5 Ways to start changing unhealthy eating habits 

1. Forgive yourself 
Feeling guilty often comes after eating foods you know are unhealthy. However, guilt is often a feeling that leads to emotional eating. If you have an episode where you binge or eat unhealthy foods, forgive yourself. Focus on the motivation to change your food habits, not the feeling of guilt over the past. Forgiving yourself is a lot easier when we are in a grateful state of mind. Being grateful shifts our focus to the positive things in our lives instead of the issues. A positive state of mind encourages growth and change.
Activity: Keep a gratitude journal for a week. Single out a time every day to write down at least 3 things you are grateful for. By the end of the week you will have a long list of positive things to reflect on during times of struggle.
2. Define your relationship with food. 
Food is meant to give us the nutrients we need for our cells to function properly.  You need to recognize if you are eating for reasons other than nutrition. Sometimes eating can be used as a coping technique. If so, identifying triggering emotions can be the first step to changing that behavior. Focus on how you are feeling before, during and after eating anything.
Activity: Try logging your feelings every time you eat or crave unhealthy foods vs feelings when eating healthy foods
3. Identify trigger foods 
Not all foods are created equal when it comes to how our bodies react. There are certain foods that can increase your urge to eat other unhealthy foods. We can call them “gateway foods” because eating them leads to more unhealthy habits. For example, if you find it difficult to stop snacking once you’ve eaten candy, then it would be best to avoid candy. Knowing which foods trigger you into binging can be helpful in that you can avoid contact with those foods. That means not having those foods easily accessible.
Activity: Create a list of trigger foods that are not allowed to be put on the grocery list! Try and avoid these foods for a week  and see if it leads to other changes in eating habits.
4. Have a realistic plan
You may recognize your eating habits need improvement. It could be tempting to take drastic measures. However, setting unrealistic expectations can lead to getting discouraged. Instead, eliminate one food at a time so that your healthy food habits are built gradually and are more sustainable.
Activity: Pick one of the trigger foods and eliminate it completely from your diet. Keep doing this gradually, one week at a time.
5. Love yourself
The motivation to change should stem from a place of love. You want to change your eating habits because you love your body and value your health. You honor your body by nourishing it. When food choices can become a sign of how much you love yourself, you will be motivated to choose the healthier options.
Activity: Write yourself a love letter! You are madly in love with yourself, and yourself needs to know it! Write the most loving and positive you can think of about your true love, you. Then you can reference this letter as a reminder during times when it feels tough to love yourself.
Ann Basta, MD, LSW

About The Author
Ann Basta, MD, LSW is a therapist at Olive Branch Therapy Group. Ann works with adolescents, young adults, adults and couples. Her specialties include food addiction, substance abuse, anxiety, depression, and trauma. If you are interested in working with Ann, contact via email, phone or chat on our website.

5 Tips on Scheduling an Appointment and Being Paired With A Therapist

1. Contact Us

There are numerous ways to contact the office to set up services. Our client experience manager Kaitlynn Moran is here to help you. You can call Olive Branch at 732-659-0683, email at Katie@olivebranchtherapy group.com, and use the chat feature to talk to a live person directly on our website, www.olivebranchtherapygroup.com.

2. Know your Why

The more detail as to why you are seekings services the better! This is kept strictly confidential. The information given at this time is what our Client Experience Manager uses to pair you with a therapist that best fits your needs. Olive Branch wants to ensure that our clients are paired with the best therapist for their needs. We are niche based therapy group, this means we have therapists that specialize in specific things and want to ensure that you are paired with someone that specializes in what you are currently experiencing.   

3. Be Prepared

Olive Branch knows that services can be costly. We bill in network with our participating insurance companies, but if you are not in network Olive Branch is still willing to work with you, as we believe that everyone deserves access to quality mental health care.  We can bill any out of network services directly for you. When you have your insurance information available Kaitlynn will verify your benefit on the spot for you as well as communicate what you will be responsible for.

If you have no insurance we do have private pay options available as well. Our full rate is $150 a session. We do offer a sliding scale for those unable to pay our full rate.

4. Know your availability to come in for an appointment

We have numerous therapists that have different schedules to meet everyone’s needs. Our general hours are Monday-Friday 9:00am-9:00pm, Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm and Sunday 9:00am-4:00pm. This information helps us make sure we are pairing you with a therapist that will be available the the same times you are. It is best to give a range of days and times you are available verses a specific day and one hour of time. Appointments are the same time weekly so it’s good to ensure that you will be free the time you are agreeing to weekly.

