Click here for the SHiFT Strong Online Meeting Schedule


Bullying STOPS here! Pink Shirt Day Feb 28th

February 26th is Pink Shirt Day, a day when people stand up and say “NO” to bullying. Are you going to join the efforts and don your best pink shirt?

It is said that 1 in 5 kids is affected by bullying (! This is a tragic epidemic. Bullying has become a major problem that takes place in our schools, workplaces, homes, online – really, it takes place everywhere. Pink Shirt Day aims to heighten awareness and raise funds to support healthy self-esteem in our kids.

Pink Shirt Day began in Nova Scotia, Canada, and is now celebrated across the globe. In 2007 two teenage boys organized a protest in their high school urging classmates to wear pink in sympathy for a fellow student who was being bullied for wearing a pink shirt to school.  These two boys, along with support from their teachers, purchased 50 pink shirts, sent messages to their schoolmates, and the next day stood in the school’s foyer handing out the shirts. When the bullied boy saw all these other students wearing pink, one of the teachers said, “His face spoke volumes; it looked like a huge weight had been lifted off of his shoulders.” These boys took a stand against bullying, and the bullies were apparently never heard from again! Thus, Pink Shirt Day was born.

Has bullying affected you? It certainly has affected me. I was bullied when I was young for being overweight. I remember the blatant bullying where kids at school would say incredibly hurtful things, such as, “Hey, can you feel the shaking? Oh right, that’s because Blubber is walking down the hall.” I, of course, was Blubber. Or, when a group of us were on the playground and some kids had made pen darts by inserting a needle into a hollowed out Bic pen and shot the needles at me to see if I would pop. Or, when I was walking home and a bunch of kids threw rocks at me calling me a fat loser. Basically, the message was clear: if you were fat, it meant you were “less than.” And, I took it a step further and added that it also meant I deserved every negative thing that came my way.

I was a kid that actually had a lot of friends and was always in the “cool” group – although I believed I was only holding on to that status by a thread, believing any minute I could be kicked to the curb. My point being that I can’t imagine a child feeling much worse than I did, and I KNOW, for certain, that many, many children have it far worse than I did, and truly have no friends.

Will you take a stand, with me, against bullying?  On Wed, Feb 26th, put your pink shirt on and let people know that you have zero tolerance for bullying at any age!!

Yes, bullying is on the rise and, as we all know, so is obesity. As many of us have observed or known from personal experience, people who are overweight – both young and old – deal with fat oppression and bullying every single day. Many of us suffer this abuse in silence. Do you believe that you or someone that you love struggles with weight issues related to food addiction? If so, the struggle is very real, and there is a solution that truly works.

We have a solution and we want to help.

Peace & Abstinence,



Is your heart health suffering? Eating Disorder Awareness and Heart Health 

It’s hard to believe that it’s February already!  I have been in Florida for over three weeks and, while I am enjoying the rain-free days, I have to say it’s much colder than I expected. I am hopeful the beautiful sunshine will continue to warm the air.

Besides the cold, the last three weeks have, once again, been phenomenal times of recovery, growth and abstinence. As Phil wrote recently, we had a very successful Primary Intensive in January, followed by an alumni weekend.  Another Primary Intensive begins this week. WOW!! I have personally witnessed so many miracles. Here is one:  A participant had been struggling with Type 2 Diabetes for years, unable to manage her numbers. On arrival she said her blood glucose level was 428, and when she left two weeks later she indicated it was 109!  That’s a 75 percent drop in just 17 days.  A miracle of detox and abstinence!!

February has a focus on Eating Disorder Awareness and Heart Health.  In the past, we have written on eating disorders and the difference between an eating disorder and food addiction. Eating disorders are serious and can be fatal; it can also be fatal to be treated only  for an eating disorder when also suffering with the disease of food addiction.

Simply put, the biggest difference between these two diseases is that an eating disorder is a response to being unable to deal with feelings around past trauma, and food addiction is when our bodies are physically dependent upon the consumption of addictive foods. The treatment for both is also very different: for eating disorders, it is lifestyle changes and therapy to assist in learning new ways to cope with feelings; this is very difficult work. For food addiction, treatment is complete abstinence from all addictive foods and eating behaviors.

Most people coming to ACORN have both an eating disorder and food addiction.

  • For a more detailed description of the difference between these often deadly disorders and the treatment for them, click here.
  • For more information on eating disorders go to
  • If you have further questions, please feel free to reach out to me.  I would love to chat with you about this.

February is also Heart Health Month in North America.  The Center for Disease Control states that “heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. and also the leading cause of death worldwide.”

Might food addiction be one of the leading causes of heart disease?

