Celebrating 25 years of food addiction treatment and recovery!

Is this program for me?

Do you need help with out of control eating or with the inability to stop eating certain foods once you’ve started? Do you spend way too much time focusing on what you’re going to eat, what you’re not going to eat or what your body weight is? Do you often have the thought, “what is wrong with me, why can’t I stop eating”? We at ACORN all asked ourselves these questions over and over for years! Finally, we got an answer and we want to share it with you!! Actually, it is our mission at ACORN to share all we have learned with as many people as possible so people don’t have to suffer with the relentless food/eating/body obsession that plagues millions of us. (more…)

Food Sober Through the Holidays – 5 Tips


The holidays can be a tough time for many reasons and for those of us that struggle with food, eating and weight issues it can be an absolute night mare. It doesn’t have to be though. Below are 5 tips that can alleviate the “Holiday Crazys”!






1) Support is KEY! Whether you’re in strong recovery, precarious recovery, relapsing, or still trying to wrap your head around the idea of food addiction and how to confront your food or weight challenges…we cannot do this alone! Many of us can probably look back at our attempts to control our food and/or our weight and agree that ‘doing it alone’ has not been the most successful strategy. Need support before heading over to your in-laws for that big turkey dinner on Christmas Eve? Or feeling stressed about the holiday o?ce party? Is your best friend hosting a holiday cocktail party that you just cannot decline but know it will be ?lled with appetizers, eggnog and cookies galore? We at ACORN have found sharing our fears, anxieties and stressors with someone else to be a crucial part of recovery and every day life. And doing so could involve any of the following: Going to 12-step recovery meetings, calling a close friend who you can con?de in, speaking to a therapist or family member, texting a fellow or friend your thoughts and feelings while at the event, excusing yourself from the dinner table and making an outreach call in the bathroom,                                                                   texting a fellow or friend your dinner commitment ahead of time…the possibilities are endless! There is strength in numbers!

2) PLAN AHEAD! When we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Walking into any situation involving food without a plan is walking into treacherous territory when you have a complex history of eating/ weight predicaments. If you are going to a party or dinner… call the host or restaurant ahead of time and ask what is on the menu. Check out the restaurant menu online if possible. Do not be afraid to speak up for your needs. Many restaurants can accommodate special requests if they know about it ahead of time. If this is not possible, bring a dish (or two!) that you know you can eat comfortably! Another strategy is to consider eating a meal prior to going to a party where there will be a lot of food present. You will be satiated and then you can focus on socializing and enjoying the holiday ambiance more than the appetizers and desserts. Or you could bring your prepared dinner with you! Wherever you are in your food journey…putting yourself ?rst in these situations is extremely important. It may be helpful to ask yourself: What is going to put my abstinence, my recovery OR my highest self that I am working towards ahead of anything else? What would it look like if I were putting my needs ?rst?

3) IT’S OK TO SAY NO! Often our default is to say YES! Have you ever said YES when you really wanted to say NO? At ACORN, we believe healthy boundaries are a very important part of selfcare as well as food addiction recovery. If attending a particular event will threaten your abstinence, your sense of well-being, or your emotional stability…here is a gentle reminder that it is okay to decline an invitation. Many times you do not even have to give an explanation! A simple, “I’m so sorry but I am unable to attend. Thank you so much for thinking of me! Happy Holidays!” Is enough! It is easy to over complicate RSVPs when overwhelmed by feelings of fear, anger, or sadness. Less is more! Keep the RSVP short and sweet. And enjoy an activity on the evening of that event that feels loving and gentle to you.

4) CREATE AN ALTERNATE EVENT! Try planning a holiday gathering for you, close friends and/ or family that does not involve food and drinking! (This might be hard to imagine…) BUT the possibilities are truly endless…craft nights, bowling, ice skating, attending a live sports game, organizing a ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchange, going for a hike in the park, attending a yoga class, seeing a movie in theaters, visiting a comedy club, getting manicures and pedicures, a meditation class…These are all wonderful ways to spend time with loved ones. And better yet, the focus is not exclusively on holiday cookies, desserts, and warm sugary drinks.

