Has Everybody Gone Insane, Part 1

Disclaimer: This blog is one of a series of  personal explorations of my own experiences searching for a solution to my compulsive eating. Anything stated here is not a reflection of this organization as a whole. Please take what you like, leave the rest, and investigate for yourself.

Well I suppose it’s appropriate to have an extreme reaction to an extreme program.

But first, let’s deal with Judy Collins.

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I wrote about GreySheeters Anonymous (GSA) – and Judy Collins who’s a member of it – on Jan 8 |Judy Collins, What Have You Gotten Me Into?.

(For the record, I actually talked to Judy on the phone and she was lovely. So Judy, don’t take any of what I’m going to write personally … you tried.)

What’s with the “grey sheet”?

There really is an actual “grey sheet.” It is a diet that is printed on a literal gray sheet of paper. It’s a real thing.

How the grey sheet came to be.

Unless this is 12-step urban legend, when Overeaters Anonymous (OA) – which I also wrote about on Feb 1 | The Mothership – was founded in the early 1960s, members were required to follow a very strict diet …  that just happened to be printed on a grey sheet of paper. That “grey sheet diet” was the one and only version of “abstinence” which is the food version of sobriety. So with only one choice available, it was either grey sheet or caloric mayhem, that’s it.

But then the unwashed masses revolted.

Cries of “too strict!” led to OA to move into a new era, allowing members to select their own food plan, which they solidified with a new pamphlet called “Dignity of Choice” … and the grey sheet went wherever it is that gray sheets go to die.

Except that it did not die.

Several years later, the grey sheet burst back upon the scene, like a Phoenix soaring through the candy-bar-wrapper strewn ashes.


Only now it came with backup: its own fellowship: GreySheeters Anonymous. And they are a bunch of dry-skinned, pinch-faced hard-asses.

So. Many. Rules.

There are lots of rules in GSA. And rules about the rules. And the fact that the rules don’t always make sense is somewhat irrelevant.

For example when I first started the plan, I met with my new my sponsor Vi so she could explain how it all worked.

The first thing Vi did was pull out two grey sheets out of her purse, slap them down on the table, and tell me that we follow the GSA plan exactly – exactly! –  and we only eat the food listed on this gray sheet of paper. 

Vi then proceeded to cross food out, change measurements, and write out a meal plan structure that was no where on the actual grey sheet itself.


Here’s more rules that members are required to follow … none of which are actually on the grey sheet itself:

  • You weigh and measure your food via digital scale at. all. times.  Think business dinners … buffets … wedding receptions, … and, gulp … dates.
  • You keep a digital scale in your purse, in your glovebox just in case the one in your purse dies, at your desk, and in your kitchen.
  • If you go to a social event you must bring an entire meal (called a “hostage meal”) in your purse. One woman even brought her own extra paper plate and baggies.
  • You have to eat all your food. So if you go into a restaurant and you are missing one ounce of vegetables, if you don’t order more – or have any in your purse – to make up for that one ounce you go back to Day 1. You can’t just let it go.
  • There are no snacks allowed at any time for any reason and you have to wait at least four hours between meals. So if you are hypoglycemic or dinner is delayed by several hours, that is just too bad for you. Have some tea.

If you break any of these rules, it’s back to Day 1 for you.

There’s a lot more I want to tell you, but I think this is enough for one blog. Look for Part 2 soon.

In the meantime, please take care of yourself.

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