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Helping an obese friend

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posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 09:52 PM
Hi all,

I'm after some thoughts and advice about something I'm struggling to figure out how to deal with.

I have a very good friend who's morbidly obese. He has a 54" waist and I'd guess he's at least 25 stone (160kg, and that's probably conservative). He's in his early 40's and has issues with food going back to his childhood. From what I understand his relationship with food is intertwined with his previously alcoholic mother, his upbringing and his involvement with the catholic church as a kid. There seems to be a lot of guilt associated with eating.

Despite spending lots of time with him I can count on one hand how many times I've seen him eat. He pretty much refuses to eat in front of people and, as far as I know, lives on fast food, crisps and chocolate. I've repeatedly tried to talk to him about his eating habits but regardless of how gently and carefully it's brought up he generally gets very defensive and refuses to talk about it. We've had a few occasions where he's chosen to bring it up and discuss it but those conversations have been very limited and are always on his terms. As soon as someone engages him in conversation he'll shut it down and refuses to discuss it anymore. I'm pretty sure he immediately regrets bringing it up, sharing his thoughts and he appears very embarrassed about the whole thing.

We have a very tight-knit group of friends and several of us are very concerned about his health. He looks more and more unwell, he binge drinks and generally abuses his body. The reason for the thread is that nobody really knows what to do to help him. Given he shuts down any conversation about it and won't discuss ways to improve things (exercise, changing his diet etc) it's very difficult to know what to do.

In a couple of the rare chats I've had with him about it he's talked about having his stomach stapled. His issues appear more psychological than purely physical tho and I'm not sure how much good that would do him. I've tried to encourage him to exercise with me, eat with us socially etc but he dances around the subject and when it comes down to it he always finds an excuse not to engage in any positive action.

So... has anyone got any ideas about what we should do, if anything? I feel like we have a responsibility to try to help but I'm at a loss as to how to approach it. I've thought about arranging some kind of intervention but I don't think it would end well, it might even make things worse and damage his relationship with his close friends. I'm hoping that some of you have some kind of experience with this kind of thing and can help in some way.

Any thoughts, ideas and input would be appreciated.
edit on 26/7/13 by eightfold because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 10:00 PM
reply to post by eightfold

Convince him to start supplementing Iodine and Selenium to increase his metabolism.

He's probably Hypothyroid.

If you have to use an intervention do it.

He also has to give up the other halogens that are bad. Bromine (Soda) and Fluoride.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 10:08 PM
You mentioned an intervention, which is the first thing I thought of. It might not end well, but at least you tried. It seems like it might be the only thing left to do. You can't help someone who doesn't want to help themselves. However, intervention, as I understand them, require ultimatums. If you are going to get several people together to do an intervention, then they must be willing to present an ultimatum such as not making food runs for him or helping him with tasks that he cannot do because of his weight.

It could be that seeing that many people confront him about this may give him the courage to take the first steps knowing that he has support from those that love him. It could also be that he is in denial and finally being forced to confront it on OTHER PEOPLE'S TERMS may wake him up.

Also, he should absolutely not get his stomach stapled. Many people that have psychological issues with food will often either overeat to the point of busting their stomachs or turn to another crutch. Many people who have this procedure become alcoholics (or so I've heard). Actually, my roommates uncle has had this procedure, and according to her, is an alcoholic.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 10:11 PM
reply to post by JrDavis

Thanks for replying. Iodine supplements sound like a really good idea and an easy one to discuss with him - it's not directly related to food so he might be up for it. I don't know anything about selenium supplements but I'll do some searching about it in a sec. It wouldn't surprise me if he was hypothyroid.

I'm pretty convinced an intervention is a good idea but I'm not sure exactly what to say to him. I'm pretty sure he has deep seated psychological issues with food and I'm worried it'll do more harm than good.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 10:30 PM
reply to post by eightfold

I also agree with the intervention. If he knows that support is there it will be allot easier.

Definitely a doctors visit is in order. He is going to need a physical. He is going to need checked out.

