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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….

However…..

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.

DON’T FALL FOR THIS!!

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!

Sharing SHiFTS by Amanda ~ Unexpected Gifts

You never know when or how they’ll show up. It may be right at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. That’s what makes them so special. I’m talking about unexpected gifts.

I was reminded these past few weeks about how unexpected gifts can come from places that I normally wouldn’t think of. As we were waiting for our new cookbook, abstinence, to come back from the printer’s, I began to think about all of the gifts that came out of this project.

Not only was I able to re-connect with many of our alumni who very generously contributed recipes, but I was also reminded on an even deeper level of the commitment it takes to get and stay in recovery from food dependency.

Of course, having led many and with us beginning another Acorn Intensive this week, I regularly see the miraculous transformations of those who learn about and begin to follow a food plan free of addictive substances.

Working on the cookbook was different in some ways. Reviewing the recipes and remembering how absolutely devastated some of our alumni were when they came into our Acorn Intensive program, showed me exactly how much determination, commitment and perseverance those who are food dependent have.

Those who are not yet in recovery use determination and perseverance to continue bingeing while those in recovery use those very same character traits to find creative ways to keep their abstinent meals tasty in order to maintain long-term recovery.

Remember, it’s okay to enjoy your abstinent food!  Sometimes, enjoying your food can make the difference between continuing on in recovery or relapsing.

Once again, I want to thank everyone who helped to make our cookbook a reality. I am grateful for each and every one of you. And, I am just as grateful for the unexpected gifts that came out of this project.

If you’d like to purchase a cookbook, please click here.  A portion of the proceeds will go to our SHiFT Scholarship Fund to help those who cannot afford treatment for food dependency.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Saying No To Food That You Don’t Eat

One bite won’t hurt you. 

You have to eat cake on your birthday. 

I worked so hard to cook this meal for you.

We’ve all been through it and it’s not fun. Sometimes people get upset and it’s never easy but saying no to food that you don’t eat is absolutely necessary. Remember, your recovery is about you and not about pleasing other people.

While it may seem so easy to simply go along with the crowd, or sometimes your mother or grandmother who talk about spending so much time preparing your favorite food, there’s so much more to this decision than just the time it took for someone to cook.

To begin, think about the time and effort it took for you to get into recovery. Is giving that up really worth the few minutes of pleasure someone else will get from seeing you eat the food they prepared?

Now, add to this the idea that it’s not your job, nor do you have the power, to make anyone else truly happy or, on the flip side, unhappy, and you can see that trying to please someone else by eating addictive foods is dangerous, even life-threatening to your recovery.

Long after the temporary or shallow pleasure others may have is over, you will be left with the long-lasting and possibly deadly consequences of having binged. And, trust me, though you many not binge immediately after eating addictive foods, eventually that will happen. It’s not a reflection of your strength. It’s simply a fact of food dependency. Eating a food that triggers a physiological response in our bodies, causes us to want more and more of that food.

So, even though it’s not fun at the moment, saying no to food you don’t eat anymore will make the difference between food freedom and food obsession.  As always, the choice is yours.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Is Detox Real?

Why am I so tired?

Why do I have such a bad headache? 

Why does my body ache? 

Why am I so irritable?

These are some of the questions those who enter our programs ask. Usually, these questions come up after following our food plan.

The answer to all of these questions is one simple yet sometimes confusing word: DETOX.

Is detox real?

While most of us are familiar with the idea of detoxing from alcohol and drugs, detoxing from food substances isn’t as well known and some don’t believe it’s actually real.

As with alcohol and drug detox, there are certain side effects that come with putting down a substance that your body is physically dependent on.  With food, these substances are usually sugar, flour, wheat and fat.

Though detox from food substances is different for everyone, there are some common side effects that we observe regularly.  The most common is feeling tired which is followed by having head and body aches. Irritability, anger, depression, and sadness are also experienced by some who are in withdrawal.

In general, withdrawal side effects can last up to three weeks but usually lessen by the end of the first week as long as those substances are not put back into your body.  Read that last part again:  as long as those substances are not put back into your body.

If someone who is food dependent puts these substances back into their body, they will be starting the withdrawal “clock” all over again and prolonging their withdrawal side effects.  In other words, they are making the side effects last even longer than if they had kept those substances out of their bodies.

To answer the question in this post:  YES, DETOX IS REAL!  Though it may be misunderstood and oftentimes overlooked by those beginning a food dependency program, detox is very real.  And the good news is that it will pass and everyone who continues to follow their plan has told us that they feel better than they ever thought possible!