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The Diet Survivor’s Handbook: 60 Lessons in Eating Acceptance and Self-Care

NEW LESSON: WINTER 2014

See your doctor on a regular basis. Your body deserves good medical attention.

Regular medical attention is an important aspect of self-care. Yet many diet survivors dread seeing their doctors and may even avoid these visits completely. You may anticipate the moment when you are weighed by and the subsequent lecture about the importance of losing weight. This advice may contribute to your feelings of shame or may leave you feeling helpless and hopeless because you have already tried so hard to diet. Your doctor may even recommend a specific plan, program, or nutritionist to help you lose weight and/or because of health concerns. You may also find that once you leave your doctor's office, you overeat. This is likely to be the result of anticipating deprivation in your near future and/or due to the anxiety created as the result of your visit.

Given these pitfalls, what can you do? First, remember that your doctor wants you to be healthy. However, even medical professionals are frequently unaware of the alternatives to dieting. They have been trained to tell patients to lose weight, and they continue to do so despite the fact that there is absolutely no diet that can show positive, long-term results. In our experience, most doctors realize how difficult it is for patients to lose and maintain a weight loss, but they do not know what else to offer. Hopefully, more doctors will become familiar with the research that shows that diets do not work, and that weight cycling actually contributes to physical problems. Recognizing that people can improve their health at every size, such as by becoming fit, and understanding the importance of normalizing eating, would go a long way in contributing to the physical and mental health of patients.

The most important factor is that you are able to seek adequate medical care. Your doctor may not completely understand the ways in which you are changing your relationship with food and your body. As long as this does not interfere with your ability to seek the services you need, then this may feel acceptable. However, if you find that your doctor's manner or message leaves you feeling worse than when you walked in the door, it is time to consider making a change. Do not think that because of your size that you somehow deserve to be treated with anything less than the utmost respect. You deserve to be treated with dignity and to receive the best medical care that you can find.

Activity: Just running a few tests…

It is important for you to examine how you feel working with your doctor. Some key questions for you to consider are:

  • Do I feel respected by my doctor?

  • Am I supported in my decision not to diet?

  • Is my doctor willing to encourage my efforts to maintain/improve my health without focusing on weight and dieting?

  • Do I hesitate to bring up certain topics?

  • Do I feel like a partner in my own health care?

First, do no harm.

– Hippocrates