Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Mental Health Month

May is Mental Health Month.


This past year presented so many different challenges and obstacles that tested our strength and resiliency. The global pandemic forced us to cope with situations we never even imagined, and a lot of us struggled with our mental health as a result. The good news is that there are tools and resources available that can support the well-being of individuals and communities.


Now, more than ever, we need to combat the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. That’s why this Mental Health Month SHiFT is highlighting #Tools2Thrive – what individuals can do throughout their daily lives to prioritize mental health, build resiliency, and continue to cope with the obstacles of COVID-19.


Throughout the pandemic, many people who had never experienced mental health challenges found themselves struggling for the first time. During the month of May, we are focusing on different topics that can help process the events of the past year and the feelings that surround them, while also building up skills and supports that extend beyond COVID-19.


We know that the past year forced many to accept tough situations that they had little to no control over. If you found that it impacted your mental health, you aren’t alone. In fact, of the almost half a million individuals that took the anxiety screening at, 79% showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety. However, there are practical tools that can help improve your mental health. We are focused on managing anger and frustration, recognizing when trauma may be affecting your mental health, challenging negative thinking patterns, and making time to take care of yourself.


Much like recovery, It’s important to remember that working on your mental health and finding tools that help you thrive takes time. Change won’t happen overnight. Instead, by focusing on small changes, you can move through the stressors of the past year and develop long-term strategies to support yourself on an ongoing basis.


A great starting point for anyone who is ready to start prioritizing their mental health is to take a mental health screening at It’s a quick, free, and confidential way for someone to assess their mental health and begin finding hope and healing.


Ultimately, during this month of May, SHiFT wants to remind everyone that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is possible. By developing your own #Tools2Thrive, it is possible to find balance between life’s ups and downs and continue to cope with the challenges brought on by the pandemic.


For more information, visit

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Mindful May

Welcome to Mindful May.

This month we aim to dive into the subject of Mindfulness, what it is, how it’s a beneficial practice, and how it relates to our lives.


Our first topic is: what is Mindfulness?

Well, Mindfulness is the opposite of avoidance.


What traps people in anxiety/depression, drives us to overindulge, perpetuates chronic pain, or gets us stuck in jobs or relationships?

A major contributing factor is avoidance.

Avoidance is evolutionarily hard-wired into our brains. It is similar to the fight or flight concept. Our brains are developed at their core for survival, and avoiding pain is a very natural and important part of survival. Unfortunately, this survival mechanism also sets us up for a lot of misery and prolonged pain/stress.

But don’t worry – there’s hope. Mindfulness is a simple practice that effectively counteracts avoidance. Mindfulness helps us lean into difficult experiences. It helps us be present, pause  and assess our thoughts and feelings. Once we’ve done that, we can respond to them, rather than react.


Now how can we practice mindfulness? Well here’s a few ways:


Meditate – Taking even 5-10 Minutes out of your day to sit quietly with your eyes closed and focus on your breathing and let your thoughts flow can do wonders in making you feel more connected and conscious for the rest of your day.

Eat Mindfully – Eating your food slowly without the distraction of the TV on or newspaper in front of you helps us, as food addicts, be mindful of our abstinence and appreciate the food for what it is.

Spend Time In Nature – Whether it is a walk through the park, the forest, the beach or wherever you please, spending time in nature keeps us grounded and connected to our natural environment. We also reaffirm our commitment to treat our beautiful earth with kindness and grace. 

Check in with our loved ones – We all have our struggles and go through ups and downs. Letting your loved ones know that you’re thinking about them and how much they mean to you will strengthen bonds and provide joy for everyone involved.


We hope you implement some of these tips in your life this May, and we look forward to slowing down and being more mindful ourselves.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ 5 Reasons To Sign Up For an Intensive

Our 7 day residential program, the Acorn Intensive, is our signature food addiction treatment program. With Awareness April coming to an end, we wanted to shed light on why the primary Intensive is such a powerful tool for your recovery, and why you should attend one as soon as possible (whether Virtual or In-Person). Below, we have compiled a list of questions that you may be asking yourself, wrapped up into 5 reasons why our Primary Intensive will help answer these questions. Not only will the primary Intensive provide you with tools to use in the short term, it will give you clear direction moving forward.


1) Food Plan

Are you confused about what to eat? Have you visited multiple nutritionists and questioned yourself unable to follow the plan they give you? Are you eating uncontrollably and feel absolutely no sense of ‘willpower’ around the food? Have you been to a “food” 12 Step program and hear people talk about abstinence? What is abstinence anyway? There is a solution. Attendance at the Acorn Intensive guarantees that you will leave with a food plan that’s personal to you, that’s easy to understand, that will ensure you reach a healthy body weight, that includes specific guidance and clarity around what to eat on a daily basis and an understanding of what abstinence truly means. Doesn’t this sound freeing?

