My mother’s stress is driving her to binge eating

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 20s. My mother in her 60s has started eating an enormous amount of snack foods behind the backs of my father and me. I’m worried about her binge eating.

My mother cares for my grandmother, who is her mother-in-law. In addition, I’m back at my parents’ house as my baby is due soon. All these things have perhaps taken a toll on her. She apparently doesn’t eat proper meals, instead resorting to many packs of snack foods.

Every night, she says to herself bitterly: “Why do I eat so much? I’m hopeless.” She also stays awake until late at night probably because she can’t fall asleep, absorbed in thinking, too.

My mother became ill a decade ago and lost 10 kilograms. Ever since, she’s managed to maintain her figure and weight, although she can’t do hard exercise. However, if she continues what she’s currently doing, it will harm both her body and mind, I believe.

My mother insists she can lose weight whenever she wants. Should I let her do whatever she wants if it helps her get rid of her stress?

My mother seldom tells me about caring for my grandmother, perhaps because she doesn’t want to bother me since I usually live away from my parents. I think it would be a good idea to reduce my mother’s burdens by helping her out however I can. What do you think I should I do?

K, Tokushima Prefecture

Dear Ms. K:

Your mother’s diet is definitely awful. She needs a lot of support to recover from her current condition. It is fortunate for her to have a daughter like you who is attentive and watchful around her.

I suggest you help your mother get support through various routes. I’m not a medical expert, but in the boundaries of common sense, her condition obviously requires medical treatment. You should ask a doctor for help while discussing this matter with your father.

You should also pay attention to your mother’s mental stress, which is apparently causing her overeating. In her 60s, she is heavily tied up with caring for her mother-in-law, following the traditional social norm that women should care for their elderly in-laws. I’ve seen many women like her who have to shoulder the burden of caring for elderly relatives without other people’s help and as a result, they become worn out and lose their energy.

Has your grandmother already been certified as eligible for receiving services under the nursing care insurance system? If she hasn’t yet, visit a comprehensive regional support center for the elderly in your neighborhood to apply for the certification.

To enjoy the benefits of the nursing care insurance and other public welfare services, you have to apply by yourself. Your mother can use various services and meet people who can provide help to her if you give her the information she needs. I think even though you usually live apart from her, this is something you can do as her daughter to help her.

Keiko Higuchi, critic

(from April 26, 2017, issue)Speech

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