If he is that heavy he has to be careful monitor his weight loss. If he losses too much weight too quickly it will cause serious damage to his heart. That can be easily be a problem if he changes his diet drastically.

He might also need to psychological evaluation. If he has an eating disorder that is going to need dealt with right away to increase the level of success.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 10:34 PM
reply to post by nunya13

I know he relies quite heavily on the girl he shares a house with (who's also a close friend) to deliver him food. He also has a taxi driver friend who basically drives him everywhere and I suspect he also delivers him food, alcohol etc. They'd both have to be involved in any intervention.

I completely agree about the stomach stapling. One of my main worries is he has a borderline alcohol problem already plus he's heavily into online poker. I don't like the term but he's got an 'addictive personality' and already indulges in pretty much every crutch there is. I don't want to violate the T&C's but I'm sure you can read between the lines and guess what I'm getting at. I don't think stapling would help him.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 11:07 PM
I think it's important to realize (and you obviously do) that this isn't him choosing happily to be overweight and uncomfortable. There is an underlying psychological problem. Obese people get flipped a lot of crap, but I think what many go through is just as rough as what alcoholics, smokers and drug users experience. They find their solace in food, and the effects are more obvious and easy for people to ridicule. It's really one of the few addictions (or what I consider an addiction) that's acceptable to make fun of. So on top of the guilt they already have, they get the self esteem knock down of knowing that everyone can see their deepest shame whenever they go out.

I don't know your friend, so I don't know what would work best, but if he's 350 lbs. it probably is time for an intervention. Does he have family? I'm guessing not because you didn't mention them that I recall. It does sound like your group of friends is very close though.

Even though he has only intimated on rare occasions that he wants to lose weight, that's a big plus. I don't know how to tell you the right way to approach the issue without automatically getting him into that dismissive/denial/even angry zone, but there's hope if he's brought it up.

It sounds stupid, but perhaps if you wanted a softer approach than an outright intervention you could ask friends, family/ whoever to each write a letter to him. Make them positive, highlighting how much he's appreciated and loved, but be firm when you say there needs to be a change. You want him around longer.

Get a gym membership and go with him even if it's just a few minutes a day at first. Help him get into healthy habits. Encourage him to seek counseling. Go with him if he's freaked out about it.

Best of luck. He must be a pretty awesome guy.

posted on Jul, 26 2013 @ 11:32 PM
reply to post by eightfold

This may sound rude, but his roommate is an enabler. I'm not trying to be an armchair psychiatrist, but I've seen the intervention TV show in which the family will allow a heroin addict, for example, live in their house. They will give them money to buy the drugs because they would rather do that then risk the person being on the street. I see your friends situation as being no different (save for the being on the street part).

His roommate is enabling an addiction because your friend can't even support his own habit. It is a fact that fast food and other junk food (or "food-like products" as I like to call them) are addictive, mainly due to the sugar and excitotoxins. Couple that with the emotional eating to comfort himself and potential alcohol abuse and your friend is on a road to destruction. His roommate is integral to changing things for him and NEEDS to be in an intervention, like you said.

The other day, my boss was talking about a friend of hers whose son is living on the streets because he is a drug addict and refuses to get help. His family refuses to help him. I think that is the best thing they can do because the alternative is to help him kill himself slowly. They don't want that on their consciences, and I don't think your friend's roommate does either. The amount of food and the kind of food he eats WILL lead to an early death, or at the very least, and extremely low quality of live (which it sounds like he is already experiencing).

I hate to say it, but maybe your ultimatum needs to be your friendship. I don't think you want to see your friend do that to himself, and maybe if you put that on the line it will drive it home how much it means to you for him to get help. Just make it clear that it has NOTHING to do with is weight and EVERYTHING to do with WHY he weighs what he does.

posted on Jul, 27 2013 @ 12:09 AM
reply to post by Domo1

The letter writing idea sounds awesome. He may get pissed as hell at an intervention and it could make things worse. If it bothers him when one person confronts him, imagine all his friends at once in his face. Yikes! Letters he can read in his own time and quietly take things in. He may be upset at first because I'm sure he already feels guilty and disgusted with himself, but he will realize it is just love and concern from his friends.

