I’m by no means an expert on this topic nor am I one to judge.  I have had my own issues with food; that’s how I got to 325lbs not so long ago.  However, since having gastric bypass surgery and changing my relationship with food I have a sense of clarity that I didn’t have before.  About three weeks ago I realized that what my husband joked about  being his “junk food addiction” was actually very real and it scared the crap out of me.

My husband and I have always been enablers.  We’ve constantly enabled each other to make bad choices; not just with food but with financial decisions, decisions to be lazy, decisions to be irresponsible, etc., but our choices only ever effected us and we dealt with the consequences whatever they were– weight gain, debt, a messy home, lost and/or broken items…whatever. When I was in the thick of making bad  choices, especially bad food choices and the choice to be lazy, I spent a lot of time and energy blaming my husband for my unhappiness– I feel bad for that.  But now that I’m at a different place in my life I’m noticing things that I wasn’t able to see before. First of all, before I go any further I want to make it very clear that my sweet, patient, funny, adoring and adorable husband seems to be getting his eating and exercise habits under control- I’m trying to remain positive about this as I have the utmost confidence in him and his ability to conquer his addiction but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I worry.

Moving on… “Addict”.  That’s a word that’s usually synonymous with “alcoholic” or “druggie” or “Tiger Woods”.  But it’s rarely considered when talking about fat people.  Fat people are just seen as being lazy and eating too much.  Alcoholics have a disease, so do druggies and even sex fiends can get a pass as “needing help”.  Fat people however, they are judged and thought of as “just need to get off their asses and stop eating”…right? For some, yes.  I was (am) one of them.  But my husband on the other hand, it’s not that easy.  He is a food addict a diagnosis I didn’t believe in until recently.

It has never been a secret that Brett loves fast food, chips and candy.  His ideal meal is a bag of chips washed down with a soda and followed up with a bag of any kind of sour candy.  Or a large sized value meal from a fast food place with two sides of nuggets or enough tacos to feed a small family. I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating, but I’m not.  This very real.  It has bothered me since I met him but it wasn’t an every day occurrence and once the initial shock wore off it became normal- especially when I started ordering and eating more fast food for one meal than anyone would normally eat in three meals.  I knew it was disgusting and I knew it was wrong but I did it because…eh, why not.  It was our splurge…doesn’t everyone do that every-once-in-a-while?



That’s not normal?  —yeah, I know…now.  Now I realize that it is NOT normal and I am so grateful that this is no longer a part of MY normal, but it’s still a part of Brett’s.

So why am I referring to him as an addict and not just some big guy whose diet consists of crap?  Well because last month I realized that he has been lying to me and manipulating me– just like an alcoholic so he could get a fix.  It’s what had been going on for years, but because I didn’t care if I was eating garbage (some of the time) it didn’t really dawn on me that he would do whatever he could to eat garbage most of the time.

The first indication was when I caught him lying to me about eating Taco Bell for lunch one day-  we both work from home so I know if he’s eating crap at lunch but a couple of weeks ago he needed to run to his real-office for something— just happened to be around lunchtime. Later that afternoon I saw a fast food cup on his desk as I walked past the door to his home office.  That evening, before dinner I asked him if he had eaten lunch, he said, “yes.”  (He usually makes himself a panini on our panini press in the kitchen at lunchtime) So I said, “Oh I didn’t smell a panini cooking today. Weird.”  He didn’t say anything, just changed the subject.  I didn’t confront him at that moment, I wanted to see if he’d come clean…he didn’t.  The cup that was on his desk had disappeared by the time I went into his office about an hour later.

