History of GSA

GreySheeters Anonymous has its roots in a small group of meetings of the original Twelve Step fellowship for compulsive eating. These meetings were held in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The “GreySheet” was one of a number of food plans offered by the original food fellowship (aptly named for the grey sheet of paper on which the plan was printed.) In the 1970’s, a few members of the original fellowship in Cambridge who had been following the GreySheet food plan realized that in order to find true recovery, they needed to approach food addiction in the same manner that alcoholics addressed alcoholism. They committed themselves to:

  • Complete abstinence from foods that set up the phenomenon of craving
  • Weighing and measuring only three meals a day without exception, eating only the foods listed on the GreySheet food plan, and eating nothing in between
  • A very specific definition of abstinence and guidelines for attaining and maintaining abstinence

To this end, these members decided to start a new meeting of the original fellowship which would support people committed to recovering using the GreySheet food plan. This group was seen by many in the original fellowship in Boston as radical, extreme, and harsh. Nonetheless, the Cambridge GreySheet message started to take hold as people found relief from food obsession and compulsion. The Cambridge Saturday morning Garden Street meeting became the heart of the GreySheet community, with hundreds of compulsive eaters eventually venturing “to the other side of the river” to check out the “radicals” in Cambridge. New meetings sprouted and flourished in Cambridge and the surrounding areas as the community solidified its definition of GreySheet abstinence and carried its message to suffering food addicts in and outside of the original fellowship.

With recovery came expansion of the GreySheet community beyond Cambridge. In abstinence, members’ lives were restored. They became functional, productive members of society. Many moved to new cities, both nationally and internationally, and carried the message of food recovery by starting GreySheet meetings. One of the first and largest early GreySheet communities was founded in New York City. The New York community upheld the GreySheet message of “no matter what, without exception” with the same fervent conviction as the founders in Cambridge. Their meetings similarly grew and flourished. The New York group made a significant contribution to the community by eventually creating the first GreySheet literature beyond the written food plan; a newsletter called “Shades of Grey.” Published quarterly, “Shades” was a compilation of members' experience, strength and hope regarding GreySheet abstinence. GreySheeters throughout the world purchased subscriptions to “Shades” and eagerly awaited delivery of the message with every new issue received in the mail. In 1991, the New York community sponsored their first Round-Up, an all-day event of GreySheet meetings addressing various topics in abstinence. (The annual NYC Round-Up is now a two-day event entering its 29th year in 2020.)

The GreySheet community remained part of the original fellowship until that fellowship adopted a policy to drop all endorsement of specific food plans for its members. Negotiation ensued between the original fellowship and the Cambridge-founded GreySheet community regarding the use of the GreySheet food plan. Ultimately, a solution was reached in 1998 when the GreySheet community founded a new Twelve Step program for compulsive eaters, GreySheeters Anonymous (GSA). In 2008, GSA legally obtained the copyright to the GreySheet food plan. In 2013, the first GreySheeters Anonymous World Service Conference was held. The conference quickly voted to officially adopt the copyrighted GreySheet food plan as its first piece of Conference Approved Literature.

For more information about the GreySheet food plan within the program of GreySheeters Anonymous, see Why We Don't Change the GreySheet.

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