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Topic Ghost eating Go to previous topic Go to next topic Go to higher level

By lurkingforacure On 2010.11.14 05:55
Does anyone have this happen? Like others, my husband eats a lot at night (after midnight). I think mainly because he's awake and not on meds. I'm now used to getting up and finding a mess in the kitchen, this is becoming old hat. Sometimes he doesn't seem to remember what he ate the night before (and I'm not sure I would either, if I were roaming around at 3am!)

But today as a treat I went and got him THREE roast beef sandwiches and some for our kids. He ate his, yes, all three, and I saved the last extra one for our son in the fridge. A few hours later our son wanted his, and it was gone. I had just seen it an hour or so before on the fridge shelf, so I told him to ask his dad if he ate it. He did, and my husband said he did not. But it was gone, and no one else had eaten it. I looked in the trash, and there was the wrapper. He clearly ate it. Is is possible he didn't remember eating it, even though it was daytime? Is this part of PD?

I was really annoyed, not just because he ate THREE sandwiches and I thought surely that would be enough, but because he ate our son's sandwich and he knew that was not his. Our son was really hungry and wanting that sandwich and not only did his dad eat it knowing it was not his, he apparently didn't remember doing so and now our son thinks daddy lies. Ugh. It's getting to the point where I am having to hide food in my own house to keep him from eating it all or else I have nothing for the kids' snacks and lunches. I can go to get a new box of crackers and there will only be a few in there, not even enough for one kid's snack. It's maddening and I can't plan meals when something I just bought two days ago is now gone.

Does anyone else have this? I have joked about putting a chain and lock on the refrigerator but that doesn't help me with stuff in the pantry. And it's actually not funny, it makes me crazy.

To make matters worse, my husband told me he had a stomach ache later. I didn't say anything, but boy was I thinking it. Is eating like this some kind of PD compulsion and if so, what can you do?

By Reflection On 2010.11.14 07:18
I'm sorry you, and your husband, are experiencing this. It is frustrating, especially never knowing how to plan, and to see your kids frustrated.
There are various possibilities here:
1. Sleep medications, such as ambien, can cause what you so aptly call "ghost eating." My husband was convinced we had a mouse - pointed out to me a loaf of bread he'd discovered on our counter had a chunk out of it. Clever mouse had undone a zip lock bag, eaten the bread, then redone the bag ;-o
2. Compulsive eating is a common symptom in frontal temporal disorder "FTD", sometimes called frontal temporal demential, or frontal lobar degeneration.) There's a support forum for FTD at The research says the frontal lobes are frequently affected in PD. To my eyes, the cognitive/behavioral symptoms of PD overlap significantly with FTD, but the neurologists are a bit behind the caregivers in fully recognizing this. That said, happily, my husband hasn't had frequent compulsive eating - just while under the influence of ambien, but if your husband's compulsive eating continues for, say, a month, I'd strongly urge you to check out info on FTD, such as: which lists symptoms, including:
- "Hyperorality and dietary changes (one of the following must be present)
1.Altered food preferences: carbohydrate craving (particularly sweets) or food fads
2.Binge eating, increased consumption of alcohol or cigarettes: patient continues to eat despite satiety (weight gain ____ lb); compulsive smoking, chewing tobacco or gum; or alcohol ingestion
3.Oral exploration or consumption of inedible objects"

The same site also lists elements of the differential diagnosis between Parkinson's and FTD:
To my mind, the distinguishing one from another neurological disorder seems pretty arbitrary: neurons or connections between them die out, in different parts of the brain, for different reasons. For us, understanding the symptoms, treatment, prognosis is what's critical, and these overlap between different neurological disorders. A neurologist named Braak has hypothesized that PD moves through the brain - affecting some areas first, some later - see: - see the image of the brain

3. At one point, my husband started lying constantly, about everything, including stuff as trivial as whether he'd eaten something in the fridge that another family member was looking forward to. It was some combination of lying without remorse, to avoid the consequences of his behavior, or denial - somehow not believing/acknowledging what he had done - perhaps because he couldn't quite believe it himself, because he was ashamed of his compulsions. I never could figure out which. This phase did put a major dent in family trust. The lying is also consistent with FTD - the frontal lobes are associated with morality.

I hopethat what your are experiencing is transitory - but if your husband's compulsive eating continues, it might be helpful to check out some of tis info. Good luck with it, and with your kids.

By susger8 On 2010.11.15 08:10
Is it possible that he just doesn't remember? My dad's short-term memory is very poor now, and sometimes he goes into the kitchen to get a snack when he's just eaten and said he was full.


By parkinit On 2010.11.15 08:53
My husband was doing this frequently a few years ago (eating at night and leaving a mess). It has declined greatly in the past year. In analyzing why, it could have been:
1) change of meds. Dr. prescribed clonazepam (not sure if there is a connection, but this is the only change I could find)

2) Ability to move at night is now greatly impaired.

Yes, the ghost eating is a side-effect of the disease or perhaps drugs in the big scheme of PD.

By Reflection On 2010.11.16 10:08
I'm passing on a couple of links that might shed light:
- area of brain controlling hunger
caregiver discussion

By karolinakitty On 2010.11.16 10:16
Thanx for the links Reflection ....
FTD, I have read up on but never saw this link....
Sometimes i think they divide these diseases up in such a way you can think you have them all... OR ... there are still some to be considered...
My guy had injuries to the frontal lobe from when he was beaten, docs know this but nobody ever suggested FTD because he is so passive and non-aggressive.
The brain is such a complicated place but at least these links put some knowledge to it.

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