Weight Gain is by far the most visible symptom/side effect of my endocrine conditions, and therefore something lots of people comment on, usually without me prompting them to do so. Which is really depressing. I’ve purposefully avoided writing about this on my blog so far, because some people I come across seem to like to offer me (unasked for) ‘tips’, and I didn’t want to encourage those people by bringing it up. But it’s something which has come up a bit too much in conversation for my liking recently, sometimes with people I barely know, so I feel the need to write about it. I’ll answer 3 potential questions right now:
- Prior to diagnosis I was a healthy weight and UK size 8-10. At one point, my choices were put on weight or be very ill. I chose put on weight unsurprisingly. My medications I take to stay alive significantly contributed to this weight gain.
- I eat healthily. I’ve just seen a third (and also quite senior) dietician who has told me my diet is good and I’m doing everything I can to help myself.
- I can’t exercise. Right now exercise would kill me.
Firstly, who thinks it’s ok to comment on anyone’s lifestyle and tell them what they’re doing wrong? Excluding medics, obviously, that’s their job. But in normal every day conversation, who seriously thinks it’s ok to comment on someone’s weight, eating habits or exercise habits and make them feel bad about it? It’s not. But for some reason, it happens a lot, under the guise of ‘trying to be helpful’. No-one on the planet has a 100% completely sin free lifestyle, and why would they? We’re human!
The ‘lifestyles lectures’ I get from Healthcare Professionals who don’t know me tend to follow the same pathways. I find it really annoying because they’ve taken one look at me now and made a snap decision based on what they can see, and it’s an unfair one: an overweight patient on steroids. They wrongly assume I bring on the problems myself and I’m not trying. But, it is part of their job to educate people, and, most people will likely try to make excuses so I can see why they have this attitude, even if it doesn’t apply to me. Apparently I’m in a minority because I actively try to look after my health.
The problem is, if I try to explain (in less than 30 seconds), it just sounds like I’m making excuses or being obtuse. I’m not, it’s a lot more complicated than that. Long story short, if I have too much or too little of some things in my body from food, it could have serious and dangerous consequences for me which wouldn’t be the case in other people. So my diet and blood work has to be monitored and tailored to suit me, which is why mainstream diets and tips don’t work for me. Some days I need to increase my carb intake to avoid hospital, for example. ‘Eat less and move more’ doesn’t work. If it were that simple, I’d have lost the weight a long time ago- willpower and commitment are not my downfalls.
I can understand why HCPs comment, even if it annoys me. But when acquaintances comment, that’s when I get really cross. It’s starting to give me a complex about eating, even healthy foods. If I choose something unhealthy at a meal out, that’s not me ignoring medical advice or showing my regular eating habits, that’s me deciding I want to enjoy a meal out and eat something different for a change, most likely like everyone at the table is also doing. It’s not an invitation to preach to me. A picture of a cake on Facebook does not mean I eat cake everyday, it means I’ve chosen to eat cake on that particular occasion. If the people commenting were the picture of health and looked like olympic athletes I’d maybe understand it. But they don’t tend to be.
So why do people feel the need to comment? Their own insecurities perhaps. People like to make themselves feel better by making themselves ‘appear better’ than someone else. I’m an easy target and they can do so under the pretences of trying to help me out. Lots of people struggle with the idea that I’ve got an incurable condition and still try to ‘cure’ me with their suggestions. Many people are actively trying to lose weight so it’s maybe seen as common ground and they feel they have something to contribute (although somehow I’m the rude one when I say ‘it’s not the same’). Some people are just nosey I guess. Once I got told I was ‘wasting NHS resources’ with my illnesses. A few people take the stance that because I receive free healthcare, they can pass judgements about my conditions because they ‘pay for my treatment in their taxes’. Maybe some assume they know more than my doctors. There are lots of reasons, and I doubt most of them have much to do with my circumstances. But my point is, it shouldn’t be down to me to rationalise other people’s hurtful behaviour, they shouldn’t be making comments in the first place. I know I do everything in my power to keep myself healthy, including making choices about diet and lifestyle which are healthy for me*, and I don’t see why I should be made to justify mine when other people don’t have to justify their own.
*Notice how I phrased that- I can’t follow lifestyles and diets other people do *because* of the knock on effects it has on my illnesses. Meaning any tips offered are usually pointless anyway. I don’t have an issue with answering questions themselves, I have an issue with pointed questions or comments with an undertone.
All three of my dieticians have said that I’m doing a good job and I can’t make any changes, and that it’s ok to not be as strict sometimes. They’ve all told me that it’s hard to manage and that I’m a complex, unusual case. Now that I know this, I almost feel sorry for the next person who tries to offer me unasked for tips, because I’m pretty sure I now know a lot more science and nutrition advice than they do, which I’ll be more than happy to share! 😉
Banner Photo: Google Image