Celebrating 25 years of food addiction treatment and recovery!

The Fat & the Furious by S. Ajlouni, Amman, Jordan

June is Men’s Health Awareness Month

In recognition of Men’s Health Awareness Month http://www.menshealthmonth.org/ we are pleased to highlight the story of Sachir “Rocky” from Amman, Jordan. Sachir began his recovery journey in Jordan where he discovered that he was addicted to certain foods. Rocky weighed almost 400 pounds following seemingly endless attempts to lose weight through dieting. To support his ongoing healing process, he came to Florida where he participated in ACORN Primary Intensives. Rocky has lost 190 lbs and, more importantly, is free from the obsession through a deepening understanding of food addiction and the process of the Twelve Steps. Here is his inspiring story.


The Fat & the Furious

By S.Ajlouni
From Amman, Jordan

It was one of those perfect days in late spring.  The sun was beaming in a bright blue sky and a cool breeze grazed us with a light touch from time to time, ensuring that it would not get too hot. All you heard was the gentle whispering of the leaves, the happy chirping of the birds and the sound of joy and laughter from our kids who were having the time of their lives in and around the pool. I was in my element: Two grills were fired up in front of me and my friends and family were in eager anticipation of what culinary delight I had in store for them today. I loved preparing food for everybody and being creative and working hard to put together an incredible spread made my day complete. All the dishes I had prepared worked out wonderfully, each spice was just right, each combination opened new horizons and when I served food plentifully and beautifully prepared my guests were not surprised but nonetheless in utter awe. We all sat down and enjoyed our meal accompanied by great conversation and lots of laughter. At this time, I was in my 40s, a happy husband, a proud father and a successful professional. Life was good.

But under the surface, it wasn’t good at all. I weighed 370 lbs., took 8 pills a day, had developed bulimia and a dependency on laxatives and compulsive exercising. Nobody suspected the torment that was hiding behind my smiling face, but my 32-year long war with food and weight had exhausted me, frustrated me and worn me down. I had learned to pretend that all this was just fine with me and that I am content with myself, but deep inside it was a different story. After all my battles, I tried to surrender to find some peace of mind. I tried to convince myself that there is no solution other than to accept my weight and my obsession with food and to live with the physical and emotional anguish and confusion that comes with that. There was still the ubiquitous pain nagging inside of me to try again, to change, but it had become quieter because I had trained myself for years to ignore it. I was in complete denial and had reached the desperate point of rationalizing that it is perfectly okay to die 10 or more years before my time. I was convinced that I had tried it all and that there was no hope for me, and my life-story spoke for itself. I didn’t know yet that I was powerless.

Looking back, I believe I was a food addict since my early teenage years, maybe even earlier. At first I was just enjoying food, like everybody else, but after a while the pleasure and the cravings became more extreme and more compulsive. However, since I was athletic and active I was able to maintain a healthy weight and did not realize that there was a problem until senior year. The last year of high school in my country is extremely demanding and exceptionally stressful. Usually, seniors literally do not do anything but go to school in the morning and study the rest of the day and better part of the night. Life stops and all that remains are stress, fear and the pressure to do well because your whole life depends on those grades. Culturally, food is synonymous with love, care and affection and, like any other of my friends’ mothers, mine also lavished me with treats and favorite meals in order to alleviate my suffering. I found comfort and relief in food but soon the normal sized portions became insufficient. I needed more to keep the same level of happiness. The results at the end of that year were formidable: excellent grades – but an extra 60 lbs in only eight months. I weighed 231 lbs and my waistline had increased by 6 inches! I realized that there was a problem and my war against the weight officially began.