5) RE-EVALUATE YOUR VERSION OF SELF CARE! In a season ?lled with MORE…more gifts, more desserts, more cookies, more parties, more beverages, more family, more friends…it is helpful to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember that these materialistic and
external ‘things’ do not necessarily ‘?ll us up’ internally. Haven’t many of us spent our lives trying to ‘?ll up’ with various external items such as… diets, expensive clothing and shoes, food, food and more food… working excessively, compulsively exercising, compulsively spending, gambling, trying to control others… the list goes on and on? Ask yourself ; did these ever work? Have I ever been truly serene and at ease engaging in this particular activity? What may be a better way to feel content and at ease internally? Often the answer is rather simple…maybe it is spending just 10 minutes a day reading your favorite book? Is it hugging your pet? Is it meditating for just 5 minutes? Telling another person how you are feeling? The holiday season is often categorized by an excess of materialistic things; but self care can take on so many di?erent non-materialistic forms. Less is very often MORE! What helps you feel calm and serene inside? Share below!

Is your recovery shaky? Join us to start 2019 on solid ground!

$525 Savings! Reduced for the holidays.
Start 2019 right by joining us for a special Holiday “3-Days with ACORN” in sunny Bradenton, Florida

Are you tired of food controlling your life? Do you want 2019 to be about more than food obsession? If so register for this event. The focus will be on food sobriety and recovery”

There will be two process groups daily led by world renowned food addiction expert Phil Werdell. The three days will take place in a cozy residential home where people are welcome to stay for a small additional cost. The home is sugar and flour free and has a great community kitchen for people to prepare their meals.

3-Days with ACORN

Who: This event is for ACORN alumni to maintain and strengthen recovery.

When: December 28 – 30, 2018
Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily

Where: Sugar Free Place
3018 Pine Street
Bradenton, FL 34208

Lodging: Lodging is available at Sugar Free Place for $45 per night. Please note, rooms will be shared with other participants and may be on the 2nd floor.

Meals: Meals are participant’s responsibility. You may bring prepared meals or purchase groceries upon arrival. Participants may elect to organize meals with other participants.

Fun: Evenings will be optional – local meetings, movies and fun. One night Phil may read his current First Step.

Cost: $975 – $525 Savings! Reduced for the holidays.

Register: Call the ACORN office to register for this event. 941-378-2122

We look forward to seeing you and sharing recovery with you! 

Kate from TV show This Is Us…do you relate to her?? If so you probably want to register for our upcoming program.

Photo Image from: https://binged.it/2Lv4Pyy%5B/caption%5D

Is the 3 Day program right for me? This is a great question. And just to be annoying, I am going to answer this with another question (actually a couple of questions)….Do you now or have you in the past struggled with being unable to stop eating? Do you eat when you are emotional? Does your eating or weight have negative consequences on your life? If you answered yes to any of these and you want 2019 to be different then YES this 3 day program is for you.

One more question, do you relate to Kate on the TV show This Is Us? I remember watching the very first episode in season 1, within the first 5 minutes we are introduced to Kate, an obese woman just about to turn 36 years old. The scene takes place with her standing in the kitchen looking in the refrigerator. She opens up the fridge and there are several yellow sticky notes on different food items. One is stuck to what looks like sugary treat foods and it says, “Bad’ another stuck to a plastic tub of pineapple says “250 calories”, another attached to take out food containers says, “throw this crap out” and yet another stuck to a birthday cake says, “Do not dare eat this cake before your party, Kate. Love Kate”. Kate then rips this last note off the cake and underneath is another note, it reads, “Seriously, what is wrong with you?” A bit later in the episode Kate is sitting in her bathroom on the floor with her twin brother, she is crying, she says, “how did I get here”, “what happened to my life, I feel like I ate my dream life away”. She looks at her brother and says, “tell me to quit feeling sorry for myself and to lose the damn weight”. Kate says this last statement to herself firmly, loudly and with conviction, “I am going to lose the damn weight”. Flash to next scene Kate is at a weight loss support group convinced this is it, she will now lose the weight. And she means it with everything she has. Sadly, in episode 2 you see Kate hiding empty junk food containers in the garbage, she is eating again.

