The training was amazing. Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor were brilliant. There were over 50 people at the training, and about half of them were dietitians. There were people from as far away as Australia. Everyone in the room believe that fat people have the same health goals as thin people. We covered a few things I have thought about before in conjunction with Health at Every Size®, but never quite connected in the same way.
We talked about how health is multi-dimensional- there is physical health, emotional health, spiritual health, social health- you can’t hold one above the others and expect to feel well.
I mentioned First, Do No Harm in my previous post. I’ve talked in classes before about the futility of prescribing weight loss to patients, as it almost inevitably results in weight rebounding and worse health than just being fat. I’ve talked about how our current medical model creates a barrier to treatment. However, Linda and Lucy clarified and condensed these issues. These are all issues of medical ethics. Providers, by and by large, get into the business to help people. But when providers are taught to prescribe weight loss, and that weight is a result of laziness and a lack of willpower, they are harming the vast majority of their patients. That is simply unethical. If providers knew and shared the facts about long term weight loss attempt results, we wouldn’t recommend it anymore, and more and more, people wouldn’t consent to trying it.
In the next few months, I’m setting up a forum to create a conversation between fat patients in Denver and Denver care providers. Hopefully we can address some of these barriers to quality care.
We talked about the fact that being fat can exacerbate some conditions. Being fat can impact joint pain, diabetes, and heart disease. However, is weight loss necessary? Experiencing one of these conditions doesn’t make weight loss any more reasonable of a goal. Also, there are things that you can do for any condition that doesn’t include such drastic measures with such poor results. While it is clear that eating a varied, enjoyable, quality diet and physical activity can improve diabetes and heart disease regardless of weight loss, joint pain is harder to assess. Eating low-inflammatory foods and getting enough sleep can improve joint pain, and sometimes physical therapy can improve symptoms, without weight loss. Thin people with diabetes, heart disease, and joint pain are given suggestions to improve their health that don’t include weight loss.
The last thing that I took away from this training a reminder of the community available to me. I was reminded of the HAES Community, where you can find researches, authors, activists, care providers, and more in your community. I heard more about ASDAH, who actually owns the HAES trademark. They have another listing of health professionals that work within a HAES mentality. They hold annual conferences, do lots of work in the community, and have excellent educational resources on their site. I heard of local HAES activists, and left having met many many awesome people.
I had an amazing day at the HAES® training. I always wondered what kind of people earnestly say “I’m just so excited to be here!” People like me, I guess. I think there are over 50 people in this room, just eager for information about how to teach their patients, coworkers, and community how to better support health for people of all sizes. One trainer is from the UK, and participants are from as far away as Australia.
There are quite a few registered dietitians in the room getting their eyes opened about the kinds of bigotry and hurdles fat people face, in healthcare and the world at large. The gal sitting next to me went wide-eyed when I said that I can’t do things like zip lines or indoor skydiving because business owners don’t bother to make those activities available and safe for me. My money isn’t worth it to them.
I didn’t talk about the fact that I carry-on my luggage so that the airlines don’t lose my clothes- my clothes are far too precious to me to let them out of my sight, because they’re far less replaceable than straight-sized clothes. Or that I have to be conscious of how I am perceived in job interviews, or at the airlines, because I could lose a job or get booted from a flight. I didn’t mention that I got turned down for better health insurance last week. And that I have to call ahead to new doctors to make sure they’ll treat me like a human being instead of a disease, including having equipment that will accommodate my body.
People in the community call not having to deal with these issues “thin privilege”.
The dietitian I was talking to said “well, you chose to go out and deal with these things anyway”. Well, yeah. I deserve to do fun things, have nice things, dress well, and be treated well. The fact that that doesn’t happen is fully fixable, and I’m just angry enough to cause trouble until things change.
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