Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ It’s Relapse Time!

It’s that time of year! No, I don’t mean the holiday season, not exactly. This time of year, with the many holidays coming up, is when those who are food dependent relapse more than any other.

At SHiFT, through the years, we’ve seen many who are food dependent convince themselves to have “just one” of their trigger foods only to end up in devastating relapses even before the new year begins. We also see it in even those who are normal eaters when they make New Year’s resolutions and begin weight loss programs.

Let me be crystal clear, eating even one bite of foods that cause an emotional and/or physiological reaction in your body leads directly to relapse. While it may not happen immediately, it won’t take long before the overwhelming cravings become too powerful to resist.

Though this may sound pessimistic, the good news is that you have a choice. Even though you may already know this, seeing this warning written down, will help to make it real and making it real means that you can prepare yourself to prevent a relapse.

This holiday season, more than any other that I can remember in my lifetime, is different and more challenging than those before. As a nation, we are dealing with many issues.  As individuals, we are experiencing challenging feelings and fears about what our holidays will look like this year.

The single most important way to deal with these feelings and to prevent a relapse is to stay as close to your recovery program as possible. Connect with others who are food dependent.  Keep going to support groups. Plan and re-plan to make sure you have the foods you need to continue following your food plan. And, most of all, don’t take chances with your recovery.

Stay away from people who encourage you to binge or eat foods not on your food plan. Don’t go into places where you have no business being. There’s no need to try and prove how “strong” you are or how much “willpower” you have by buying or cooking foods you don’t eat.

If you are an alcoholic, you have no business going into a bar. If you’re food dependent, you have no good reason to go into a bakery. While it is possible for each to go into these places and not relapse, the question to ask yourself is why would you put yourself in this position?

If your recovery truly is the most important thing in your life, the foundation of every good thing that’s come into your life, why would you risk it during what has been proven to be a dangerous time?

Check out your motives during this time of relapse. Doing this one simple thing may prevent you from losing the greatest gift of your life.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Stop the Nonsense In November!  No More Codependent Behaviors!

I have to do everything myself. I can’t count on anyone. 

No one will love me if I make a mistake. 

I shouldn’t spend time or money on myself. 

Why won’t he just do what I want him to?

These thoughts, and many others like them, reflect codependent thinking. For those of you who don’t know, codependency is an unhealthy fixation on other people’s behaviors, needs, and attitudes to the extent of neglecting your own needs.

In other words, codependency is an addiction to other people in the same way that those who are food dependent are addicted to certain foods.

People pleasing, having poor boundaries, trying to control others, caretaking, being unable to communicate feelings in a healthy way, obsessive thoughts about other people, and low self-esteem are all part of codependency.

Spending all of your time trying to meet other people’s needs, feeling trapped, or constantly making sacrifices in a relationship are some of the behaviors that codependents engage in. Research tells us that codependency gets worse without treatment.

As with any addiction, codependency can have devastating consequences. At SHiFT, we’ve seen firsthand the damage that codependency can cause to food dependency recovery.  Nearly 100% of the people who relapse have told us that codependency issues played a major role in their picking up addictive foods.

If you are in recovery from food dependency and codependent behaviors are causing you to think about bingeing, it’s important for you to get help immediately. There are several Twelve-Step programs (Codependent’s Anonymous, Al-Anon, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Families Anonymous) that can help or if you’re a SHiFT alumni, we recently introduced a new codependent program specifically for those who are food dependent. There are only a few spaces left in our new codependency program that begins on Friday, November 20.

Whatever way you decide to address your codependency issues, the important thing is that you take steps towards recovery. Nothing and no one is worth losing your recovery.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~No-Nonsense November!

Welcome to No-Nonsense November! What exactly does that mean? Aren’t we told to have fun in recovery? Yes, of course, having fun, relaxing and enjoying life are among the many benefits of being in recovery.

Nonsense, however, is something different. Nonsense is choosing to put people, places or things before recovery. It’s deciding that “just one” bite of addictive food isn’t a big deal or deciding that going to meetings is a waste of time.

Nonsense is also hanging around with people who are dangerous to recovery or who are still bingeing. It’s using other substances or people to avoid dealing with feelings or participating in activities that encourage relapse.

Though nonsense can be different for each person, for the majority of us in recovery, it means playing around with the foundations of recovery that work for you.This can mean deciding to prepare meals for others that include foods not on your food plan or it may be getting so caught up in events taking place in the world that you don’t “have time” to go to meetings or shop for abstinent food.

Most of all, nonsense as it relates to recovery is the act of slowly letting recovery be replace by other “more important” things, which almost always results in a SLIPSobriety Loses Its Priority.

As we continue to celebrate No-Nonsense November, it’s important to remember that recovery is the most important thing in our lives, no matter what.  There is no nonsense worth losing that.

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.