Our Programs

Our food addiction recovery and professional training programs include:

Please read about each program below.

Food Addiction Assessment

Testing and evaluation for possible chemical dependency on food. Individual appointments – in person or on the phone.

Primary Intensive©

Detoxification & Recovery Education

Primary Intensive© is a 5-day structured residential workshop experience, patterned after the first weeks of inpatient treatment for food dependency. The Intensive includes practice using a food plan, education about the disease, challenging denial and resources for support.

The Intensive is designed to support and promote food abstinence and Twelve Step work through a process of groups, educational lectures, structured activities and individual reading / writing assignments.

Attendees practice preparing their own abstinent food in a residential kitchen with group support. Attendance at all days is required.

  • For those new to abstinence
  • For those in relapse from food addiction/dependency
  • For abstinent people who want to deepen their recovery

3 Days with Phil: Expert Support

Philip Werdell, M.A.This is a 3-day workshop led by Phil Werdell, the co-founder of ACORN and Director of ACORN’s professional training program.

This workshop will help you work on deep emotional and spiritual blocks that prevent you from maintaining long-term abstinence and recovery. If you have trouble identifying feelings, dealing with anger, fear or grief, or surrendering to powerlessness over food, this workshop will give you practical skills that will support “abstinence first.”
The focus is on how to deal with chronic food slips and/or relapse. When a food addict has a food slip or a relapse, physical, emotional and spiritual relapse has already happened. You don’t have to let food addiction continue to make decisions in your life. If you have felt driven by the voice of addiction, this workshop will give you the skills to notice and become aware of how this disease has hijacked your mind.

Join Phil in a safe, nurturing small group format (with no more than 5 participants) to learn how to use food “slip inventories,” expressive exercises and written incidents of powerlessness (approaches which he pioneered) to remove stumbling blocks that prevent deep emotional and spiritual recovery.

  • For those who want to work directly with Mr. Werdell
  • For those who want more help with their most difficult recovery problems
  • For those with persistent blocks to long-term stable recovery

FAI/ACORN Food Addiction Professional Training

At the request of the Food Addiction Institute, ACORN administers the Food Addiction Professional Training. This is a three-year experiential program focused on learning food addiction recovery from the inside-out, assisting experienced food addiction professionals, and developing ways to make a unique contribution to food addicts and the field of food addiction.

Minimum Requirements

Two residential intensives with other professional trainees each year; a weekly recovery and professional support meeting by phone; two years of stable recovery in food (one year before assisting and two years before certification); completion of a detailed history of personal powerless over food or another addiction; and thirty days of supervised assistance and completion of a professional competence demonstration.

Program History

The Food Addiction Professional Training program began when a graduate student in addiction studies (Delores Proto) was searching for an internship in food addiction. She had done a previous practicum for alcoholism and drug addiction in a hospital-based chemical dependency treatment center, but there were no such programs for food addiction. Since ACORN’s Primary Intensive© was developed to offer the experience of residential recovery from food addiction, she asked if she could do an internship using ACORN’s Primary Intensive©. As a result, a training program was developed. This program follows the philosophy of staff training at Glenbeigh Psychiatric Hospital’s residential eating disorder and food addiction treatment program. The trainees participate in the program first as clients, second as assistants to experienced staff members, and then as co-professionals while demonstrating their professional competency working to work on their own. Delores Proto, MA, underwent this program over a three-year period, and became its first certified graduate. She went on to develop her own private practice, Gladness Recovery House, and her own creative contributions to the field of food addiction.

Program Phases

There are three year-long segments to the training:

Phase One: 2 intensives; weekly support call; a year of food abstinence; work on unresolved mental, emotional and spiritual issues; complete a detailed description of powerlessness over food or another addiction.

Phase Two: 2 intensives; weekly support call; two years of stable food abstinence; 12 papers relating to food addiction theory to practice; ongoing recovery work as needed; and 30 days assisting a food addiction professional.

Phase Three: 2 intensives; weekly support call – facilitating for Living in Abstinenceand newer members of training; developing and implementing a project that demonstrates unique abilities and competence as a food addiction professional.

Program Enrollment

Enrollment is on an annual basis. Some take more than a calendar year to complete the requirement of each phase of the program. There is a Living in Abstinence program for those who want to participate in the structured year-long support for their recovery during phase one without planning to necessarily complete the other two phases of the program.

Program Director

Philip Werdell, MA is the Director of the Professional Food Addiction Training Program.

Teaching Experience: Since 1972, Mr. Werdell has taught counseling, writing, group work, and other human service courses at the undergraduate and graduate level at variety of colleges and universities, including the College for Human Services, Campus-Free College, College of New Rochelle’s School of New Resources, New Hampshire College, Sarasota University, Manatee Community College, and Springfield College.

Professional Experience: Mr. Werdell has worked with over 4000 food addicts at the Glenbeigh Psychiatric Hospital of Tampa’s residential food addiction treatment program; the Rader Institute of Washington’s out-patient eating disorder program; ACORN Food Dependency Recovery Services; and in his private practice.