According to the American Heart Association these 7 things can stop heart disease and add years to our lives:

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight
  2. Eat a healthy diet
  3. Manage blood pressure
  4. Take charge of cholesterol
  5. Keep blood sugar at healthy levels
  6. Don’t smoke
  7. Engage in regular activity

“Life’s Simple 7,” as the American Heart Association calls them, look, to me, like “Food Addiction’s Simple 5” – since the top 5 points are usually taken care of when following appropriate protocol for food addiction recovery.

While it’s true that the leading cause of death written on deaths certificates is heart disease, I truly believe that heart disease is frequently secondary to food addiction. Can we change the stats on the #1 killer in North America?  I say a resounding YES! if, and only if, we take food addiction seriously and treat it like the deadly disease that it is.

The great news is that there is successful treatment for food addiction which gives people the chance to live a life of physical, mental and spiritual health. Many of us never believed this was possible. Yet, we witness these miracles almost daily as we support people up and out of the deadly grip of food addiction.

February 14 is Valentine’s Day, a good day to remember heart health. Is your heart health suffering?  Is the heart health of someone you love suffering?  Would managing one or all of “Life’s Simple 7” help?  If so, and you think food addiction may be a contribution factor, please join us at one of our upcoming workshop options Click here for the Event Schedule.

Wishing you a day full of peace, love and abstinence,


P.S.  If you have a story of your heart health being restored with food addiction treatment, please share it with me.  I love to hear the miracles and hope in your stories of recovery!!

ACORN Primary Intensives Successful – Spread the Word

Acorn Primary Intensives Successful – Spread the Word

We just completed the January Primary Intensive, and everyone became rigorously abstinent, dealt with deep emotional issues, and moved towards accepting their powerlessness.  We sometimes forget how special this program is for those who are new to food addiction, those having trouble getting abstinent, and those in chronic relapse.

“Forever grateful, life changing! If you’re not getting your
powerlessness in Step 1, this is the place to get it.”

SHiFT has been offering the Primary Intensive for over 24 years, with an average of eight Intensives per year.  To date, over 2,500 food addicts have participated in this program.

Middle- and late-stage food addicts often need the same type of support as alcoholics who cannot get sober by themselves or with the help of therapy or a Twelve Step program.  The Acorn Primary Intensive shows that residential detox can be a key to success for struggling food addicts, and SHiFT’s program offers more. In addition to offering support for identifying and eliminating binge foods, there is:

  • help in finding an abstinence food plan;
  • instruction in inventorying food slips physically, emotional, mentally and spiritually;
  • education about food addiction as a brain disease;
  •  experience dealing with the most difficult feelings;
  • a rigorous process for challenging food addiction denial; and
  • aid in creating a plan for long-term abstinence and recovery after the workshop.

In 2006, a survey of outcomes of the Acorn Primary Intensives was done.  A research sample of over 250 alumni found that over two-thirds of those surveyed were, at the time of the survey, abstinent and maintaining a substantial weight loss.  Of those, 50 percent indicated they had not relapsed since attending the event.  Those who indicated they had breaks in abstinence were able to get back on track, often with the support of another SHiFT event.  One-third of those surveyed reported being in relapse.

As part of their food abstinence, respondents reported they had entirely eliminated several different foods:

  • Added sugar (86%)
  • Excess volume (74%)
  • Alcohol (74%)
  • Flour (71%)
  • Chocolate (70%)
  • Other food substances: wheat, artificial sweeteners, excess fat, gum, meat, nuts, salt (44%)

Participants were asked to evaluate the Primary Intensive as a whole.  Most reported that as a result of attending, they were glad to learn more about their addiction to food.  Only 13 percent replied that it was “somewhat” helpful; and 71 percent said that “it changed everything” for them.

Food addicts hear about SHiFT and the Primary Intensive mostly by word of mouth from those who have attended. It may be that you know someone who might benefit from an Intensive.

“ACORN keeps helping my oak-tree of recovery grow stronger.”

As a reminder, if you know someone through a Twelve Step fellowship, be sure to honor the Twelve Traditions by not mentioning SHiFT, Phil, Mary or Amanda by name, in any Twelve Step meeting.

Even though I can hardly believe it, I will turn 77 in a few months.  The commitment of many of you to carry forward this model of professional support for food addicts is truly inspiring.  My sincere hope is that with our continued commitment to abstinence and deepening recovery, many more will find freedom and happiness.

It is my privilege to work with food addicts through the professional support offered in SHiFT.  I have seen the pain, watched the struggle of accepting powerlessness, and witnessed the remarkable recovery of many.

If you would like to read more from the Survey of SHiFT Outcomes, please refer to Food Addiction Recovery, A New Model of Professional Support: the ACORN Primary Intensive available by emailing

In love and abstinence,


January and February Opportunities Include Relapse Prevention

Registering NOW!

