Celebrating 25 years of food addiction treatment and recovery!

How do I know if I am a Food Addict?

Am I a Food Addict?
We are often asked, “How do I know if I am a Food Addict?” This is a great question and one for which I wish there was a clear answer. Unfortunately, unlike with other diseases, there is not a simple blood test that can determine if we are Food Addicts or, for that matter, if we are addicted to anything. First of all, if we are asking ourselves this question, then perhaps we are already having some sort of struggle with eating, food(s), weight, body image, etc. One of the simplest things we can do to gain some clarity is to ask ourselves a series of questions:

  • Do I think about food or my weight all the time?
  • Have I lost weight over and over only to gain it back and more?
  • Do I obsessively calculate the calories I’ve burned against the calories I’ve eaten?
  • Do I have physical problems resulting from the way I eat – or don’t eat?
  • Do I eat large amounts of food in a short period of time?
  • Do certain foods trigger binges?
  • Do I weigh myself once or twice (or more) a day?
  • Do I eat differently in front of people than I do when I’m alone?
  • Do I have emotional problems resulting from the way I eat – or  don’t eat?
  • Do I find it difficult to stop eating after one or two sweets?
  • Have I done serious work in psychotherapy only to find my “food problem” was unaffected?
  • Have my eating and/or eating behaviours caused negative consequences in my life?
  • Has a family member or medical practitioner said they are concerned about my health due to my eating?

Answering Yes to one or more of these questions could indicate that you are struggling with food addiction. Ok, great, I may or may not have food addiction…but now what can I do? The next step to figuring out the answer to this question is to try the treatment given to food addicts – and see if it helps.

There are many differing ideas as to what the “proper” treatment for food addiction is. However, there is one very common theme in successful treatment of any addiction…and that is to abstain from the substance/behavior that we are addicted to. So, for food addicts, this means abstaining from eating the foods or doing the food behaviors that our bodies have become dependent upon. The task of figuring out what food(s) we are personally addicted to – and how to go about abstaining from them – can be a tough one, and we often need support with this. There are many types of support out there from the plethora of 12 Step Food Groups, to therapists, recovery coaches and treatment facilities. Sometimes we may need to enlist the support of all of the above, and, sometimes, we find everything we need to be free of this addiction within a 12 Step group such as Overeaters Anonymous. Click here for a partial list of 12 Step groups that deal with food addictionhttps://foodaddiction.com/resources/.

If you want to try and figure out what foods are addictive for you, you can start by writing a list of all the foods you have binged on or have started eating and found you couldn’t stop. Also, think about the foods you think you couldn’t live without. The most common ingredients of addictive foods are sugar, flour, grains, high fat and salt. Take a really honest look at your eating history to determine what the foods are. Once you have identified your binge food list, then completely abstain from all of them and see what happens. Do you find this really hard? Are you able to abstain completely from those foods? Are you experiencing any detox symptoms (headaches, foggy brain, fatigue, irritability)?

If you are able to continue abstaining from these ingredients for a week or so, your cravings and food obsessions should slowly start to diminish. If this happens, then there is a good chance you are food addicted.

If you think you are food addicted, we strongly suggest you get support. It has been proven over and over again that people with the strongest recovery have enlisted support – and usually lots of it. Click here to read more about different treatment options available at ACORN https://foodaddiction.com/programs/.

The upcoming dates for ACORN’s food addiction recovery programs are:

  • April 26 – May 1: Primary Intensive, Monsey, New York
  • May 5 – 7: 3-Days in Florida, Bradenton, Florida
  • May 26 – 31: Primary Intensive, Bradenton, Florida
  • June 12 – 16: Primary Intensive, Vancouver BC, Canada

Register for an Event



HAPPY WORLD EARTH DAY
  • April 22 is World Earth Day, what are you doing to recognize this day? More importantly what are we doing every day to look after our planet?
  • More than 1 billion people in over 200 countries participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
  • Want to know what your environmental footprint on the world is. Click here to take Earth Day Network’s Ecological Footprint quiz http://www.earthday.org/take-action/footprint-calculator/

