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fillthecup 07-13-07 02:32 PM

helping a loved one with a food addiction?
 
I just heard some infuriating news, and this being Foo I thought Iíd take a highly personal issue and consult the general group wisdom. Plus there hasnít been enough heavy stuff lately. Ready?

My father is approaching a crisis point with his food addiction. Heís always had a food fixation, but itís getting worse, and heís in such poor health at the moment Iím not sure heíll be around next year.

Heís 57, 5í 7Ē and 250 lbs, and recently developed type II diabetes as a result of his eating habits. The doctors told him to lose 10 lbs in six weeks, or heíd require daily insulin injections. He didnít make any sort of effort at all, completely not taking it seriously.

Both my parents can hardly walk a block without going pale faced and having to rest. This week, while visiting my sister in Switzerland, his feet started swelling up, and all the blood vessels in his feet burst. The doctor told him to wrap it uncomfortably tightly and elevate it for a few days. On his way back to her flat he wanted to stop at a restaurant, my sister forbade it, so he bought a chocolate bar. ARGH!! He regularly goes into mini-comas following meals, but shrugs it off as harmless.

Did he wrap his foot? At first he wanted to wait a day, but my sis forced him to wrap it. He wrapped it loosely. Nothing seems to scare him. My Mother is an enabler, and is also in extremely poor health due to diet and lifestyle.

My siblings and I donít want to watch it happen anymore, so Iím considering organizing some sort of intervention. (Are there rehab clinics for food fixations?) Itís just a big step, and a serious thing to threaten to cut off communication with oneís parents unless they change, which they might not. But itís too excrutiating to witness them deteriorate so fast when they actually have a CHOICE in the matter.

<pant> Thanks all. Any thoughts or comments are well appreciated.

mirage1 07-13-07 03:51 PM

No suggestions, but I feel for you, AND your parents. It's an awful situation.

My dad smoked even after he'd been dx'd with emphysema. Just couldn't help himself, and kind of figured why close the barn door when the horse is already gone?

I smoked even after my dad had been dx'd with emphysema, as well. :(

There is an organization called Overeaters Anonymous, but it's kind of like the joke about how many psychiatrists it takes to change a light bulb--only one, but it has to want to change. :p If your parents don't decide they want to change, you can't make it happen for them.

bikingshearer 07-13-07 04:07 PM


Originally Posted by mirage1
If your parents don't decide they want to change, you can't make it happen for them.

That's the main point. If I follow you, fillthecup, you are pondering the wisdom of staging some sort of intervention.

FWIW, I say: Do it. I think it is essential that you take your best shot. I say this not so much for your parents, but for you. It is possible, even likely, that nothing you do or say will motivate them sufficiently, even if you stage the perfect intervention and do everything right. You can't control that. What you can control is how you conduct yourself now and set yourself up, emotionally, for the future. If you do nothing, you will almost certainly have to grapple with guilt feelings for not having done "more," and always wondered if perhaps could have saved them from themselves. So do it to remove those issues from your future life.

I have zero clue how to put together an intervention so as to maximize the chances of success, so I'll leave that to other Foosters and your research. Good luck. I hope your parents can see past their fears and accept this wonderful gift from their children.

bluebottle1 07-13-07 04:10 PM

Totally agree with both of the other posters thus far. The fact that you are posting this here says that it is bothering you. If you're willing to tell all of us, tell your folks. They may not agree to do anything, but you will at least know that you did your best to effect change.

KingTermite 07-13-07 04:20 PM

Try to do something.....an intervention sounds like a good plan.

I know this situation, ALL TOO PERSONALLY. Basically, this is what really killed my mom in 2003. She had got diabetes, sleep apnea, and about 10 other things I can't remember all because of her weight and lack of exercise.

