Celebrating 25 years of food addiction treatment and recovery!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ 3 Days in New England!!!

What a great 3 days! We were in Boston this week. In addition to enjoying the beautiful city, we had an amazing 3-Day program with some of our alumni. As recovery continues, life happens, and sometimes food addicts need extra support to work through tricky issues.

We saw some amazing SHiFTs during our 3-Day program. One attendee said, “I have a path to living a life beyond my wildest dreams because of SHiFT.”  While another one said, “LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that SHiFT has saved my life!”

These changes only happen with the support of others. Most food addicts in recovery aren’t able to figure out solutions to the issues they are facing alone. It’s just not possible to solve a problem with the brain that created it. Getting an outside perspective and developing a plan of action is incredibly valuable in maintaining long-term recovery and rebounding from a food slip.

Some of the attendees in our New England program this week were able to identify emotional and spiritual blocks that were in the way of long-term abstinence, identify feelings they weren’t aware they had, deal with anger, fear and grief, and surrender again to their powerlessness over food.

If you’d like to attend one of our 3-Days with SHiFT programs, there’s still two left before the end of the year. The first one is before OA’s “Vision For You” conference November 12 – 14 in Pottersville, NJ (wait list only) and the second one is December 27 – 29 in Bradenton, FL.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda – It’s Okay to Enjoy Your Food!

It’s summer and it’s all about Farmers Markets!  Next week is National Farmers Market Week, a great way to celebrate healthy, delicious, locally-grown abstinent food.

Most food addicts who begin a recovery program, don’t like vegetables. It’s rare that we see someone who’s binged on plain vegetables though, of course, it’s possible. Most of the binges that include vegetables are because they were deep fried or covered in fats (butter, oil, dressing, etc.) and not because of the vegetables themselves.

Food addicts in recovery learn how to enjoy and appreciate healthy food. While it may not happen immediately, over time, food addicts discover how to prepare healthy food that tastes good. There is a misconception that it’s not okay for food addicts in recovery to enjoy their food. This is untrue.

Enjoying healthy, abstinent food is important as is taking time to shop for and prepare food that you like. Eating vegetables you don’t like when there are options on your food plan that taste good to you can sometimes be a setup for relapse. Depriving yourself of good-tasting abstinent food can cause frustration and self-pity which can sometimes lead to bingeing.

As you go through next week, if it’s possible, visit a local farmers market and purchase great tasting vegetables that you love. If that’s not possible then take a few extra minutes to prepare something abstinent that you like. It’s okay to enjoy your food.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ There’s always hope!

What a week it’s been! We just finished up our July Acorn Intensive Program and I am reminded again of how very grateful I am for the work I do. Watching the change in food addicts as they go through the week is nothing short of miraculous. Food addicts who came in with no hope whatsoever, leave with a peace they didn’t even know existed. Even more importantly, they find a life beyond bingeing and food obsession, one in which there is hope.

After trying countless diet and weight loss programs, these food addicts are demoralized and beaten down to the point of total desperation. To see hope building day by day in food addicts where once there was none is truly one of the greatest gifts of my life.

If you are a food addict who is still suffering, realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. There is hope.  If you are a food addict in recovery, remember how hopeless you once felt. It will keep you grounded and committed to your recovery program. And, if you are a food addict who is in relapse, understand that you can find your way back. There is hope for all of us.

The raw emotion and safe space that was created for me to express and confess my pain. Being in the presence of Phil and Amanda…two special souls. T.R. – 7/24/19

 

 

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Take care of you!

 

It’s almost here!  Wednesday, July 24th is International Self-Care Day which is designed to raise awareness for healthy lifestyles! At SHiFT, we’ve been doing this for over a quarter of a century. In addition to a healthy eating plan, self-care involves many other things. For example, taking time for meditation, prayer, self-reflection or journaling are all important parts of self-care as are regular exercise, fun, recreation, hobbies and relaxation.

For many addicts, it’s much easier to do something, anything, instead of sitting quietly or relaxing.  Active in addiction, the mental obsession with food, tricks food addicts into believing that they are always busy. In many cases, this is true and becomes comfortable even in recovery. A lot of activity goes into maintaining an addiction – finding, getting, paying for, and preparing food – yet these activities have destructive, unhealthy consequences.

