IGTV: My Experience in a 12-Step Program for Food Addiction Recovery + Why I Left


My Experience in a 12-Step Program for Food Addiction Recovery + Why I Left | Little Miss Fearless

Hey friends! I recently shared an IGTV video about my experience in a 12-step program for food addiction recovery (part 2).

This blog post is a bit lengthy, but elaborates on that video. I trust it’ll find its way to those who have been asking for it or who are considering joining a 12-step program.

(See What to Expect from a 12-Step Program for Food Addiction Recovery for part 1 – more on the basic structure and tools of such a program.)

How I found the 12-step program I was in

I found the program through a dear friend. She briefly mentioned it to me when I was pregnant in early 2019, but I didn’t think twice about it then.

After my baby came, and I kept breaking daily commitments to myself to eat better, I reached out to ask her for help.

She told me to attend a meeting, so I did.

Everyone at the meeting was so nice and welcomed me. Most of the attendees appeared to be in their right-sized bodies, however, many of them shared major weight loss numbers.

I mostly identified with the word “unmanageable” they used to describe their lives before finding the program.

I didn’t have to say anything other than stand and introduce myself, “Hi, I’m Amanda. I’m a food addict.” And then someone provided a welcome pamphlet and a list of potential sponsors to officially get started.

I liked what I saw and heard in that meeting. But I called my friend first to discuss it. She kept saying, “We’ve gotta find you a good sponsor.” And in the meantime, she offered to temporarily sponsor me.

A few weeks passed, I hadn’t found a new sponsor. I prayed about it and kept feeling the prompting to ask my friend to sponsor me.

When I told her I felt she was supposed to be my sponsor, she said she had been praying, too, and felt the same way. So we moved forward.

My experience in the program

My experience overall was positive. Here are several reasons why:

Committing to the program

  1. I knew going in, that the program had strict boundaries and rules, but I was desperate to change and willing to do whatever was necessary.
  2. I took responsibility for the habits that led me to the program. They were my doing and no one else’s.
  3. My faith wasn’t what it is now, but I trusted that if I followed the rules and did my best, I would eventually understand their purpose.
  4. While the program required a lot of my time, I didn’t let it become my religion.
  5. If the program interfered with family commitments, my family always came first. I also did my best to plan ahead and communicate with my family about the commitments I was making to the program each week.
  6. Addicts tend to struggle with keeping commitments—to themselves and others. So even though I was still deciding if I really was an “addict,” I understood and respected what the program was trying to accomplish with requiring that I make and keep commitments.
  7. I recognized early on that this whole experience was like “training wheels.” The Lord brought me to the program to teach me, not to make me dependent on the program. (Btw, I am bursting to share what I’ve learned!)
  8. Some people like the external accountability of the program as a long-term lifestyle (I’ve met people who have been in the program for 10+ years). They also enjoy the community and service opportunities that the program provides—to become a sponsor and give back to others what was given to them. Pretty cool.

Attending meetings

  1. One of my favorite parts about the program is the meetings. There’s something so freeing about having a safe place to hear people talk about the very things you’ve struggled with, who have found a solution and are doing the work to change and overcome. I don’t know of any other food programs, plans or “diets” that provide this level of honesty within the community.
  2. Many of the women in the meetings I attended were 20-30 years older than I am. Every one of them had said they wished they had found it sooner. They wished they hadn’t waited so long to seek help for change and that maybe their relationships with family, friends and others would have been better. That always stuck with me.
  3. Some people are quickly turned off by the tradition of introducing yourself as an “addict” in the meetings. Even though I believe God doesn’t label us, this never bothered me. I was willing to call myself a food addict and admit that I had a problem to obtain that inner peace I was so desperately seeking. And I can say now it was 1000% worth it and I no longer consider myself an addict.

