Celebrating 25 years of food addiction treatment and recovery!

ACORN Food Dependency Recovery Services

My 1st Intensive…Here’s what happened!

April P. from Vancouver, BC, Canada attended her first ACORN Intensive (Primary Intensive) earlier this month in Vancouver. She tells us about her experience here. Thank you, April, for sharing your story!

After 3.5 years in a 12-Step fellowship for compulsive eating, I have not experienced a change sufficient enough to achieve and maintain abstinence. In that time, my disease has continued to progress. I have lost all joy in food, and I have lost all control. In my desperation, I surrendered to seeking more structure and support: I signed up for my first ACORN Primary Intensive.

The program ran from March 8-13, 2019, and although six days is a relatively short amount of time to be in treatment, I had no idea that the time spent here would have such a positive impact on my life.


Am I In Relapse??

Hi. I’m Emily. I normally would say “and I’m a food addict” as part of this introduction, but sitting here writing this right now as I am laying on my bed…I truly forget if I am or not. I feel scared as I write that statement. Why is this? Well, about two months ago I wrote another article with all of the background information on my disease and I explained very clearly why I am a food addict, click the link to that article: https://foodaddiction.com/how-do-i-know-if-i-am-addicted-emilys-story-10-off-november-27-dec-2-intensive/. But today, I actually am unsure if I am or not. So why is this all relevant? It is the main reason why in a couple of days I am re-entering an ACORN Primary Intensive event. I picked up the food last week. I have been in relapse for about a week and I am in strong denial once again about my disease.


New Year Resolution? We can help!

It was January of 2015. I was morbidly obese, incredibly depressed, hopeless and had no faith that anything would ever really change. I was resigned to being fat and miserable for the rest of my life. Which, as I was only 42, could be a long time, as long as my obesity related health concerns didn’t kill me sooner which was highly probable.

5 Reasons To Register for the Primary Intensive

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? (more…)

Is this program for me?

Do you need help with out of control eating or with the inability to stop eating certain foods once you’ve started? Do you spend way too much time focusing on what you’re going to eat, what you’re not going to eat or what your body weight is? Do you often have the thought, “what is wrong with me, why can’t I stop eating”? We at SHiFT all asked ourselves these questions over and over for years! Finally, we got an answer and we want to share it with you!! Actually, it is our mission at SHiFT to share all we have learned with as many people as possible so people don’t have to suffer with the relentless food/eating/body obsession that plagues millions of us.

Based on the above questions and our own personal experiences with food dependency we created, the Acorn Intensive over 25 years ago and since have supported thousands of people up and out of the depths of this brutal disorder.

Our Primary Intensive© is a 7-day structured residential treatment program for people struggling with food dependency. The Intensive includes practice using a food plan, education about the disease, challenging denial, support groups and the tools to build a strong after care program.

The goal of the Acorn Intensive is for people to walk away with a personal food plan and a structured path for long term recovery. The 7 days will include education on what food addiction really is, what the most common addictive food ingredients are, what the difference between an eating disorder, food addiction and a “normal” eater who is struggling with weight issues is and why it can be so hard to change our eating habits. It will include several process groups daily where individuals can share their stories and gain support from others that are struggling with the same issues. Having eating and weight issues causes deep shame for many of us so to be actually sitting in a room with others who are literally sharing “our” story can be incredibly liberating and freeing.

During the 7 days participants will be introduced to a food plan that has worked for thousands of people to reach a healthy body weight, stop food obsessions, be free of cravings and finally end the war with food. Participants will work with staff to create a food plan that supports their personal long-term recovery.

The program takes place in a cozy home in a residential neighborhood. During the event we have delicious home cooked meals, go on walks around the neighborhood and enjoy much laughter, joy and tears. This program has literally saved hundreds of lives and we are passionate and dedicated to each participants long term success.

Whether you know you are a food addict or not, whether you are over -weight, under-weight or a “normal weight, whether you’re in relapse or just starting on this recovery journey we can help. If food and eating has become your master we understand and we can help.

For more information CLICK HERE.

Food Sober Through the Holidays – 5 Tips

The holidays can be a tough time for many reasons and for those of us that struggle with food, eating and weight issues it can be an absolute night mare. It doesn’t have to be though. Below are 5 tips that can alleviate the “Holiday Crazys”!