That weekend we went to a party at a friend’s house. She served rotisserie chicken, fruit salad, watermelon, chips, hummus, a veggie tray and rice crispy treats.  We were both starving when we arrived and there was lots of food available.  I grabbed some chicken, some veggies and a little watermelon- a nice well-rounded meal.  Brett grabbed a bad of chips.  He wouldn’t eat any chicken, said he “doesn’t like chicken on the bone.”  I offered to take it off the bone for him, he said, “no thanks, I’m good.”  He wouldn’t touch anything other than the chips and the rice crispy treats.  I decided not to get aggravated with him and went on about my business, hanging out with friends.   When we finally left the party at about 12:30am, he said he was starving and that he wanted to stop by Taco Bell.  I didn’t think much of it, it’s the fourth meal, right?  I’m mean that’s what the commercial says!  It wasn’t until a few days later when it really hit me. It was a Wednesday afternoon, we needed to make an hour-long drive in the middle of the day to get to my sister’s house for my BIL’s birthday celebration that evening.  I had told Brett that we’d be leaving around 1:00.  I was gone all morning working on a project and when I came home he was really grumpy.  I asked him if he had eaten, he said, “no.”  I told him we were leaving in 20 minutes and that he should make himself a sandwich or something before we left. 20 minutes went by and it was time to leave.  He’d successfully managed to kill 20 minutes doing “other things”.  We got in the car, drove for about 10 minutes and he was completely grouchy- which is how he gets when he needs to eat.  Before I could even stop myself, I said, “Let’s stop at Bojangles when we get to Huntersville” and suddenly he was fine, his demeanor completely changed and suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks:  I had been manipulated…he had been manipulating me for years!  I was angry.  Angry at him and angry at myself for not seeing it.  This is his M.O. He puts off eating what he SHOULD eat until I “allow” him to eat what he wants.  He knows that I don’t approve of eating  a lot of fast food- even before my weight loss I didn’t eat fast food very often on my own.  It was mostly when I was manipulated into doing so.  All those times I didn’t feel like cooking dinner, when a bowl of cereal or a sandwich would have sufficed- we got fast food, the times when I’d make something he didn’t like- he’d have an excuse to get fast food.  The parties, “special occasions” (which were rarely all that special) were excuses to buy chips and candy and crap. Just like an alcoholic, he’d need a fix and he’d have to get around me to get it, he manipulated me.

I feel sick to my stomach just writing this.  It makes me sad and angry and hurt and weak and reminds me that I was completely unaware for so long because I was too blind to see it; wrapped up in my own desire for crap or my lack of giving a shit to care enough about what I ate.

I confronted him about it in the car on the way home from left my BIL’s birthday celebration.  I turned off the car radio, called him out on the lies and manipulation.  I told him I would not give in and enable him any longer.  I told him that I would not be responsible for any of his decisions, good or bad.  I told him that I would continue cooking healthy meals and it was up to him to eat them.  I told him that on nights when I didn’t want to cook, he’d need to decide how he was going to fend for himself.  I told him that I loved him and that I didn’t know what I could do for him but that I would support him in whatever help he might seek and that most of all I wanted him to know that I was aware of what was going on and that I would not be a part of it anymore.  Then I turned the radio back on and sat in silence.

His initial reaction was anger and then he got quiet. We didn’t talk much more the rest of the drive.  There was really nothing left to say. That was three weeks ago.  We’ve had one incident since then. He decided he didn’t want to eat what I was making for dinner and said he’d “be eating something else.”  I got angry, even though I said I wouldn’t, he got annoyed and walked away.  I ended up making something else for dinner, he ate it and that was that. It’s a learning process for both of us.

I don’t know what the right answers are but we’ll figure it out eventually.  He’s been making a huge effort to eat well, he’s cut back from two paninis at lunch to one, hasn’t snacked at night at all and has been going to the gym at least three times a week.  I’m proud of him but I’m aware, that just like an alcoholic it’s not going to go away.  He’s not cured and may never be, but I truly believe that he is capable and will support him in all the good choices he makes.

Do you know someone who is an addict?  Are you an addict?  Finding excuses to get your fix?  This is a very real issue and there’s help out there.  Therapy, support groups, family and friends.  Don’t pretend it doesn’t exist.  It does. It’s real.  And it needs to be addressed.