Weekly Teleconference “Nuts & Bolts”

Please join us Wednesday evenings for recovery support.
This no-cost abstinence support group is open to all. Led by Sherri Goodman, professional trainee. thereveals@frontier.com
Wednesdays at 7 pm (EST.)
Conference call in number:
(712) 432-0111 
Access Number 1014962#

World Health Day and an Abstinent Passover Brisket Recipe

Hello,

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,
Amanda

International Day of Happiness – Mary Foushi

Today is International Day of Happiness.  When asked to write an article about this day of celebration I realized that I had never heard about International Day of Happiness.  So I did a little research on the dayofhappiness.net website and discovered how this special day got started and what it is all about.  Here is what I found:

What is the International Day of Happiness? It’s a day to be happy, of course! Since 2013, the United Nations has celebrated the International Day of Happiness as a way to recognize the importance of happiness in the lives of people around the world. In 2015 the UN launched 17 Sustainable Development Goals that seek to end poverty, reduce inequality, and protect our planet – three key aspects that lead to well-being and happiness.

I began to reflect upon what Happiness means to me.  I thought about Happiness being an amazing benefit of abstinence and recovery.  Happiness is part of having positive energy as I go about my day and interact with those around me.  My dog Ellie makes me happy.  My husband Phil makes me happy.  My friends make me happy.  Looking at a flower or enjoying a beautiful sunset over the Gulf of Mexico makes me happy.  Laughter makes me happy.  Holding a newborn baby makes me happy.  There are many people, places and things in my life today that make me happy.

Page 133 in “Big Book” Alcoholics Anonymous says,” We are sure God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. We cannot subscribe to the belief that this life is a vale of tears, though it once was just that for many of us.”  So Happiness – for those of us who follow a Twelve Step program – is something we can pretty much trust as a result of recovery.

I can also relate with what the BB reading says because life was a “vale of tears” for much of my life as a food addict who was active in her disease.  I was deeply unhappy for many, many years.  However, I imagine that most people around me didn’t have a clue as to just how unhappy I truly was.  I was the little fat girl – and adult – who always had a smile on my face while inside I felt sad, worthless and depressed.  I was unhappy.

  • I thought that being thin would make me Happy.
  • I thought that having the right clothes would make me Happy.
  • I thought that if only you liked me, I would be Happy.
  • I thought that if I had a fancy car I would be Happy.  That one didn’t work; I ended up with a fancy car, huge payments and unhappiness.
  • I thought that if I had the right house and right furnishings, I would be happy.
  • I thought that if my partner would only take out the garbage right when I asked, I would be happy.
  • I thought that if I could go on a fancy vacation, I would be happy.  I love fancy vacations and have been in some of the most beautiful parts of the world, but because I wasn’t FREE, I wasn’t truly happy.
  • If only … if only … if only …

Over the last week I’ve read several things on Happiness.  One quote stands out to me:

“It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is.”

This beautiful quote by Dutch Philosopher, Desiderius Erasmus (born in 1466), speaks to my heart.  Becoming willing to be what I truly am has been life-saving, life-changing, life-enhancing and completely liberating for me.

When I denied who I am (not was) as a food addict I was never truly happy.  I was always fighting against reality.  I did everything I could to deny reality.  I tried diet after diet.  I gained weight and lost weight.  I attempted to be a “normal” eater to the point of watching how “those people” ate and then trying my best to copy them.  I gave myself permission to not deprive myself of any foods.  This experiment worked for about 10 minutes.  I spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars working on my “issues” thinking that if I only uncovered “why” I ate then I wouldn’t eat!  Whew!  That was exhausting!  Although I got some help with my “issues,” I never got the support I needed to sustain abstinence from out-of-control eating.

