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Replacing addictions with new ones...

Old 08-08-2012, 08:44 AM
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Unhappy Replacing addictions with new ones...

New here and looking for advice.

My dear BF of a little over a year has been clean and sober for 9+ years. He is working his program, regularly attending meetings. We recently moved in together and something that I feared before living together is now gnawing at me on a daily basis -- namely that he replaced addictions to drugs and booze with an addiction to restrictive eating (on an extreme scale).

He readily admits that his eating is extreme. He basically lives on fat free cheese slices, fat free cold cuts, mustard, low cal bread, and excessive amounts of artificial sweeteners (100+ packets of pink/blue per day). Is this the alcoholic mindset still prevalent? Does this ever subside?

Since we've been dating he has become a little less restrictive, but now that we live together and I'm faced with his behaviors everyday it's driving me crazy. I talk to him about it and he just says "yeah I know it's addictive/excessive behavior" but he has no intention of changing it and uses the rationale that it keeps him in shape eating this way.

I used to struggle with EDs and know that I'm so much happier now that I exercise moderation when it comes to food. I'm so worried that this may be a deal-breaker for us and that saddens me because he is such a wonderful loving person, but having had my own struggles I know that I can't handle living a life with this type of behavior.

Anyone have experience with this or able to shed some light? I feel like I'm losing it little by little...
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:24 AM
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Perhaps you could suggest (gently) that he needs to see a therapist to get to the root of this compulsive behavior - I suspect it is anxiety...
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:41 AM
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Non-drinking alcoholics crave sweets--something chemical in their system. He has replaced that with those artificial sweeteners.

You said you can't live with it.
Now you have to decide how much you mean that. Is it a deal-breaker?

Is there a problem having both kinds of food in the fridge? You have to assert yourself when it comes to having your kinds of foods available. Is he trying to restrict your eating also?
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:21 AM
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Is there a problem having both kinds of food in the fridge? You have to assert yourself when it comes to having your kinds of foods available. Is he trying to restrict your eating also?
If this is just an issue of different dietary habits, well, when we got together I was a vegetarian and RAH was a chef and dedicated meat eater, a snout-to-tail type that grossed me out to high heavens. Today, we eat veggie some days (most days in the summer) and meat on other days, but we also have "fend for yourself night" several nights a week.

If this is bothering you because it's triggering for you, because it's obsessive, because it's a sign of tetchy mental health, it's a dealbreaker and you need to treat it as such.

He's grown, he can choose whether or not to pursue this lifestyle. Admittedly, some mainstream weight loss and maintenance plans are pretty extreme. But personally, I couldn't live with a person who ate such a restrictive diet, like a paleo diet or a vegan diet for example. It would get annoying to me, for one, and for two, it's just a different way of living that I'm not willing to adhere to. You don't have to either. Incompatible is incompatible.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:40 AM
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my concern is the excessive amounts of artificial sweetener....i would suggest he do some research on the effects of this substance. all i know is it's not good for you. i understand there are a lot sugar substitutes now, some claiming to be OK, but the pink and the blue packets - aren't they chemicals?
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by MadeOfGlass View Post
Non-drinking alcoholics crave sweets--something chemical in their system. He has replaced that with those artificial sweeteners.

You said you can't live with it.
Now you have to decide how much you mean that. Is it a deal-breaker?

Is there a problem having both kinds of food in the fridge? You have to assert yourself when it comes to having your kinds of foods available. Is he trying to restrict your eating also?
No he's not restricting my eating. Thing is, I used to be like him, highly restrictive (limiting foods, etc.) and I was an anxious emotional mess. When I got rid of my "trigger" (which was my bad marriage) that all vanished. So I suspect it's an anxiety thing with him as well. He used to be highly overweight as a kid and I think he fears going back to that place. Even while he was drinking and using he was still very calorically restrictive with himself. He admits it's a "vanity" thing that he wants to look a certain way and that this type of eating is what works to keep him that way.

I don't have a problem with us eating differently but I see what I think are addictive behaviors with his relationship to food and that worries and concerns me. Aside from the sweetener he goes through over 2 packs of gum (40+ pieces a day).

When confronted he rationalizes away these habits as not being harmful to me so I should just learn to let it ride...
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Florence View Post
If this is just an issue of different dietary habits, well, when we got together I was a vegetarian and RAH was a chef and dedicated meat eater, a snout-to-tail type that grossed me out to high heavens. Today, we eat veggie some days (most days in the summer) and meat on other days, but we also have "fend for yourself night" several nights a week.

