Supporting a loved one through food addiction

Kurt and Emily Boller's wedding dayThirty years ago this Valentines Day my husband and I became officially engaged. We were young, naïve, and deeply in love. Little did we know about the dark prison that lie just ahead for both of us with my budding food addiction and resulting binge eating disorder and obesity. While we were dating, I had confided that I had a “food problem,” but neither of us had any clue whatsoever how powerful it was, or how severely food addiction would take over and practically destroy my life. [Back in 1981 food addiction was not openly discussed or understood like it is today.] Since today is a special day for sweethearts, I want to focus on those who are supporting a spouse or significant other through food addiction by inviting my husband, Kurt, to share his thoughts on the topic. Welcome to Disease Proof, Kurt.  

 

What was your initial reaction when I first told you that I had a “food problem” when we were dating?

 I thought it was no big deal.  After all, in my mind I thought, “Who doesn’t have an extra piece of cake once in awhile?”  Besides, you were so special to me that I couldn’t believe there was anything that was a problem.

 

From your perspective, what was it like to discover and see first-hand the seriousness of my food addiction / binge eating disorder after we were married?

It was hard, especially when it seemed like you were out of control.  I could see that you wanted out of the addiction, yet seemed helpless to help yourself.  My first reaction was to try to control things, and being a typical guy, I thought it was something that I needed to fix. Unfortunately as I tried unsuccessfully to “fix” it, usually in an unproductive way, it only made the addiction worse.

 

Emily Boller when obeseHow did it make you feel?

I felt disappointed and cheated. I realize now that I had very unrealistic expectations and views on life, but unfortunately, my perception was my reality at the time.

 

What was the turning point for you?

I don’t think there was one point as much as a series of turns.  I was so frustrated and disappointed that I got honest with God about how I felt.  Then I just didn’t care anymore.  For awhile I did my own thing, and found ways to detach myself and emotionally escape.  It was just easier to give up and not care or try to help anymore.  Eventually God pointed out my own “stuff” that I needed to deal with; and even though the food addiction was a terrible situation, He used it to burn up some of my own crud that was an issue as well.   We went to a professional counselor, and I learned the only person that I could change was me.  That was a huge turning point in the process because I finally stopped trying to change you.  I worked on dealing with my own garbage, and then I started to believe you when you’d say, “Someday I’m going to get free.”  

           

Emily afterWhat has it been like to see me get free from food addiction and get my health back?

 

It was like a light came on and good things started happening immediately when you committed to Eat to Live ~ beyond anything either one of us had ever dreamed.  It was amazing.  To see someone go from getting beat up mentally, emotionally and physically with food addiction to being healthy, confident, and free; and helping others to do the same is indescribable.  It’s like watching the movie “Rocky” for the first time; witnessing someone that you love and want the best for finally winning in a war they’ve been fighting for years. 

 

 

What are your thoughts to share with others who are supporting a loved one through food addiction and resulting eating disorders and diseases? 

 

  • Be honest with yourself and acknowledge your feelings.  Stuffing your frustrations and anger only makes it worse.

  • Be committed to the relationship.  Everyone needs someone solid and a good influence in their life.

  • Realize you can’t change them.  The only person that you can change is yourself. 

  • There may be times when you’ll need to pull back so your “boat” doesn’t sink.  A person drowning in addiction can pull others down with them so maintain your own mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical health; just don’t abandon them.

  • Seek professional counseling for the person as well as yourself.  Not all counselors are equal.  If a counselor doesn’t help, then keep looking. The key is being willing to be totally honest about the underlying root problems and cut out the destructive issues that psychologically fuel addiction.

  • Don’t quit.  Never give up.  Never give in.  Never, Never, Never.  Like the old adage goes, “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on!”

     

     

 

 

Related posts:

Are you a food addict?  by Dr. Fuhrman

Freedom is for everyone!  by Emily Boller

A Valentine Love Story

 

For many, Valentine’s Day is filled with candlelit dinners, flowers and romance. Yet, unfortunately, for many others, it's just another day filled with disappointment due to a loved one’s confusing perils of addiction. 

