Maybe you should stop eating so much water and air

Lynne writes…

A few years ago I went to see my primary care physician because I was having some issues vomiting.  By which I mean that I was vomiting, several times a day.  This would happen usually after eating (immediately afterward) though often at other times.  I experienced no nausea, just a need to vomit.  A lot.  It happened when I ate, drank water, coughed, cried, had a stuffy nose, even once when I smelled a foul smell.  Sudden onset vomit.  It was gross, and it was affecting my life in a big way.  People assumed I had an eating disorder, only I didn’t lose much weight.

I was having a routine physical with my PCP and mentioned what had been happening.  Note: I am 5’6″, 250lbs.  I had met with this doctor on only one occasion before (also a disaster, but non-weight related).  I described my symptoms and without asking any questions or running any tests, she casually said, “Well, maybe you should stop eating such big meals.”  I was a little shocked, but reminded her that the vomiting was frequently non-food related, and therefore could not be caused just by eating big meals, and besides, I wasn’t eating “big meals”.  She responded with “I really think you should just stop eating such big meals” and sent me home.

Later, another doctor who asked a few questions diagnosed me with severe GERD, a form of acid reflux, and we were able to treat it completely.  And I didn’t have to change the size of my meals.

“Of course you’re a binge eater — you’re fat!”

Michelle writes…

Once, I had a therapist for depression who assumed that I had binge-eating disorder because I am fat. It took me over a year to realize this. From the beginning of therapy, I made it clear that I was not there to talk about my weight, and it was off-limits as a topic. So, for over a year, I paid her lots of money and we never talked about my weight.

Then, while I was still in therapy for depression, I began to see a dietitian who specialized in Health At Every Size, and treated people with eating disorders. My eating was all chaotic and out-of-whack years after a bout with food restriction (aka “dieting”), and I was unhappy about it. She assessed me and told me that I did not currently have an eating disorder, binge or otherwise, though she agreed that my dieting episode, years
previously, had been on “the slippery slope” of anorexia nervosa.

Rx: Lose 100 pounds

Becky writes…

The background: I am 5’6″ and 245 pounds. I have been this size (or close to it) for years, losing weight after giving birth to my two kids, but gaining it back fairly quickly each time. Having had gestational diabetes and joint pain, I was concerned about my health, and began working out and eating healthier to get in better shape. This was interrupted by a serious hip problem; my right hip would pop out of place, causing excruciating pain and incapacitating me for days at a time. My doctor prescribed massive amounts of ibuprofen and physical therapy, which worked for a while, but then the problem returned (worse than ever) and I got an ulcer from the ibuprofen, so I couldn’t take any kind of pain medication.

Enter the hip specialist; Dr. Jerkhead (not his real name, but it should be). I limped into his office, MRI report and pictures in hand, and waited patiently. Dr. Jerkhead listened to my description of my hip problems, said, “There’s no way it’s popping out of joint, or you’d be in the emergency room all the time.” Then, he looked at the report (not the pictures) and said that there weren’t any issues (although the report clearly said that there was evidence of arthritis and potential bursitis) and that I just had to lose 100 pounds and I’d be fine. When I said that I couldn’t exercise due to the pain, he told me to just go on a strict diet, and I’d see results. He pulled out a prescription pad, wrote, “potatoes, rice, sugar, pop… No!” then handed it to me, and walked out. The whole “consultation” took less than ten minutes, and did not involve any sort of physical examination (other than his judgment of me as an ignorant fat woman). I walked out feeling attacked and worthless, then I got angry.


Crippling pain? Try strenuous exercise!

Contadine writes…

5 years ago, at 230 pounds, I decided to go on a diet. It started off typically: planned meals, calorie journal, joining the gym. Before long, I was restricting myself to no more than 500 calories a day, and exercising upwards of 3 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was biking, running, lifting, doing yoga. I dropped 70 lbs in 5 months. Down to 160 lbs and a size 12 from a 20.

At about the 6 month point, I started having all these aches and pains. First in my wrists, then my shoulders, then my hips. Pretty soon, I was in horrible pain all the time, all over my body.

I went to the doctor to check out what was wrong. I got around 10 seconds to describe my pain. Her response? “That’s what happens to people your size. You’re putting too much pressure on your joints. Try eating less, and start exercising.” We hadn’t talked at all about my food intake or exercise routine. She handed me a flier for an Overeaters Anonymous group that met at the hospital and showed me out of the room.


Skin ailment? No, it’s a fashion emergency!

Allison writes…

I started to gain weight when I was about nine years old. By the time I was eleven, I was wearing an adult size twelve, and by the time I was fifteen, I was a size twenty. I hated myself from age ten onwards. I had dreams –- literally, dreams -– about magically losing all that weight over the summer so I could finally be pretty again. It didn’t help that I had bad skin either. And I’m not just talking the regular, teenage acne. Psoriasis runs in my family and I had it bad on my legs and arms, mostly around my knees and elbows. Eventually, my mum took me to see a dermatologist.

Now, at this point, I was about thirteen and track pants and pajama pants were just the coolest thing ever. Everyone wore them everywhere, and I liked them because they fit and they didn’t pinch in any odd places. The dermatologist told me to take off my shirt so she could look at my back. I did, and she immediately started scolding me because I had red marks on my skin from sitting in elastic waist pants. She told me that I was fat and I couldn’t wear clothing that size. Then she sent me away and told me my bad skin was all my fault. Because my clothes were too tight and I was dirty and didn’t wash my face often enough. When I was thirteen.

“You’re fired.”

Tricia writes…

My annual physical exam last year was something I had actually really been looking forward to. Not that I have some kind of weird speculum fetish or something. Just that I’d been making some really positive changes in my life and I was expecting that those changes would show up in discernibly improved health and some empirical validation would be nice.

You see, all my life people (including my pediatrician at age 4, one of my earliest memories) have been telling me I’m fat. This is really stupid, because I was never more than a little overweight. In my first year of university, though, I started moving from really not fat at all, to slightly fat. When I hit 150lb, I panicked, and went to Weight Watchers, and stuck to their regimen assiduously, and got down to 120 lb (WW said my goal should have been 110). I also shot my metabolism to hell, and developed a habit of bingeing under stress, driving around town in the middle of the night to different drive throughs and having three or four super-sized combos from different McD’s and throwing out the wrappers in garbages far from home so there’d be no evidence, then feeling so awful about myself that I wouldn’t eat the next day, causing… more stress. I suspect that the disordered eating was the result of the group dynamic at WW, where there was a lot of good food vs bad food rhetoric going on, a sort of confessional atmosphere that seemed to rely a whole lot on food guilt and feelings of shame if the number on the scale wasn’t moving inexorably downward. Plus of course not eating nearly enough to be well can wreak havoc on any body.