He eats when he's sad, tired, bored, happy, celebratory etc. I just eat when I'm hungry. He tells me a lot of the time that he eats so much because he feels like he deserves it. Which hurts me to hear because at his BMI he is still clinging onto that old food as a reward schema his parents passed down to him and now it could reward him with diabetes, cancer, or a night where he just doesn't wake up again.
There are still ways to twist this from the super unhealthy habits he has, to less problematic ones, without cutting him off cold turkey. Habits are HARD to change, having a middle step is heading in the right direction.
As an example. I'm working on my own diet and health - I've tried this multiple times and THIS time I'm succeeding. because I applied the way I would work with animals to myself, oddly enough.
I KNEW that if I went cold turkey on all the things I loved it would never happen. I also know that, despite being aware of it, my brain refuses to stay on a 'diet' simply because diets are restrictive and then I'd always be 'deserving' a break.
So, step 1 was to call what I was doing something else. I know this sounds silly, but words and connotations have such powerful meaning and it has honestly helped me a LOT. Since the word 'diet' makes me roll my eyes and think of yo-yoing, I decided I was just improving my overall health. Which is true. It took about a week of me correcting myself every time I thought "I can't have that, I'm dieting." to switch it to "I can have a little bit of that later, if I'm still hungry, so I can improve my health."
Step 2 was to allow myself regular treats at a reasonable size. Again, this sounds counter productive, but I made myself lunch every day and included a little dessert. A big salad, a little 'main', and a little treat. I always eat them in that order to, and I eat the treat while I'm relaxing at the end of my break. It turns out, I only actually eat the treat three times a week. Previously, I'd been 'having a treat' 2-3 times per day, simply because it wasn't planned. HUGE change, and then I always had something to look forward to at the end of my break.
Step 3 was a little bit more exercise. I HATE exercise. Like, a lot. So, from past experience, I knew that if I bought a gym membership, or committed to going to aqua size, or whatever...it just wouldn't happen. So I decided I'd do a little bit of exercise every day right before bed. (*disclaimer* some people find exercise energizes them...this is not the case for me. If you feel alert and awake after exercise go ahead and do it first thing. I need to sleep after doing anything active because my body is dumb. lol)
I also took on more dog walking clients. I'm definitely going to do it if I'm getting paid to exercise, and I like dogs. So, bonus.
The biggest change for me was changing my idea of 'reward' from a whole chocolate bar, or a big dinner, or w/e into a small square of dark chocolate to savor, or a piece of very sweet fruit. That way I still get my reward, but it's not detrimental.
Since I've had to fight him on that I have tried rationing him.
It's been frustrating for a long time because at the heart of my issue is that I feel like a failure as a wife. It's my duty to keep my husband healthy. I've been failing him for years but I've had a lot of misinformation and bad habits that are pushing back at me from him.
Krissy definitely addressed this, but I'm agreeing and adding.
Your husband is a grown man. He is choosing to act in a way that is causing him long term harm. You are not shoving food at him, or buying only unhealthy garbage, you are not telling him to eat out all his lunches.
I struggle with this too, my SO is T1 diabetic. I have to constantly reassure myself that he is an adult and makes his own choices. I remind myself how I'd feel if he tried to 'mother' me (not good... lots of anger. lol), and I remind myself that we have an open and honest relationship.
That has sometimes meant me noticing a trend in his behavior, sitting him down and saying "I love you. I want to keep you around forever. That means I need to you care for yourself in a healthy way. I am not your mother, and I refuse to act that way. I would love to support you in improving your health, let me know how I can help." I've also driven him to Dr appointments and blood tests, to make it easier and more convenient for him to do those things. (He doesn't drive, and diabetic blood tests have to be done while fasting...bike riding and fasting do NOT go together for T1 people.)
Sometimes, it has also meant me changing MY habits. We do one big grocery shop per month, then I visit the store about once a week to get things we've run out of (mostly pet food...silly guinea pigs and their salad needs). I had been buying extra treats and junk food, chips, pop, etc. I stopped doing that and, not only did our food budget go down, we both started eating less of them. If I only bring home one 'treat' for us to share - like a single dark chocolate bar for us to share for a week - then that's all we've got.
It occurred to me that he did not have the same information I had about health and nutrition and how diet can either make or break your senior years for even people with average weight. He did not know for instance that after a certain weight you are put into a "high risk" category for surgery and will have trouble even finding a surgeon and anesthesiologist willing to work with you. He also was shocked to know that E.D. is the body's way of warning you that you have too much plaque in your arteries. It's an early warning system of heart disease caused most likely by being obese.
I'd highly suggest getting him to see a dietician - by himself. If you're there then there may be a certain amount of "Well my wife knows, she can handle it" going on...make it clear that he's responsible for his own health. He is the one who will ultimately be held accountable, but he's an adult and needs to be aware that he's making poor choices - he won't know that unless a professional really lays out the facts for him.
I've also experienced that there can be a real difference between hearing something from a professional vs from a loved one. Loved ones can be brushed off as 'exaggerating' or having another motive. professionals do that work for a living and, for some reason, people tend to take bad news or lessons a bit better from that direction.
Thanks to everyone who is reading our story, I really do appreciate the responses. I feel I need support to give him the proper support so he can have the live he deserves, one where his body size won't hold back the athlete in him.
You do need to support him, but you also need to step back. Taking all the stress onto yourself isn't healthy (Been there...trust me), and it won't encourage him to make the changes that he needs to make. Be supportive, but you can do that without doing ALL the work.
-have him help out with cooking (!!!)
-have him come shopping with you and pick out 'lunch' foods he'll eat
-get him to dish out his portion size, then measure out what 'suggested' servings look like and compare them
As for the auto pilot eating, that's nothing you can stop. If you've pointed it out (and if he's eating YOUR food for the next day and leaving you in the lurch, it should be pointed out. How inconsiderate!) then the ball is in his court and there is nothing you can do short of making just enough for ONE meal at a time.
THIS. When I cook I always make enough for us to both eat, and a little bit for my lunch the next day. If my SO had been eating my lunches I'd be very, very angry. Because I wouldn't know until it was time for me to leave, and that would mean buying lunch - which is too expensive for me to be doing regularly.
When you're filling the containers (better yet, have HIM help with that) TELL him what the food is for. If you fill the container and say "This is dinner tomorrow." Then if he eats it he better have a plan for dinner tomorrow that is tasty, healthy, and NOT take out. (IMO.)
I really do think this drastic change is going to blow up in his face and lead to some serious binge eating and feelings of failure, but maybe that's just me projecting my own crap onto him.
Agree. Small steps are the way. Sure, some people can/need to do drastic changes, but the vast majority of people will go back to their usual habits if the change is too much at once.