A weird eating disorder, please help!
I guess this is the right place where to talk about other things besides polyamory. If this is the case, then I am going to add my (or to be exact my boyfriend's problem here).
My boyfriend seems to have a really bad problem with eating. All this started years ago, when he moved out and went to university. At home his meal times always depended on when his mother made the food for the whole family. He never had to worry about when or what to eat, same goes for school lunches. When he left home however, things got a bit more difficult, as he was in charge of his meals now.
As he is doing a lot of stuff, like reading and going running or skiing, he feels that he needs to be at his top shape all the time. When reading something, he feels that he needs to have a lot of energy to understand the text perfectly and to analyze it correctly. He is even afraid that if he hasn't eaten enough his feelings and emotions might be wrong about everything. Therefore he is constantly obsessing about food. We have talked about it for many times and he says that he thinks about food all the time, his main worry is whether he is getting enough energy from his food and has he eaten enough. For most of the time he does not think that he has and keeps on eating. Now he has even started eating fast food because he feels that he gets more calories and energy from that. He constantly feels that he does not have enough energy and blames having eaten too little for it. I am very worried about him, because all this eating has caused him to gain weight and although he already should lose some, not much though, it seems to me that he keeps on gaining and I am afraid it won't stop until he has damaged his health.
Even at night, right before sleep, he often gets up and goes back to the kitchen to eat something. His reason for doing that is that even before falling asleep he is afraid of not having enough energy and afraid of waking up totally drained and tired. Besides that he weighs himself several times a day.
He has even visited the doctor for a few times after diagnosing himself, but they haven't found anything. My boyfriend is somewhat hectic in thinking. He has tried many weird and drastic things that he believed at the time would help him feel hunger better (he is afraid of not feeling hunger or a full stomach as well, just the same "maybe I haven't eaten enough" problem). I have always been there to support him, yet making sure he doesn't hurt himself, but it has reached a point where his new "discoveries" just scare me, because I know they will pass in time, but after coming up with them he believes in them so much. Like drinking water constantly throughout the day (talking about a lot!) or strong lemon juice, even without diluting it.
I have tried helping him by offering to keep a close watch on what he eats and when. Basically making sure that he eats about 4-5 times a day, meals and snacks, so he wouldn't have to worry about it at all, I would do all the thinking until he feels more confident. He is always totally for it at first, but as soon as he feels a bit hungry or worried, nothing I say matters, he just starts eating. This has even ended in him hurting me by getting angry at me for not letting him eat, though I have never literally stopped him, just when things get out of hand I feel I need to be strong and take this seriously. I am actually torn between supporting him and letting him be, as many of his friends and family are making bad comments about his body or eating habits, OR putting my foot down in a friendly but firm way and tell him this has to change whether he likes it or not. :( I have been thinking of telling him to go and find professional help but maybe we can do something ourselves before that?
Even today, he rushed out all anxious and telling me he can't sleep, he can't think, he needs junk food with calories. I just let him go. He came back and said that he ate two! pizzas and a bit after that he rushed into the kitchen to eat about 3 carrots. This is scaring me so much. He has no control over himself and I don't know what to do. We can't even go anywhere without him worrying about food and maybe even wanting to leave the place to go home and eat. He IS delusional about food and asks me weird questions such as "How do you know you are full/hungry?" "Do you feel instantly energized after eating?" "Is it possible to read or think when having eaten too little?". He seems to think that he needs to be perfect at whatever he is doing and food is the magic drug that makes you feel instantly amazing or when you are having a bad day then food must be the cause of it.
I have no idea how to help him and I feel terrible. In the light of today's events I was thinking of making him a book, where I would draw pictures and helpful notes about how much he should eat and when and why he should stop worrying and that I love him and we can overcome this together. Would this be of any help? Maybe he could look things up when in doubt whether he should eat or not? If you have any advice, please let me know. :(
I would say he needs professional if not psychological help. I don't think there is anything you can do other than support him and encourage him to get help. It sounds like it is in his head, not his body and he never learned how to know when he was full because all of his meals were scheduled and prepared for him. He ate when he was told to eat, but college is different. Junk food can give quick bursts of energy, but will leave him feeling more tired over all during a time when he is supposed to feel tired. . . . because all college students feel tired.
I second professional help, but I want to add a little about why. This seriously sounds like there could be something off with his brain chemistry. The longer he obsesses, and thinks the same thoughts, the more embedded the thoughts and the neurons become. The sooner you get help, the better chance you have of 're-setting' back to some kind of normalcy.
This is not about the food.
I third pro help.
http://www.something-fishy.org/ could have helpful bits to finding that help.
Anxiety management, panic attacks, cortisol levels off. He could be confusing the anxious butterfiles in the stomach feeling with hunger feeling and doing emotional eating to stuff it down.
Thinking patterns that are OCD or hypochondria or "off" in another way -- http://www.lowselfhelpsystems.org/index.asp to stop working himself up and / or meds to chill on the anxious -- xanax?
Blood sugar, cholesterol, and metabolic blood panel -- check for thyroid, diabetes/prediabetes, wheat allergy/sensitivity/Celiac.
High LDL and High triglycerides and non-alcholic fatty liver ---> Some people cannot deal with wheat well. Overloading on it makes them not be able to feel full or hungry right and messes with their heads with the blood sugar and downs. (This is me).
QUALITY of nutrition. If he's eating lots of crap, it's lots of crap. There no nutrition there and that could explain the fatigue.
I'm not a doc -- just possible places to look at. But he def could see a doc and get to the bottom of all this.
Yeah it sounds like he needs some professional help.
From an unprofessional standpoint, it sounds like he's stressed (college, the norm) and he's going for the junk food for the same reasons a lot of people do; junk food is a coping mechanism because it temporarily boosts a lot of the feel-good chemicals in the brain. People feel better when they eat the junk food because the brain recognizes it as a high-calorie food and it wants you to consume as many calories as possible because it's still wired for a time when we needed every scrap of energy we could get. The problem is we dont NEED super high calorie foods much anymore because of our lifestyles and (generally) large availability of food.
He seems to have developed a cycle: cant focus because of stress/anxiety -> eat junk food -> junk food temporary suppresses feelings of stress/anxiety -> can study for a while with the absence of the feelings -> junk food effects wear off -> repeat.
I've sort of fallen into this trap before but mine was a concern for calories because my food budget is often not what it needs to be so there were (and sometimes still are) days where I go with 4-500 calories in a day. I've done it to the point where it doesn't phase me to do it but it creates a "calorie hoarding" mentality where I want to consume food even if I'm not hungry because I may not eat for a while and those calories will be needed later on. I have to watch my eating when food is abundant otherwise I'll just inhale everything in sight.
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