Addiction is not solitary; it painfully affects everyone, especially those closest to the person caught in the web of its entanglements. 

Recently, I had the privilege of meeting Peggy, the lovely wife of Ronnie Valentine, who I recently interviewed on Disease Proof. If you recall, Ronnie was not only caught up in food and alcohol addiction, but smoked four packs of cigarettes a day. I asked Peggy if she’d be willing to share her perspective of what it was like being married to someone drowning in addiction, (with Ronnie’s blessing), and she wholeheartedly agreed to it. Welcome to Disease Proof, Peggy.

  

 

 

                      picture of young couple

What was your life like being married to someone trapped in addiction?

When Ronnie and I married in 1985, he was disciplined, athletic, healthy, and balanced. His addiction to cigarettes, alcohol and food developed slowly over time, as did my coping mechanisms. I definitely progressed in a downward spiral, in my own way, right along with him. 

As a couple, our once normal, loving partnership turned to one of caregiver and sick, disabled person.  Having to pick up additional responsibilities to cover for Ronnie’s physical incapacities and emotional absence due to behaviors that were chosen by him, I continued in a repetitive cycle of anger, pity, hope, and forgiveness, which was detrimental to my own health and well being. 

 

How did Ronnie’s addictions affect your children and other relationships?

Addiction in our case, as I think for most people suffering from it, affected every relationship within our family, plus our social relationships, in a negative way. Our children experienced the absence of their father. His desire to be in their lives was limited as the addictions were the driving force in his life. I remember telling the kids about a year before Ronnie discovered Dr. Fuhrman’s web site that I felt strongly their father would not be around much longer. We were living with a person who was voluntarily and slowly killing himself. I knew that his will to live had long departed. Although we never talked about it, I knew that Ronnie was putting affairs in order so that I could carry on in his absence. And because his preference was to socialize with those who liked to participate in the same things, our social life also became out-of-balance as isolation took place of relationships.

 

married coupleHow did it affect your finances?

Ronnie was taking medications that were costing over $600/month in out-of-pocket expenses! Our finances were crippled, because more than $2500 every month was being thrown out the window to fund his addictions and medications. Today I’m proud to say that we spend absolutely nothing on prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, cigarettes, alcohol, eating out, junk food, or any other vice. 

 

How did you cope with the ongoing stress? 

I wish I could say that I was the pillar of strength and support, but that would be an inaccurate assessment. However, I do believe for those married that we ultimately want our marriages to succeed. The need to WANT to trust our partner is strong. I knew that this was the foundation to our relationship. If the trust was gone, we were through.

I experienced a naïve type of hope that wanted to find something good to hang on to, which became my coping mechanism. However, eventually over the years, my instinct and good sense confirmed to me that this problem wasn’t going to get any better or go away. As a last resort, I went to my God on Ronnie’s behalf and begged for mercy. I began to pray a lot.

Only God can change a heart. All the diets, disciplined efforts, exercise programs, treatment centers, hypnosis, or any other methods are destined to fail if the heart of the person has not decided to live. I think many people have to hit bottom in order to look up, and Ronnie was no exception. After his second trip to the hospital for treatment of serious heart disease in three years, we were both at rock bottom.

 

What was the turning point for you?

Upon returning home after having three stents put into his arteries [two years after quadruple bypass surgery], I watched Ronnie search for a new way to live. He discovered Dr. Fuhrman’s web site and began to communicate with him about his health. As Ronnie gained information, he began to change. Although that first year was hard, (Ronnie had been smoking four packs of cigarettes a day and stopped cold turkey), his decision to live never faltered. It was an instant decision on his part. Seeing his will to live again was a turning point for me as I could look forward to a future with the man that I loved the most in the world. My assumption of being a widow was no longer valid! God had come through in His mercy.

 

          before and after pics of male

What has it been like to see Ronnie change right before your eyes?

