I have heard from many people over the years that in order to curb Matthew's food obsessions, I need to just ensure that there is no "junk food" in our house. I have worked hard to limit the amount of junk food because I think it is healthier for everyone involved if it is limited, but most importantly it limits Matthew's obsessions.
The problem is that right now, no matter how hard I am working to limit his food intake, he is becoming more and more creative and obsessed.
I am a single mom who works 9:30-5:30 most days. This means that by the time I pick the boys up from the YMCA and get home and talk to the babysitter who watches David, it is typically 6:15 at the earliest before I am starting to cook dinner. At least 4 out of every 5 school nights, this means I am cooking dinner, or taking food from the crock pot, or reheating left overs from 6:15 until 6:45 and we are eating from 6:45 until 7:15. This leaves the boys a half hour until bed time.
For those nights when things are hard, or it is just too much to get it all together, I have the typical freezer foods of all working moms. There is frozen pizza, we have had fish sticks from trader joe's, hot dogs, and frozen hamburger patties from trader joe's. None of these foods make for healthy eating 7 nights a week, and they are not at all what my boys are offered. But on a night when there is a lot of homework, or we get home late, or I am simply exhausted, each of these foods beats a meal from McDonalds.
This week however, it is becoming apparent that I can no longer have frozen meals in the house. Matthew ate an entire frozen pizza and a frozen hamburger patty this morning. The other day he ate 5 hot dogs. On top of each of these items, he is eating the cereal I am leaving out for him each morning and whatever left overs he can scavenge from the night before.
We had sherbert in the house because that was what David wanted for his birthday treat. I discovered yesterday that Matthew had eaten the entire carton.
When I purchase a treat, like sherbert, for a special occasion, it is always a question of whether I purchase it and serve it once, and then throw it out or whether I purchase it and hope for the best. The sherbert I kept because I was hoping that David would have a little more another day this week. That didn't happen.
David also chose to have rolls as part of his birthday dinner. We had those again the other day with dinner and I threw out the remainder. Yesterday morning I found a mess of bread crumbs in Matthew's room- he had gone into the garbage and taken out the rolls and eaten them.
This means that even food in the garbage is no longer safe.
I can't lock up everything. The dry food items- cereal, juice boxes for school, healthy granola bars, are all locked in a lock box. There is a lock box that they make for the refrigerator that I recently found, I just have been in denial that it is needed, but I will likely order it tonight.
I feel like I am working so hard to protect Matthew from himself recently. That may be the hardest part of all of this. A mentally healthy person cannot predict what a mentally unstable person will do. I would never eat food from the garbage. I love food as much as anyone else, but once the food is in the garbage, it is off limits. I would never eat frozen food. For him it doesn't matter, it is eating the food, not the taste that matters.
He has been tested for Prader-willi syndrome and the test is negative. I have changed our food intake so that dyes are limited in his diet especially. His brain is addicted to carbohydrates. It is his drug of choice. Unfortunately, I have a family of 3 boys, and carbs are part of living for most people, but especially all children. My boys will choose fruits, they healthy eating habits. For Matthew this is not about food, it is about addiction. It is another part of his mental instability. It is the insanity he is living with.
For me this is a visible reminder of how much support he needs. It is a sad reminder of how intense his obsessions are. It is a reminder that this is a job that is too big for one person. I have to sleep. I cannot monitor him all night. His obsessions to him are more important than sleep, making his desire for food incessant even when he is supposed to be at rest.
- I am a single mom of three amazing boys! All three of my sons entered my family through adoption. All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!