Why did my doctor tell me I need to lose weight?
If you have been following me for a while now or following other HAES (Health At Every Size) practitioners, you know the deal. Intentional weight loss is usually ineffective in the long term, does not improve health outcomes, and can come along with a host of possible side effects like eating disorders, lowered metabolism, and food/body preoccupation.
Well then why did my health provider tell me to lose weight? Not all providers are trained in HAES. Most are not trained or even aware of HAES. Keep in mind providers are extremely busy and therefore often have to rely on the organizations' standard treatment policies and protocols. If the organization has a weight centric approach- then your provider likely does too. They are generally then looking at your BMI, without taking any other health history into account, and if that number happens to be higher than the arbitrary magic number, they may suggest you lose weight. The unfortunate truth is your provider is giving you the advice that they were trained to give. I also want to note that many organizations have standardized care, for example, they may choose to weigh patients every visit, or every 6 months, or every year. Your provider asking you to get on the scale is usually coming from company policy, not a personal recommendation to you.
Here is what you can do about it:
1. Talk to your health care provider. Tell them about HAES & or Intuitive Eating. If you don’t want to be weighed- you can ask for it not to be done, unless it is medically necessary. You can do a blind weight, where they don’t say the number out loud and you do not look at the scale.
2. If you are like me and have a case of white-coat syndrome, you may be thinking this would be a difficult conversation to have with your provider. In that case, I suggest using this handy print out from Linda Bacon’s website. Or making your own that explains why you are not looking for any weight-related advice. Remember the provider is there to serve you and assist you in your health journey. https://lindabacon.org/HAESbook/pdf_files/HAES_Providing%20Sensitive%20Care.pdf
3. Find a provider that aligns with your beliefs/values. HAES website has a searchable database to help you find professionals that are HAES. https://haescommunity.com/search/
If you cannot find a HAES official provider, I encourage you to search around and ask questions about different healthcare facilities practices. If you live in a rural area or have limited access to providers, this might not be possible.
What I DON’T want you to do: is stop going to the doctor. If you are unable to find a HAES aligned health provider or feel unable to provide information about HAES to your MD, just remember YOU know the harms of intentional weight loss. YOU know the benefits of healthful behaviors. You do not need to argue with your provider, you can let them say their run-of-the-mill spiel on body weight or “lifestyle changes”. But you do NOT need to act upon their suggestions. I know it can be confusing because they are “the expert”, but never forget YOU are the expert of your body.
Leave your questions & comments below!