Working with a sponsor

  1. I was very blessed to have my friend sponsor me in the beginning. She is a huge part of why I even tried this program in the first place and why I had such a good experience with it when others sometimes don’t.
  2. My friend/sponsor was understanding when I needed to miss a meeting to take care of my newborn (I’ve heard that some sponsors use a letter-of-the-law approach in this kind of situation rather than spirit-of-the-law, which could have been a deal-breaker for me).
  3. Your sponsor can make or break your experience. If, like me, you’ve struggled with perfectionism (aka, an “all or nothing” mindset), anticipate that you may want to quit at times because of your sponsor and instead make a plan to find a new sponsor if needed. People get new sponsors all the time.
  4. My friend/sponsor was very understanding when a few weeks into the program I started snacking on dried mangos and nuts (snacking isn’t allowed). I was terrified to tell her because I thought she would “break me” and “shame me” with starting over. But she didn’t break me and it made me want to do better. (Another example of why your sponsor has such an impact on your program experience.)
  5. I didn’t expect my sponsor or my fellows to give me any special attention for my weight loss or progress in the program so it never felt like a popularity contest to me.
  6. I confided in my friend/sponsor a lot during our calls. With my second sponsor I wasn’t as vulnerable because I hadn’t known her as long. I think it’s natural to start building a relationship of trust with your sponsor, but remember they are a sponsor, not a licensed therapist. Always ask yourself if your relationship is strong enough to bear the weight of the stories you share with them. They will be imperfect and they may disappoint you.
  7. Having a sponsor provides a huge opportunity to practice submissiveness. No one likes being told what to do. I believe it’s because we fought for our agency in the pre-existence, but also because it takes true humility to submit our will to God’s every day. Maybe working with a sponsor is just a tangible way to practice submitting for a season (nothing more, nothing less).

A special note on “breaks”

  1. A “break” in the program means you’ve veered from the food plan in some way and your sponsor makes you “start over” at day 1. (Read more about the purpose of “breaks” and the 90-day milestone in this blog post)
  2. Some sponsors are very strict and will break you for mixing two kinds of vegetables at lunch (i.e. 3 oz broccoli + 3 oz zucchini, rather than just 6 oz broccoli) or for switching your fruit last-minute (say you committed in your food plan the night before to have a pear at lunch, but then the day of you decided to have an apple instead).
  3. The program is designed to help people who struggle with honesty. Addiction happens when we begin to deny that we have a problem or that our bad habits are “really that bad.” So while I personally wouldn’t sponsor people that way, I also think experiences like this can really show you how resilient you are. Simply put, practicing the willingness to admit that you didn’t do what you said you would do, can be one of the most character-transforming parts of the program experience.

Why I left the program

  1. When I first joined the program I was constantly asking if anyone could put me in touch with someone who had successfully left the program. But no one ever spoke of it. I found that a little odd, but didn’t stew over it. Everyone was nice, they would just tell me to focus on today and not think about how long I was “going to have to do this.”
  2. As shared in my IGTV video, I left after my first and second sponsors let me go because the timing felt right (like a baby bird leaving the nest) and because my trust in the Lord had grown so quickly.
  3. My spiritual growth accelerated when I left the program because I became completely reliant on the Lord and I was focused on keeping myself in condition to receive further guidance from the Holy Ghost. I knew these boundaries and improved habits with my food were helping me do that. If I had thrown away my new habits the second I left the program, I think my spiritual progress would have been frustrated.
  4. My goal has always been to elevate my thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. I kept my focus there, and the food slipped into the background of my life, on autopilot, exactly where I want it to be.

