For every obese patient on "My 600-lb Life" there is an enabler helping them stay fat. The 2016 episode "June's story" demonstrates that classic food addiction and codependency relationship. At nearly 600 pound, bedridden June McCamey lacks self-control over her eating and so over-controls her codependent lesbian girlfriend Sadi Gregory. June says her obesity imprisons her but Sadi is also trapped by her own codependence. There's hope in that fact that June is on the first rung--recognizing powerlessness.

Advertisement

Will she work at recovery from food addiction and lose weight to get gastric bypass?

Enabling kills addicts with kindness

Bariatric surgeon Dr. Younan Nowzaradan has helped many achieve weight loss. But before gastric bypass surgery, patients must lose a certain amount of weight on their own. This does two things--it gets them to a stabler place health-wise so they can have surgery. It also is a promissory note that they will continue to work at diet and exercise after surgery. But the trouble with most patients on "My 600-lb Life" isn't just their own food addiction but their enablers feeding it, literally. Sadi is June's caregiver and does whatever June (often rather rudely) demands. She buys the mammoth-sized junk food orders June puts in.

Addictive bullying behavior with self-pity

In morbid obesity, June cannot walk or take care of herself so she relies on Sadi. Their mutual give and take relationship has devolved into caregiver/patient. June complains that Sadi treats her like a child yet she demands constant care and expects her whims to be attended to, especially in food choices. June feels embarrassed by Sadi helping her with toileting and bathing yet she admits that her food addiction has put her in this position. Her passive-aggressive self-pity sees herself as the victim when really she's the one manipulatively controlling Gregory around. 

Enabling vs empowering

So why does Sadi put up with it? That's the beast of codependency--shame, low self-worth, guilt, self-blame.

Advertisement

A lot of critics say caregivers should just quit feeding the obese person. That complete detachment is an extreme solution and a better one might be to refuse to buy junk food or cook unhealthy meals. The caregiver could fix only the prescribed diet meals from Dr. Now and so force the patient to make better food choices. But Sadi and June need to heal this toxic codependent relationship. And until Gregory can find the self-confidence to start her own recovery and stop letting herself be bullied, June will not get well and neither will she.

But June has taken the first steps of her 12-step program by admitting powerless, accepting responsibility and initiating treatment. There is every reason to believe this will be another "My 600-lb Life" success story.