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My husband has an eating disorder and I'm just enabling him.

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
My husband is 6'6", and weighs almost 400 lbs. He has a binge eating disorder. He will eat until he's physically ill. He becomes angry if I don't buy foods he can quickly binge on. He becomes upset if I don't prepare enough food for dinner (which, btw, is 1 serving for me, 2 small servings for our daughters, and 13 servings for my husband. THIRTEEN. At least. When we're running low of food in the house I have been known to halve my own portion sizes in order to make sure he has seconds or thirds.

If I don't prepare enough for him, he'll sneak out to a fast food restaurant and binge on $20+ worth of Taco Bell. Or, he'll raid the cupboards and fridge, eating foods he knows I'm planning on using for another meal. He'll drink 2-3 bottles of Mountain Dew a day, and will lecture me if I don't buy enough at the grocery store. I'm embarrassed buying so much soda. I'm grocery shopping a couple times a week, spending $100-150 per shopping trip (I just spent $500 in two weeks, which doesn't count all the times he's gone out to eat). I end up going to different stores on different days, because I'm embarrassed how much food I'm purchasing.

I've been sending him to work with a bag lunch, and I found out he's been buying another lunch on top of that.

My husband will eat large amounts of foods he doesn't like. He'll even eat ROTTEN FOOD.

I'm finding it impossible to make 16 servings of healthy food for dinner. I'm getting sick of stretching everything with brown rice and veggie pasta.

My husband has had his thyroid tested and it keeps coming back "borderline". I keep encouraging him to go back to the doctors and see what can be done. I have suggested gastric bypass (he's afraid of surgery). He doesn't think counseling is appropriate. I'm at my wits end.

Part of me feels like it's not up to me to limit his foods. He can afford to eat like this. I'm a SAHM. But, I don't have to cook these huge meals.

He claims our marriage suffers when I don't enable his behavior, but I just can't do it anymore. It's suffering because I AM enabling him. Help.
post #2 of 37
You must insist that your husband get help. He doesn't think counseling is appropriate the way a heroin addict doesn't think rehab is appropriate. He's still at the point where he wants to stay in his sickness and addiction.

Some counseling for you is definitely in order as well. It's not up to you to make him get better, but it's up to you to stop enabling him and decide whether you're willing to keep supporting his addiction and exposing your family to this unhealthy situation.
post #3 of 37
This is completely out of your control. He needs help.
It will be a hard road, but he really needs help.
Maybe an intervention. He needs to know how much he is loved and that every one wants him around. It CAN be helped, but he needs to be willing to admit to himself that he is addicted and that it is damgaging himself and his family.
I am so sorry you have to feel like this.
post #4 of 37
post #5 of 37
Borderline thyroid often means a doctor who isn't really up on the latest range guidelines. It is probably worth a second opinion.
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post #6 of 37
I'm sorry.

I'm in a somewhat similar situation although it sounds like my dh is less extreme than yours. My dh eats pretty "normally" during the day but will consume vast quantities of food after the kids and I are in bed. He's 6 ft. and weighs somewhere in the mid 300's.
I had lapband surgery earlier this year ( I am more of an emotional eater than a binge eater) so the quantity of junk that enters the house has decreased. He's embarrassed to go to the grocery store to buy junk so he'll try to send me out to do it. Sometimes, if I need something from the store, I'll go and get him what he's asking for but other times I just say no. He does get grumpy about things like that but if he wants it bad enough, he can buy it himself.
I feel most frustrated by the fact that he's always talking about wanting to eat healthier but when I buy and make healthier meals, he typically only eats a small amount and then binges on something else later. *sigh* And don't get me started on the many, many times he's gone on the Atkins diet and blows gobs of money on meat and Atkins bars.
I understand how frustrating it can be to live w/ someone who has an eating issue but refuses to admit it. I still hope that my dh will see my success w/ the lapband and get it for himself but that has yet to happen. It can be hard to be willing to give up the comfort of food. I still find myself feeling frustrated that I can't "lose" myself in eating anymore but I simply reached a point where I didn't want to live a life controlled by obsessive food thoughts and did what I needed to do to make the change.
Ultimately, this really is his journey and choice. Do what you can to take care of you and your feelings, let him know he's loved and you're willing to help if he decides to make a change and then just let go. Hopefully he'll come around.
post #7 of 37
I'd really pursue the thyroid and also maybe look into adrenal testing-- eating like that, plus moodiness, can happen with excess cortisol. If you can convince someone to give him an endocrinologist referral that could potentially resolve a lot of issues. Also sleep apnea can cause excess cortisol, so maybe a sleep study. I'd look into all that before anything else.
post #8 of 37
subbing i am in a similar situtation but not to extent of OP. but it is to late at nite for me to type it all out. i will be back though.
post #9 of 37
no advice, but - I hope you & your DH can work through this & get him some help.
post #10 of 37
Thread Starter 
Thank you to all who have responded thusfar.