Finally the doctors told her she needed a gastric bypass surgery (similar to what Tom Stormcrowe had). After that surgery you are kinda forced to eat right because your body will reject too much junk food and too much food in general. She would HAVE to eat less (and better) after the surgery. I begged her for months and months to start trying to eat better now so that it wasn't as psychologically difficult after the surgery. She wouldn't hear of it....her feeling was that "this is my last year to eat junk food", so she LIVED on nothing but junk food that last year. She never recovered from the surgery and died in ICU 6 weeks after surgery.

So, don't let that happen to him. Intervene and try to do something.

Nicodemus 07-13-07 04:49 PM

Sorry, I also can't think of much to suggest, other than making it abundantly clear to them how damned selfish and pathetic their behaviour is. They're not even trying

Maybe they've been mollycoddled too much. It doesn't help that they have each other as co-crutches. Having one's partner reinforce negative behaviour must be a very powerful block to ever having to face up to reality.

They will DIE unless they change their ways. They will DIE YOUNG. They will leave YOU and YOUR SISTER alone and resenting their selfishness and lack of consideration for their own children to the rest of your days.

That's all I can think of. Don't be nice - be absolutely harsh with the dumb ****s. Because their situation is made doubly worse because they enable each other.

Good luck, and my deepest sympthies go out to you - it does sound like an extreme situation.

Personally, I am hesitant to label this an addiction in the traditional (chemical dependency) sense. It's more psychological and the result of lifestyle and habit than anything else.

Just ask them if they care about a chocolate bar more than their own damn children. Ask it plain and simple. Then walk out. Tough love's a beotch. But they really are not even making the slightest effort. That smacks of blind selfishness and no amount of niceness is going to get through to them right now.

Take them on a short drive to the local graveyard. Just say, "see you here real soon," hand dad a chocolate bar, and walk away.

Stacey 07-13-07 05:30 PM

Nico, apply our smoking here. Damn the reports,statistics and the doctors. We wanted cigarettes. It's the same thing here. It's a life changing decission of the self.

skiahh 07-13-07 06:10 PM


Originally Posted by fillthecup
...and a serious thing to threaten to cut off communication with oneís parents unless they change, which they might not.

Problem with making threats like that are if they call your bluff one of two things will happen:

1. You still talk to them and lose any future credibility or
2. Your next communication with them is when one calls to tell you the other has died.

Rock and hard place....

blonduathlongrl 07-13-07 06:15 PM


Originally Posted by Stacey
Nico, apply our smoking here. Damn the reports,statistics and the doctors. We wanted cigarettes. It's the same thing here. It's a life changing decission of the self.

yes and why he doesnt want to make that change is what you need to find out,because that change has to come from him, if it's forced from others, it will just be a temporary change.
huge hug, this has to be so tough.

Mr. Gear Jammer 07-13-07 06:24 PM


Originally Posted by fillthecup
I just heard some infuriating news, and this being Foo I thought Iíd take a highly personal issue and consult the general group wisdom. Plus there hasnít been enough heavy stuff lately. Ready?

My father is approaching a crisis point with his food addiction. Heís always had a food fixation, but itís getting worse, and heís in such poor health at the moment Iím not sure heíll be around next year.

Heís 57, 5í 7Ē and 250 lbs, and recently developed type II diabetes as a result of his eating habits. The doctors told him to lose 10 lbs in six weeks, or heíd require daily insulin injections. He didnít make any sort of effort at all, completely not taking it seriously.

Both my parents can hardly walk a block without going pale faced and having to rest. This week, while visiting my sister in Switzerland, his feet started swelling up, and all the blood vessels in his feet burst. The doctor told him to wrap it uncomfortably tightly and elevate it for a few days. On his way back to her flat he wanted to stop at a restaurant, my sister forbade it, so he bought a chocolate bar. ARGH!! He regularly goes into mini-comas following meals, but shrugs it off as harmless.

Did he wrap his foot? At first he wanted to wait a day, but my sis forced him to wrap it. He wrapped it loosely. Nothing seems to scare him. My Mother is an enabler, and is also in extremely poor health due to diet and lifestyle.