I was athletic, competitive and strong-willed and I was able to lose the weight quickly and successfully.  But then the weight came back. So I lost it again, and again and again and again…. The problem was not sticking to the diet and losing the weight.  It was keeping it off permanently when not on the diet.  I quickly entered a vicious cycle of completing a diet and achieving a desirable weight only to gain it all back, and then some. I often felt like Sisyphus, pushing my huge boulder of fat up the hill, only to watch it roll over me and smother me the minute I thought I was home free. Like with Sisyphus, there is nothing more dreadful than futile and hopeless labor and the more times I tried and failed the less motivated I became to try again. My frustration with myself grew exponentially and so did my depression, which consolidated my dependency on the only potent painkiller I knew: Food.

For over 30 years I have lost and gained over 1000 lbs. I relentlessly tried everything possible. I have been on hundreds of different diets, took diet pills and supplements, tried acupuncture and voodoo and spend countless hours in the gym. The more futile my attempts became the more desperate the measures grew. When I had to realize that diets did not seem to be the solution, I had my jaw wired shut in order to make it impossible to consume solid food. The first month was a great success and only taking in liquids resulted in losing 50 lbs. However, the cravings were stronger than the happiness about the enormous weight loss. My raging mental hunger led me to be creative, and I started blending simple vegetables and meat. Yet, that did not satisfy me and after a week I was blending burgers and fried chicken. When blending was not satisfying enough, I learned how to untie the wires on my jaw, eat any food I desired and to then go through great lengths to retie them in a way nobody would notice. I was worried that my father would notice, or the dentist or my friends which would have embarrassed me. But actually, deep inside, I was already ashamed of myself and riddled with self-contempt. Who was I fooling? I was very much aware that these are not the actions of a sane man, yet I was powerless to drive against my cravings.

The rollercoaster of losing and gaining weight continued for decades, wearing me down, hollowing me out and taking a toll on my emotional health. In 1999 I reached new threatening high of 400 lbs. My health was deteriorating rapidly and although strong and athletic, my legs could barely carry me. I suffered from hypertension, gout, high cholesterol and sleep apnea and was on the verge of becoming a diabetic. I was 10 lbs away from dying. Extreme measures had to be taken, and quickly, so I decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery.

Considering my weight the surgery was very risky, including complications when administering general anesthesia and risks to the respiratory and cardiovascular system. The pre-surgery talk with the doctors terrified me and, like a small child, I just wanted to run away and hide.  A million thoughts were running through my head, tormenting me and making my brain want to explode. I was thinking of my children and how I wanted to see them grow up, my wife, my parents, my whole life that I still wanted to live…. But I was trapped and I knew it. There was no other way: yes, the surgery was dangerous but if I didn’t do it, my weight would most certainly kill me. I had reached a dead end and there was only utter bleakness and desperation.

As expected, the surgery was complicated and difficult. I had to have both general anesthesia and an epidural, which has left long lasting side effects. The procedure also took much longer than anticipated. Due to the extended time under sedation, it took me almost two full days to properly wake up and I had to spend two weeks in the CCU. I was happy I was alive but watching my family suffer and worry about my health made me vow to make it work this time. I never wanted to subject any of my loved ones to so much pain again and it was agonizing to be the reason for their tears.

I immediately started to lose weight – after all there is not much you can fit into a 1 oz stomach! Within 2 years I had lost over 180 lbs and physically I was feeling much better. My blood pressure had gone down, I could sleep much better and moving around was actually a pleasure rather than a burden again. However, mentally, my relationship to food still hadn’t changed. I still experienced the same anguish and obsession with food and still found it hard to stop eating. The realization made me furious and resentful. It depressed me more than ever that after all I had gone through I was still desperately helpless and powerless vis-a-vis food.

However, the anguish continued. I hated myself for being so weak but simultaneously I was searching for ways to satisfy my raging cravings. This time, the solution was simple and very convenient. Since I could not eat big quantities in a single sitting anymore, I resorted to eat constantly. I became a grazer and slowly but steadily began to regain the weight I had lost.