My opinion since leaving the program

  1. Disordered eating, eating disorders, overeating, compulsive eating, weight gain—these are all just symptoms to the problem happening on the inside. I believe that problem for most of us is feeling disconnected.
  2. We feel disconnected from our:
    • Values (maybe we’re not clear on what we value most)
    • Family
    • Strengths (our culture tugs at us to focus on our weaknesses and what we don’t have enough of)
    • Purpose and potential
    • Savior, Jesus Christ, who sealed our worth with His blood
    • Heavenly Father, who knows us better than we know ourselves and is patiently waiting for us to accept His help and instruction
  3. Pride is the number one reason we don’t progress. Pride isn’t just being puffed up, it’s also shrinking. Only when we are divinely centered can we see ourselves with absolute truth and separate our infinite worth from our human shortcomings and behaviors. (Listen to or read the best talk of all time on pride.)
  4. Whether or not you decide to try a program like this is a decision that should be made between you, your family, and the Lord. I don’t know your heart, your strengths and your weaknesses like He does. I like to believe anyone can have a good experience in these programs like I did, and many do, but my situation was unique to me. I would just counsel you to go in with an open mind, seek the Lord’s guidance anytime you hit a bump in the road, and trust that He will tell you if you should stay, or if it’s time to leave, and what to do next. Don’t rely solely on the opinions of others to make these decisions for you.
  5. Addict or not, I don’t believe people have to stay in these programs forever. Maybe there’s some truth in “the harder the crime, the longer the time.” If someone’s bad habits with food and the negative self-beliefs that drove them to such extreme behaviors consumed much of their life, it’s only natural to think it would take some time to unlearn those thoughts and behaviors. But here’s what I’ve noticed with time and distance: the program provides accountability, support and tools to develop self-trust, but little education about our food industry or how to grow spiritually beyond the boundaries of the program. I believe this is something I can teach.

May I sponsor you?

I love sharing what I’ve learned on this journey, and if you couldn’t already tell, the answer is YES. I want to sponsor you and anyone who is interested in taking this approach to change through food.

But I’m seeking the Lord’s guidance right now on whether that direction is His will for me.

I know for the immediate future it is not. (Partially because I need some time to write my own curriculum.)

If you have even the slightest interest in working with me at some point in the future, please let me know by commenting below, emailing me and/or subscribing to my email list.

I may reach out with more questions that would allow me to build something specifically for you, but I’ll keep you updated on my plans either way.

Hope this blog post was worthwhile! Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom. ?



  1. Kayla says:

    Yes! I’d love to work with you and learn from you!

    Posted October 29, 2020 | Reply
    • I’d love it, too! I’ll be in touch!

      Posted November 13, 2020 | Reply
      • Phyllis says:

        I left my program about 3 months ago after 8 years in the program. I love what you say in your blog and once you get it going to sponsor I would love the help. Or getting your book would help until you are ready

        Posted July 24, 2023 | Reply
  2. Brittnee says:

    If you become a sponsor, I definitely am interested!

    Posted November 1, 2020 | Reply
    • I’d love to sponsor you, Brittnee! Thank you! I’ll definitely keep you posted.

      Posted November 13, 2020 | Reply
  3. Catherine says:

    I would be so excited to walk this journey with you. I have been in a program and left with God’s leading but do miss the connection!

    Posted December 4, 2020 | Reply
    • Thank you, Catherine! I loved the connection in program, too. Grateful to have common ground with you. And there’s nothing better than to be led by the Lord, right? XOXO

      Posted December 4, 2020 | Reply
  4. Jane says:

    This sounds like exactly what I need and have been looking for!

    Posted December 7, 2020 | Reply
    • So glad it’s helpful! Feel free to reach out with any questions.

      Posted December 17, 2020 | Reply
  5. Melissa Fernandez says:

    Once the Lord makes it clear to you that sponsoring is the next step for you. It would be an honor to be sponsored by you. As I have read your posts only since yesterday. My heart like John the Baptist when Mary entered the room and he in Elizabeth’s womb jumped. My heart just jumped at the possibility of hope. Lasting real hope for freedom that I know Jesus gave His life for me to have. I need direction, guidance and clear boundaries. I’ve written down the food plan you’ve used and have begun that. I will be praying for you as you “press in” to the guidance of the Lord for sponsorship and writing curriculum.

    Posted December 22, 2020 | Reply
  6. Maria says:

    Amanda, thank you so much for sharing! I have been in FA for a few months and also consider leaving but following the same principles. I am glad to have found your page! It is inspiring and definitely provides a bit of relief in the sense that people have done it successfully. You should start sponsoring!

    Posted December 28, 2020 | Reply
    • So glad you’re here, Maria! I remember thinking the same thing when I joined the program–“so when do we graduate?” Haha. I am happy to be proof that we can change and grow and learn the right principles to then govern ourselves. I am praying continually for guidance on my dream of coaching/sponsoring someday. Thanks for your encouragement! XO

      Posted December 29, 2020 | Reply
  7. Deena says:

    I would love to learn from you and have you sponsor me. I’m just learning about FA and there are no meetings near me. I’m ready to commit to this new lifestyle!