2) Community

Do you feel alone with your food and weight problems? Do you often think you are terminally unique and nobody else feels like you do about food and your body? At the Primary Intensive this myth will be dispelled. You will be surrounded by multiple other people with food, weight and body issues just like you. Better yet, you will leave the event with an easy, accessible, and fuss-free way of keeping in touch with your group on a daily basis. Long-lasting friendships are born here. You will also gain access to a strong support network of ACORN alumni.

3) Clarity

Are you questioning if you are a food addict? Do you feel shame about your eating because you believe that the strength of your willpower is why you can never follow a ‘diet’? Do you believe your issues with food are all your fault? At the ACORN Primary Intensive we will provide clarity around what it means to be a food addict. We will give you information regarding the common myth around food addicts having a ‘lack of willpower’. We will help you explore the methods you have tried to control your food and weight with opportunities to share and collaborate with other people in your process group. By the time you leave the event you will have a deeper understanding of food addiction and where you may fall on the food addiction spectrum.

4) Emotional Work

Do you feel numb? When people ask how you’re feeling do you often respond ‘good’ or ‘okay’ or ‘bad’? If you were to ask yourself how you’re feeling at this very moment reading this article… do you have trouble coming up with a response? At the Intensive we will help you identify and work through emotions that are often difficult to access and identify. You will be given the opportunity to identify your emotions multiple times throughout the day. Addicts often have trouble identifying and accessing their emotions. At ACORN we believe learning to do this is an important part of long term food addiction recovery. When you leave you will have a better understanding of your emotions.

5) Action Plan and Self-Care!

Do you tell yourself that there is no way you can leave your life, your family, your job for 5 days to travel to an ACORN Primary Intensive? What if we told you your life depended on it? When was the last time you took time for yourself? Food addiction is a disease with very deep levels of denial. Because of this, at ACORN we believe that your complete, 100% full attention must be devoted to recovery in these 5 days. Imagine the impact that recovery could have on your life once you return home after only 5 days. And think about how long you have had issues with food and weight…5 days is really not that long in the grand scheme of things! You will leave the event feeling refreshed and detoxed. You will also leave with a FULL recovery action plan including: how to return back to your previous life with a fresh perspective on food addiction and your individualized recovery needs.


Whether it is Virtual or In-Person, all of these 5 reasons are extremely valuable and will set you up for long term success with your recovery. So with all of that said, what are you waiting for?

Register For An Upcoming Intensive Today!

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ How Abstinence Helps The Planet

Happy Earth Day! This is such an important day to celebrate the incredible planet we live on and remind ourselves to all be conscious of our decisions every day. Our daily decisions with food, transportation, and more directly impact our sustainable future on this planet and we all must do our part to ensure that is the case.

This week, we asked our staff the question…


“How are you kinder to the earth as a result of your recovery?”


Here’s what they had to say:



Before recovery, I really never thought about the “Earth” or my impact on it. In recovery, I want to respect the Earth the same way that I respect my body. I eat healthy, nourishing food and recycle to the best of my ability. I eat low on the food chain and that helps reduce my carbon footprint. I try not to buy a lot of things that I don’t need. And when I see trash on the ground, I bend over, pick it up, and thank my Higher Power that my body still works as well as it does. Bringing grateful energy to the planet can help heal us all!!!!



As a result of my recovery I am more aware of and present with nature. 

As a result of my recovery I have the energy and will to take care of my little corner of the world – recycling, limited use of plastics and products with harsh chemicals, changing how I behave as a consumer. When I was in the food none of this mattered to me. 



I no longer litter by throwing boxes and bags from my binges out the car window.

I rarely throw away spoiled food – especially fruits and vegetables – because I actually eat the food I buy.

I recycle when before I didn’t care about anything beyond myself.

Recovery allows me to think about the future and the world I inhabit rather than thinking only about my next food fix.

Life used to be all about ME and what I wanted. Since recovery, I am able to look beyond my wants and needs and care about those around me.



When I was in active addiction I was constantly consuming. I had several wardrobes because my body size was always changing, I supported the tobacco and alcohol industries through my consumption, I was constantly shopping- looking for external validation that I was OK- everything had to “look right”, and of course I was always seeking more hyperpalatable food.

Now my food is simple and my life is simple. Through recovery I have the space to be more thoughtful about how I use my resources. Instead of being in self-obsession, I am concerned with my impact on others as well as my impact on the bigger picture (including our beautiful world).

My answer to this question may seem broad… I believe that in recovery I am more in alignment with our natural world, including the beings that inhabit it. I am more available to care about something other than myself and my behavior is informed by that love.



Because I plan my food ahead of time daily and weekly I use less food.