Back it was on the battlefield again, trying out diets, losing weight, gaining weight, caught in the sticky web of being obsessed with food, struggling to finally break free and be in control. I grasped that I was powerless in front of food, that I could not stop eating and I loathed myself for that. Yet, I always believed that I could gain control by incarcerating the cravings into strict diet plans and that it was normal to sometimes lose control. Therefore, the cycle of diets and bingeing continued and with every failure I spiraled deeper and deeper into feeling despicable and humiliated.

But, by nature, I am a happy person. I love and enjoy life and I suffered from feeling so miserable. This was the point where I gave up. I tried to convince myself that I had tried everything I could, that it was just not in my hand to be thin and that I should just not attempt to lose weight anymore. I wasn’t truly convinced of course and my thoughts would still perpetually revolve around the same two topics: wanting food but craving to control it.

The first step to salvation happened at a Christmas dinner. I was full of joy at the prospect of a beautiful evening, enjoying an endless feast of delicacies when two friends walked in and I hardly recognized them. They had lost around 50 lbs and looked amazing. I was mesmerized by how relaxed and content they seemed, how healthy they looked and how happy they were. They eagerly told me about the new program that had changed their lives, encouraging me to participate as well. Yet, I only pretended to listen out of politeness and respect. In my mind I was convinced that nothing could save me.

My wife was extremely worried about me. She watched me not only almost killed myself with food but also noticed huge changes in my personality. Rather than being my happy and mellow self, I was constantly irritable and short-tempered. Any family plans were no longer made around what would make the kids happy, but always depended on food being included and to my liking. She had done everything to support me in all my diet endeavors and every failure was as painful for her as it was for me. For the first time in decades she had hope and she was determined to defeat my pessimism and stubbornness and to give me hope as well. Photo: Sachir (Rocky) and his sons.

Three months later, I attended the three-day workshop my friends recommended. The lady was talking about her personal life-long struggle with weight and how ACORN finally saved her life. All the participants had to share their stories and every story they told was like watching a movie about my life. And for the first time in my life I learned that there is something like food addiction and compulsive overeating. It was a total revelation and I was deeply intrigued by all I learned. I immediately felt uplifted, hopeful and optimistic; emotions that I had thought had long ceased to exist.

Feeling the need to learn as much as I could about the subject, I traveled to Bradenton, Florida, to take my first intensive workshop with Phil and Mary. Realizing and admitting that I am a food addict and understanding that I was powerless filled me with strength and determination to finally walk on the right road to recovery. I was lucky to have 10 other people in my group and sharing our pain and problems with no hesitation enriched this experience. I have been back several times to strengthen my abstinence and to acquire more knowledge from Phil and Mary, who were paramount in making me acknowledge I had a problem and who played a significant role in my recovery. Photo: Mary Foushi, Rocky Ajlouni and Phil Werdell – Aqaba, Jordan.

I have been abstinent for 2½ years now and I have never felt better. Not only have I lost 190 lbs, but also my fear, hate and anger. No longer do I go through agonizing cycles of self-loathing, resentment, uncontrollable cravings and overwhelming obsession with food. I have finally found peace of mind, tranquility and an equilibrium and, rather than gaining weight, I am now finally free to gain new experiences and to make new memories.

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s Health Month

June and July Events
Space is available in the new Living In Recovery Program. Week 2 begins Sunday, June 11th. Call the ACORN office to register.  941-378-2122


Monsey, New York!   Bradenton, Florida!   Bristol, Vermont! 
ACORN is offering several events in the next few weeks in several locations. Start your summer with Abstinence and Recovery. We are registering NOW for the following events:


Women’s Health Month
May is Woman’s Health Month and as it has just ended I have taken a bit of time this morning to reflect on my own health and what I have done to look after myself over the years.

