Food Related Issues

Food fight! I was only involved in one food fight my entire school career, and I had the sense to dive under a table when it started. Food fights might look like fun on TV, but they can be nasty especially when they involve different people in the network of someone suffering from dissociative identity disorder or more commonly known as multiple personality disorder. There’s no hiding in those fights.

The girls tell me food and weight are two huge issues on the abuse websites they are part of. Some abuse survivors overeat. Others undereat. Plus bulimia and anorexia often are linked to the trauma as well. As spouses and partners of our loved ones, what role can we play to bring healing in this area?

In our situation Karen and Amy were at war over this issue. Karen has little interest in food. When her world was out of control, she always told me that her weight was the one thing she could control. And she was merciless. I’m not even sure she feels hunger like a normal person does. She’s by no means anorexic, but she has a better figure than most teenagers at age 45. For most of our marriage, she has been at the bottom of her height/weight category.

But when Amy entered our lives, she was a girl who loved to eat. Her mother had always tried to manipulate and control her eating and weight growing up because of her own unresolved trauma issues. But in my house, Amy now was allowed to eat things that she found delightful. She was in heaven. She loves to eat so much that she still will eat herself sick because she doesn’t pay attention to her body saying “whoa, Girl. It’s full down here!”

But last year I began to realize a problem. Food was literally a dissociative issue for my wife (host and insiders). Amy was constantly blocking out Karen and the other girls so that she, Amy, could eat whatever and as much as she wanted. And slowly the body’s weight was increasing which became a source of stress and trauma for Karen. At first I kind of aided Amy because I was glad she was finding joy in something that her mother had made unpleasant during her childhood. But then I realized that Amy’s joy was coming at Karen’s expense, and that is NOT healing.

So once I recognized how much dissociative fighting was happening because of food, I took steps to help solve the problem. Now your situation may be different, but the key issue is to find out which people in the network have issues surrounding weight and food and what is important to each of them. Then like a good mediator, you have to help them find a solution that is amenable to all. Look for a win-win solution!

For my girls that meant that I needed to spend a little extra money on food so that I could buy low fat/calorie meals which Amy found tasty and satisfied her hunger pangs and which Karen felt comfortable eating because she knew her weight wouldn’t increase. That means for dinners I now buy lots of frozen meals from the Lean Cuisine section at the grocery store especially their various pizzas which all the little girls love. And we also scoured the stores to find lowfat snacks to satisfy Amy when she or the other little girls get the munchies like lowfat, individually wrapped string cheese, individually wrapped rice crispy treats (100 cals per package), fresh fruit when in season, etc.

Now when it is time to eat, there is a lot less dissociation going on because everyone’s varying needs are getting met. I still have to play mediator from time to time. Amy will call me nearly crying because she says Karen is “starving” her, and so she, Amy, wants me to give her permission to eat something. In those situations, I have to be a neutral arbiter and suggest that she find something that will satisfy her hunger while not stressing Karen’s desire to lose or maintain her weight. But because our house always has   acceptable options now, usually everyone can be placated.

Food and weight are huge issues with my girls. I didn’t realize how big they were until I began to address the various needs each girl in the network had and help them work out an amenable solution to all of them. And even though I can’t say that all the dissociation has ceased, we have dramatically cut down the fighting that used to occur.

But let me add one qualification, what I’ve done in this area has NOT addressed all the facets of these issues. Karen still has an improper perception of her body weight. And if you are dealing with bulimia, anorexia, or other related issues, I’m not suggesting everything will disappear by doing what I did. But I see my task as removing any unnecessary hurdles I can, and the rest hopefully will be addressed during counseling sessions.

We spouses and partners are in a unique position to help our loved ones heal in this critical area of their lives. I encourage you to take an active role and help everyone in the network stop the fighting.

Blessings,

Sam, I Am

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Abby & Ents
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 18:27:35

    I typically don’t have a food fight internally but the weight issue is sure a biggy.I look in the mirror and see this flat middle aged woman and it is certainly not who I am so the battle is to take back the good figure I used to have till Dolly/MOM ate us into oblivion. She as you know is sleeping, She has asked not to be waken but not all who go to sleep choose to sleep forever, we have a friend with a 5 year contract to re-awaken her sleeper but she has always had to go right back to sleep as she is not ready yet to deal with the reality of being a multiple. I am also surprised that so much prepared food is used in so many homes. Healthy home prepared foods do so much more for the body. It can become a joint adventure for all in the home. Costs is higher but we are finding quality of life is also improving.

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Sep 22, 2011 @ 11:59:00

      Hi Abby,

      Thanks for stopping by. Right now the 7 year old wants to play too much for the older girls to do the kind of house-wife stuff they would like to do, cooking or otherwise. Hopefully as they continue to heal and work together that will change.

      Sam

      Reply

  2. jeffssong
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 09:06:04

    You’ve addressed an often overlooked and undertreated issue here, Sam. It is an issue which we’ve had for a long long time – taking proper care of ‘Body’.

