Ok lovely fatties…
Ever kept a food diary for a doctor? What about an exercise journal? Been asked by a health care professional of some kind about your eating habits and exercise routines? What about at a gym, or by a personal trainer? Have you ever been questioned by one of those about your diet and exercise? Have you ever been to a dietician? Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Tony Ferguson or any other diet company?
Pretty much most of you right?
Now, how many of you have been called a liar by any of the above?
I know I have. I’ve handed over food diaries and been asked if that was all of it, like a naughty school child being asked to hand over all of the cookies they stole. I’ve had “Did you add your snacks to this?” and “Now are you being totally honest Kath?” I’ve been asked “What did you have for dessert?” when I had written nothing because I had not had anything.
Then there are the lectures. Regardless of what you put in your food or exercise diary, you still get the lecture about calories in vs calories out, not “cheating”, grilled about how much exercise you are doing and told that “you have to put more effort into this.”
The only time I ever lied to a doctor about what I was eating and how much exercise I was doing was to ADD food to the diary because I was living off grapefruit juice and broccoli in vinegar, and to REDUCE the amount of exercise I wrote because I was spending 4 – 6 hours exercising, and I knew they wouldn’t believe me if I wrote the truth. I did however lie regularly about making myself vomit whatever I ate.
I never once lied about eating more food than I put in the diary, nor did I lie about doing exercise that I hadn’t done.
What I ask, is why is it so common for health care professionals, the diet and exercise industry and the like to not believe fat people when they give information about their diet and exercise? Why is it immediately assumed that a fat person MUST be lying if their food intake is normal/moderate/low and their activity levels are normal/moderate/high?
I don’t know about you, but when I think back on the number of times I was either outright accused of lying about my diet and activity, or lectured like a naughty schoolchild, I get really angry.
Recently I heard of a GP commenting on fat people with:
“They’re like men who beat their wives, or alcoholics, in denial.”
I don’t have any words for attitudes like this. I always believed that doctors are meant to have compassion for their patients, that they have a duty of care to treat people with respect and without prejudice. Many of you may have seen or heard about studies of doctors and their attitudes towards obesity (another) and it’s not looking good. More than 50% of physicians viewed obese patients as awkward, unattractive, ugly, and noncompliant. And this is without any factor towards our levels of health, our medical history, or the information we may give them about our diet and activity.
One of the reasons I’m really thrilled to be able to present at the Australian Fat Studies: A Critical Dialogue Conference is that for the first time in my knowledge, fat people are being asked to give their perspective on “the obesity epidemic” to academia. Instead of being headless fatties, statistics or “awkward, unattractive, ugly or non-compliant” patients, we’re given names, faces and voices.
If you can go, please do so. The more allies we have there to be heard, the louder the message will get across.