Advice from the Trenches: Binging with the Bird


Welcome to Advice From the Trenches, a feature on NRI NOW

Advice From The Trenches is advice with a different twist – it combines the clinical experience of a double boarded psychiatrist, with a slap-in-the-face dose of reality from an artist and writer who has gathered her wisdom from the school of hard-knocks. Thought provoking and often hilarious, this column always hits home, giving you a unique perspective on everyday problems that just makes common sense.

Do you having a burning question for the duo? Send your thoughts, ideas and woes to Don’t forget to mention that you’re an NRI NOW reader so we can be sure to publish the answer here!

Dear C and Dr. B,

I think my husband is trying to hand me a load of crap, maybe you can offer an opinion. Joe has a weight problem which could potentially impact his health, but he just can’t stick to his diet. His reason? He blames our pet, a cockatiel. Joe claims the bird encourages him to binge eat at night. How does this happen? Well, it seems that as much as my husband loves cereal, the cockatiel REALLY loves cereal. When it hears the rustle of the bag, it comes flying in from wherever it is in the house. My husband claims that the bird just looks so adorable waddling around with a big flake in its mouth, that he cannot resist falling prey to the cuteness. This is the excuse he gives every night when I discover the two of them binging on cereal. 

I don’t think the bird is expanding, but my husband certainly is!  What can I do about these late night binges?  If my husband dies I have to take care of the damn bird!        – Mad Marge

Dr. B says: 

Tell your husband that the bird prefers a mixed green salad. If it’s too time consuming to make one at night, it’s easy to buy pre-made ones at the supermarket for about $3.00. Add some seeds and there you go – and the bird will probably be grateful.  

C says: 

You are correct, Marge. Your husband is trying to hand you a load of crap. Unfortunately, this problem can’t be solved by suggesting a healthy salad, for Joe isn’t gorging on carbs to nourish himself – if he is headed for Type 2 Diabetes, that’s the sort of food that will induce a sugar coma and heavy sleep. Salad will not substitute.

But let’s address a more important issue. This, “Tee hee, I know I shouldn’t, but the bird made me do it!” garbage is a time-worn trick that I find seriously disturbing – grown men thinking it’s funny to ignore serious health issues and make a silly game out of it. This is how five year olds behave. It’s also one of the reasons that married men live longer. Left to their own devices, they would all be dead or disabled before they reached old age. But the real danger with men’s flagrant disregard for their health is the toll it takes on their partners. Married women get the short end of the stick – there is strong evidence to suggest that single women live longer, and are more content, than those who wed.

Your husband is setting you up to play the role of the straight man. If this were a TV sitcom, he’d be the one getting all the laughs and you’d look like the nagging old stick-in-the-mud.

Joe is probably going to continue giggling, gorging, and getting fatter no matter how much good advice you give him. If you want to keep your own head from exploding, have a little fun of your own. Laughter is the best medicine. 

Try this – stop cooking, cleaning, doing laundry or bothering to get dressed around the house. When your husband says, “What the hell, Marge?” just smile brightly at him and say, “I was watching Wife Swap the other night while you were binging with the bird, and this Stepford Wife with designer clothes and perfect hair switched places with a wife at a hippie commune. Joe, you should have seen her! She looked so cute with her hair all messed up, and seemed so much more relaxed when she let the housework go – I got inspired to try it too! Can you get my laundry the next time you do yours?”

It may not stop him from binging but he isn’t going to think it’s so funny anymore.

– Cathren Housley 

As originally published in Motif Magazine.

Writer Cathren Housley is a past contributor on NRI NOW, covering the local arts and music scene.

You can visit Dr. B’s blog at

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