There has been a lot of attention, and rightfully so, spent on gaining knowledge about vitamins, minerals, what and when to eat, how foods affect the body, human anatomy, exercise, and managing stress; almost a hobby and passion for Ronnie. I am very proud of his dedication to learn this information and his willingness to share it with anyone ready to listen.

A new trust has been restored to our relationship. We are now on the same page for the first time in years.  Our children have been released of the constant burden of worry, not only for their father, but for me as well.

Sometimes I still forget that I don’t have to do everything by myself anymore. I now have a healthy and fit husband who can help bring in groceries, mow the lawn, and move heavy boxes and furniture with ease; all of which he couldn’t do when he was sick and incapacitated.  I no longer see our money flying out the door with nothing to show for it. Our life is so much better and easier, and an open book to family and friends with nothing to hide.

 

Is there anything that you would like to share with those who are committed to a loved one through the devastation of addiction?

Ronnie was hurting, but he was a dynamic and extraordinary individual waiting to jump out and live again.  I think it’s important not to put a lot of unnecessary blame on someone caught in addiction, and in the process, bypass our own shortcomings. 

If you are reading this and are a parent or grandparent, be watchful of your children and grandchildren. Their physical and emotional well-beings are impressionable, and their nutritional habits are being formed by you. Some of the answers to addiction may lie here, and I suspect that if taught early, good habits and health would carry throughout a lifetime.

 

                                          

Happy Valentines Day Ronnie and Peggy Valentine! May you have many wonderful years together!

 

 

Image credits: roses, theresampetoskey@Flickr; silhouette, emergingcity.com

 

 

 

 

Interview with Nutritarians: Rick and Lynne

Since Valentine Day is on Sunday, I want to interview a couple, Rick and Lynne, who recently celebrated 40 years of marriage and are committed nutritarians. They plan to enjoy many more wonderful, and now, healthy years together. Welcome to Disease Proof Rick and Lynne!

                                   newlyweds cutting wedding cake

How did you discover nutritarian eating?

For us it has been a long and gradual process to discover and eventually commit to nutritarian eating. About 15 years ago we gave up eating red meat and pork products, and then eventually gave up consuming chicken due to their growth hormones and antibiotics.   Then my sister Laurie and her husband, Darryl, led us the rest of the way to discover Dr. Fuhrman’s high nutrient eating-style. 

Since Darryl and Laurie visit us once or twice a year, they help with the grocery shopping and cooking. In the process they have shared healthier food preparation and recipes with us. Laurie and I have swapped recipes for years and now we have healthy ones to share with each other.

 

What motivated both of you to commit 100%?

We both attended a lecture by Dr. Fuhrman in Clearwater, Florida, and then attended his health “Getaway” this past summer. His lectures were so informative and full of science to back up his eating plan. Plus it was great to spend a whole week eating delicious, healthy food and then return home from a vacation having lost a few pounds rather than gaining! Of course, it was also wonderful to meet other nutritrians and eat meals and socialize with likeminded people for an entire week. 

 

How has eating for health changed your lives?

We didn’t have a lot of weight to lose to begin with; surprisingly, we’ve both lost 17 lbs, and now weigh less than the day we got married! Our cholesterol levels are in a healthy range now, and a recent blood pressure reading for Rick was 105/72 and mine was 113/72. We feel so much better eating this way. Even when we eat a substantial meal, because we choose the healthiest foods possible, we don’t have that heavy feeling of being stuffed and bloated afterwards. We are looking better in our clothes and have been able to wear some things that we haven’t worn in years. Now we’re donating our larger clothes because we know we’ll never need them again!

 

Has it been beneficial to be on this journey together?

Yes!  We offer each other the full support and daily encouragement to eat the healthiest foods possible.  We both want to live long and healthy lives and not die early of a preventable disease.  Rick and I love each other so much that we want as many years together as we can possibly get! My great grandparents were married for 71 years, and I hope we can meet or exceed that number!

                                             picture of a nutritarian couple

Congratulations Rick and Lynne on celebrating your 40th anniversary! Now that you are both in excellent health, may you continue to celebrate many more!