The term “looking after myself” has had very different meanings at different times in my life. For the majority of my life it meant doing what I wanted, how I wanted, when I wanted followed by feelings of guilt, shame and resentment. It meant doing things for other people that I really didn’t want to do and then walking around feeling angry at them and everyone else. It meant cancelling social commitments to stay home and watch TV and eat because I needed to “rest.”  It meant feeding my body whatever food I wanted so I wouldn’t feel “deprived.” It meant spending money I didn’t have on things because I wanted them and “deserved” them and then feeling self-pity because I “should” have more money. I thought looking after myself was doing exactly what I wanted and what I thought felt “good.”

This way of thinking didn’t get me very far or, more accurately, it didn’t get me very far in living a meaningful, successful life full of love, gratitude and purpose. But it did get me far into morbid obesity, far into debt, far into depression and anxiety, far into anger and resentment, far into self-pity and far into self-hatred. I think I was a little confused on what the true meaning of “looking after myself” actually meant.

Today I believe “looking after myself” means doing the things that are most in line with who my true self is. What are the things I can do each day that bring me to a place of true joy, true gratitude, true love and true service to others? Many times this includes doing things that I would rather not do. It includes doing things that feel really hard at times. It includes doing things that don’t always come easily or naturally to me. And yet, at the end of most days I now go to bed with feelings of acceptance, peace and gratitude.

Here are the six things I do these days that truly are “looking after myself”:

  1. Be Abstinent – The most important thing I do every single day is to follow my personal food plan that allows me to be free from the bondage of food obsession, allows me to be free from carrying around 150-plus pounds of excess weight, and most of all nourishes my body so I can think and be in the world as I was meant to be. If I stop doing this for any meal, I stop living the life I was put here to live. For me, to stop being abstinent means spiritual, mental, emotional and, eventually, physical death.
  2.  Morning Reflection – Every morning when I wake up I take a few minutes before I do anything else to get quiet and present. I pray for a day full of love and peace, I pray that I can be of service to others, and I pray for the willingness to continue to move forward, taking the next right step. Then I set my timer and “meditate” for a few minutes. Meditation, for me, means sitting in a comfortable position, in a quiet place, with my eyes closed and being still, letting thoughts drift into my mind and letting them pass, being aware of any messages that seem to be coming from the universe or something outside of myself, a power greater than me.
  1. Evening Reflection – Before I go to sleep at night I take some time to review my day. What did I do well today? What could I have done differently? I remind myself that this is not time to beat on myself; rather it is a time for me to look at what I did well. If I looked objectively at my waking hours – and I’m sure you are no different – I find that they are filled with many successes, and now is the time to acknowledge them. I also observe the moments when I struggled throughout the day. Again, if look at these objectively, they can be viewed as one of my greatest assets of the day as they are growth opportunities, lessons for ways I can show up differently the following day.
  1. Connection – Every day it is vital for me to connect with others. This connection may come from chatting with an old friend and laughing until we have tears streaming down our cheeks and our belly’s ache, or it may come from spending a sweet moment looking for worms in the dirt with my 4-year-old niece (my FAVORITE person in the world). Or it may come from sitting in a coffee shop and striking up a conversation with the barista and finding out about their life…all of these connections are critical to my health.
  1. Support – I have seen and experienced first-hand that I cannot successfully do “life” alone. It is vital for me to get and give support to others every single day. This support comes in many forms. Today, I get my support from attending 12 Step meetings, attending support groups that allow me to share openly and honestly with others who “get” what I am talking about and daily one-on-one check-ins with people who are my partners in recovery. These support systems are a great reality check for me and are essential to my daily well-being.
  1. Gratitude – There are so many amazing things happening in my life, and it is important for me to stop and recognize these every day. For a lot of my life I fell into that “poor me,” “why is this happening to me” style of thinking, always wanting things to be different than they were.  This negative thinking leads me to self pity and negativity and I can’t afford to wallow in those feelings for very long these days. So, before I go to sleep each night, I take a few minutes to write down what I am grateful for at that moment. It may be something as simple as I have a comfy bed to sleep in, or that I saw a beautiful flower on the side of the road, or for the helpful sales clerk at the grocery store or it may be for my beautiful niece, or the rolling-on-the-ground laughter I shared with my mom that afternoon. Or it may be for the tough piece of feedback an honest friend gave to me that morning. There really are so many amazing gifts that I receive every day and, if I don’t stop and notice them, I can once again easily trick myself into believing life is just too hard again…and I definitely don’t want to go back there! Writing down a minimum of 5 things I am grateful for each day requires a tiny amount of effort in relation to the enormous payoff I receive from living with an attitude of gratitude…it is life changing.