  • 5-Day Living in Recovery, Jan. 27 – 31
  • Alumni Retreat: Relapse Prevention, Feb. 2 – 4
  • Primary Intensive, Feb. 6 – 11 

Call 941-378-2122 or click here to register on the ACORN website.

Often the start of a new year brings the desire to make commitments and promises to change habits, begin a new health routine or sign up for a new class. This used to mean resolutions around diet and exercise with the sole purpose of losing weight. Whether it was 24 hours or 3 months later, the time ALWAYS came when I just gave up, accompanied with the message, “there you are again; you’re a complete failure with no willpower whatsoever.” I eventually just stopped making New Year’s resolutions.

Then, in January 2015, at Sugar Free Place in Bradenton, I was introduced to abstinence and recovery from food addiction.  Each year since then, January brings another 365 days of freedom from food obsession along with awareness and action of what I need to do—one day at a time—for the next 365 days to maintain abstinence and deepen my spiritual, mental and physical healing.

ACORN strongly believes in the importance of staying connected with your ACORN alumni network.  It offers a safe place to be accountable and honest with others. The first alumni weekend of 2018 is at Sugar Free Place in sunny (read warm) Florida, February 2-4.  The topic—drum roll, please—is RELAPSE PREVENTION!!  Anyone, whether currently in strong recovery or in major relapse, can benefit from time set aside to focus on this topic.  Feedback from the November Relapse Prevention workshop was overwhelmingly positive.

Relapse can be a scary word.  I have every right to be afraid of relapse.  It could kill me.  While relapse is common in addiction recovery, relapse is not inevitable nor is it mandatory!  The more we understand the relapse process, the less threatening it needs to be.
Here are a few facts about relapse:

  1. We cannot relapse until we have had some period of sustained recovery (meaning complete abstinence from the foods we are addicted to for a period of time after initial detox).
  2. The relapse process starts long before we take the first bite or pick up our substance.
  3. Abstinence is ONLY A PREREQUISITE to food addiction recovery; abstinence is not the end of recovery.
  4. People stop attending 12-Step meetings and working their recovery program because they are already in a relapse process.
  5. People in relapse are not aware of their individual relapse warning signs as they are happening and don’t recognize them until after the fact.

If you have any interest in avoiding a relapse—or getting out of a relapse—then, this ACORN Alumni Relapse Prevention Weekend is for you. We will cover the facts noted above, as well as much more. This work is crucial for all food addicts on a journey of long-term recovery.

The upcoming Relapse Prevention workshop starts on Friday, February 2, at 6 pm and ends Sunday, February 4, at 3 pm. It is offered at an amazing price of $550 US which includes lodging and meals. The last RP workshop filled quickly, so reserve your spot NOW!  Register today at

Join your ACORN alumni and staff for a weekend of recovery support.  Who knows, we may even have a little FUN!!

Here’s to an amazing 2018,

P.S. Want to deepen your recovery even more?  Join us a few days before the Relapse Prevention weekend at our 5-day Living In Recovery Program, January 27-31Click here for details and more information.

Happy New Year! What are you grateful for?

Happy New Year!!!
As 2017 comes to a close and the newness of 2018 settles upon us, I can’t help but think about gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for. I don’t always see this, but, if I choose, it is always there, available for me to be aware of and bask in the glory of my gratitude.

I was reminded of this recently when talking with a friend on a very rainy, gray day here in Vancouver. She said, “Wow, it’s raining so hard today.” The next words out of my mouth were going to be, “I know! Isn’t it awful, I hate these days.” However, before I could get those words out of my mouth, she said, “It’s great! My car was so dirty and now it’s clean!”Yea, right, that’s just what I was thinking….NOT!!

It is so easy for me to fall into the depths of negativity and self-pity. Sometimes it feels like it’s my “comfort zone” since I spent so much of my life there. I never knew that was what I was doing or even that I had any other choice. Life just seemed hard, and it was definitely hard on me, or so I thought. The idea never occurred to me that I was completely responsible for how I saw things and whether life was “hard on me.” This doesn’t mean that struggles wouldn’t appear in my life—after all, that is life. What it means though, is that I get to choose how I view things and, therefore, I get to choose to believe life is “hard” or that life at times is “beautifully challenging.”

I have spent a lot of time with my niece (yes, the one and only Georgia, who, as I am sure you have noticed, I love to squeak into any newsletter that I possibly can) and my other sister’s two dogs in the last month. Wow! Talk about gratitude and staying in the moment; young children and animals are an amazing reminder of how this can be done. They have all taught me some beautiful lessons in the last couple of weeks.

Georgia and I were walking to the park with the dogs and I said, “Georgia I am feeling a bit sad because this is the last time I am going to see you before I go back to Florida for a couple of months.” She was quiet for a minute and I could see her little mind racing, and then, she looked at me with a bit of a furrowed brow, raised her hands with palms facing upward and said, “But we’re here together now”! From the mouths of babes; what brilliance this beautiful little 4-year-old human being had just shared with me. Amanda, be grateful for what is happening NOW!!

