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SHiFT Recovery has been providing effective treatment for food dependency for over 25 years. We continue to be a leader in the groundbreaking field of food addiction treatment, and are committed to supporting people to lift themselves out of the depths of food obsession.

SHiFT provides both virtual and in-person evidence-based and healing treatment for food addiction using cutting-edge solutions modelled after drug and alcohol addiction recovery. Spanning three decades, we have worked with thousands of people struggling with food dependency. The transformations are awe-inspiring. We are passionate about guiding people out of the shackles of food addiction and into a productive life that they never imagined possible.

Join us to witness the SHiFT: Sobriety, Hope, Freedom, and Transformation.

Current Opportunities:

Addiction Counsellor

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ A Life I Couldn’t Have Imagined!










After our 3 Days with SHiFT program in New Jersey, I spent this past weekend in New York City.  While the City is always beautiful, for me, this time being there was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.  As I walked through Central Park (that’s where these photos were taken), I felt so alive with excitement and so connected to my surroundings.

The last time I visited New York City in 2012, my trip was all about food and eating.  I weighed over 300 pounds and every part of my life was out of control because of my food addiction.  I was in financial bankruptcy.  I couldn’t afford where I was living so I was madly trying to find a new home.  My career was in shambles and all I could think about was what I was going to eat next, how fat I was, what people thought of me and how could I sneak away to be in “peace with my food.”  Even though I was surrounded by beautiful scenery and visited historic locations, I didn’t see or experience any of it.

This time not only has my life completely changed for the better, but I was able to enjoy walking through Central Park where I actually saw the beautiful changing leaves and the historic landmarks.  In addition to being able to walk comfortably and move freely around, I truly enjoyed the Broadway shows, the museums, and observing the sights and sounds of the biggest U.S. City.

All of this reminded me of the miracle of my recovery and I am grateful for that.  Even more, I am blessed to have a life I could never have imagined.  All the other times when I went to New York City, I didn’t even know that the life I have today existed.  All I knew was that I was desperately miserable and deeply depressed.

Today, my life is a miracle.  I invite you to IMAGINE the miracles in your life!

Happy New Year! What are you grateful for?

Happy New Year!!!
As 2017 comes to a close and the newness of 2018 settles upon us, I can’t help but think about gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for. I don’t always see this, but, if I choose, it is always there, available for me to be aware of and bask in the glory of my gratitude.

I was reminded of this recently when talking with a friend on a very rainy, gray day here in Vancouver. She said, “Wow, it’s raining so hard today.” The next words out of my mouth were going to be, “I know! Isn’t it awful, I hate these days.” However, before I could get those words out of my mouth, she said, “It’s great! My car was so dirty and now it’s clean!”Yea, right, that’s just what I was thinking….NOT!!

It is so easy for me to fall into the depths of negativity and self-pity. Sometimes it feels like it’s my “comfort zone” since I spent so much of my life there. I never knew that was what I was doing or even that I had any other choice. Life just seemed hard, and it was definitely hard on me, or so I thought. The idea never occurred to me that I was completely responsible for how I saw things and whether life was “hard on me.” This doesn’t mean that struggles wouldn’t appear in my life—after all, that is life. What it means though, is that I get to choose how I view things and, therefore, I get to choose to believe life is “hard” or that life at times is “beautifully challenging.”

I have spent a lot of time with my niece (yes, the one and only Georgia, who, as I am sure you have noticed, I love to squeak into any newsletter that I possibly can) and my other sister’s two dogs in the last month. Wow! Talk about gratitude and staying in the moment; young children and animals are an amazing reminder of how this can be done. They have all taught me some beautiful lessons in the last couple of weeks.

Georgia and I were walking to the park with the dogs and I said, “Georgia I am feeling a bit sad because this is the last time I am going to see you before I go back to Florida for a couple of months.” She was quiet for a minute and I could see her little mind racing, and then, she looked at me with a bit of a furrowed brow, raised her hands with palms facing upward and said, “But we’re here together now”! From the mouths of babes; what brilliance this beautiful little 4-year-old human being had just shared with me. Amanda, be grateful for what is happening NOW!!