This whole scenario really hit home with me. At the time I first watched it I was abstinent and had lost over 100 pounds. However, it was still painful for me as I had spent so many of my years being Kate, doing exactly what Kate was doing. Trying desperately to gain “control” of my weight and eating issues and every single time I failed and then beat myself up, asking myself “what is wrong with me?” Do you relate to Kate? If you do you may be food dependent and need more than just another diet and exercise plan.

I was so grateful when I realized it wasn’t my fault yet it was my responsibility once I knew what the solution was. The solution is physical, mental and spiritual…I need a personal food plan that deals with the specific food ingredients I am addicted to. I need tools to deal with my feelings and not eat over them. I need the support of others, I cannot do this alone. At ACORN’s upcoming event we will take a look at all of these and ensure you leave with a plan specific to you and your needs including aftercare support.




Photo Image credit from: https://binged.it/2Lv4Pyy

What do the Holidays mean to you?

The holiday season is certainly upon us!! Holiday music is blaring, stores are bustling, roads are busy, lights are twinkling and chocolate is EVERYWHERE!! I say that very dramatically. However, thank you Universe, chocolate is not speaking to me at all this year. Wow, what a huge gift that is.

Recently, I have been thinking about what the holidays really mean to me…and the truth is, I really don’t know. Holidays were always a “food extravaganza” for me and, therefore, I LOVED it!! I couldn’t wait for the holiday season to come.

So I have been surprised and saddened in recent years to find that the thrill and excitement are no longer there. The loss of these “happy” feelings came at the same time I became abstinent; hence, the holidays were no longer about food and eating.

My first abstinent holiday was OK. It was a little boring and lackluster but I was pretty thrilled with the changes both physically and mentally that had happened in my life (I was just shy of 12 months of abstinence). That was still quite exciting and thrilling and I made it through pretty well.

Then along came year two…this was tougher. The honeymoon was over. I was restless, irritable, and discontent, and I HATED everyone in my family that still thought the holidays were about indulging. Didn’t they know I was not doing that anymore and therefore none of them should?! Clearly, they had not received my memo. My expectations were drastically unmet…and it was all their fault…HUMPH!

Year three I was going to show them and stay away for the holidays. I spent them in Florida. It was actually a lovely day that started with a 12 Step meeting on the beach and finished with an abstinent dinner with friends in recovery.

Which brings me to this year where I am still asking myself what the holidays mean to me? Now that it no longer includes indulging in food, alcohol, shopping and all around gluttony, I am left with this big unknown.  I am home in Vancouver this holiday season and working to create a new image of the holidays. So far what I have come up with is pretty simple, the holidays are:

  • Just like any other day in that my recovery and abstinence will come first.
  • A day I will weigh and measure all of my meals following my food plan.
  • A day I will get up and the first thing I will do is pray and meditate.
  • A time of beautiful, twinkling lights and sparkling candles.
  • A time I can spend with family and friends, if I choose to. (Choose is a big word for me here as I don’t have to do what I have always done. This will take courage as I get stuck in the “I will miss out if I don’t do EVERYTHING.”)
  • A time I can choose to buy gifts for people in my life. (Again, choose is the operative word here. I don’t want to consume just to consume. This is also very hard for me to do.)
  • A time I can play Catch Phrase with my nieces and nephews and laugh hysterically when my Mom and Aunt join in. (I promise that we laugh with them, not at them.)
  • A time I can get quiet and present and reflect over the previous year.
  • A day I will practice Steps 10, 11 & 12 throughout the day.
  • A day I will end with prayer, meditation and gratitude.

So, what I am really saying is that on my holiday I will get up, show up and God willing, go to bed abstinent. And I pray for the same for all of you!

