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Avoiding Power Struggles

Friends and family often feel that helping you get enough to eat is one of the few ways they can contribute. They may even feel responsible if you are losing weight despite their efforts.  It is not unusual for control battles to develop, when the patient feels as if their loved ones are forcing them to eat when they do not feel like eating.

We have all been forced to eat something in our childhood that we didn’t want to eat and the memories and sense of loss of control linger.  

During my pediatric fellowship, a physician advised parents to “never get into battles overToilet training eating, sleeping  or peeing, because you’ll lose”.  Such wisdom applies to adults as well.  NO one can make anyone else eat.  Even if it is not in your best interest, you can subconsciously rebel when feeling pressured.  

  • Take the control over what only you can do.  Set cell phone timers to remind you of meal and snack times. If the technology is new to you, have someone younger show you how.   They like to help too.
  • Let your family know that you realize they care, but that this isn’t helpful.  Keep communication open and clear.
  • Remind them that we evaluate your progress over a week’s time, not day to day. Every one has days that they will eat less than others, we just aren’t obsessed about it.  Once they realize you will do the best you can, you’ll find their concern will ease.

Family and friends can do many things for you

  • They can help you draft a list of options of foods you tolerate.  This helps limit the “20 questions” back and forth to try to come up with an option for the current meal or snack. It also helps avoid having you burn out on one food that is repeated so often that you don’t ever want to see it again.
  • They can use that list to shop for and prepare the foods you select from the list.
  • They can even serve the food to you.
  • Then they are done!

Once the food is served, it becomes your responsibility to do the best you can at that particular moment in that day.

Remember, you are the one suffering the consequences of loss of weight, muscle, strength and immune function.   But also realize that your family is concerned as well and wants to help.

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