I wanted to tell you my story. It’s not as bad as what some people have faced, but I just needed somewhere to vent.
I made an appointment with my doctor’s office to come in immediately, as my eyelid had begun swelling the night before and now covered half my eye. This was causing me a lot of discomfort and I didn’t know what the problem was — so understandably I wanted it to get checked out! Well, my normal doctor wasn’t available on that day, so I saw someone else at the practice. She started off perfectly nice. She examined my eye. She said I was right for coming in because they always want to be careful with eyes, but that it was an allergic reaction to a bug bite on my eyelid and nothing to worry about. She said that I did need to look out for signs of a secondary infection, such as more swelling, redness, or warmth, but that I did not currently have a secondary infection due to a healthy immune system! This is where it got bad…. I figured I was good to go, since I had come in about my eye and she had already examined it! But I was wrong. After being told I should be sleeping adequately to maintain a strong immune system, she then told me I should be eating healthy too and proceeded to inform me what it meant to eat healthy.
I am only 15 pounds overweight, and with good muscle mass. I run 30 miles a week. I have normal cholesterol levels and very low blood pressure!
Never mind that I know exactly how to eat healthily! Did she ask me what my diet was like, or if I was educated about nutrition? No, she simply told me that half my plate needed to be vegetables, and that I should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Very confused as to what this had to do with my eye, I responded, “I do eat tons of vegetables and fruits,” which is true. The doctor then asked me whether I ate breakfast, and I said I normally did. “What do you eat for breakfast?” she asked. “Usually cereal,” I said. I was by this point really really perplexed by what this had to do with my eye! The doctor responded that I should eat a good breakfast with protein, not carbs. She suggested an egg. “But I need carbs to fuel me for my run,” I said. “I run in the mornings right after I eat breakfast.” (6 miles five times a week.) I was then informed that “Cereals are not healthy, eat a piece of fruit if you want carbs.”
Well, that’s great, but I actually have experimented and breakfast cereal with milk is the best thing to fuel me for my SIX MILE RUNS five days a week. If I ate an apple I would get runner’s diarrhea, and if I ate a peach I would be starving on my run and inadequately fueled, leading to a decrease in performance and ability.
I guess I looked sort of upset and mad at this point, because she said, “I don’t understand why this is such a touchy issue.”
“Well,” I said, trying to maintain my composure, “My cereal does have protein because I have it with soymilk.”
“Oh, soy is bad.”
“Most soy products have lots of added sugars.” (Right, like tofu.)
“I drink unsweetened soymilk.”
“Ok, but your cereal has added sugar. That’s bad for you.”
I sort of gave up at this point and didn’t engage any further. We concluded the appointment and then I left.
What I didn’t tell this doctor (which maybe I should have, in retrospect, but I was sort of so shocked that she would start critiquing my 200 calorie bowl of cereal when I came in about my eye that I didn’t think to) is that I’m struggling with an eating disorder. Cereal up to this point was actually one of my “safe foods,” one of the few things I could feel comfortable eating, partly because of its low calorie count for a bowl or two. I’m trying to recover from my ED, but I’m still definitely engaging in ED behaviors a lot. This doctor’s behavior was so incredibly triggering for me. Even though I tried to rationalize why it’s ok for me to eat cereal, I was really triggered. I threw up two meals that day (after not having purged in a week), one the next day, and one the day after that. I did not eat cereal before my next morning run because I knew I’d feel really guilty about it. That was definitely not a good decision — I was exhausted on my run.
This doctor was absolutely ridiculous, and I know that. She did not ask about my protein intake throughout the rest of the day (if I don’t purge, I get perfectly adequate protein). She did not look at my chart, because if she had, she would have seen that I have very low blood pressure and normal cholesterol. She talked about my diet when I had come in to ask about a problem in my eye! She criticized my 200-calorie bowl of cereal because it contained carbs. She triggered my eating disorder symptoms.
I kept telling myself the cereal was fine. After all, what do marathon runners eat during their run? Gu or other gels or sports drinks, containing electrolytes and carbs from fast-acting sugars! What do I need to eat before my runs? Carbs with fast-acting sugars!!! For immediate energy to fuel my body!
But even though I know that intellectually, her comments are still causing me damage.
I’m so frustrated and mad at her.