Above are practices that are drastically changing my life. Yet there are many other things that are important to looking after myself, such as getting enough sleep, having a work-life balance, spending time with family and friends and getting outside and moving my body…every day.

Let me know what “looking after yourself” means to you.

Wishing you all an abstinent June full of health, fun and gratitude,

Amanda

New 3-Week Pilot Program for Extended Care June 2017

Huge news, we have drastically reduced the cost of the 3 week Living in Recovery program!! 3 weeks only $2,900 and 2 weeks only $2,500.

We have heard you loud and clear about wanting longer food addiction recovery programs and are passionate about bringing you this pilot program. We have had great interest in the new program and would like to have your participation. We plan to make the Living In Recovery program a regular ACORN offering but we need you, our ACORN alumni, to help with the development.

Hope to see you there!

Phil, Mary & AmandaExciting New Program


Due to many requests, we are running a pilot 3 week residential program in
Bradenton, Florida June 4 – 24, 2017 with an option to attend an
ACORN Primary Intensive before and/or after.

This 3 week program will offer people an opportunity to learn and practice the skills necessary to begin and maintain food dependency recovery.  The “Living in Recovery” program seeks to provide a supportive and structured experience in a less restrictive and “real world” setting.

The goal of the “Living In Recovery” 3 week program will be to enable participants to take home what they practice during their stay. In addition to using the most current evidence based treatments for food addiction recovery, we will provide participants with a “real-world” environment: they will stay in a residential home, grocery shop at the local markets, prepare their own meals following their individual, abstinence-based food plans; participate in 12 Step meetings, have a daily practice of journaling and writing, as well as attend scheduled daily process groups and educational talks.

This program is for you if …

  • You are struggling with your abstinence and recovery.
  • You have strong abstinence and want to work on deeper emotional issues.
  • You want more help with your most difficult recovery challenges.
  • You have persistent blocks to long-term stable recovery.

The recovery and transformations we have seen when people attend our shorter programs has been phenomenal; we are excited to see the miracles after this 3 week “Living In Recovery” program.

Please register quickly as there is limited space.

**You must have attended an ACORN Primary Intensive or 3 Days With Phil to attend this 3 week program.

Fees:

Option #1:   3 week “Living In Recovery” program – $3,900 NOW $2,900
$1,300/week; includes lodging, does not include food

Option #2:   2 week “Living In Recovery” program – $3,000 NOW $2,500
$1,500/week; includes lodging, does not include food

Make this a 4 or 5 week program by including either one or both of the Primary Intensives, held May 26-31 and June 30-July 5.

Option #3:   One Primary Intensive plus 3 week program –  $5,300 NOW $4,300
Includes one Primary Intensive plus 3 week “Living In Recovery” program

Option #4:   Two Primary Intensives plus 3 weeks program – $6,300 NOW $5,300
Includes two Primary Intensives plus 3 week “Living In Recovery” program

Schedule: See the sample daily schedule Click Here

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

Contact: Raynea McCumber 941-378-2122 or rmccumber@foodaddiction.com

Register Online: https://foodaddiction.com/programs/registration/ or call 941-378-2122

How do I know if I am a Food Addict?