I think the key for me to remember is that I always have a choice everyday in how I view each situation that comes my way. So I ask myself—and each of you—to be cognizant of the fact that when our thoughts say, “Life is Hard” our next thought can be, “Life is beautiful and I am grateful for this situation because I know, if I choose to, I can grow and learn from it.”

Today is January 3rd  and I am reminded of the many events of 2017 and am in awe of what I have to be grateful for. There are so many miracles in my life. My top 10 gratitudes for 2017 are:

  1. Freedom from the bondage of food for another 365 days.
  2. The ability of my body to physically re-build its way back to health and strength after years of abuse.
  3. My powerful, strong, smart, beautiful niece Georgia and the role I get to play in her life because of abstinence and recovery.
  4. That I have a career which allows me to support others who are travelling the same path as me in recovery from the brutal disease of food addiction, and, therefore, get to witness on a daily basis the strength, tenacity and hope of human beings.
  5. The country and city I call home, Vancouver, Canada, for its natural beauty, diversity and the freedoms it allows me.
  6. All the long walks I have taken in the stunning forests in Vancouveor or along the gorgeous beaches in Florida.
  7. The summer vacation I took with my Mom where I showed up as a responsible, respectful adult who had the ability to get outside of herself and truly “see” my Mom for all her amazingness.
  8. For all the people in recovery who walk this path with me and show me that recovery is possible one day at a time.
  9. For my family who stuck with me through active addiction and is now allowing me the opportunity to show up differently, one day at a time, and slowly gain back their trust.
  10. For my daily growing relationship with my higher power who, when I let go of control, truly guides me to a life beyond my wildest dreams.

Wow! I have so many more gratitudes, but this will just have to do for now! I would love to hear your gratitudes. 

Wishing you an abstinent, peaceful and grateful 2018,



World Health Day and an Abstinent Passover Brisket Recipe


I can’t believe it is April already and that Spring has arrived. I am currently in Florida enjoying the beautiful sunshine and warmth so it actually feels like summer.

March was a very busy month for ACORN. We had a 3-Day program, a 5-Day Intensive and a week of process groups in between. Once again I was privy to witnessing amazing healing, recovery, surrender and abstinence. What a true gift I have been given to do this as my career.

Some of the comments we received regarding these recent events are:

  • “Thank you from the depth of my heart for giving me this beautiful experience with so much hope and for being a part of saving my life.”
  • “I feel so blessed to have found ACORN and to have the support I needed to do my work.” 
  • “The intensives and Three Days have moved me further along in my recovery journey at a deeper level than I could have done in 12-Step meetings.  I am most grateful.”

It was truly an amazing couple of weeks! Phil flew off to New York the next day to hold a 3-Day event. It went extremely well, so well that those folks have asked us to hold a 5-Day Intensive in New York April 26 – May 1. They experienced some deep recovery and want to keep it going. So for all of those that ask us if we ever do events in New York, here’s your chance. Call us to find out the details 941-378-2122.

While Phil has been in New York, Mary, Raynea  and I have been gearing up for our next events in Florida. We have two events scheduled for May in Bradenton, Florida. A 3-Day with Phil & Amanda May 5th-7th and a 5-Day Intensive May 26th-31st.  Click here to register or call us if you have any questions 941-378-2122.

The Spring months also bring a few other dates to celebrate. One of them is right around the corner on April 7th. It’s World Health Day. This year’s focus is depression. The World Health Organization chooses a specific health topic to focus on every year that is a concern for people all over the world.  Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life and from all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences.

Depression and addiction feed into each other and one condition can often make the other worse. I personally can relate to this. As a food addict whose life was spiraling out of control I often battled depression. Who knows what came first, the depression so then I reached for food to numb me out and give me that “high” feeling, or the food addiction which was so debilitating and, therefore, caused the deep depressions I would often experience.  When my depression and addiction were at their worst I could barely get out of bed. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t sleep. I had many thoughts of suicide and truly didn’t want to be alive. I remember thinking, “If this is what life is, then I don’t want to be part of it.”  Today I am incredibly grateful that I do want to be part of life and that I have found recovery. Yes, there are still many ups and downs in my life, after all that is the reality of life. However, now when I feel the depression coming on I have tools, resources and a support system to help me through it. As an addict I couldn’t deal with the depression until I had first dealt with my addiction. I could not get healthy mentally and spiritually until I got clean and, for me, that meant becoming abstinent from all the foods my body had become addicted to. So yes, when we have addiction and depression it can be incredibly hard. But there is a way out. I am living proof!

