Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Abstinence First, Absolutely!

At this point in time, our world is facing great challenges. These challenges are serious and can feel overwhelming. There’s a lot of frustration, anger, and fear in the nation and among food addicts.

It’s normal and natural to feel these feelings. Many food addicts have spent years, even decades denying feelings they labeled negative or bad and using them as an excuse to binge. While it may seem challenging to get through the unprecedented events now taking place without overeating, it is possible and the key to doing that is to put abstinence first, absolutely, no matter what.

In our Acorn Intensive program, where food addicts undergo detoxification from addictive foods, experience truly sober eating, and begin the recovery process of addressing underlying issues at a profound level, attendees are given a binder with information, suggestions, and worksheets designed to create and maintain long-term food addiction recovery.

The very first suggestion in that binder is “Abstinence First, Absolutely!” The reason for this is to strongly reinforce the practice of making sure food addicts put their abstinence and recovery program first in their lives no matter what is happening around them.

The idea of putting abstinence first, absolutely has never been more important than it is now.

And….it’s never been easier to find an excuse to binge than it is now.

Think about these two things for a second and let them really sink in. What this means is that now, more than ever, abstinence needs to come first no matter what.  Without abstinence, life becomes a vicious cycle of bingeing and feeling ashamed then bingeing again.

Getting through this challenging time successfully, or any difficult period in our lives, is only possible if abstinence is first absolutely. There is nothing that is worth going back to the destructive life of addiction. No food will ever taste good enough to wipe away the buckets full of shame that will come with eating it. There is not one thing in this world that tastes as good as abstinence feels.

Keep working your program and putting abstinence first.  It is the only way to survive and eventually thrive.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Black Lives Matter

We posted this on our Facebook pages this week. It’s repeated here because we believe it’s so important.

At SHiFT, we stand together in support of the fight for racial justice. We oppose the systemic racism inherent in our nation that marginalized communities face each day.

Black Lives Matter. Food addiction affects people of all races. The reality is that black people are dying from the consequences of food addiction at higher rates than the rest of the population. African American women have the highest rates of obesity or being overweight compared to other groups in the United States. About 4 out of 5 African American women are overweight or obese.  In 2018, non-Hispanic blacks were 1.3 times more likely to be obese as compared to non-Hispanic whites. In 2018, African American women were 50 percent more likely to be obese than non-Hispanic white women. People who are overweight are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, high levels of blood fats, diabetes and LDL cholesterol – all risk factors for heart disease and stroke. 

Access to healthy foods is restricted in low-income areas and racial and ethnic inequities exist in areas where there are no grocery stores that sell fresh fruit and vegetables.

We recognize that we can do more.

Moving forward, we will work harder to address systemic racism and to prioritize anti-racism as an organization.

We are with you and we’re listening.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Moving Forward: One Step At A Time

As our nation begins to open up again, we’re faced with moving forward into the unknown. Though experts can speculate what may or may not happen, no one knows for sure. It’s like that with food addiction recovery.

Many of the food addicts who first come to us have no idea what will happen. They don’t know what changes they will need to make or how these changes will affect their lives. Mostly, they are afraid and sometimes angry that they have to be with us.

For some, their fears are overwhelming and they are paralyzed and want to run. For others, their anger fuels their rebellion to the suggestions we make. In both cases, fear and anger are opposite ends of the same idea – a reaction to a journey into the unknown.

The answer for these people and for us today is to keep moving forward, one step at a time. Instead of focusing on what will happen tomorrow or the day after or the week after, simply focus on the next step without looking at the entire journey.

One step at a time, our lives are manageable. Looking at weeks, months, and years is overwhelming and doesn’t help anything.

In my own life, I used to think that if I could just figure out how things would work out then I would be prepared for whatever happened.  Time and time again, I’ve learned that no matter how hard I concentrate on the many ways a situation can play out, there’s at least ten I didn’t think of and more than one I could never have imagined.

My recovery from food addiction is the best example.

A month before I came into an Acorn Intensive, I had tried for years to get into recovery but no matter what I did, I couldn’t. I was preparing to live the rest of my life fat and miserable yet the next month everything changed and here I am over five years later living a life I never could have imagined.