Am I a Food Addict?
We are often asked, “How do I know if I am a Food Addict?” This is a great question and one for which I wish there was a clear answer. Unfortunately, unlike with other diseases, there is not a simple blood test that can determine if we are Food Addicts or, for that matter, if we are addicted to anything. First of all, if we are asking ourselves this question, then perhaps we are already having some sort of struggle with eating, food(s), weight, body image, etc. One of the simplest things we can do to gain some clarity is to ask ourselves a series of questions:

  • Do I think about food or my weight all the time?
  • Have I lost weight over and over only to gain it back and more?
  • Do I obsessively calculate the calories I’ve burned against the calories I’ve eaten?
  • Do I have physical problems resulting from the way I eat – or don’t eat?
  • Do I eat large amounts of food in a short period of time?
  • Do certain foods trigger binges?
  • Do I weigh myself once or twice (or more) a day?
  • Do I eat differently in front of people than I do when I’m alone?
  • Do I have emotional problems resulting from the way I eat – or  don’t eat?
  • Do I find it difficult to stop eating after one or two sweets?
  • Have I done serious work in psychotherapy only to find my “food problem” was unaffected?
  • Have my eating and/or eating behaviours caused negative consequences in my life?
  • Has a family member or medical practitioner said they are concerned about my health due to my eating?

Answering Yes to one or more of these questions could indicate that you are struggling with food addiction. Ok, great, I may or may not have food addiction…but now what can I do? The next step to figuring out the answer to this question is to try the treatment given to food addicts – and see if it helps.

There are many differing ideas as to what the “proper” treatment for food addiction is. However, there is one very common theme in successful treatment of any addiction…and that is to abstain from the substance/behavior that we are addicted to. So, for food addicts, this means abstaining from eating the foods or doing the food behaviors that our bodies have become dependent upon. The task of figuring out what food(s) we are personally addicted to – and how to go about abstaining from them – can be a tough one, and we often need support with this. There are many types of support out there from the plethora of 12 Step Food Groups, to therapists, recovery coaches and treatment facilities. Sometimes we may need to enlist the support of all of the above, and, sometimes, we find everything we need to be free of this addiction within a 12 Step group such as Overeaters Anonymous. Click here for a partial list of 12 Step groups that deal with food addictionhttps://foodaddiction.com/resources/.

If you want to try and figure out what foods are addictive for you, you can start by writing a list of all the foods you have binged on or have started eating and found you couldn’t stop. Also, think about the foods you think you couldn’t live without. The most common ingredients of addictive foods are sugar, flour, grains, high fat and salt. Take a really honest look at your eating history to determine what the foods are. Once you have identified your binge food list, then completely abstain from all of them and see what happens. Do you find this really hard? Are you able to abstain completely from those foods? Are you experiencing any detox symptoms (headaches, foggy brain, fatigue, irritability)?

If you are able to continue abstaining from these ingredients for a week or so, your cravings and food obsessions should slowly start to diminish. If this happens, then there is a good chance you are food addicted.

If you think you are food addicted, we strongly suggest you get support. It has been proven over and over again that people with the strongest recovery have enlisted support – and usually lots of it. Click here to read more about different treatment options available at ACORN https://foodaddiction.com/programs/.

The upcoming dates for ACORN’s food addiction recovery programs are:

  • April 26 – May 1: Primary Intensive, Monsey, New York
  • May 5 – 7: 3-Days in Florida, Bradenton, Florida
  • May 26 – 31: Primary Intensive, Bradenton, Florida
  • June 12 – 16: Primary Intensive, Vancouver BC, Canada

Register for an Event



HAPPY WORLD EARTH DAY
  • April 22 is World Earth Day, what are you doing to recognize this day? More importantly what are we doing every day to look after our planet?
  • More than 1 billion people in over 200 countries participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.
  • Want to know what your environmental footprint on the world is. Click here to take Earth Day Network’s Ecological Footprint quiz http://www.earthday.org/take-action/footprint-calculator/

Weekly Teleconference “Nuts & Bolts”

Please join us Wednesday evenings for recovery support.
This no-cost abstinence support group is open to all. Led by Sherri Goodman, professional trainee. thereveals@frontier.com
Wednesdays at 7 pm (EST.)
Conference call in number:
(712) 432-0111 
Access Number 1014962#

World Health Day and an Abstinent Passover Brisket Recipe

Hello,

I can’t believe it is April already and that Spring has arrived. I am currently in Florida enjoying the beautiful sunshine and warmth so it actually feels like summer.