If this is bothering you because it's triggering for you, because it's obsessive, because it's a sign of tetchy mental health, it's a dealbreaker and you need to treat it as such.

He's grown, he can choose whether or not to pursue this lifestyle. Admittedly, some mainstream weight loss and maintenance plans are pretty extreme. But personally, I couldn't live with a person who ate such a restrictive diet, like a paleo diet or a vegan diet for example. It would get annoying to me, for one, and for two, it's just a different way of living that I'm not willing to adhere to. You don't have to either. Incompatible is incompatible.
You're right -- I feel it at times is triggering my old ED mindset. Luckily I'm able to quiet that pretty easy now but I can feel the anxiety.

It just saddens me because everything is so great with us except for me being driven crazy by his eating habits. But, eating is such an integral "everyday" part of life I guess I have to face facts that this could be a dealbreaker.

I don't understand everything about the "addictive" mindset if it's something that ever subsides for people who are actively working a program or is it always replaced with something else? It's hard to argue with him (he's a got a PhD in biology and a BA in Nutrition of all things) so telling him "I think this way of eating is making you sick" just gets the response of "Ok, show me the scientific evidence that what I'm doing is bad for me." That response really eats at me...
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by lilyrosemary View Post
my concern is the excessive amounts of artificial sweetener....i would suggest he do some research on the effects of this substance. all i know is it's not good for you. i understand there are a lot sugar substitutes now, some claiming to be OK, but the pink and the blue packets - aren't they chemicals?

Mine too. I could live with the subsisting on sandwiches part, but the excessive sweetener can't be good. To top it off he has an auto-immune disorder that causes great fatigue and everything I've read lists body aches/fatigue as a primary side effect of prolonged use of the pink and blue stuff. I can't help but wonder...
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Old 08-08-2012, 03:16 PM
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The experts say that 30% of people with eating disorders struggle with substance abuse (I have not seen statistics going the other way).

This might not be a "hang over" from the problem drinking days, but it might be its own seperate addiction.

I have worked my recovery from an eating disorder some time. I struggled when problem drinking showed up in my relationship with the mindset of "I would have struggled with food over that." There was a difference; I was actively seeking support treatment etc, and he was not. Yes the triggers might have been similar, and emotional crutches present, but one of us wanted recovery, and it took me a long time to understand that I don't get a say in if he wants recovery or not.
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Old 08-08-2012, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by LifeRecovery View Post
The experts say that 30% of people with eating disorders struggle with substance abuse (I have not seen statistics going the other way).

This might not be a "hang over" from the problem drinking days, but it might be its own seperate addiction.

I have worked my recovery from an eating disorder some time. I struggled when problem drinking showed up in my relationship with the mindset of "I would have struggled with food over that." There was a difference; I was actively seeking support treatment etc, and he was not. Yes the triggers might have been similar, and emotional crutches present, but one of us wanted recovery, and it took me a long time to understand that I don't get a say in if he wants recovery or not.
So basically I shouldn't expect a change because he hasn't admitted or decided that these eating habits are a problem? And on top of that I certainly can't force him to decide that they are a problem he has to get there on his own?
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Old 08-08-2012, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by BGirl View Post
So basically I shouldn't expect a change because he hasn't admitted or decided that these eating habits are a problem? And on top of that I certainly can't force him to decide that they are a problem he has to get there on his own?
That I don't know, as I have not lived with another eating disorder but my own. Reading it though it certainly sounds like disordered eating, and it would be a trigger for my food stuff, and would be hard for me to detach from.

I was fortunate and got support pretty early, but until I wanted it there was nothing that anyone was going to be able to do for me. I struggled to translate that hands off though in my relationship (and what got me here with a problem drinker).

Only you are going to be able to decide if it is something you can live with? My eating disorder impacted my social life (not eating out, getting together with friends etc). Is that happening for you guys, is it something you can live with?
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by BGirl View Post
It's hard to argue with him (he's a got a PhD in biology and a BA in Nutrition of all things) so telling him "I think this way of eating is making you sick" just gets the response of "Ok, show me the scientific evidence that what I'm doing is bad for me." That response really eats at me...

Oh I missed this before. The incident of eating disorders are much higher in those with nutrition backgrounds. I don't have the percentages on that, but I can also speak to that from personal experience....and am living proof.
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