    Posted January 17, 2021 | Reply
    • Thank you so much, Deena! I would love that, too. I’m working with the Lord to create something and will definitely keep you posted! You’ll be in my prayers in the meantime. XO

      Posted January 30, 2021 | Reply
  8. Aarika Hansen says:

    Can you give out the name of the 12 step program you attended? Did you mention it in a post and I just missed it by chance?

    Posted January 20, 2021 | Reply
  9. Rebecca says:

    Another interested person here in having you for a sponsor.

    Posted January 28, 2021 | Reply
    • Thank you, Rebecca! That means so much to me. I’m working toward that same goal now and trusting in the Lord’s timing. Will keep you posted!

      Posted January 30, 2021 | Reply
  10. Brenda says:

    Out of all the sites and people on the internet, I know I did not find you by accident or coincidence. I believe it would be a divine appointment to work with you.

    Have a great day on purpose and thank you for sharing!

    Posted March 1, 2021 | Reply
    • Thank you so much, Brenda! I’m working with the Lord to create something. Feel free to sign up for my email list where I’ll share more details when the time comes. XO

      Posted May 9, 2021 | Reply
  11. Jasmine says:

    Hi there,

    I’d love to work with you, if you’re available and willing. Thanks

    Posted March 25, 2021 | Reply
    • Thanks so much, Jasmine! I’m working on building a program and would love to work with you. Feel free to sign up for my email list where I’ll share more details when the time comes. XO

      Posted May 9, 2021 | Reply
  12. Patty says:

    Hi, I would love to work with you in the future. This blog was amazing and I’m so encouraged to keep trying . God’s timing is perfect .

    Posted April 14, 2021 | Reply
    • Thank you, Patty! Trust His timing. I’m working hard to create something with the Lord. Feel free to sign up for my email list where I’ll share more details when the time comes. XO

      Posted May 9, 2021 | Reply
  13. Sonja Peterson says:

    I’m interested if u get to the point of sponsoring others

    Posted April 14, 2021 | Reply
    • Thank you, Sonja! You’ll be in my heart as I work on creating a program with the Lord this year. Feel free to sign up for my email list where I’ll share more details when the time comes. XO

      Posted May 9, 2021 | Reply
  14. Liz D says:

    If you begin to sponsor I’m definitely interested.

    Posted May 12, 2021 | Reply
    • Thank you, Liz! I’m working toward that now and would love to have you. Feel free to sign up for my email list where I’ll share more info when the time comes. XO

      Posted May 12, 2021 | Reply
  15. Devona Steward says:

    I really appreciate this article! I did the 12 step program 10 years ago and everything you describe is so on point!!!! I feel like I ended up with more problems then I started with….. I didn’t have the right sponsors and it is so important to know that they’re still in the struggle and they’re not licensed psychologist therapist and they are still in the struggle as well. I would love to restart the program and I would love to connect with you on how to get started and if you can sponsor me I’m good with that thanks again for your article!!!

    Posted May 15, 2021 | Reply
  16. Jennifer Tanner says:

    I would be very interested in learning more!! ❤️

    Posted May 25, 2021 | Reply
  17. Jessica says:

    Yes!! Pick me!! I’ve watched you from afar & attended my one & only food addiction meeting well before covid. But I couldn’t commit bc something inside of me told me being in the 12 step program for food addiction wouldn’t work for the rest of my life & I needed more hope to look forward. I finally looked you back up & see that there can be life after the program. I would love to work with you.

    Posted June 4, 2021 | Reply
  18. Jessica says:

    Waiting to connect with you!!♥️

    Posted July 10, 2021 | Reply
  19. Hillary says:

    Hi amanda! I’ve been reading through your posts. I’d love to have you as a sponsor if you decide to! I love that you have an approachable view that’s not overly rigid. I have worked through the same church twelve step program you have ? and I have lived it, but I have been looking for a way to find actual abstinence and what you described sounds awesome. Thanks!

