Supporting a loved one through food addiction
Thirty 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.
How 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.”
What 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!”
Are you a food addict? by Dr. Fuhrman
A Valentine’s love story; an interview with Peggy Valentine, wife of Ronnie who suffered for years from food, alcohol and cigarette addiction, and today is completely free
Freedom is for everyone! by Emily Boller