Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Tricks, Treats or Treatment?

Whatever your feelings are about Halloween, one thing we can all agree on is that it is one of several upcoming holidays which revolve around food. For those who are food dependent, these kinds of holidays can be challenging and for those in recovery they can result in relapse.

Whether it’s to please other people, to try and escape from uncomfortable feelings, to relax after a tough week or just to convince themselves that they’re not that bad, those with food dependency issues have hundreds of excuses to overeat.

The truth is that none of these excuses are valid. They are just that – excuses. The fact is that if someone who is physically or emotionally dependent on a certain food begins to eat this food again, their lives will begin to spiral downward. They will, once again, become obsessed with food and their lives will be ruled by bingeing and obsessive thoughts.

Sometimes the relapse process begins very slowly with one stray thought about being able to handle giving out candy to children on Halloween. Then, the smell of the candy, the festive atmosphere and the emotional longing kick in. And while, a binge may not take place immediately, the seed has been planted. The leftover candy is in the house.  A plan begins to take shape. The justification begins.  Having “just one” can’t hurt.  Promises about starting over tomorrow and pushing aside the facts about the addictive process ignite.

This is the beginning of the end of recovery.

Though not everyone who does these things will end up in relapse, far too many of those who are food dependent will never again be able to get back into recovery while others will struggle through years of bingeing before finally reaching a bottom that will bring them back.

So, while it may be tempting to celebrate Halloween even though you don’t feel strong in your recovery, remember there is another choice. You do not have to be forced into doing anything that is not good for your recovery.

The answer to the question, Tricks, Treats or Treatment, for some is NONE. It’s not required that you take part in any Halloween celebration if that’s not safe for you.  Instead, think about how, or if, you want to celebrate Halloween at all.

The choice is always yours!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Vote For Your Recovery!


Your Vote Counts!

Vote Now!

We’ve all heard these things many, many times over the past several weeks, even months. Yet, I’m guessing that most of us haven’t thought about how this relates to recovery from food dependency.

Being in recovery gives us a chance to be responsible citizens, friends, partners, workers and relatives in a way that is not possible when we are in our disease.

When food obsession fills our lives, we are not able to think past getting the next “fix.” Getting, making and hiding food become our obsessions. There is no room to think about anything else. And, if we have not yet hit a bottom, and can focus for small periods on other things, our heads are not clear enough to make responsible, informed decisions.

In our disease, the decisions we make are almost always based on what the most convenient course of action is that will allow us to keep bingeing. There are little or no thoughts about what will be best for our families, friends, communities, and world. If we do occasionally think about these things in our disease, most times we are not able to follow through with the actions we know are best.

Today, in recovery, all of that has changed. In recovery, we are able to understand that each one of us is special and that we all matter. Even if our opinions and views are different, we can express those views, or not express them, depending on the circumstances, in ways that are respectful.

Even more amazing, we acknowledge that today we matter, that our vote counts.  After years of beating ourselves up and believing that we were bad or immoral, we understand that we suffer from a disease.  We are not bad or wrong or less than anyone else and our vote counts.

Whether you are facing a municipal, provincial, federal or national election, get out and vote for your recovery!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Saying No

With her heart pounding, she took a deep breath to steady her nerves. This was something new for her. She had always gone along with whatever others wanted. Voice trembling, she said the word that she was sure would end the friendship, “No,” then held her breath waiting for the fallout. When her companion simply accepted the answer and moved on, she later spent hours running the conversation through her mind, berating herself for not being more agreeable.

Can you relate to this? Many who are food dependent feel intense guilt when saying no and don’t realize as with most recovery behaviors, it’s a skill that takes practice. One of the most important things to remember is that refusing to do something that is dangerous to your recovery is nonnegotiable. In other words, those in recovery must find a way to develop this skill.

Eating food that’s not on our food plans to please other people is not what recovery is about. Being able to say no to food we don’t eat, to attending events that are dangerous to our recoveries, to being with people who trigger self-destructive behaviors, and to opportunities that will interfere with our recovery schedule are crucial to long-term recovery.

In short, it simply is not possible to stay in recovery from food dependency without, at one time or another, saying no. That being so, there are a few things we can do to make it easier until we develop this skill.

To begin, understand that if you’ve never said no before, it will take time for you to feel comfortable doing that. Don’t expect yourself to be a pro the first or even second or third time you say no. Simply accept that you may feel awkward, uncomfortable, scared, or even fragile when you first begin saying no. It’s okay. A good way to manage these feelings is to make a plan to do something recovery related after you’ve said no. Perhaps you can attend a Twelve-Step meeting, call your sponsor, or schedule an appointment with your counselor.

Next, realize that it’s not the other person’s job to make you feel better about saying no. Sometimes we look to others to make us feel better or for approval to do the things we need to for our recoveries. While this is understandable, it really isn’t logical. It’s not anyone else’s job to make you feel better about yourself or your actions. That’s your job.