    Posted August 9, 2021 | Reply
  20. Amanda says:

    I would love to work with you if you are willing and feel led to be a sponsor!

    Posted August 18, 2021 | Reply
  21. Adrienne Pittson says:

    Thank you for continuing to share your story. It has inspired me! I had success with no sugar or flour for 6 months, but I couldn’t keep it up. So I would love your coaching!

    Posted September 16, 2021 | Reply
    • Adrienne, that’s amazing! Thank you so much for your kind words. I’ll be in touch soon!

      Posted October 6, 2021 | Reply
  22. Cece says:

    I need help and have been praying for a kind, Christian sponsor. You are correct when you say that a sponsor can make or break your experience. I too had a very bad experience with 2 sponsors and, I never went back. I thought my sponsor would be understanding when I had to change my meal plan for the day because my daughter was in the hospital (she has Crohn’s disease and, I am a single mom with no help) but, I got yelled at and, when it happened again, she dropped me. The same happened with my new sponsor. I still need help though and would love to work with you.

    Posted September 27, 2021 | Reply
  23. Theia says:

    I too was in the exact program as you in 2015. Thankfully, I had a great sponsor but I didn’t continue as I should have. I’m currently thinking of doing the program again and that’s how I came across your website. I would love to be sponsored by someone who has found freedom and is willing to teach people not to be one dimensional but focus on every aspect without being harsh and showing true kindness

    Posted October 10, 2021 | Reply
    • Theia, your feedback is invaluable. I’m so glad you had a good experience in the program and I’m still feeling so called to share the spiritual aspect that has helped me find freedom. I’m sharing more info in a blog post this week about my next steps for 2022 and some options that I hope might be worth your consideration. More soon! Xo

      Posted January 18, 2022 | Reply
  24. Calli says:

    “disconnected”. Exactly how I’ve been feeling. I don’t know why, Amanda, I’d love to work with you. I know all of it is about so much more than my diet.

    Posted October 20, 2021 | Reply
    • Thank you, Calli! I couldn’t agree more. It’s not about the food! I’ll be sharing a blog post this week with more info on my plans for 2022 and some options that I hope might be a good fit for you. More soon! xo

      Posted January 18, 2022 | Reply
  25. Lindsay says:

    Yes, please! Your post really resonated with me. Found your blog today.

    Posted October 24, 2021 | Reply
    • Hi Lindsay! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’ll be sharing a blog post this week with more info on my next steps for 2022 and some exciting things that I hope you’ll be interested in. More soon! xo

      Posted January 18, 2022 | Reply
  26. Emily Powers says:

    Hi Amanda. I know it’s been a while sense this was published and am not sure if you are still entertaining the idea of sponsoring women but if so I would be really really interested!

    Thank you!!!

    Posted December 5, 2021 | Reply
    • Hi Emily! I’m still here! Thanks for letting me know. I am working on a blog post this week with some of my next steps in 2022 and I hope there will be something you’ll be interested in joining. More soon! XO

      Posted January 18, 2022 | Reply
  27. Lu says:

    Hi, I also was in a food 12 step program and left. Not sure if I miss it, but Iam trying everyday, to build a better relationship with food. I do believe that only my higher power can help me but would like to have someone sponsor me who was in program and understands concept but no longer in program.
    Would like to connect.
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    Posted February 7, 2022 | Reply
    • Hi! I apologize for the delay. I have been offline most of the year. I’m happy to connect anytime. You can send me a note on my contact page if this is still relevant for you. XO

      Posted December 7, 2022 | Reply
  28. I’m so glad I found your website. I too was in the 12 step group for food addicts. My life hasn’t been the same since. Unfortunately I have been yo-yo dieting for the last two-and-a-half years and I’m heavier now than I have ever been. I know in my heart that I’m not letting Jesus in to take over but I don’t know how to let go. Anyway I’m sure you’re a very busy lady. I will keep reading on your website but if you’d like to contact me I will leave my information below. Thank you for your website! You have a great perspective.

