Adults' Poor Nutrition

Parent Q&A

  • I am in need of advice and a recommendation for a therapist that deals with possible food addiction and chronic health issues. My husband has some serious health issues that he has ignored for years, despite multiple warnings from doctors, friends and family. He has a significant family health history related to this issue, and also is supposed to be on a specific diet for his health, which does not follow. He is terrible about taking his meds and following up with drs. We have a house filled with healthy food choices and we go out of our way to support him in this area, but once he leaves the house he eats the worst of the worst food - fast food, junk food, sodas, etc. He gets defensive when confronted about this. All of this came to a head recently, and he was hospitalized. He was given very serious warnings that he needs to make major life style changes and needs counseling if he wants to live a long life. The medical professionals who have dealt with him feel he is in serious denial about the reality of his situation, despite dire warnings. This is something I have been dealing with for years, with him, so in some ways I was relieved that others could validate what I was experiencing. But I am angry, upset and frankly tired of dealing with this - I love him, but this is how I feel right now.  After he was hospitalized, and on the mend, he followed some medical advice for a few weeks, promised us he was going to make changes, but is now back to his old ways. He refuses to go to counseling and becomes angry when I mention it. This is taking a major toll on my family and my kids are now fully aware of the seriousness of the situation. My kids have begged him to get his act together and my oldest is very angry with him - none of this seems to motivate change. I feel I need to see a therapist, even if my husband won't go, and I am thinking my kids might need to go as well. This has been incredibly upsetting and I am not sure who to turn to for help - any advice for a therapist who might be able to help in this situation is greatly appreciated. Also, any advice is welcome too. 

    I'm sorry you're going through this. It sounds very stressful. I think you're on the right track with getting therapy for yourself. You've wisely observed that nothing you do is going to change your husband. Only he can decide to face his health problems and change his behavior. So the question becomes, what do you need in this situation and also, probably, what do your kids need? Therapy can help you sort that out. 

    Your situation has many parallels to that of a person living with an alcoholic. You might find that the principles of Al Anon (support group for family and friends of alcohlics) could be helpful. There is a lot of information online, and you could check out a meeting if that feels right. 

    Good luck to you and good job focusing on yourself in this very hard situation. 

    My heart goes out to you and your family.

    You might find a 12 step program like Al-Anon to be very supportive, and your children might benefit from AlaTeen.

    You already know you can't make him change, but you do need to see that despite his intractability, you and your children can move forward in your own lives.

    It doesn't sound like there is anything you can do about your husband's denial - your and your childrens' love are not enough to stop him from his self-destructive path. All you can do is take care of you and your kids, so at this point I suggest you seek counseling on how to emotionally disconnect from any attachment or investment in your husband's health or in him changing his behavior. It sounds awful, but it may be the only way to save your family. And - sorry to be crass - make sure he has life insurance. I'm so sorry you're in this situation.