My siblings and I donít want to watch it happen anymore, so Iím considering organizing some sort of intervention. (Are there rehab clinics for food fixations?) Itís just a big step, and a serious thing to threaten to cut off communication with oneís parents unless they change, which they might not. But itís too excrutiating to witness them deteriorate so fast when they actually have a CHOICE in the matter.

<pant> Thanks all. Any thoughts or comments are well appreciated.

Get them a bike?. Ummm maybe you should make them read about what they have and what could happen if they dont change?. Perhaps, getting them to go to a gym with you or a family member a couple times a week?. I dont know man, i wish your family the best in dealing with this.

fillthecup 07-13-07 06:47 PM

You guys are all awesome. But that's why I posted here after hearing about it this morning.

Whether an intervention works or not, it'll hurt their feelings pretty bad. I'll need to think carefully about what I'm going to say to them, and how I'll say it. And I only think a full-blown intervention will work if enough extended family participate.

Right now my sister is hosting them in Switzerland, and is horrified that they can barely get around. They're in as poor health as my grandparents were in their late 70's.

Anyway, if anyone can offer any insights or experiences I'd be grateful. I'll be out of Foo contact till Sunday, I'm setting up for the 'Bug-Bash' day at the Science and Industry Museum in Chicago (if anyone nearby is interested).

Stacey 07-13-07 08:03 PM

You summed it up well in the last line of the last paragraph of the OP. Your father does have a choice, and he's excersizing it. It's just not the choice you agree with. I don't agree with his choise either, but stripping the emotional out of the equasion... It is his life, it's his choice. shouldn't you allow him the dignity to make his own decissions?

matimeo 07-13-07 10:31 PM

That is a sad situation. If he does not decide to change, at some point you're going to have to be able to let that be his decision and not take responsibility for it. Do what you can now and it will make it easier to live with whatever happens.

merider1 07-13-07 10:53 PM

My uncle lost his leg to diabetes (and ultimately his life), and not until that happened did he take it seriously (and after he died, my mother took it seriously and changed her habits as she is borderline diabetic). I feel for you coming from a family with all types of eating disorders (including my own, that is now under control but was devastating for many years), and can reassure you that this is not YOUR battle. Love your parents and appreciate the time you have with them. Then be different than they are, live differently than they have and adopt life-long healthy habits that ensure you won't end up the same. Only then will you have beaten the very battle you may feel you are fighting...yet, are not. It is frustrating, but try to take comfort in the fact that your parents are living as they see fit and may become very ill from their choices. But they, like you, make these choices and no one else does it for them. An intervention will likely just cause great pain for YOU and will unlikely change their behavior. In this country, food and excessive use of it isn't yet considered the same as using drugs or alcohol (close - some doctors are realizing the significance of food addictions) and therefore, extreme measures will not work, unless taken by the very individuals who suffer from these often seemingly insurmountable addictions with the help of a specialist or doctor.

I wish you the best and the best for your parents.

Michigander 07-13-07 11:04 PM

You have 2 options, intervene or do nothing. Even if you piss them off and hurt their feelings, you'll feel a lot better than if you do jack **** and watch the situation get progressively worse.

The only dietary intervention I ever did was for myself, and I did so using the help of this guy--> www.garynull.com He can do wonders for people with diabetes or most any other illness if they can be talked into changing their lifestyle.

donnamb 07-13-07 11:33 PM

Do you have employee assistance counseling as part of an employee benefit package? People with these kinds of packages generally get 4-5 sessions a year about some kind of life issue. This would be an ideal thing to use EAP for. If you are going to plan some sort of intervention, why not get help from people who have studied the best and worst ways to do one?

Stacey 07-14-07 03:17 AM


Originally Posted by Michigander
You have 2 options, intervene or do nothing. Even if you piss them off and hurt their feelings, you'll feel a lot better than if you do jack **** and watch the situation get progressively worse.

The only dietary intervention I ever did was for myself, and I did so using the help of this guy--> www.garynull.com He can do wonders for people with diabetes or most any other illness if they can be talked into changing their lifestyle.

You sure you're not one of those pinko liberul hippy types? :D


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