  1. Support is KEY! Whether you’re in strong recovery, precarious recovery, relapsing, or still trying to wrap your head around the idea of food addiction and how to confront your food or weight challenges…we cannot do this alone! Many of us can probably look back at our attempts to control our food and/or our weight and agree that ‘doing it alone’ has not been the most successful strategy. Need support before heading over to your in-laws for that big turkey dinner on Christmas Eve? Or feeling stressed about the holiday office party? Is your best friend hosting a holiday cocktail party that you just cannot decline but know it will be filled with appetizers, eggnog and cookies galore? We at ACORN have found sharing our fears, anxieties and stressors with someone else to be a crucial part of recovery and every day life. And doing so could involve any of the following: Going to 12-step recovery meetings, calling a close friend who you can confide in, speaking to a therapist or family member, texting a fellow or friend your thoughts and feelings while at the event, excusing yourself from the dinner table and making an outreach call in the bathroom, texting a fellow or friend your dinner commitment ahead of time…the possibilities are endless! There is strength in numbers!
  2. PLAN AHEAD! When we fail to plan, we plan to fail. Walking into any situation involving food without a plan is walking into treacherous territory when you have a complex history of eating/ weight predicaments. If you are going to a party or dinner… call the host or restaurant ahead of time and ask what is on the menu. Check out the restaurant menu online if possible. Do not be afraid to speak up for your needs. Many restaurants can accommodate special requests if they know about it ahead of time. If this is not possible, bring a dish (or two!) that you know you can eat comfortably! Another strategy is to consider eating a meal prior to going to a party where there will be a lot of food present. You will be satiated and then you can focus on socializing and enjoying the holiday ambiance more than the appetizers and desserts. Or you could bring your prepared dinner with you! Wherever you are in your food journey…putting yourself first in these situations is extremely important. It may be helpful to ask yourself: What is going to put my abstinence, my recovery OR my highest self that I am working towards ahead of anything else? What would it look like if I were putting my needs first?
  3. IT’S OK TO SAY NO! Often our default is to say YES! Have you ever said YES when you really wanted to say NO? At ACORN, we believe healthy boundaries are a very important part of self-care as well as food addiction recovery. If attending a particular event will threaten your abstinence, your sense of well-being, or your emotional stability…here is a gentle reminder that it is okay to decline an invitation. Many times you do not even have to give an explanation! A simple, “I’m so sorry but I am unable to attend. Thank you so much for thinking of me! Happy Holidays!” Is enough! It is easy to over complicate RSVPs when overwhelmed by feelings of fear, anger, or sadness. Less is more! Keep the RSVP short and sweet. And enjoy an activity on the evening of that event that feels loving and gentle to you. 
  4. CREATE AN ALTERNATE EVENT! Try planning a holiday gathering for you, close friends and/ or family that does not involve food and drinking! (This might be hard to imagine…) BUT the possibilities are truly endless…craft nights, bowling, ice skating, attending a live sports game, organizing a ‘Secret Santa’ gift exchange, going for a hike in the park, attending a yoga class, seeing a movie in theaters, visiting a comedy club, getting manicures and pedicures, a meditation class…These are all wonderful ways to spend time with loved ones. And better yet, the focus is not exclusively on holiday cookies, desserts, and warm sugary drinks. 
  5. RE-EVALUATE YOUR VERSION OF SELF CARE! In a season filled with MORE…more gifts, more desserts, more cookies, more parties, more beverages, more family, more friends…it is helpful to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember that these materialistic and external ‘things’ do not necessarily ‘fill us up’ internally. Haven’t many of us spent our lives trying to ‘fill up’ with various external items such as… diets, expensive clothing and shoes, food, food and more food… working excessively, compulsively exercising, compulsively spending, gambling, trying to control others… the list goes on and on? Ask yourself ; did these ever work? Have I ever been truly serene and at ease engaging in this particular activity? What may be a better way to feel content and at ease internally? Often the answer is rather simple…maybe it is spending just 10 minutes a day reading your favorite book? Is it hugging your pet? Is it meditating for just 5 minutes? Telling another person how you are feeling? The holiday season is often categorized by an excess of materialistic things; but self care can take on so many different non-materialistic forms. Less is very often MORE! What helps you feel calm and serene inside?