We have an amazing Calendar of Events for 2019! Start this new year by putting yourself first. Join us for one of these recovery events. If you register by January 1 for any of the below events you will receive a 10% discount.

Register here!

Wishing everyone a holiday season full of abstinence and inner peace,

PS I would love to hear what this time of year means to you!

Upcoming 3-Days with ACORN

Who: This event is for ACORN alumni to maintain and strengthen recovery through the holidays. Event led by Phil Werdell.

When: December 28 – 30, 2018
Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. daily

Where: Sugar Free Place
3018 Pine Street
Bradenton, FL 34208

Lodging: Lodging is available at Sugar Free Place for $45 per night. Please note, rooms will be shared with other participants and may be on the 2nd floor.

Meals: Meals are participant’s responsibility. You may bring prepared meals or purchase groceries upon arrival. Participants may elect to organize meals with other participants.

Fun: Evenings will be optional – local meetings, movies and fun. One night Phil may read his current First Step.

Cost: $975 – $525 Savings! Reduced for the holidays.

Register: Call the ACORN office to register for this event. 941-378-2122

We look forward to seeing you and sharing recovery with you! 

Are you Codependent? What is Codependency?

Are you Codependent? What is Codependency?

Both great questions and really worth answering as codependent behaviors are among the top reasons why people relapse.

Here are 15 questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do I have difficulties identifying what I am feeling?
  2. Do I believe I can take care of myself without help from others?
  3. Do I express negativity in indirect or passive ways?
  4. Do I judge what I think, say or do harshly and as never good enough?
  5. Am I unable to identify and ask for what I need and want?
  6. Am I extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long?
  7. Do I put aside my own interests in order to do what others want?
  8. Am I afraid to express my opinions and feelings when they differ from others?
  9. Do I freely offer advice and direction without being asked?
  10. Do I refuse to give up my self will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than myself?
  11. Do I suppress my feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable?
  12. Do I mask pain in ways such as anger, humor or isolation?
  13. Do I seek recognition and praise to overcome feeling less than?
  14. Do I believe others are incapable of taking care of themselves?
  15. Do I adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority or rage to manipulate outcomes?

If you answered yes to 3 or more of these there is a good chance that Codependency is part of your life and could be a stumbling block to achieving the recovery and freedom you deserve.

If you answered yes to 3 or more of these questions, then a great gift to give yourself would be to register for our upcoming Alumni Weekend, Codependency & Food Addiction 101! We only have 4 spots left.

What: Codependency & Food Addiction 101 – Alumni Weekend
When: Friday, November 23, 6:30 pm – Sunday, November 25, 4:00 pm
Where: Vancouver, BC
Cost: $550 US includes lodging and meals
How: Register here

Extend your recovery by joining us for the ACORN Primary Intensive following the Codependency workshop. ACORN is offering 10% off for the LAST Primary Intensive of 2018! November 27 – December 2.
Prepare for the upcoming Holiday Season! Call the ACORN office at 941-378-2122 or email rmccumber@foodaddiction.com to hold your space.
When: Tuesday, November 27, 7:00 pm – Sunday, December 2, 2:00 pm
Where: Vancouver, BC
Cost: 10% off ~ $1950 for those new to ACORN/$1755 for Alumni – includes meals and lodging
How: Register here or call the ACORN office. 941-378-2122

Upcoming Events

November 23 – 25 ~ Alumni Weekend ~ Codependency for Food Addicts ~ Vancouver, B.C.
November 27 – December 2 ~ Primary Intensive ~Vancouver, B.C. 10% off!
December 3 – 9 ~ Living In Recovery ~ Vancouver, B.C.
January 18 – 23 ~ Primary Intensive ~ Bradenton, FL
January 24 – 30 ~ Living In Recovery ~ Bradenton, FL
Feb 1 – 3 ~ Alumni Weekend ~ Bradenton, FL
Feb 8 – 13 ~ Primary Intensive ~ Private Group ~ Bradenton, FL