declutter or clean out some other room/'hot spot'. For some reason this helps me declutter my mind, too.
  • Fix and pack extra meals. If that is too close to the food, I don't.
  • Get out my drawing supplies and play.
  • Get out my handcraft supplies and play.
  • Get out my tape player and headphones, a book on tape, and listen to it while doing some of the above activities. It drowns out the "Committee" in my head and I find some peace that way, strange as it may sound.
  • Read the Big Book and the Twelve and Twelve and the 12-Step meditation books. Sometimes I hear just what I'm supposed to hear.
  • I'm not a journal-writer, but sometimes if I just can't get what I need I pick up a pen and I find my beautiful journal (a gift) and I do stream-of-consciousness writing.  It's remarkable what I connect with when I do this. Why don't I do it frequently? Maybe some day I'll find out grin.
  • I go for a walk. I frequently feel much better after taking a walk. I hate to exercise (isn't it enough that I have to do GS???) but it's another of those things that almost always makes me feel better.
  • I put on a favorite tape or a cd and sing&dance with my kids. See above re: walking.
  • The thing I've learned is that feelings pass. Abstinence is worth hanging around for. When I first came back this time around, I had no earthly idea what I liked to do, what would make me feel better, what would help me pass time until the next meal.  I just sat on my hands a lot and waited. Now I have a few options I hadn't thought of then, and it's a wonderful thing to them share with all of you. I have come a long way in the last year and a half, plus.
  • Just Don't Eat No Matter What, and it will get easier, I Promise. If you don't believe me, read the promises in the Big Book (p. 83).

One last comment. 
I have been trained to Love My Food. I am a Compulsive Overeater. That means I am NOT normal around food. I will never consider in my heart that food is fuel. Therefore, if I want to stay abstinent, I have to LOVE my Food. The GS lets me have safety around loving my food. If I eat foods from the GS, Without Exception, committed,and W&M'd, then I get to enjoy every morsel. I HAVE to LOVE my food.  If I don't, I WILL eat again. This is not a diet.  All diets fail, and if I use GS as a diet, it will fail, too.  I can't wait until I have time or energy to do the work to find #10 meals. I have to have them every single meal (with those rare exceptions when circumstances call for a quick and easy meal, but notice I say RARE). If I am bored with my food, I have to take action to find foods on the GS which make me look forward to each meal and which give me orgasms during each meal. This is difficult to 'get' until you do it. It IS safe. It IS surrender to the GS. Don't look at recipes, call other GSers and ask what they love. Find what you love, and give yourself the gift of #10 meals and abstinence. You deserve it! Abstinent and Grateful, 
Anonymous in MN, USA


I am abstinent today off the Grey Sheet.  I weigh and measure three meals a day, commit them to my sponsor and don't eat in between no matter what.  What does no matter what mean?  It means that my abstinence comes first in every single situation.  There is nothing that can ever be improved by my picking up the food, and everything can be made worse if I do.  I have gone through travel of all kinds, three pregnancies, moving, grieving, disappointment, joy, lots of school and work, and all without needing to pick up a bite.  I was told in the beginning that there are a thousand reasons to eat but no excuses.  That really made sense to me.  If we pick up, it is because we are compulsive overeaters, and the disease lies in wait for us.  I choose to let it keep waiting indefinitely, for today! I have lots of tricky financial stuff to deal with at the moment, and it is producing anxiety to the point of triggering a stress-related stomach problem I have suffered from for many years.  Whenever this problem arises, I am reminded that I am letting fear rule, and I need to slow down and work the program harder.  So here is my post to remind myself that feelings aren't facts, and that I have a HP who has always taken care of me if I do the footwork. First of all, I need to stay abstinent.  Second, I need to take appropriate steps to fill out the scary forms I have to complete, including asking for help when needed.  It will all get done, a day at a time, if I stay abstinent. Thanks for being there for me, and DENMW!
Anonymous in DC

Name, Rank, and Serial Number

Hello, This is [Anonymous]  from the Cincinnati Greysheet community.  I am abstinent & grateful today by the grace of God and the support of the Greysheet community.

I weigh and measure three meals a day from the Greysheet, write them down, commit them to my sponsor, and I don't eat between meals no matter what.  I have 134 pounds of physical recovery and 34 months of back-to-back abstinence.  Abstinence is the most important thing I do for myself today. A new Greysheeter recently asked for advice on handling eating out at a business meeting.  He is afraid of relapse and is not yet confident of his weighing and measuring abilities in a public setting.  He was considering not eating during the meal and wanted ESH on how to handle that  I, too, often choose not to eat.

