Thin or fat, we all get the “lecture” about weight loss, exercise, eating habits

D writes:

I just want to start this with a bit about my personal history. I’m a pretty average-sized person, but I feel like HAES has had a huge positive impact on my life, especially as I was recovering from an eating disorder. I just want to share it as an example of how fat phobia and fear of weight gain impacts people of all body types.

My sophomore year of college, my family switched GPs. At the time, I was recovering from an eating disorder, during the course of which I’d lost a significant amount of weight, putting me just barely outside the category of “underweight.” I hadn’t really shared my mental health problems with my family’s GP, but I was nervous, I guess, and because my weight was still technically “normal,” my eating habits were never flagged as a problem.

Flash forward to the first visit with the new GP. All of that year at school, I’d been focusing on eating healthy, regaining the weight that I’d lost, and strength training and functional fitness. I also hadn’t weighed myself in about a year. When it came time to take my weight for the physical, the new GP asked me to tell her what I thought my weight was/had last been when I weighed myself. I don’t know if this was because she didn’t actually have my chart from the previous GP, or if she just thought it would be fun to embarrass me. At any rate, I guessed a number ten or fifteen pounds higher than I’d been the last time I weighed myself.

It turned out I weighed probably ten pounds more than that. This triggered an unending discussion of how being away at school was no excuse for gaining weight, how I needed to be eating healthy and exercising, etc. When I described my actual exercise routine, she basically accused me of lying. This wasn’t on a par with the misdiagnoses some people have written in about, but I felt so crushed to have spent the whole year trying to gain weight and become stronger, only to have a physician insist that my eating disorder was actually “healthier.” I haven’t been back to that GP since, but the same woman has constantly bullied my mom about her weight, even though she is perfectly healthy.

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4 Comments

  1. The focus should be on the patients health, not on weight. I too have been accused of lying about my food intake and exercise. Especially the food intake after weight loss surgery because it just was not possible I was eating what I said and yet still not losing weight. Actually it is possible since lipedema fat doesn’t respond to restriction of calories. What further bothers me is the waste of time lecturing us on diet and weight instead of addressing the other medical concerns I am actually there to discuss…but then again all those medical concerns are because of my weight…right? For years my lymphedema was blamed on my weight, and went undiagnosed. A few years ago I met a lymphedema patient who went undiagnosed because he was naturally thin so when he complained to doctors about the excess swelling he was told “well you could stand to gain a few pounds”. Shameful!

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  2. I’m so sorry you had to listen to that. If your next doctor takes the same approach, don’t hesitate to confront them. You don’t have to be afraid to tell them that they don’t know your whole history, that they have no right to make assumptions, and they’re not being helpful in the slightest. They are there to HELP. If what they do is not helping, they should damn well be told so. Maybe more of them will be forced to get off their high horses then.

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  3. What scares me with all of these examples is that people are going untreated or improperly treated because the focus is on the number on the scale. Or people recovering from eating disorders may be triggered by these kinds of discussions or bullying. It makes me want to yell at these doctors for neglect and mistreatment, and I’m not even one of the patients involved. This is why we need to continue blogs like this one and other FA-Body Positive ones. We need to keep fighting this fight, even though it is such an uphill battle against the tide of popular opinion and belief.

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  4. If it’s possible, your mother should also find a new doctor. This sort of behavior is inexcusable. It prevents people from getting medical treatment because they fear being shamed.

    Reply

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