They say that addiction is a “disease of needing more”. In recovery, I need less, I use less and my life is bigger and more fulfilling.


It is amazing to see all the different perspectives on how their individual experiences help the planet in one way or the other. All this to say, abstinence is a conscious approach to not only eating, but life in general. It is calculated, it is thoughtful, and as a result we are kinder to our beautiful earth.

To learn more, or to see how you can do your part for Earth Day, click the link below:

Earth Day 2021

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ All About Alumni


We love our Alumni! We are so proud of the community we have built together.


The SHiFT community is a thriving network of people recovering from food addiction. Because recovery is a lifelong process, those who have attended our treatment programs consistently ask us “What’s next?”


As the gifts of sober eating appear in our lives, we may uncover new challenges, or areas for growth. During these times, it can be helpful to have extra support from understanding people — even when our recovery from food addiction appears stable. Long-term food addiction recovery depends on working the Twelve Steps, ongoing treatment, support and community. 


We wanted to have a better way of showcasing our Alumni programs and offerings for those who are looking to further their recovery and take it to the next level. This way you have somewhere to go when you have specific needs, and you can match your needs to our offerings more easily.


Introducing our new Alumni Portal!


The Alumni Portal is our way of placing all of our Alumni resources in one simple convenient location for you to refer to. No matter what you are looking for, there are bound to be resources for you here.


Need specific help with 12 step work? We have a program for that.


Need help preventing relapse? We have a program for that too!


And just a reminder, as a SHiFT Alumni, you unlock our Alumni Pricing! You receive 10% off all programs and services as a thank you for being part of our growing community.


Click the link below to check it out and see if there is a program that’s right for you.

Sharing SHiFTs by Amanda ~ Bringing Awareness To Key Topics


“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”

– Eckhart Tolle


Awareness April continues, and this week we will be bringing awareness to some key topics in the food addiction realm.


Not All Food Addicts Are Made The Same

Every food addict has a unique and complex situation in their lives that led them to where they are today.

The common image of food addicts is that they are overweight. A majority of those for whom the disease of food addiction has progressed certainly are obese – and/or morbidly (i.e., life threateningly) obese. Yet there are many food addicts who are a normal weight. Some of these healthy looking food addicts are bulimic. Others just have a metabolic system that keeps them appearing “normal,” even when they are bingeing abnormally. There is also a small but important group of food addicts who are dangerously thin. Most of these are food addicted and anorexic. Even some overly thin folks who are unable or unwilling to eat enough to come up to a healthy weight are also chemically dependent on food and have a history of progressive food addiction which must be addressed before they can have a full, healing long-term recovery.

Read More

© Phil Werdell, M.A.


Cross Addictions Are Real


A very common issue of cross-addiction that is usually not talked about in these terms is “shifting” from nicotine to food as a drug of choice. We see it all the time. Someone works hard to put down cigarettes. It might take more that one, maybe as many as a dozen attempts. As soon as there is a period of abstinence from cigarettes, though, the prior smoker starts to gain weight. Some go back to smoking to keep cigarettes as a part of their weight control regime. If they have a commitment to their health that moves them to stop smoking again, then their weight becomes a problem again.

While there was still an argument about whether or not cigarettes were addictive – much less dangerous to your health, almost no one noticed the cross addiction “shift” from nicotine to food. With the major changes in consciousness and in public health policies about smoking, there are more and more people getting the support they need to stop smoking. Health professionals working in chemical dependency treatment are more likely to be conversant with the addictive nature of nicotine. We can now see that the weight gain that sometimes follows abstinence from cigarettes may be a cross addiction.

Did you know… One small fact that is seldom mentioned is that tobacco is often cured in sugar. This makes it a natural entry-level drug for sugar addiction.

Read More

© Phil Werdell, M.A.


Common Foods With Added Sugar

  • Applesauce contains 11 g
  • Peanut Butter contains 18g
  • Flavored Yogurt contains 23g
  • Fruit drinks contain 40g

A single can of soda contains 12 teaspoons of added sugar. That’s 120 percent of the USDA’s recommended daily intake of sugar.

In 1973, the per capita consumption of sugar and other highly refined sweeteners (such as high-fructose corn syrup) was 126 pounds a year. Today, it’s 158 pounds – an increase of 26 percent. During the same time period, the percent of overweight Americans increased by nearly 20 percent.

Sugar is rapidly converted in the blood to fat (triglycerides), which increases obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It is devoid of vitamins, minerals, or fiber; it is an empty food. Its main purpose in the food industry is a stabilizer, flavor enhancer and appetite stimulant.

Read More

© Phil Werdell, M.A.


These are all key topics that we have written about in the past more in-depth. If you would like to further explore any or all of these topics, please follow the “Read More” links below them, and make sure you stay up to date with our blogs for more!