Last night I mentioned to my husband the possibility of getting his thyroid tested again. I told him since we're now living near a major city we'd have access to better doctors. I also mentioned to him that his biological father has issues with his thyroid as well. Apparently he forgot (he was adopted).

While he found the information regarding his bio father's thyroid issues interesting, I don't think he's at the point yet that he's going to seek medical advice/treatment regarding his own problem. I know if I pester him enough he'll go. I hate being the nagging wife.


My husband used to be an athlete just a decade ago. He played football, wrestled, played volleyball and liked to ski. Now I struggle to get him to walk 2 miles around the lake (I've only convinced him to do that once and now he's saying never again). I want to play tennis and kayak and it looks like I'm going to have to find another activity partner to enjoy those things. That's not a problem, but I can't help but be a little sad that I can't enjoy time with my husband outside of the apartment. Whenever he's not at work he's just laying on the couch at home naked.
post #11 of 37
Whenever he's not at work he's just laying on the couch at home naked.

Ewwwww...I did not need that visual! Personally I would not cook extra beyond seconds, I would not shop for his unhealthy habits and I would take control of the finances so he can't blow the rent money on takeout. Whatever was his spending money he could waste on junk food, but it sounds like he is really hurting you all with this spending. If he fought me on counseling/doctors or giving control of finances, I would invite him to leave. What a horrible example for your children.
post #12 of 37
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post #13 of 37
Lethargy too? That does sound endocrine-ish.
post #14 of 37
I definitely think this is medically related. When you said he even eats rotten food, it almost makes me wonder if he has prader-willi syndrome, or something like it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prader-Willi_syndrome Some people have extreme cases of this which can include cognitive impairment and motor delays, but not everyone. Something most certainly is going on otherwise he wouldn't be eating rotten food. I know that they can't release any information to you, but have you thought about calling his primary care physician to let them know just how bad this is? Perhaps they could refer you to a therapist that specializes in eating disorders, or if you could convince him to get seen they could draw more extensive blood work. It could be that his dr, if he sees one, is just chalking this up to standard causes of morbid obesity. I think some of those causes may be coming in to play here, but when someone willingly eats rotted food, there's big problems there. I hope you (and he) find the help he needs
post #15 of 37
I need to second couseling or some major intervention. Tough love, sounds like you are ready for it.

Here is something that works good for many people. Schedule an appointment for counseling. Tell him that you made this appointment and you would like to go with him. If he decides or will not go with you, you go and you sort out your side. If he goes then it's a win-win. You continue to go and make sure you know how to handle this without enabling him. Perhaps he will soon join you and start gonig as well. If money is an issue you can certainly cut back on the food to pay for it and I would guess you could tell him so.

What state of mind does he have towards himself? Does he deny he has a problem? Does he know he overeats but not sure why? While I am sure there are many physical/nutritional problems going on I would focus on mental/emotional right now if at all possible, but that is only my opinion. If you can get him into a doc or a natural health professional, that is good too. Whatever he is willing to do!

s to you. I've had enabling problems as well, it is difficult when you finally realize one day what you have been doing. Don't beat yourself up, get the help you need to help him and he will get better. Have faith
post #16 of 37
I would start treating this more like an ilness/addition rather than something he could control. If it were my dh, I would start dragging him to dr's, making appointments for him etc, not just mentioning how he should get some help.

Going from being an athlete to obese in 10 years mean something is wrong. Really hold his hand. I went to 2 dr's when I started rapidly gaining weight after I got married and didn't seem to knwo why. Neither asked if I could be depressed, or what else was going on in my life.
post #17 of 37
I can't type more now (so late), but I am in the same boat with my DH. When we married, he was 165 lb, now is more like 350. Same thing, down to binging, lying on the couch naked, etc. Only in our case we cannot afford his binging.

Mine is also verbally abusive.
post #18 of 37
Thread Starter 
We got into an argument this morning again. I was upset that he went out to eat three times yesterday (late lunch & two dinners by 7pm) and he lied to me about it. He hasn't gotten his bank card yet and I asked him before we went to the store how much cash he still had after buying himself dinner. It was only when we started checking out that I found out that he spent $30 more on food than he claimed. So, he willingly put his energy drinks back because we didn't have enough cash (gotta give him credit for that at least).