I think the key for me to remember is that I always have a choice everyday in how I view each situation that comes my way. So I ask myself—and each of you—to be cognizant of the fact that when our thoughts say, “Life is Hard” our next thought can be, “Life is beautiful and I am grateful for this situation because I know, if I choose to, I can grow and learn from it.”

Today is January 3rd  and I am reminded of the many events of 2017 and am in awe of what I have to be grateful for. There are so many miracles in my life. My top 10 gratitudes for 2017 are:

  1. Freedom from the bondage of food for another 365 days.
  2. The ability of my body to physically re-build its way back to health and strength after years of abuse.
  3. My powerful, strong, smart, beautiful niece Georgia and the role I get to play in her life because of abstinence and recovery.
  4. That I have a career which allows me to support others who are travelling the same path as me in recovery from the brutal disease of food addiction, and, therefore, get to witness on a daily basis the strength, tenacity and hope of human beings.
  5. The country and city I call home, Vancouver, Canada, for its natural beauty, diversity and the freedoms it allows me.
  6. All the long walks I have taken in the stunning forests in Vancouveor or along the gorgeous beaches in Florida.
  7. The summer vacation I took with my Mom where I showed up as a responsible, respectful adult who had the ability to get outside of herself and truly “see” my Mom for all her amazingness.
  8. For all the people in recovery who walk this path with me and show me that recovery is possible one day at a time.
  9. For my family who stuck with me through active addiction and is now allowing me the opportunity to show up differently, one day at a time, and slowly gain back their trust.
  10. For my daily growing relationship with my higher power who, when I let go of control, truly guides me to a life beyond my wildest dreams.

Wow! I have so many more gratitudes, but this will just have to do for now! I would love to hear your gratitudes. 

Wishing you an abstinent, peaceful and grateful 2018,



Type 2 Diabetes and food addiction?

November is Diabetes Awareness month.

Diabetes affected me personally, and I see its negative effects on the lives of many people that I know, both personally and professionally. And the kicker to this is that having Type 2 Diabetes was, for me, completely avoidable; and this seems to be the same for the majority of people I know who have this diagnosis. We know today that Type 2 Diabetes is oftentimes preventable.  For me, the Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis was completely a symptom of my primary disease of food addiction.

I remember my doctor telling me for a couple of years that I needed to be careful because I was “pre-diabetic.” I would leave those appointments feeling ashamed and embarrassed, blaming my lack of willpower as the reason I couldn’t stop shoving so much food in my mouth. I would then be determined that I would change. But….of course, I couldn’t. I really wanted to and I really tried, but nothing changed. In fact, it just seemed to get worse.

In June 2013, I went to yet another doctor’s appointment—except this one specialized in Obesity! My hopes were high; I was hoping with all my might that this might be the day when I finally got the help I really needed, whatever that was. And I did get help; I was told that I was no longer pre-diabetic. Now, I was a full-blown diabetic with type 2 Diabetes!

The good news was the doctor prescribed me a medication that would control my blood sugar levels; I only had to inject myself with it every day. How simple is that?! PLUS…wait, there’s more good news…it would help me lose weight. YAY!!! Phew, I was finally getting some real help. My doctor was treating me for diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety, sleep management and obesity!! Great stuff, right? Wrong!!

All along, I was being treated for the wrong disease! All of the maladies I was being treated for were symptoms—horrible consequences—of the primary disease I really had. I had untreated food addiction and, until I received treatment for that disease, my symptoms might be managed but they would continue to worsen … which indeed they did!! I continued to see this doctor who regularly suggested I consider weight loss surgery. (Remember that I had already had weight loss surgery and it had completely failed because I couldn’t follow the diet.)

Needless to say, not a lot changed in the next few years; my anxiety, sleep apnea, diabetes and high blood pressure were being “managed” by drugs; my weight was holding steady at about 300 pounds, and I continued to hate myself and believe I was a complete failure.

Thank goodness this ended when I finally received a proper diagnosis and, therefore, proper treatment, and was presented with a solution to the disease I actually had which, wouldn’t you know, cured ALL of my secondary diseases. I was taken off all Diabetes medications within six months. This is not rare; we have worked with others who, under doctor supervision, have had their insulin reduced after only a few weeks of abstinence.

Those of us who work in this field and/or have walked the path with other recovering food addicts have been witness to this over and over again. It is my hope that, in the near future, one of the solutions presented to those with Type 2 Diabetes will be to consider treatment for food addiction.
Check out our upcoming events. In mid-January, we kick off another four weeks of recovery in Florida:

Remember, abstinence and recovery first, absolutely.

Wishing you peace and abstinence during the holiday season,