Living with a food addict
September 30, 2012 10:44 AM Subscribe
I'm looking for tips and coping strategies and insight for living with a food addict. My domestic partner is now a diabetic and gets pancreatitis because of his overeating. I want ideas for how to lessen the impact on the household and to avoid obsessing about the situation.
posted by Jane the Brown to Human Relations (31 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I have joined OAANON on listserv but it is inactive.
For years his paycheck has been deposited to my account and he gets a small fixed sum of spending money. I buy all the groceries. However he will borrow money to buy fast food, including running up nearly $30,000 in debt over a three year period when he got a company credit card.
I do one big grocery run by car once a week and pick up extras like fresh veggies as needed during the week.
My domestic partner only eats what he likes being hugely picky, but then he usually eats all of it. If there isn't anything he likes a lot he either skips eating until he is sick, or just eat the part he likes, such as eating spaghetti sauce without the pasta. If I buy a roast or a chicken he eats as much of it as he can, then waits twenty minutes for it to settle and finishes off the last of it. Every Christmas he would eat the entire turkey within a day and half and then end up in Emerg. On most days he reads during meals, then after dinner settles down to read and eat until the evening is over. He reads at meals because his doctor told him to stop eating while he reads in the evening, so in order to hang on to his comfort time he decided he would read during his meals and not during the evening but within a week it turned into him getting frustrated unless he could read and eat during both.
Recently he took half a pound of garlic margarine, melted it and poured it over popcorn and ate it in one sitting which resulted in another bout of pancreatitis. In a self motivated effort to improve his health he has stopped eating a large bag of potato chips every night and instead is baking three or four potatoes until they are crunchy and drenching them in margarine; he has little insight into what he is doing and I am trying to find a happy medium between supplying him with fuel for his addiction, and keeping groceries in the house. Looks like I have to stop buying margarine now...
We have two teenaged/adult children. One is probably also food addicted but to sugar. The other has just managed to get his weight up to a healthy level but has trouble eating at all when he is anxious. I feel like his being underweight is related to my domestic partner competing to eat all the food first.
My partner does not believe it when I request he leave food for others of us -either he forgets, or thinks it was left for him, or figures there was only one serving anyway, but as far as I can tell that is just rationalization because there is no thought process through see food:want:eat. If I say anything that distresses him he closes down and avoids me. Frequently if there is something he likes to eat in the house he eats it steadily until it is gone. If there is nothing easy to eat in the house that he likes he doesn't eat until his blood sugar crashes, and then frequently cooks an enormous three pot meal, and then goes to lie down to deal with the blood sugar crash leaving the kitchen in a mess. This happens about four times a week.
I am having trouble with the logistics.
I've tried hiding pantry staples in my room, buying so much he can't eat it all, buying only a small amount and doing without when it's gone, finding things he won't eat and trying to live on those and other strategies. When and if I can find counseling or OA-anon I want to try that but I have not found anything in our area.
I have a history as a co-dependant, having grown up with an anorexic, alcoholic, borderline mother. My domestic partner and I work at the same place and when my partner calls in sick I often can go in to cover his shift for him but the overtime often triggers a migraine so I end up barely functioning for about four days. Another problem is when he goes in to work without eating and I arrive at work to discover he is about to crash and have to request permission to take my fifteen minute break just at the beginning of my shift to dash out and get him something to eat so he doesn't have to go home. At least I can get him something relatively healthy like a sandwich as opposed to a jumbo bag of jellybeans. I know this is enabling behaviour but we need his paycheck. We are spending more than we bring in for basic living expenses. Money is an issue. We spend more than we can afford to on food.
A few things have helped: One mental trick when faced with a demolished kitchen is to remind myself that I am committed to him enough to contribute fifteen minutes a day without complaint, and that usually is enough time to get enough of the kitchen cleaned so the next person can use it. What I am asking is for tricks and insight like this to help me back off and yet get some control over some part of it.
Hopefully this is not too much rant/complaint and will give you the parameters of what I am working with. Any ideas or suggestions would be welcome.