I fully support those Greysheeters who choose to weigh and measure at a meal hosted by civilians, but I often find that I am still too overwhelmed by fear of making a mistake to do it in a business setting.  My choice not to eat gives me serenity.  Since this Greysheeter seemed to want the same serenity, I offered him the following advice.  I thought it might also be helpful to others. Choosing Not to Eat Considering your state of mind, I highly recommend eating your abstinent meal alone in your room prior to the business meal.  You can then sit and socialize with your colleagues during the business meal.  If you are going to use that technique, you should be prepared to: a) Quietly and unobtrusively drink an abstinent beverage while others are eating.  If the conversation is focused on how good the food tastes, you can comment on how good your beverage is.  Discuss how much you like herbal tea, African coffee, or Smart Water.  Talk about the best tea and coffee shops in your town.  Move the conversation away from food and toward the beverage.  Then, if people ask what you like to eat, and they are asking out of a genuine desire to include you in the conversation as a friend, you could discuss your food choices if you want.  Discussing your food choices should depend on your level of comfort.  I never discuss my food with people who are hostile and disdainful of my food choices.  They don't deserve the honor.  I don't cast pearls before swine. b) Learn to serenely answer questions about why you are choosing not to eat.  People will ask why you are not eating and many of them will continue asking until their curiosity is exhausted.  You should say, "I have a severe sensitivity to any form of sugar.  I have to be absolutely certain that my food is prepared in accordance with my dietary needs.  Therefore, I find it much easier to prepare my own food.  I wasn't sure if I could bring my food here (i.e., to whatever restaurant they are in), so I decided to eat my meal prior to coming."  Let people know you are not hungry, not uncomfortable, not unhappy, not dying to eat, not envious of their food, etc., etc.  People put so much emphasis on this, sometimes they won't let it go and they go on and on about how bad they feel that you're not eating.  Practice deflecting their emotions.  They will flood you with emotion if you choose to participate in their emotion.  Be polite (because it will make you feel good about yourself), but firm (because it will make you feel good about yourself). c) Before they can make you feel bad about your choice of not eating, take control.  Before they even ask, use some of the following example statements: "This is the right way for me to eat and I'm so happy I've found it." "I'm so glad I found this way of eating.  Before I found this way of eating, I was sick all the time." "I am so much healthier and happier now that I can eat this way.  It's very good for me." If you are afraid to make these statements or can't imagine yourself saying them, stand in front of the mirror and say these statements out loud several times a day prior to your business trip.  Look yourself in the eye and say them out loud 10 times. Obviously, the techniques I described here are similar to being in combat, being captured, and learning to provide just your name, rank, and serial number.  I highly recommend taking on that mindset and using it to its full advantage. We have to be fully convinced that we deserve to keep our disease in remission.

Civilians don't understand, and that's ok.  They have a right to their own lives.  But we can live the way we need to live if we stand our ground. No Matter What.

Easiest, Softest Way

I'm [Anonymous], compulsive overeater.  I weigh and measure my food from the greysheet three times a day, call it into my sponsor, and don't eat no matter what. I recently celebrated 7 years of back to back abstinence.  My life now, does not resemble my life before at all.  I am grateful that I tried all of the "diets" out there before I crawled into greysheet, because now I don't wonder if anything else would work for me.  Everything worked temporarily.  Greysheet is the only program that gives me freedom from compulsive eating, allows me to LOVE my meals, and teaches me boundaries and self-care on a level I never knew. I have had to weigh my food in some very uncomfortable situations.  The uncomfortable situations took moments, not weighing my food would have taken my life.  

Sometimes it's awkward to have to walk into an unfamiliar setting carrying a scale and back-up, but not as awkward as walking in carrying 100 extra pounds. The time I put into maintaining my abstinence is a drop in the bucket compared to what I put into the perfect binge, or whether I had been "good" or "bad", whether the people in the room had seen me go up to the buffet already, wondering if I was really as heavy as I looked in never stopped. I was preoccupied in the first days of abstinence with how I could possibly get through a birthday with no "x", or never have another bite of "y".  My first sponsor asked me if I could not have any "x" for today, of course I could get through was the rest of my life I was worried about.  Then I got it.  For the first time in program I truly understood, "One Day At A Time." What a relief I felt.  The "rest of my life" was only a sequence of days.  I could only deal with today.  I could do anything for one day. So, I'm grateful.  Grateful for the back to back days that have accumulated.  It got easier.  It really did.  If it wouldn't have, I wouldn't still be here.  The cravings went away.  The withdrawals went away.  My higher power definately gave me a new life.  Miracles happen. One Day At A Time,
Anonymous in MA

