Body-Obsessed Boys: Kitchen battle

The Kitchen is a Battleground

"I get so scared of food that I've thrown a tantrum almost like a little kid," Eric admits.

"He may go slam the microwave door, or slam the cupboards or punch something," Becky says.

"I just freak out so much that if I have a punching bag, I punch it until my knuckles bleed," Eric says. "I'm real nervous and anxious when it comes to food preparation. Before I'd even put the food anywhere close to my mouth, I have to know the numbers on the nutrition label, is the fat cut off of it, the benefits of the food. If it's even cooked on the same pan as something else that I wouldn't normally eat, then I won't eat it."

"We had to use different utensils. Nothing could touch anything else. He had to have his own drawers and shelves in the refrigerator that are just for Eric's food," Becky explains.

[AD]"Everybody else is eating what's there at the table, but we're doing all this special stuff for one person, which is frustrating," Ken says. "Just to sit down and go through what Eric's going to eat for the day, it takes writing his menu, looking at the calories. It'll take a half hour, 45 minutes just to prepare the food."

"Everything has to be prepared exactly the way he wants it," Becky says. "He eats egg whites, and I have to crack the egg and kind of toggle the yolk back and forth and get all the egg white out, but if that egg yolk breaks a little bit, and he sees a little bit of yellow in there, I have to throw it away. So, we end up throwing away a lot of things if I do it wrong. It's a lot of pressure when you're the cook, that's for sure. It's not fun."

"This is hurting you," Dr. Phil says to Becky.

"Well, it's just hard," she says. "It's frustrating to have other children in the house, and we make them eat whatever we put in front of them. We all eat the same thing, but then to have to treat him differently ... but I've certainly learned over the last three years that I have to choose my battles. It's harder to argue with him about food preparation every single night than to just do it the way he wants it."

"But you have become absorbed into the obsession. You're part of it, right?"

"Yeah, I'm not acting the way I know I should. I'm giving in to these different things that he needs to have," she says.

"Why?" Dr. Phil asks.

"Probably just out of sheer frustration, to not be fighting all the time."

"To throw a buzz word on you, you know that that's enabling. You're allowing his obsession to dominate the home. And trust me, if you're going to draw a line in the sand and stop this, it's better today than tomorrow. It's better yesterday than today. I mean, there's a point at which you have to decide, ‘I'm not going to be controlled by this,'" Dr. Phil tells her. "We've got the tail wagging the dog here. You're caving to that, and my question is why?"

[AD]"I'm the one who sees him when he falls apart too," Becky says through her tears. "And when he's crying and so distressed, sometimes I just want to avoid that. It's not the right thing to do, but I don't know what else to do."

Ken explains that Eric will find a way to throw food away or secretly exercise it off.

Dr. Phil notes that Eric can become verbally abusive as well, when he doesn't get his way.

"Yeah. I really do," Eric agrees.

"It affects your whole family, does it not?" Dr. Phil asks Becky.

"It definitely does."