So, in recognition of World Health Day, let’s talk openly about depression and addiction as it is a vital component of recovery. The stigma surrounding all mental illness is a major barrier to people seeking help, and talking about it helps break down this stigma and ultimately leads to more people getting the help they need.  Click here for more information on World Health Day.

This year in April many people are also celebrating Passover and Easter.  These holidays are often full of family, friends and FOOD!! The food part can be a struggle with those of us affected by food addiction. In recovery I choose to focus on the people I am with rather than the food being the focus, and I always contribute an abstinent dish to the occasion. Click here for a link to an abstinent Passover recipe contributed by an ACORN alumnae, Taube from Boston.

Drop me a line and let me know how you celebrate Passover and Easter or any other Spring holidays that are important in your life.

Happy Spring, World Health Day, Passover, Easter and anything else you are celebrating.

With love & abstinence,

Meet the Team

Amanda Leith – Operations Director & Counselor/Facilitator

Amanda Leith launched SHiFT – Recovery by Acorn in Spring of 2019, opening an exciting new chapter in the 25-year legacy of Acorn Food Dependency Recovery Services. A member of the Acorn team since 2015, Amanda is an addictions counselor and a recovering food addict.

Amanda’s passion for recovery from food addiction helps to produce life-changing results with her clients. Her sharp sense for what needs to be addressed first in an individual’s life in order to overcome food addiction guides her practice. The message that she brings to those struggling is one of hope.

Amanda is an addiction counselor, a certified food addiction counselor, FAI/ACORN certified food addiction professional and CENAPS-trained Advanced Relapse Prevention Specialist (ARPS), with a background in drug and alcohol addiction counseling and group facilitation at a Vancouver-based non-profit residential treatment center for women. She sits on the board of directors for the Food Addiction Institute.

Click here to read Amanda’s story of recovery from food addiction.

Andrea Ascione – Professional Food/Accountability Coach

Andrea has travelled a life long road from food addiction to recovery. Her journey began with an early and tormented love affair with food, including stops along the way such as a 20 year career in professional baking. In 2018 Andrea reached a fork in the road. Choosing to set foot on the path to recovery, Andrea was ultimately led to become a certified Food Addiction Counsellor.

Andrea’s role includes coaching clients individually and while her professional training is invaluable so too is her intuitive, compassionate approach. Andrea‘s honesty, empathy and humour intersect with her personal experience in food addiction to create a point from which she can provide effective, supportive guidance to (and through) recovery.

Andrea’s culinary experience remains a part of her professional repertoire. She is now devoted to entirely abstinent cooking, which she eagerly shares with the SHiFT community.

Andrea is currently working on adding a certificate in nutrition to her credentials.

Mary Foushi – Counselor/Facilitator

Mary Foushi co-founded Acorn Food Dependency Recovery Services in 1994, creating one of the world’s first professional treatment programs for food addiction. A recovering food addict herself, Mary has 30 years of stable recovery and is maintaining a 200-lb weight loss.

Her personal commitment to recovery and a rich knowledge of the 12 Steps shine through the work that she does with people struggling with food addiction. With honesty, wisdom, and a grounding in practical action, Mary keeps her clients focused on recovery at all steps of the process.

Mary holds a degree in Human Services with a specialty in Addiction Studies. She is a CENAPS-trained Relapse Prevention Specialist and a certified food addiction professional. Mary facilitates groups, workshops, and Acorn Intensives throughout the world. She is co-author of Food Addiction Recovery: A New Model of Professional Support – The Acorn Primary Intensive.

Click here to read Mary’s story of recovery from food addiction.