5. Communicate your best method of contacts

Make sure you communicate your best method of contact. The therapist you are paired with will be reaching out to you within 24 hours to schedule an appointment. We want to ensure we can schedule you as soon as possible. We ask to provide at least one phone number and email that is the best for us to reach you at to ensure that we can contact you back in a timely matter.

To schedule today contact Kaitlynn at 732-659-0683 x 500 or katie@Olivebranchtherapygroup.com.

Kaitlynn Moran

About The Author

Kaitlynn Moran is the Client Experience Manager at the Olive Branch Therapy Group. Kaitlynn works with pairing each individual person to a therapist that specializes in their need. Want to set up an appointment? Contact us today- via email, phone or chat on our website!

Seven tips on Substance Abuse Recovery

1) Practice Mindfulness to remain connected to the present moment.  Paying attention to the present moment can be difficult or even painful – but the present is all we have. Addressing change in the recovery process is near impossible while obsessing over past mistakes or future anxieties.  Utilizing the five senses to remain anchored to the present will allow an individual to act with purpose. Note the urge to remain half-present, to be somewhere else, to multitask – and refocus to the here and now.

2) Balance Acceptance with Change. Recovery is a delicate balance of accepting yourself exactly as you are (how far you’ve come and the progress you have made) with change (what work still needs to be done).  Acknowledging progress on the difficult days and moving towards change during times you feel capable can prevent backsliding and keep you focused on your goals. Recovery is a lifelong process; reflecting on personal successes and accomplishments can be “enough” at times.

3) Addiction is a disease – not some moral failing. Science has shown that addiction and substance use overtime can create structural and physiological changes in the brain and make recovery a gargantuan task.  It is important to note addiction affects individuals from all walks of life; not a particular “type” of person.   When stigma and prejudice is challenged – this public health crisis can be addressed further and more successfully.

4) Shame and Guilt will keep you sick – challenge and reframe these emotions often.  Substance use is often an emotion-driven behavior. An individual can use substances to detach from intense feelings of shame and guilt which inevitably cause these emotions to rebound strongly and a perpetual cycle to develop. Reframing these two emotions as acting out of alignment with personal goals or values in the recovery process will allow an individual to lessen the intensity of shame and guilt and process accordingly.  Shame and Guilt can instead be used as a personal compass or navigation system of “Who am I now?” and “Where would I like to be?” as opposed to a primary or secondary reason to use.

5) Early sobriety can be difficult and can cause individuals to fall back into old using patterns. Individuals with long-term sobriety or even mental health professionals can be fall prey to “selling recovery” with the best intentions to individuals in early sobriety or ongoing use. It can be important to step back from sensationalizing (“It feels great!”, “I’ve never been better!”) and acknowledge the uncomfortable early days. Yes early sobriety can be difficult for a number of reasons-physical withdrawal, overwhelming emotions, unaddressed trauma – but these difficulties are not permanent. People can and do heal from trauma and emotions lessen in intensity overtime.

6) Harm Reduction versus Abstinence For some people, abstinence – completely stopping substance use and adhering to a sober lifestyle–in early recovery can be incredibly difficult or feel impossible.  As the journey in recovery is completely individualized, it could be easier for the person using substances to work at reducing harm while slowly moving toward complete abstinence. For example, if substance use cannot be completely stopped now, can it be reduced? In the case of intravenous substance use, can sterile needles be acquired each time in order to prevent physical health conditions like HIV and Hepatitis C? Marsha Linehan, creator of dialectical behavioral therapy, notes there are pros and cons to both abstinence and harm reduction. People working within the abstinence model stay “on the wagon” longer but subscribers to the harm reduction model recover quicker from a slip or lapse.

7) Self-Care and social connection are key components in the recovery process. Recovery is so much more than cessation of substance use.  Both individuals in early recovery and people who have been sober for decades require frequent self-care practices and healthy social connections. Self-care can be as simple as going for a walk after a hard day to something as intense as repeated boundary setting and disconnecting from unhealthy individuals. It is important to secure social supports and utilize self-care frequently- not just in a crisis or when mental health worsens.


Charles Schuh,  LCSW

About the Author
Charles Schuh, LCSW is a therapist at Olive Branch Therapy Group. Charles works with adolescent, teen and adult males. Charles’s specialties include men’s and teen’s issues, trauma, EMDR, addiction, and PTSD. If you are interested in working with Charles contact us via email, phone or chat on our website.