March was a very busy month for ACORN. We had a 3-Day program, a 5-Day Intensive and a week of process groups in between. Once again I was privy to witnessing amazing healing, recovery, surrender and abstinence. What a true gift I have been given to do this as my career.

Some of the comments we received regarding these recent events are:

  • “Thank you from the depth of my heart for giving me this beautiful experience with so much hope and for being a part of saving my life.”
  • “I feel so blessed to have found ACORN and to have the support I needed to do my work.” 
  • “The intensives and Three Days have moved me further along in my recovery journey at a deeper level than I could have done in 12-Step meetings.  I am most grateful.”

It was truly an amazing couple of weeks! Phil flew off to New York the next day to hold a 3-Day event. It went extremely well, so well that those folks have asked us to hold a 5-Day Intensive in New York April 26 – May 1. They experienced some deep recovery and want to keep it going. So for all of those that ask us if we ever do events in New York, here’s your chance. Call us to find out the details 941-378-2122.

While Phil has been in New York, Mary, Raynea  and I have been gearing up for our next events in Florida. We have two events scheduled for May in Bradenton, Florida. A 3-Day with Phil & Amanda May 5th-7th and a 5-Day Intensive May 26th-31st.  Click here to register or call us if you have any questions 941-378-2122.

The Spring months also bring a few other dates to celebrate. One of them is right around the corner on April 7th. It’s World Health Day. This year’s focus is depression. The World Health Organization chooses a specific health topic to focus on every year that is a concern for people all over the world.  Depression affects people of all ages, from all walks of life and from all countries. It causes mental anguish and impacts on people’s ability to carry out even the simplest everyday tasks, with sometimes devastating consequences.

Depression and addiction feed into each other and one condition can often make the other worse. I personally can relate to this. As a food addict whose life was spiraling out of control I often battled depression. Who knows what came first, the depression so then I reached for food to numb me out and give me that “high” feeling, or the food addiction which was so debilitating and, therefore, caused the deep depressions I would often experience.  When my depression and addiction were at their worst I could barely get out of bed. I couldn’t work. I couldn’t sleep. I had many thoughts of suicide and truly didn’t want to be alive. I remember thinking, “If this is what life is, then I don’t want to be part of it.”  Today I am incredibly grateful that I do want to be part of life and that I have found recovery. Yes, there are still many ups and downs in my life, after all that is the reality of life. However, now when I feel the depression coming on I have tools, resources and a support system to help me through it. As an addict I couldn’t deal with the depression until I had first dealt with my addiction. I could not get healthy mentally and spiritually until I got clean and, for me, that meant becoming abstinent from all the foods my body had become addicted to. So yes, when we have addiction and depression it can be incredibly hard. But there is a way out. I am living proof!

So, in recognition of World Health Day, let’s talk openly about depression and addiction as it is a vital component of recovery. The stigma surrounding all mental illness is a major barrier to people seeking help, and talking about it helps break down this stigma and ultimately leads to more people getting the help they need.  Click here for more information on World Health Day.

This year in April many people are also celebrating Passover and Easter.  These holidays are often full of family, friends and FOOD!! The food part can be a struggle with those of us affected by food addiction. In recovery I choose to focus on the people I am with rather than the food being the focus, and I always contribute an abstinent dish to the occasion. Click here for a link to an abstinent Passover recipe contributed by an ACORN alumnae, Taube from Boston.

Drop me a line and let me know how you celebrate Passover and Easter or any other Spring holidays that are important in your life.

Happy Spring, World Health Day, Passover, Easter and anything else you are celebrating.

With love & abstinence,
Amanda