    People like ‘us’ (DID/MPD) often regard ‘the body’ as a separate thing – and why not? After all, we are ‘separate’ internally and together – the ‘body’ is simply another thing that’s gotta be ‘managed’. LOL, we’ve written about ‘stupid body’ in our blog (eg. ‘Dumb Body’ http://wp.me/p1t0dv-u is one). The important thing to remember is this: It is a part of the survival mechanism. By isolating the ‘body’ from the rest of us, we are better able to ignore bad things that have happened / are happening to it. In some cases (apparently) we have been able to totally ‘ignore’ what is happening to/in the body. We were able to completely shut it down (meaning awareness of what is happening) . . .

    But now, here, in our post-abuse period, we do dumb things with and to the body – one ‘personality’ seeking one extreme; another another. We were a thin kid; a fat teen, a lean Marine . . . but oddly enough at about age 24 our body picked 175 pounds and has (for the most part) stuck to it (plus or minus ten pounds).

    However, sometimes ‘things’ happen. See that link I posted above for an example. And then again we lost about 30 pounds during our short trip to Puerto Rico. Then we began overeating (after all, we had been starved).

    But we have to watch. We bought Cheerios (for our older, adult self and teenager who likes them) for ‘health’ – and a box of Captain Crunch for our little ones. One box each, and no one gets to buy another box until both those boxes are gone. (We hope – we are known to cheat.) But therein lays the problem: if ‘one’ is given preference and control over all the others, then ‘their’ eating styles and patterns will be taken. A road of moderation must be made – WE are constantly having to remind ourselves to eat – and then sometime looking down and having to ‘throw the brakes on’.

    Getting the girls to realize that they have an older body to take care of may go a long way towards them taking care of it – I know we do. LOL, our aches and pains remind us. But getting the proper amount of veggies and fruit is an important thing – and weaning the ‘kids’ off the ‘good stuff’ (candy and sweetened cereal) and the ‘teen’ off of survival foods (whatever is quickest – grabbing a can of carrots and scarfing them down in under three minutes is not what I would call an ‘acceptable meal’, nor are a few slices or handfuls of bread) . . . But when the body misbehaves (and everyone complains!) we point out what WE have not been doing for the body (eg ‘exercise’) – and reminding ourselves: it’s not what we used to have (the body). It’s gotten older (and stinkier) and hairer and less able in some ways (smoking doesn’t help . . . KIDS, lol, bad boys) … so ya gotta take care of it like . . .
    grandpa.

    LOL!!

    Until later, Sam. And trust you to bring up a side issue to DID/MPD that most people have never considered!

    Yer friends,
    Jeff & Friends
    and litltle Mikie sez “Hi!”

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Sep 22, 2011 @ 12:10:12

      Hey Jeff and all,

      thanks for stopping by. As the girls continue to heal, their likes and dislikes are growing more similar. But I still play a role as their mediator while they are learning to work together. I’m glad you guys try to work things out together.

      Sam

      Reply

  3. Leslie
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 18:20:58

    Another great post Sam…same kinds of issues here!

    Reply

  4. Sandra (@SandraHeretic)
    May 26, 2013 @ 19:29:40

    ha! even though admitting to DID is so new to me, I am already struggling with the Food Fight. Not all of us are as physically incapacitated by health issues (borderline diabetes, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, migraine, dyslexia and ADHD) as others, not all of us cook, some of us could care less about food, and some of us would rather be anorexic. The health issues the body has are complicated by food and really should have a particular diet, which necessitates just about everything being made from scratch. The cook among us is also the one most affected by food–so you’d think this would work out okay. And, generally, it does. Until that girl gets depressed and wants to go back into seclusion.

    Certain foods have functioned as drugs for us, keeping our secret selves submerged in unconsciousness. It was only after a particularly stringent diet plan was undertaken as a health trial that we all were able to communicate with each other and begin our roundtable discussions. But as our Ego with the kitchen gifts has been hit hard recently with some unexpected emotional pain, she wasn’t ready for that kind of work. She wants to return to her hidden corner to lick her wounds alone.

    Since the rest of us don’t much care about eating all that much, certainly not about following some diet that doesn’t make us feel that much better, we have been pretty happy to let her live on pretzels and Coke. But as those foods allow her to sink back into oblivion, she is dragging us down with her. We don’t want to go back there. But we don’t know how to make the foods (or make them well, it’s not always a matter of following the recipe) that keep her healthy and all of us present. And we don’t know how to convince her to commit to helping us help her–teach us to cook or something!

    Reply

  5. heavenlyhotharley
    Jan 22, 2015 @ 16:33:11

    I learned a lot from reading this post. We have been focusing on eating a more healthy diet, but I think there are ways we can improve that so the girls who like to eat, as you pointed out, can still eat, while the girls who don’t like to won’t feel like they are being stuffed. A good idea for something to work on. – Harley

    Reply

    • Sam Ruck
      Jan 22, 2015 @ 16:48:34

      Yeah, once we began to validate Karen’s need to control her weight and the other girls’ need to eat yummy food, everyone started working together more. Now the group has a target range that everyone tries keep at, but we always have lowfat snacks around so that if someone is feeling hungry, I encourage them to eat one of those so they don’t stress Karen but can satisfy the hunger.

      Sam

      Reply

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