Publications: Mr. Werdell’s food addiction publications include Beyond Ordinary Eating Disorders: Food Addiction in the IAEDP Clinical Forum; Food Addiction Recovery: A New Model for Professional Support; The ACORN Primary Intensive Handbook; Bariatric Surgery and Food Addiction: Preoperative Considerations; andPhysical Craving and Food Addiction: A Scientific Review for FAI.

Education and Honors: BA Yale University, Scholar of the House; President of Torch Honor Society; MA, Beacon College, Human Service and Higher Education; Corning Fellowship; Fulbright Fellowship; post-graduate study at Columbia University, University of South Florida; Certified Food Addiction Counselor, Glenbeigh Psychiatric Hospital of Tampa.

Food Addiction Coaching

Individual phone support for ongoing abstinence and recovery issues.

Food Addiction Consulting

Work with organizations that want to better serve food addicts, such as in-service training for staff and developing addiction model programs.

Frequenty Asked Questions

What is the cost for the Primary Intensive©?
$1,950 for those who have not previously participated in an ACORN Primary Intensive©.

$1,700 for those who have participated in at least one ACORN Primary Intensive©.

Deposit: A $500 non-refundable deposit is due upon registration. Remaining balance is due in full two weeks prior to the event.

Meals: Meals are included in the cost of the Primary Intensive©.

Lodging: Lodging is available for $225 for 5 nights.

At times, limited scholarships are available or a brief payment plan may be set up for those who demonstrate a need for financial assistance. Please call us at 941-378-2122 to discuss details.

Where is the Primary Intensive© held?
Bradenton, FL – The Primary Intensive is hosted at a private home in Bradenton, FL. The site is a large four bedroom, private home that can accommodate large groups for meetings and events. The home offers space for on-site lodging during events. However, space is limited and is available on a first-registered, first-paid basis. The fee for lodging at the house is $225 for 5 nights. If lodging is at capacity, we will refer participants to a nearby hotel at their own expense (we encourage double occupancy).

I am traveling from out of state. What is the nearest airport?
It is best to fly into Sarasota/Bradenton International Airport (SRQ). It is closest to the Primary Intensive© site and allows our volunteers to coordinate transportation to and from the airport.

If necessary, you may fly into Tampa International (TPA). Due to the distance, we can not guarantee transportation to and from the airport. Shuttles, cabs and limo services are available.

When should I arrive? When does the event end?
Primary Intensives© begin at 7:00 pm on the first day. We encourage participants to arrive by 6:30 pm.

The event will end on the last day after lunch (approximately 2:00 pm). Departing flights should be scheduled accordingly.

Can I attend a Primary Intensive© if I am not abstinent?
The Intensive is designed for those struggling with abstinence or for those stable in their recovery. The Primary Intensive© allows up to 5 days for those who are not abstinent to remove certain foods from their food plan and detox from addictive foods.

Are meals included in the cost of the Primary Intensive©?
Yes. Meals are included. Dinner is NOT provided the first evening but feel free to bring your own meal or eat before you arrive. Meals will be provided beginning with a metabolics snack the first night through lunch on the last day, including any meals you may need to pack for your return trip.

Food is prepared according to the Glenbeigh Healthy Eating Plan, which excludes sugar, flour, caffeine and alcohol. You will be responsible for weighing or measuring your portions. If you have questions about your particular food needs, please let us know in advance!

Will my insurance cover fees for the Primary Intensive©?
Typically insurance policies do not cover workshops for food addiction. We will provide an invoice upon request for you to submit to your insurance company. Please check with your provider as we do not submit claims to insurance companies.

Your Focus: During and after the Primary Intensive©
Focusing on You (This Is Important)

Because the complete focus of the Intensive is on your recovery, no outside distractions are permitted. This means no telephone calls, no TV/video/audio, no e-mail, computer, non-recovery books or activities. Please do not make commitments (e.g. job concerns) requiring outside attention during the Intensive. When you arrive, we will ask for your cell phones and car keys (for safekeeping)!

What to Plan the Day after the Primary Intensive©

It is recommended that you plan at least one day with little or no responsibility following the Primary Intensive©.  Rest, get your abstinent foods in place and ensure implementation of your aftercare needs.

In Case of Emergency
In case of a family emergency, please give your family members the emergency number provided in the Event Details you receive upon registration. This number will be checked for messages several times each day.

What should I bring to the Primary Intensive©?
You will need:

  • Casual, comfortable clothing and walking shoes
  • Bring a sweater due to air conditioning
  • Digital food scale
  • Your personal toiletries
  • Prescribed medications

You will be provided:

  • Towels, linens
  • Writing paper and pens
  • Binder with materials
  • Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous, travel edition)

Special Considerations:
In support of those with environmental sensitivities, we wish to make the meeting space as scent-free as possible. Please do not bring or use cologne, perfume, scented lotions, scented aftershave, aerosols, etc. as these products may cause reactions in some people.