Once I learned that food addiction is a real and treatable disease, received appropriate treatment for this disease, and surrendered to the needed structure and support to maintain abstinence and recovery, I not only lost 200 pounds but also began to experience freedom from the obsession while no longer living in bondage to food or my thinking. This is real Happiness.

So, how might I celebrate International Day of Happiness today … and every day?

  • By admitting that I’m a food addict.
  • By accepting that I am a food addict and that this just ain’t gonna change.
  • By putting my abstinence and recovery first – no matter what.
  • By building my life each day around what I have to do for my abstinence and recovery rather than building my abstinence and recovery around what I want to do in my life that day.
  • By staying deeply connected with people who, like me, are “willing to be what he (she) is.”
  • By saying Yes to suggestions from my spiritual guides and mentors.
  • By being of service to others who share my same struggles.
  • By expressing gratitude for the amazing gifts of recovery.
  • By acknowledging that I don’t feel Happy every day.  And knowing that if I keep doing what I’ve been doing I will get through whatever is troubling me and eventually be Happy, Joyous and FREE again.
  • By trusting deep in my heart that the chiefest point of happiness for me, Mary Foushi, is being willing to be – today – what I am.

My hope for you today is that you celebrate International Day of Happiness in whatever way makes you truly and profoundly Happy.

With love and deep Happiness,
Mary

International Women’s Day

Hello All,

It’s almost Spring, however, you would never know that if you were in Vancouver. We received another dump of snow over the weekend, and I think most Vancouverites would agree that we are done with the snow and cold this year. Vancouver’s climate is pretty mild and the continued low temperatures and amount of snow are rare for us. Looking out the window with the sun reflecting off the snow is quite pretty, but it’s not so pretty when I am out on the road fighting with the other Vancouver drivers who, like me, do not know how to drive in this white stuff! Needless to say, I will be happy to get on a plane next week and head to the warmth of Florida for a few weeks.

Wednesday March 8th is International Women’s Day. What does that bring up for you? It instantly reminds me of being in Cambodia in 2008 where Women’s Day is huge. I was in Cambodia volunteering with women in the sex-trade industry and women from the impoverished outer provinces. I was leading two programs: a gender equality program and a women’s empowerment program. Gender equality, women’s empowerment and International Women’s Day mean very different things to the women in Cambodia than it did to me, the white girl from a wealthy nation. For me, among other things, it means working towards women receiving equal wages in the work force. For the Cambodian woman, it means fighting on a daily basis to be able to be in the work force at all. Girls are encouraged to quit school around the age of 10 because – as told from birth – an education is not needed for the domestic work they will spend their lives doing once they marry and have children.

Cambodia was also an escape for me; just another attempt to remove myself from my life. I thought if I moved to Cambodia for a few months I could deal with my eating, lose weight and come home later a new person. People would be amazed and in awe of me.  I would be freed from the lonely, aching desperation I felt inside because I would be thin (don’t you know one can get thin through a move to Cambodia or any other geographical?), happy and free, and, most importantly, people would notice me and I would be important; always on the search to be filled up by something outside of myself. Cambodia in 2008 would be my answer!

This clearly wasn’t the answer for me yet it was my best thinking at the time. I would love to hear any crazy schemes you have had and where your best thinking has taken you.

In this picture (I’m in the front row, bottom left) I have just arrived in Cambodia and met some of the students I was going to be leading through the Gender Equality program.  Grateful to be there but fully in the disease of food addiction, I was constantly distracted by thoughts of when and what I was going to eat next, uncomfortable in my obese body, hot and sweaty and embarrassed as I was, once again, the largest person there. Everywhere I went people would openly stare and often poke at my body as they were not used to seeing large people. I pretended it was all ok but inside I was deeply ashamed. Again, I was so obsessed with what was happening with me that I couldn’t actually be there with all these beautiful people; yes, I was there physically but not mentally, emotionally or spiritually, which is what both they and I deserved.  Maybe one day I will go back to Cambodia and be able to show up differently. But in the meantime my amends to these folks is to commit to living in recovery and being present in everything I do.