5 Easy Ways to Find Peace in 2019

5 Easy Ways to Find Peace in 2019

1. Practice mindfulness: Use any or all of your five senses to be present in the moment. Smell the peel of an orange and let that awaken you. Savor the feel of rubbing lotion on your hands. Observe a piece of art work, great or small, and let it stimulate your mind. Listen to the sounds of the world outside. Enjoy each and every bite of the meal you are eating, chewing and swallowing with patience and awareness.

2. Take a moment to pause: Before you respond to a person or situation, take one deep breath and allow yourself time to think about how you want to handle this moment in time. Then do so.

3. Get outdoors: Winter does not have to mean hibernation! Bundle up and take a walk around the block. Find a nature trail or visit a local park. Breathe in the crisp, cool air and let it rejuvenate you. Let the sun warm your face.

4. Love yourself: Be your own cheerleader. Focus on something positive about you and commend yourself for it! Practice internal kindness.

5. Give back: A gesture as small as smiling at a stranger in the check out line, or letting a car get in front you in traffic, can give you a sense of connectedness. Give of your time, your skills and your positivity to help remind you that we are in this together.

About the Author

Suzanne Devoti, LCSW is a therapist at Olive Branch Therapy Group. Suzanne works with children, adolescents, young adults, adults, and couples. Suzanne’s specialties include depression, anxiety, grief, couples, parenting, families, and women’s issues. If you are interested in working with Suzanne, contact us via email, phone or chat on our website.

Four Reasons to Start Therapy in the New Year

Four Reasons to Start Therapy in the New Year

4. Because the holidays can be tough.

While some may consider the holiday season to be “the happiest season of all”, there are many individuals who face the holidays with trepidation. For those who struggle with depression or anxiety, the holidays may result in an increase in symptomology. As a society, we tend to put a lot of pressure on the holidays; television commercials portray happy families gathered around a table, backlit by a roaring fireplace. In reality, the holidays can be a difficult time for many of us, especially when our realities fall short of the idyllic vignettes on the cover of holiday cards. Strained family relations may be exacerbated by the pressure of the holiday season, and we may find ourselves emotionally depleted come January. Take care of yourself this holiday season, and know that you are not alone, no matter what you are facing.

3. Because winter is long.

According to Mental Health America, seasonal depression is a very real entity that plagues many individuals. Seasonal depression, which is sometimes referred to as the “winter blues”, affects roughly 5% of the U.S. population. When the temperature drops and the days get shorter, many individuals find themselves feeling down, unmotivated, or lethargic. Mental Health America reports that reduced levels of sunlight in the winter months may have an impact on an individual’s serotonin level. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that impacts mood, is often linked to depression. Shorter, darker days also result in increased levels of melatonin, a sleep-related hormone that is produced in the brain. It may feel like the winter will never end…but spring is coming.

2. Because depression and anxiety are prevalent, but they don’t have to rule your life.

According to the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI), 16 million American adults live with major depression, and 42 million American adults live with anxiety. NAMI estimates that 20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition; 11% of youth suffer from mood disorders, while 8% of youth are living with anxiety. NAMI also indicates that 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24. If you or your loved one is dealing with depression or anxiety, you do not have to suffer in silence. Psychotherapy is proven to be an effective treatment option for individuals dealing with a variety of mental health challenges and greatly improves an individual’s prognosis.

1. Because you want to make this your best year yet.

It may sound cliché, but with the start of a new year comes the promise of a happier and more fulfilling life. Many individuals have considered pursuing therapy in the past but may not have taken that next step. For some, the thought of beginning therapy can be daunting and overwhelming—you are not alone. At Olive Branch, our team of well-trained, empathetic therapists is here to help you. Our office is staffed with licensed clinicians who specialize in a variety of mental health challenges and disorders, including depression, anxiety, trauma, grief, behavioral issues, and substance use. Olive Branch offers individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy, and play therapy, as well as psychoeducational and peer support groups.

For a brief consultation, please contact us at 732-659-0683. We look forward to working with you.

Alyson Rentrop, MSW, LSW
About the Author

Alyson Rentrop, LSW is a therapist at the Olive Branch Therapy Group. Alyson works with children, adolescents, young adults, and adults. Alyson specialties include depression, anxiety, grief, and womens issues. If you are interested in working with Alyson, contact us today- via email, phone or chat on our website!