Grasp My Abstinence A Lot Harder Than My Day Count

Hi Greysheeters I am abstinent and grateful.  I commit my food to my sponsor - I weigh and measure each meal without exception and abstinence is the most important thing I do no matter what today. I was talking to a friend in AA yesterday.  In a cafe she had a soda with flavouring added that contained the stuff she is addicted too.  It slipped past her radar because she can normally purchase it without 'the stuff' at the corner store.  She was rebelling against her sponsor's suggestion she go back to day one.  The lesson I learnt from her, that had not sort of hit me before is that I need to grasp my abstinence a lot harder than I grasp my day count.  Clean abstinence is infinitely more important and useful to me than a long day count.  Goodness knows I've had my share of technical stuff ups (and not so technical also :-}) and each time struggled with the head talk that goes - "it's not a big enough deal to go back to day one with".  Today my abstinence is clean because 309 days ago I fessed up and let go of my day count to stay rigorously honest with this program - and I haven't stuffed up since - Thank you HP and sponsor and GS family!! Anyway, I am stoked to be abstinent as I head towards Christmas, the traditional time of physical, emotional and familial binges! Yay only 12 days to Boxing Day!!!!

Anonymous, NZ
December 13, 2005

DENMW: What does it mean? Ring the chime of abstinence.

Hi, I'm [Anonymous] and I'm a compulsive overeater.  My abstinence is 3 weighed and measured meals a day off of the Greysheet and I write my food out, call my sponsor, commit my food and weigh and measure without exception.  As a result of these actions I've been abstinent from compulsive overeating since Feb. 15, 1990, and abstinence is the most important practice that I do in my life today, one day at a time. What does DENMW mean?  *I* can't not eat compulsively.  Left to my own power I eat no matter what.  So why do I say DENMW! This familiar phrase is a reminder of the priority that I must place on the actions which I take to support my abstinence.  Truly, if *I* could "not eat NMW", if I could do this truly by myself alone, by my determination and will power, born from the desire to eat in a fashion which would leave my life free from ill effects, then I would not have to be here to address this problem of compulsive overeating.  But alone I cannot do this. I can, however take action which make it possible for me to accept God's grace and abstain from the behavior of compulsively overeating.

First, however, it is essential that I admit that don't have the power to abstain from this behavior.  Next, I am able to look else where for the power to abstain.  I'll not elaborate on Step 2 here, but it too is essential so that I'm able to act with conviction on Step 3.  Having admitted that I have a problem which is insolvable by myself, and believing that there is a power which can help me then I'm able to decide to avail myself of the power of that assistance to address this problem. At this point I have attained abstinence, but though my actions have not confirmed this to myself yet.  Like preparing to strike a chime which I may have heard before, I know what it has sounded like in the past when others or myself have struck it.  The sound may ring in my mind, but the true sound current of abstinence does not yet actually vibrate in my body.  Now I must strike the chime.  Without striking the chime with the hammer of action, abstinence is theoretical, without cause and without effect.  And the paradox is that I alone have the power to swing the hammer. Swinging the hammer is essential to feeling the true sound of abstinence.  No one can strike the chime for me.   It is necessary for me to strike the chime every day so that this sound actually vibrates and I can truly feel it rather than only hearing it in my mind.  The sound must vibrate every day. There is more than one way to swing the hammer.  How I hold it, the direction and power of the stroke can vary and that may affect the sound of the chime. How do I swing the hammer?

I swing the hammer every time I call my sponsor.
I swing the hammer every time I commit my food.
I swing the hammer every time I weigh and measure my food.
I swing the hammer every time I plan time in my day for meals and food prep.
I swing the hammer every time I attend a meeting.
I swing the hammer every time I make an outreach call.
I swing the hammer every time I stand to sponsor.
I swing the hammer every time I take a food call.
I swing the hammer every time I read about a Step.
I swing the hammer every time I pray.
I swing the hammer every time I meditate.
I swing the hammer every time I speak to the positive picture of abstinence.
I swing the hammer every time I take the time to help another CO.

These are only a few ways, there are others. None of these actions comprise abstinence in and of themselves, but I must do enough of them so that I keep the sound of abstinence vibrating in my heart not just in my mind.  Thinking of abstinence will not do it, I must think of how I swing the hammer. I must swing the hammer no matter what.  NMW is the priority that I must place on the actions which I take to support my abstinence.  If I don't swing the hammer, I don't feel the sound of abstinence. Thus, "Don't Eat No Matter What" is an affirmation of how I have come to live because of swinging the hammer, it is a statement which urges others to do the same, and it is a reminder to keep the sound of abstinence vibrating in every part of my life. DENMW
Anonymous, July 3, 2005

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