    Posted April 15, 2022 | Reply
    • Thank you, Kelly! The spiritual transformation takes longer than the physical transformation, doesn’t it? You are doing great and I know the Lord is celebrating every good choice and ounce of progress you’re making, no matter how small. I have found His pure doctrine to be the most healing to my soul. This quote has helped direct me so many times and I hope it will do the same for you… “True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” – Boyd K Packer

      Posted December 7, 2022 | Reply
  29. Addie says:

    I feel like I’ve stumbled upon your blog because He is speaking to me, nudging me…
    Im listening.

    Posted June 18, 2022 | Reply
  30. Kim Mcgrady says:

    Are you still considering sponsoring? If you are, I’d be ever so grateful to have you as mine ☺️

    Posted July 14, 2022 | Reply
  31. Pauline says:

    I am definitely interested in any guidance and advice you have to offer to help me on my journey.

    Posted September 14, 2022 | Reply
  32. Rachel says:

    I would love to work with you.

    Posted September 19, 2022 | Reply
  33. Yasmin says:

    Amanda, first of all I want to say Amen.
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I myself am also a food addict. I have completely changed my lifestyle/eating habits. I am only on day five and it has been extremely difficult.
    Thank you for you words of encouragement. God is so good and I am so glad He led me to your page. I love how you said to rely on the LORD and the guidance of the HOLY Ghost. I would love yo keep in contact.
    -Yas from Texas.

    Posted December 31, 2022 | Reply
    • Thanks for your kind words! I hope your journey has been full of grace and momentum!

      Posted July 3, 2023 | Reply
  34. Kim says:

    Need a sponsor

    Posted April 16, 2023 | Reply
  35. Gill says:

    Hi there.

    Thank you for sharing your journey. It’s inspiring.
    I’m just reading the ‘Bright Line Eating’ book. It’s 12-step origins and (sugar + flour-free) eating plan are very similar to yours. But the financial cost of membership to the BLE community is expensive.
    Do you charge for support, please?

    Posted April 22, 2023 | Reply
    • Hi there, thanks for your interest. I am not currently coaching but will be in the future.

      Posted July 3, 2023 | Reply
  36. Bridget says:

    Hi. Are you open to share an eating plan for men. My cousin needs a plan. it’s not really feasable for him to follow FA. As you mentioned, they don’t offer any deviations or alternatives. He works out and needs to drink a protein shake. FA will not allow him. Let me know if you can help. He is 37 years 235 lbs and 6 ft 3 in and thank you


    Posted May 22, 2023 | Reply
    • I highly recommend Bright Line Eating for him. Her book outlines the meal plan alterations for men. Her community is wonderful.

      Posted July 3, 2023 | Reply
  37. Millie says:

    Thank you. I enjoyed reading this account of your experience with FA. I have also done this program. It was many years ago. I quit because I never resonated with my sponsor. And when I lost the weight I lost control in the maintenance portion of the program. The transition wasn’t made clear. I’m ready to start again to follow the plan.

    Posted May 29, 2023 | Reply
    • It is a learning process and a journey. I think beginning with a “maintenance mindset” is key, even when starting on the weight loss plan. You’ll do great!

      Posted July 3, 2023 | Reply
  38. Emme says:

    I’d be interested in talking about working together.

    Posted August 27, 2023 | Reply
  39. CL says:

    I’d be interested in working with you! Please reach out!

    Posted October 9, 2023 | Reply
  40. Peggy Carlin says:

    Good Morning Amanda – I’m not sure you’re still receiving emails however I’ve been moved to send this any way! Thank You for sharing your story ! Me finding you is a god moment ! Long story short I’m 23 days no sugar / and searched to find “ what happens to your body when you give up sugar and white flour – and there you were . As I began reading I’m like she’s been in OA – I’m in Alanon and also went to a few oa meetings years ago — gods timing is divine . I’m grateful for your transparency! I’m going to add no white flour also and start following the guidelines for breakfast lunch and dinner . I’ve found the “noise” in my head has dwindled down . Being in control of my eating and being in alignment with my souls desire is empowering! Thank you so very much . sincerely Peggy

    Posted February 15, 2024 | Reply