So, let’s all keep moving forward one step at a time and we can get through this together!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Where Does Willingness Come From?

Willingness is the key to working a successful recovery program. When food addicts come into our programs some are willing to do anything to get into recovery while others wonder how they can become willing to work through the activities that will result in long-term recovery.

Though there is no one place where someone can go to pick up a jar of willingness, there are a few ways a food addict develops willingness. The most common way is to get to a point of feeling so much pain that the food addict is willing to do anything to stop feeling the intense pain that is now part of their life. This is known as hitting a bottom.

When a food addict hits a bottom, it’s literally that – the bottom of the pain they can tolerate. The pain has become unbearable and the food addict has hit the bottom of the container of pain that is possible for them to experience.

For some food addicts, hearing about this intense pain and knowing that they are headed in that direction, helps them to develop willingness as a means of avoiding future pain. In other words, these food addicts become willing to get into recovery so that they don’t have to hit bottom and experience intense pain.

Another way, a food addict becomes willing is to meditate on the idea of what willingness looks like in their lives. If this person were willing, what would they do?  How would they act? What steps would they take that they are not willing to right now? Putting our focus on something, oftentimes brings that into our lives.

This doesn’t mean that we can simply demand willingness to appear and it will.  Sometimes focusing on willingness may take days, months, or even years.

We’ve heard of several food addicts who were unwilling to enter a recovery program for over ten years then woke up one day willing to do anything to bring recovery into their lives.

We are all different and willingness comes to each of us in our own unique way.  The best thing we can do is to remember just how important willingness is to our recovery program.

Sharing SHiFTS by Amanda ~ If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

I can’t do that!
There’s no way I’d ever give up eating sugar!
I absolutely will not weigh and measure my food!

We hear these things regularly and my answer to all of that comes from a Twelve Step slogan – If nothing changes, nothing changes!

It’s really quite simple. If a food addict wants recovery then things have to change. It is absolutely impossible to get into recovery without making lifestyle changes. Of course, everyone wants some sort of “magic” pill or potion that will change their lives.

To be clear, the only way a food addict can get into recovery is to make lifestyle and behavioral changes. Period. No bargaining. No negotiation. Changes must be made if recovery is to happen. There is no other way.

Some of these changes must be major such as following a nonaddictive food plan while others may be smaller like staying in the perimeter of the grocery store when shopping. Whatever size they are, each change is a step towards food addiction recovery and living a life free from obsession with food.

The good news is that when things change, things change and there is an opportunity for a new beginning and a new life. A new life that is built one change at a time.

We have seen thousands of food addicts come into our programs hopeless who turned each change they made into exciting lives filled with freedom from obsessing about food.

If nothing changes, nothing changes but if everything changes, everything changes!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Feeling Good!

Is it okay to feel good when people are suffering?

This is a question we hear from food addicts even when things in the world aren’t as extraordinary as they currently are and the answer then, as now, is the same: YES! It is okay to feel good even though some people are suffering.

Feeling bad doesn’t help to make things better for anyone. Quite the opposite. Feeling good can help others to understand what’s eventually possible for them, offering a way for them to cope better with the events currently taking place in their lives.

When a food addict first enters our programs and meets living examples of people in recovery, they experience hope in a way that they never could otherwise. For the first time in their lives, they understand that it is possible for them to experience freedom from food obsession and feel good.

Seeing others feel good about their lives and their recoveries provides hope to those who are still suffering. It also allows others to understand that food addiction recovery is possible for them, too.

While we cannot ignore the suffering of other people and being insensitive to this suffering can be hurtful, we each must walk our own path and know that we are individuals experiencing what we are meant to at each moment in time. Comparing ourselves to others, or trying to feel bad to join them in their suffering does not serve them or us in any way. It actually increases the suffering in the world rather than offering hope of a time when there won’t be so much pain.

As recovering food addicts, we have more than earned the right to feel good about ourselves. This does not mean we are arrogant or self-righteous but that we recognize our value as human beings, neither above nor below anyone else.

It’s okay to feel good!