Finally, acknowledge that you’re doing a great job!  Even if you are filled with guilt and want to crawl into a corner alone, recognize that you’ve taken a good first step in practicing to say no and that each time you do it, it will get easier.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Trust the Process!

With the upcoming holiday, I’ve been thinking a lot about how things seem to work out in ways that I could never have predicted. For the past five years, I’ve spent Canadian Thanksgiving in Florida leading an Acorn Intensive.

Of course, I enjoyed being part of helping those with food dependency to change their lives and was also happy to spend time in a warmer climate. Being in Florida meant that I was unable to spend Thanksgiving with my family. As we were putting together this year’s program schedule in January, I never imagined that this holiday would be any different….


A global pandemic had other ideas and changed the way we now offer our programs, at least for the foreseeable future, and here I am at home for Thanksgiving, something I never imagined would happen. It’s been this way throughout my recovery.

Seven years ago, I didn’t even know it was possible to be dependent on food and now I am Program Director at SHiFT and helping others to recover. Even more, I wasn’t aware of the concept of food dependency, and I was so deep into my disease that I couldn’t even help myself.

How things have changed!

Today, as we begin another Acorn Intensive virtually with me at home, I am not only grateful to be part of the amazing process of helping others to recover, I am thankful to be here for the holiday.

I am very much looking forward to spending time with my family and especially my niece Georgia. I am once again humbled by how trusting the process works to bring us unexpected joys in our lives.

Wishing you an abstinent Thanksgiving!

Sharing SHiFTS by Amanda ~ Obsession-Free October!

It’s Obsession-Free October!  As we get ready for the holiday season, it’s important for us to keep doing things that keep our lives obsession free. During times of celebration, it’s easy for those who are food dependent to romanticize food they no longer eat.

We are raised in a world that encourages us to celebrate holidays by baking sugar-filled items with our family members. We are told that bringing homemade treats to holiday celebrations is a sign of love and caring. Even more, we are shown images of happy families gathered around tables filled with food.


Food cannot, will not, and has absolutely never provided true love and happiness. This is an illusion created by those who are working hard to keep us addicted to sugar- and flour-filled foods to make obscenely large profits.

When you find yourself starting to fall into this trap, think about your last binge. How much love was involved in that? Remember how awful you felt the next day after having filled your body with sugar-filled foods. Think about how difficult it was to move around in your body.

Are these the experiences you want to bring into your life?

While normal eaters may be able to overeat on holidays, it doesn’t work like that for those who are food dependent. How many other times have you tried to have just one? How did that work for you? Were you able to stop?

Of course, you couldn’t stop. It doesn’t work that way for those who are food dependent. Read that again: IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY FOR THOSE WHO ARE FOOD DEPENDENT.

The bottom line for Obsession-Free October, is that it’s important to keep doing those things that keep our lives free of food obsession. These include, staying connected to others who are also food dependent, asking for and finding the help you need to stay in recovery, and continuing to follow your food plan exactly as outlined.

Please join me this month in re-committing to living an obsession-free life!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Staying Strong by Letting Go!

As Stay Strong September comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways we stay strong in recovery. While some are obvious – we follow our food plans no matter what, we ask for help when we need it, and we stay connected to others who are also food dependent – others are not. And some don’t even make sense until you think about them.

Staying strong by letting go is one of these. When I first heard this idea, I needed to really think about it to understand how letting go would give me strength. Before recovery, I believed that I just had to try harder to find a way to lose weight and keep it off. Letting go, giving up, wasn’t an option for me.

I thought I needed to keep fighting, to keep trying anything and everything I could to lose weight. I did this for decades until I was so exhausted that I had no energy left to keep fighting. I was too humiliated and depressed to keep going. I decided to try one more thing before resigning myself to a miserable life. I let go.

Of course, that one more thing was to attend an Acorn Intensive, which is the program that not only saved but changed my life. Almost the minute I decided to stop fighting, I found the answers I had been fighting to find.

I never imagined that the act of letting go would make me stronger than I’ve ever been in my entire life. By letting go and surrendering to the things I learned at the Acorn Intensive, I’ve been able to lose more than half of my body size and that’s only the beginning!

As I’ve continued in my recovery, I’ve learned that letting go of people, places and things allows me to keep the serenity that I cherish. When I let go, I stop trying to run the show and I let things happen naturally. I no longer need to convince people to do the things I think they should do – you know how well that goes!

Though I may make plans or have goals, I understand that if these change then there is something better out there for me. I do my best not to attach myself to any one outcome by reminding myself that I do not always know what is best for me or anyone else.

This can be challenging but when I can truly let go, I gain a strength that I didn’t know I had.

I hope you stay strong for the rest of the month and check back to see what our theme is for October!