This isn’t really a submission, although you can feel free to post it on the site if you want to (hey, maybe one of your readers will be able to help?). I’m very new to the concepts of Fat Acceptance, HAES, and intuitive eating, although they have already led to some positive changes in my life. However, I’m facing my first real challenge to those concepts since I started learning about them, via my husband, and I was wondering a) what you think, and b) how I could find some resources to either confirm or challenge what our family doctor is telling us.
Here’s the story: my husband has had weird gastro-intestinal events all his life. Prior to meeting me, these events mostly took the form of massive stomachaches consisting of vomiting, diarrhea, and severe abdominal pain, usually to the point where he would scream for hours on end. To my knowledge, he never really had these investigated, and he concluded that they were usually caused by something he ate. At the time, he was living in Montreal and relying mostly on public transportation, so he walked a lot and ate a fairly balanced diet for a bachelor (although he did and still hates most veggies and won’t eat them). He had a bit of a belly and was overweight, but in fairly good shape, health-wise.
However, since he came to live with me in the States, he’s had a fair number of lifestyle changes. We live in the suburbs, so he’s been forced to drive more and walk a lot less, he eats a lot more fatty foods, and has worked high-stress social work jobs for the past 7 years. In the past few years, he’s had a few debilitating bouts of abdominal pain that differed from his past pain in that they were mostly characterized by severe pressure in his upper-right quadrant and blood in his urine, no vomiting of diarrhea. After his most recent one (a couple of weeks ago) and an all-night stay in the emergency room, he’s finally decided to have it looked into, and tests have shown that he has gallstones and fat deposits in his liver.
So, here’s where the doctor’s advice is bumping against my new HAES outlook: she wants to remove his gallbladder and has ordered him to get on a weight loss program to help with the liver.
Now, I absolutely think that he could make some changes to start living healthier per HAES — he definitely needs to start getting some kind of regular physical activity, and he should probably eat less greasy take-out and start trying to work some more healthful foods into his diet (changes I’ve already started to make for myself). However, after reading some of the stories on your site, I’m very wary of the “lose weight” part of the treatment plan. Thanks to the resources I’ve found on the fatosphere, I no longer believe in weight loss for the sake of weight loss, and I distrust the popular link between weight and health. Since my husband and I are both veterans of Weight Watchers, I know he can temporarily lose weight just by eating less of the same crap he’s eating now. But if it’s his diet that’s causing his liver to have fat deposits, just losing weight by eating the same stuff isn’t going to help the problem, although it may fool the doctor into thinking he’s doing well.
I also want to emphasize that I’ve had this doctor for over ten years, and while she wasn’t a weight fanatic when I first started seeing her (at age 20, 5’6″ and probably about 230 lbs), but she’s mentioned it at every annual check-up in the past 5 years (since I went up to 290 after the first couple of years of my marriage, then dieted myself down to 250, then regained up to 308). After my regain, telling her I had just joined or was about to rejoin WW has kept the haranguing to a minimum, but I haven’t seen her since I started trying to practice HAES, so I don’t know how she’ll react to that philosophy.
So, here are my questions: does anyone know about fatty liver disease and it’s relationship to weight? Does anyone have any good resources where I could look to get the 411 on the disease (liverdisease.com and Wikipedia both link it specifically to obesity, but I’d really like a FA source to either confirm or dispute that)? Also, how do you folks deal with family and friends that reject HAES and believe in traditional WL dieting? I’ve expressed concern to my husband, my sister, and my mom about the “lose weight” treatment plan, and they all act like I’m crazy, or worse, like I’m trying to talk Husband out of a life-saving measure because I “just want to stick [my] head in the sand and believe it’s okay to be fat, when this shows pretty convincingly that it’s not,” (says my currently-on-WW sister, who herself is very fat, believes everything the MSM has to say about fat, and sees no difference between HAES and WLD). And finally, am I making a big deal over nothing? I know I can’t stop Husband from doing a WLD if he wants to (not that I would try), but I do think it would divert him from the true goal of getting healthier, and that worries me that his real problem will get worse while he works on the part that’s not really the problem.
I know this is really long, and I’m not sure this kind of advice is your site’s purview, but any guidance you could give me would be really appreciated. Thanks so much!