I was also extremely upset to find out that he opened up the bank account yesterday and didn't put my name on it. He claims he was "in a hurry" since he did it on his lunch break. He was in a hurry to go out to eat. I want to take control of the finances, but it seems like I'm being blocked from it.

Meanwhile I had to give up buying my new exercise outfit yesterday because we didn't have the cash or card. I haven't been going to the gym because I would like to have new work out clothes. Nothing I have seems appropriate for the gym. He agreed to go shopping with me tonight so I can pick out a new outfit. I can't help but feel he's a bit afraid of me working out and getting in shape. I feel in a way he's trying to sabotage my efforts because he's afraid I'll leave him.

I was upset at him this morning because his couch laying habits. The living room ends up off limits when he's home because it's not inviting, hanging out with a huge naked man. He insists the lights stay off because they "hurt his eyes". All I wanted to do was check the computer to see if my friend was in labor yet (she was due last week), and my husband became upset b/c of the light from the computer screen.

I asked him again if he'd go see a doctor. I told him he has to get treatment for the "borderline" thyroid issues (or whatever else is going on). I insisted that if they can't confirm a medical cause for his problems he will have to get gastric bypass surgery.

I don't know if he realizes how big of a problem this is. He jokes about it sometimes. Earlier he said he's down to "only 12 servings per meal". It's true, we actually had leftovers last week. However, I think that's because I prepared his plate ahead of time and put all the leftovers away before he got a chance to see I made more. I was excited to have leftovers for once. How sad is that?

I don't want anybody to think the problem with his weight is due to me finding him unattractive or anything like that. I like big guys. However, at our last place he caused approximately $1500 worth of damage due to his excessive weight being thrown around (he cracked the tub & surround and one of the floors had to be replaced). He damaged my apartment before that and the apartment before that, too (approximately $500 worth of damage at each of those places)! During the first week we were dating he broke 3 of my chairs. I learned to buy furniture to hold his weight after that. I'm sick of taking responsibility for the damages his weight is causing, though.

We're waiting to get the cards for medical benefits. I'm going to start scheduling doctors appointments for everybody in the next week, including scheduling an appointment for him and for myself.

I just feel like the nagging wife or too controlling by doing this. But I feel like I'm enabling him if I don't take control here.


Thank you to all who have responded thusfar. Keep the advice and commiserating coming!
post #19 of 37
Hi OP, maybe I missed it in one of your posts, but I don't see anywhere where you have responded to PP's advice that YOU also need counseling. It's one thing to read on here the suggestions that you see your DH as having an addiction/illness more than something he can simply make choices about... but it's a completely different thing to internalize that and figure out what your behaviors need to be (and need NOT to be) and then actually change your own behavior.

What will it take for you to stop shopping for his habit and just cook him 2-3 servings per meal? What will it take for you to say to him "On _____ day [very soon!] we're going back to the bank and you're putting my name on the account" and to not accept any excuses or a no?

And if he refuses to put your name on the account and to let you take control of the finances, or to go to counselling, or to work with you on what he eats and what you cook... what are you prepared to do for yourself and your kids in the way of establishing boundaries and what you will and won't put up with, and what your plan is in case he refuses to take any real steps (see a new doc, let you control finances and cook less, get counselling, etc) towards better mental and physical health?

And btw, how old are your kids? Is it appropriate (according to your family's values and beliefs) for him to be sitting around naked in the living room with kids your kids' age? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but it's a question I had when I read your post.

As much as his behavior is the obvious place to focus re: this whole situation, now that you've heard some ideas about what might be the problems and some ideas for next steps, you really MUST think about what you're going to do to 1) clarify what your role needs to be (and not be) and 2) figure out how to change your own behavior and 3) establish boundaries and some back up plans in case your boundaries are not respected.

This is probably some of the hardest work you'll ever do, and no one is perfect at all in these situations. But don't fall into the trap of only focusing on changing his behavior... you can't. You can influence his, but not change it yourself.

But you can change your own, and that's got to be your focus.
post #20 of 37
You're still caught up in the day to day battles and not looking at the big picture here. That's pretty normal for a person in your situation.

My question to you here is, what is it going to take for you to get the wake-up call that your husband is slipping deeper into addiction and the deception, manipulation and secrecy that surround that progression?

Stop pushing the gastric bypass. If he has a compulsive eating disorder he will slowly eat his way back up to this size after the surgery unless he goes to counseling and gets treatment for the disorder.

Get counseling for yourself so you can stop enabling him.
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