In recovery, it’s important to learn new self-care behaviors that don’t involve food or eating. This Wednesday, why not schedule half an hour to do something special for yourself? Sit by the water, read a fun book or magazine, get a massage, give yourself a spa treatment, or find a quiet spot in the park to enjoy nature. You deserve to take care of yourself. Enjoy the day!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Watch out for seasonal foods!

It’s summer!  For food addicts, changes in weather sometimes mean eating certain foods that are “seasonal” and many times unhealthy or addictive. It’s important not to let your guard down when thoughts of “seasonal foods” come into your mind. Many food addicts use the changing seasons as an excuse to overeat, telling themselves that this food is only available or tasty during this small window of time. Ideas such as this are simply an excuse to binge. Long-term recovery from food addiction is based on daily actions that turn minutes into hours and days into weeks and months into years. There is no “seasonal food” that is worth risking the clarity and gifts that abstinence provides. Sometimes “seasonal foods” can seem harmless, even healthy, but if you can’t stop eating them, they are still binge foods and need to be avoided. Be on the lookout for thoughts of “seasonal foods” and do your best to replace them with visions about the gifts abstinence provides.

 

“I was in trouble and knew I needed help.”

I was in trouble and I knew I needed help. It had been a long day at work and it was going to be an even longer drive home. Traffic was terrible and it was raining. My disease told me that my planned eating would help. I stopped at my planned binge store and bought the Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie and coffee with cream I had been obsessed with all day. I was in the food, but I thought I was in control this time. I would stop after this …but how did I get here? The rain was pouring, and it was late. I found myself driving across a strange bridge and I suddenly realized that I had no idea where I was. I told myself it was fine but I knew deep down that I was lost in a food fog. I had no recollection of how I got on the bridge and it was not the way home at all. I was so confused.

I was now in full-blown relapse. I could not stop eating. I knew that if I did not get help immediately I would weigh 300 lbs. I was desperate and this time I knew I needed professional help. I wanted to attend a SHiFT event. I had never been but I had learned about SHiFT from my recovery community. I never thought that I needed ‘that’ kind of help. I could do it myself. I knew this time I could not. I was beaten. I called SHiFT earlier in the day and as I drove, ate and cried I was expecting a phone call from Phil. The phone rang and as I answered I prayed that he could not hear the cellophane wrapper of my Little Debbie. We spoke for several minutes. I could not believe that the owner of this place was actually calling me and talking to me like a human being. Much less a human being that understood the pure hell I was living. I felt relief and hope. I made arrangements to attend the 3 Day workshop and I cried the whole way home – a mix of relief and desperation.

The next days were a blur. I remember lots of fear, anger tears and my last binge. Just one more – my disease said. On the drive to the event my binge had grown to two Little Debbies and 2 coffees and cream. I gagged as I drove. I could not get the food down fast enough. I was scared and ashamed as we started the weekend I had no idea what to expect. Phil tenderly and empathetically led our groups. He always gave us everything he could emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. I learned that I am not my disease. I learned that I am a charming lovely person whose disease has become enmeshed with my personality. I learned that my feelings and my thoughts are two different entities and that I can feel my feelings and work on myself without the use of extra food.

I am constantly being judged by my disease and Phil taught us so many things. Mostly he taught me compassion and trust. He did this by allowing each member of the group to be met where we were. No one was judged and he did not expect us to be anywhere but where we were. Phil’s unconditional positive regard helped me face the fear and shame I felt. This level of acceptance allowed me to begin my abstinence and journey towards recovery once again.

Phil emphasized that once we truly accept that we are powerless over our disease there is no shame. The hope he instilled in me is that right on the other side of despondency is surrender.

Today I am surrendered. I have 4 months of weighed and measured abstinence and I am so grateful for the beginning that SHiFT allowed me to have with Phil. I never want to forget my confusion, my sad last binge and the pure deprivation that I felt. I want to remember this so that I can learn to give that same unconditional acceptance I learned from Phil to that sad woman inside of me.

I am a food addict – I need love and care – I can go to SHiFT and get what I need. We call can. Deep roots growing.