Karen Gormley – Accountability Coach

Karen Gormley is a grateful recovering food addict who, after her early retirement from her job as a finance manager at a Fortune 1000 company, pursued her dream of working with Food Addiction recovery.

In addition to 15 of experience in peer support groups she has completed both the SHiFT Professional Training Program and the INFACT Food Addiction Counseling program and is certified by the European Certification Board as a food addiction counselor. And has been part of the SHiFT team since 2019.

Gina Miller – Counselor/Facilitator

Gina is the newest member of the counselling team at SHiFT Recovery. She works individually with Shift clients to support their abstinence and to uncover and heal beliefs and behaviors that surface throughout recovery.

For the last twenty years Gina has worked in the helping field in a variety of environments with diverse populations. She has guided clients using Art Therapy as a way to process emotions with people living with HIV and AIDS at The Dr. Peter Centre, and with adults with developmental disabilities for Ridge Meadows Association for Community Living.

Gina spent years as a Coach, counselling people with negative body image and food addiction at Vital Body Weight Loss Clinic. This latter work and her lived experience with addiction, led Gina to work as a Group Facilitator and provide individual counselling in Addiction Treatment in private practice. Some of that work included facilitating intensive non-residential treatment programs for women suffering from drug misuse disorder, for Sage Counselling and Addiction Services.

It is the combination of Gina’s lived experience, humor and wisdom that make her sessions collaborative, healing and joyful. She believes that everyone has the possibility for hope, resilience and liberation whether they are suffering from addiction, grief and loss, negative body and self esteem issues, co-dependency and the myriad of pain that is part of a life.

Gina has a BFA from ECUAD, Certified in Compassionate Inquiry with Gabor Mate, Addictions Counsellor, Certified Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention-UCSD, Certified Mindfulness Instructor.

Karla Osborne – Counselor/Facilitator

Karla Osborne is a Registered Therapeutic Counselor in Canada, an internationally certified Food Addiction Professional and a Certified Trauma Professional. She began her food addiction recovery journey at an ACORN Intensive and is honored to have worked for SHiFT Recovery by ACORN since 2019.

Karla has been working with people in a variety of contexts and capacities since 2007. Her breadth of personal and professional experience is an asset to clients as she incorporates her understanding of human growth and development, trauma, mind-body connection (somatics) and relationships (codependency recovery) in her work. Karla’s honest, calm and compassionate style is often reassuring to clients as she supports their physical, emotional, spiritual and mental recovery from food addiction. Her role with SHiFT includes working as a coach and facilitator as well as administering aftercare programs.

Tina Selinsky – Group Leader/House Manager

Tina Selinsky, M.Ed., is a graduate of the ACORN Professional Training and served as secretary and treasurer of the Food Addiction Institute for over 5 years. Tina has facilitated ACORN groups and operates Sugar Free Place, a recovery home dedicated to supporting people’s abstinence. Tina has been active in a Twelve Step community for 30 years and is committed to putting abstinence first, absolutely!

Raynea McCumber – Operations Administrator

Raynea has managed the SHiFT office since 2011, coordinating SHiFT – Recovery by Acorn food addiction treatment programs and overseeing registration. She assists clients with any logistical needs to ensure that their treatment experience runs smoothly.

Often the first point of contact for SHiFT Recovery by Acorn clients, Raynea brings warmth and ease to an otherwise daunting process. Her commitment to supporting others helps those struggling with food addiction to feel at home in their treatment program.

Raynea holds an AAS degree in Computer Information Technology and Networking. Her background is in executive support, previously serving as registrar and admissions director for public and private schools.

Kurtis O’Brien – Marketing Lead

Kurtis is a Digital Marketing Strategist with a background in video production and a passion for storytelling. He joined the SHiFT team in November 2020 as a Marketing Lead, and has helped transform our digital presence as well as being the driving force on our marketing team.

While working remotely, Kurtis leads an active lifestyle in his picturesque ski town of Whistler, BC. On any given weekend, you can find him mountain biking, hiking, camping, skiing and fly fishing. His energy, stories and photos from recent adventures are a hot topic on team meetings and we always look forward to hearing them.