Bring it to Barb Answering your questions on mental health, relationships and life issues


This week’s question:

Dear Barb,

Okay, I have been dating this guy for three months. He is sweet and caring, but he thinks about food all day long. We haven’t finished breakfast and he starts asking about where to eat lunch. This is driving me crazy besides the portion size and the unhealthy meals he can stick into his belly … This is making me pretty angry and depressed. I don’t know how to tell him without offending him! All I want to do is run!!

Scratching My Head and One Foot Out the Door

Dear One Foot Out the Door,

Just tell him! Food can be a real addiction just like a drug. Like any addiction, the first rule is you must find a new replacement or something to focus on so there is no obvious feeling of void. If he simply has very little distractions other than work or eating, food is an easy pleasure to obtain with very little impact. It’s unfortunate that it takes a while for those extra pounds to accumulate before the impact becomes apparent and unmanageable. 

Before you put on your running shoes to escape his addiction, he sounds worthy of a discussion. Clarify his pleasures of activities or things that really create excitement and some fulfillment in his life. He may not even be aware of his mindless comments and could be simply a habit for conversation.

The chemical dopamine that is ignited when you smile, eat food (especially sugary foods) or check your social media is the very same pleasure chemical ignited with cocaine. It is that strong and rewarding and deemed necessary.

You may notice many older people become more regimented and focused on meals and meal time because they have very little else to do. They must eat before taking their back pill or medication and eating also for retirees is a means intended for conversation.

But dating is the way you get to know someone and such a very necessary process. Three months is a good amount of time to have eyes wide open for compatibility. You will end up resentful and possibly feeling guilty without discussing eating habit differences. Be completely honest and just tell him you are annoyed by his obsessive focus on meal planning. You can be truthful and kind. My motto: Eat to live; don’t live to eat. 

Barb Rock is a mental health counselor for the House of Matthew Homeward Bound program in Tacoma, and the published author of “Run Your Own Race: Happiness after 50.” Send any questions related to mental health, relationships or life issues to her at

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