Perhaps direct him to food sites that deal with healthy eating for some great ideas and to keep the diet fresh and interesting.

posted on Jul, 27 2013 @ 01:28 PM
reply to post by eightfold

I was year ago in a similar, but not perhaps in that extreme shape, "only" 150 kgs. And then I decided to give up sugar, and carbohydrates all together. No fruits, no juice, no candies, cookies or coke. No bread, no croissants with jelly (my love) - nothing with sugar in it, and zero carbohydrates. Replace with salad, cheese, milk, plain natural yogurt, egg, omelets, meat, fish ... Anything but C-stuff.

This was a change for a life-style, not a diet. This was about giving up all of those for good. Any of it if I took, I would be in that terrible state I was. So the decision was final.

In the following 3 months, I lost 30 kgs. And following 3 another 10. Today, one year later, I have 45 kgs of lost luggage. And odd enough - I do not care finding them ever again. Getting results, means change, and committing to that change means not going back to the C-road.

So, of the options I had, I guess I picked the right one. I hope this gives hope to your friend, to collect the courage, and sum up the will power, and make the change. And keeping to it, no matter what. Returning back, means return where you once did not want to be. Good news is, your friend can go this road, and in 6 months wonder which size pants did he actually use.

posted on Jul, 31 2013 @ 03:31 AM
reply to post by eightfold

I personally do not think you should go behind his back in any way.
This could backfire and he might end up blaming you and no longer wish to be your friend.
You cannot force the issue, it has to be his decision.
I've yet to meet an addict who gave up their addiction when they did not really want to.

posted on Jul, 31 2013 @ 05:37 AM
I have a friend like that. I don't think I'm gonna go out to anymore resturants with the guy. It's just too gross watching him eat or how much or how fast he can eat. It's so gross!!!!! It's good that you're trying to help but like I realized with my friend, he has to want it. If not then it's not gonna happen and or be a lasting change if it even does.

posted on Aug, 4 2013 @ 11:20 PM
reply to post by eightfold

A friend and I just had this conversation over the past two days, and I feel compelled to relay what he said.

A bit of background: We went to high school together, and I haven't seen him for many years. Our contact is via email. My husband has health issues from being obese (6'1" and 265 lbs) and my friend is 5'8" and about 300 lbs. I've been trying to help my husband take action to lose weight, to no avail.

This is what my friend told me: His friends and family are all very concerned about him and do everything they can to help him - send articles/links, give him pep talks, reason with him, etc - and he understands they do it because they love him and want him to live as long as possible. He knows he should eat differently, he knows he would be sexually attractive like he used to be, he knows his health would improve, he knows he would feel better, he knows they are right, because he is constantly at war within himself about it already. The more people push him, the more defensive he gets, and the more he eats to relieve the stress.

What he wants is for everyone to see past his physical appearance, to be loved for who he is right now. He wants people to realize that he struggles with himself 24/7 about his weight and how it affects his lifestyle. It's like any other addiction in that there are underlying psychological and emotional issues, and until those are worked out, the circumstances aren't going to change. His loved ones don't understand that they can't force him to do something he's not ready to do. You can't rush a river.

We each have to be ready to change or it's simply not going to happen. If it's forced, it's not going to last, because the decision didn't come from within. I have beaten several addictions over the years and am paying the price with health issues now. When people wanted to help me, I had the same reaction - anger, being defensive, withdrawing from them, denial. I had to bottom out (several times) and managed to survive. Some people aren't as lucky.

So, my two cents is to accept your friend for who he is and love him while he's still alive. There's nothing else you can do except distance yourself from him, which would only hurt you both. Everyone struggles with something, and we all deal with the inner battles in our own ways and on our own timeline.

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