Anyways, I digressed – International Women’s Day is what I was talking about and their 2017 theme is “Be Bold for Change”: take groundbreaking action and celebrate respect, appreciation and love for all people. For me, when I accepted that I was a food addict and needed treatment for that particular disease – and not for obesity or an eating disorder – I took groundbreaking action by following the plan of abstinence and recovery laid out by ACORN. This has turned into the ultimate celebration of respect, love and appreciation for myself and for everyone in my life.

How about you…Are you up for change? Are you up for taking groundbreaking action? Are you up for giving yourself and your family the ultimate gift of respect, appreciation and love? There is nothing more empowering you can do for yourself,  for women in your life, and, for that matter, all human beings in your life than take care of what is ailing you, take care of your needs and live boldly and courageously.

We have several upcoming events to help you do just that:

  • March 17 – 19
    3-Days with Phil
    Bradenton, FL
  • March 24 – 29
    Primary Intensive
    Bradenton, FL
  • April 21 – 23
    3-Days with Phil
    Bradenton, FL
  • May 19 – 21
    3-Days with Phil
    Homewood, IL

Wishing you all a week of abstinence, love, courage and appreciation,

Amanda

Nuts & Bolts of Abstinence: Recovery First

Part of ACORN’s aftercare support is a weekly telephone meeting called “Nuts & Bolts of Abstinence.” On a recent call the common theme was fear, anger and sadness. So together they decided to focus on how to continue with strong recovery and abstinence in the face of difficult and challenging times. Below, Sherri Goodman Reveal, the “Nuts & Bolts” facilitator, writes about the brilliant suggestions the meeting participants came up with that night for putting recovery first no matter what is going on in our lives.


“One of our Wednesday “Nuts & Bolts of Abstinence” telephone meetings focused on how to work our recovery programs when we feel devastated by events that are out of our control and that threaten our serenity and abstinence.  At the time, we were feeling strong emotions over the same event.  But some of us, including me, have lost their abstinence over more personal events, such as the fatal illness of a parent, the death of a child, miscarriage, divorce, estrangement from children or other of Life’s curveballs.  These suggestions may be applied in any situation, and so we would like to pass along what we shared on the call: 

  • I am truly powerless over the outcome; I did my footwork [in the situation].  Now I need to work on acceptance.
  • The pain I feel is in my resistance to accepting the results.  The fear I feel is fear of a future event.

  • I need not attach danger to my feelings; feelings rise and fall; I can allow myself to feel the feelings of fear, anger, panic, sadness and have compassion for my feelings.

  • Meditation is helpful to regain my center.

  • I have the urge to numb my feelings and thoughts with playing computer games, food, spending, and/or hiding under the covers.  As food addicts, we are comfort-seeking missiles [from the Food Addicts in Recovery basic text].  However, as a recovering food addict, I must put abstinence first without exception; take the next right action in my daily life, stay in today and act my way into right thinking and feeling.

  • If I do the above, I remind myself that I do not have to feel immediate relief (which is a hallmark of an addict to want instant relief from discomfort.

  • I trust that my Higher Power will reveal the good or the positives in any situation; I just have to be patient.

  • Remember the quote in the Big Book: “It is plain that a life which includes deep resentment leads only to futility and unhappiness. To the precise extent that we permit these, do we squander the hours that might have been worth while. But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave. We found that it is fatal. For when harboring such feelings we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the Spirit. The insanity of alcohol returns and we drink again. And with us, to drink is to die. If we were to live, we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison”

  • Pray for the individuals involved in the event.  Pray to Higher Power for acceptance of reality.

  • We are not alone.  As they say in OA, “as we join hands we find love and understanding beyond our wildest dreams.”

  • Try a temper tantrum [with our peers or alone].

  • Apply the Serenity Prayer to this situation: Ask for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can and wisdom to know the difference.”