Monday, September 08, 2008

God Help Us

I am exceptionally nosey and I like to know everything about my friends, family and colleagues as well as the people they know and their friends and so forth. This is probably why I love reading blogs so much. So I was asking a girl I work with about her flatmate who is a dietitian. The girl I work with mentioned that her flatmate hates her job because she works at a clinic for women with metabolic disorders and 'all her fat clients constantly lie to her about what they eat'.

Sorry, what the fuck did you just say?

My lovely colleague was just repeating what her flatmate had said so I don't have a problem with her. What I can't believe is that her friend is a trained professional who works in a clinic for women who are struggling with weight issues and she thinks her clients are fat, dishonest, morons. I feel sorry for the women who go to this clinic for help with their weight and have to deal with this small minded idiot. She is quite young and clearly has a lot to learn so I think that the clinic should have been a bit more thorough in their selection process. Women going to this clinic all have weight problems and most of them are trying to have children so they really should be taking care to hire more compassionate and intelligent staff.

Years ago, when I was diagnosed with PCOS, the hospital sent me to see their dietitian to help with my insulin resistance and to lose weight and she was a real sweetheart. She taught me a few big lessons that have stayed with me. I still remember when she asked me what snacks I would eat if I got hungry and I said that I would maybe have a cup of tea. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "if you're hungry why don't you eat?". She also asked me what I had for breakfast and I said that I just ate dry muesli because I don't drink milk. She asked me if I enjoyed it and I said that I don't really like muesli either but I just ate it because I thought I should. Once again, she looked at me like I was crazy and said "why do you eat food you don't like?". I have never forgotten those two questions, as simple as they must seem for some people, they were what Oprah would call a light bulb moment for me.

Over the months that I saw this dietitian she was my biggest cheerleader as I lost weight and I really enjoyed her company and support. So I was very lucky in that instance but I am sick and tired of the health system letting down overweight people.


  1. Hi Tully
    I'm a big fan of your blog and am overweight myself too. I've had a similar experience with a dietician who virtually accused me of lying to her and was most unsupportive. She was very young and inexperienced too. However the health system doesnt necessarily let overweight people down. Dont you think thats shifting the blame? Overweight people need to be accountable and take some responsibility too. I know I could lose weight if I stopped making excuses and exercised some willpower!

  2. Hi Tully.

    I just stumbled across your blog and think its a great read. I've lost a fair bit of weight in the past and I'm angling to be 80kg by the end of the year. I literally have to bust my butt to get there.

  3. It does sound like a harsh thing to say, but maybe she really is dealing with a lot of people who are lying to her. People will lie/deny things they need help with just to not appear foolish sometimes.

    Then your friend might not have repeated the comment verbatim, and interpreted the flatmate's comment in her own way.

    I'm just saying, I'd like to be given the benefit of the doubt, and so in turn.

    But the dietitian you worked with sounded fantastic

  4. Gosh that must've pissed you off.

    Dieticians need to be empathic, or at the very least, sympathetic to the humiliation of having to open up about the foods that people eat - fat or thin - and understand that yes, people may lie, but they need to come across as supportive and project the message that they will be able to help their clients more if they are honest with them.

    That's how I get great success with Adam - I don't face any sort of retribution from him if I tell him that I ate through half of a cheesecake; he'll just talk to me about why I felt I had to eat that much, and how could we move away from that behaviour.

    I can see why she hates her job. She doesn't sound like she has the right sort of personality for it - she needs to make people *want* to open up to her, rather than applyinga blanket hatred for her fat clients.

    Do you read First, Do No Harm? The stories on that blog make me upset and angry about how health professionals treat fat people. It's disgusting, and more people need to stand up against it.

    [sorry for the mammoth comment!]

  5. You're right, that does sound like one obnoxious dietician. I think unless she had evidence that her patients were, in fact, lying to her, then she really is an example of the health system letting down the people who need it.

    I think Marshy's basically summed up my thoughts perfectly :)

  6. Like wow....
    That IS her job for christ sake..
    The is very, very poor form...

  7. I find the same sort of thing with some personal trainers too. When I got my last gym assessment the guy completely didn't believe me when I told him what exercise I'd been doing and what I'd done in the past. He just gave me this patronising nod/smile thing, treated me like a complete idiot and gave me what must be the textbook "first program for new gym-goer".

    I got dragged to a dietician when I was a kid. It was awful, the "you did BAD" head-shake after I got weighed, the interrogations! Of course I probably was lying about what I was eating...

  8. Ditto Marsh -- I've had some pretty horrific (and a few wonderful) fat-phobic care providers. Maternity was the worst! They are all fired now (by me) and I only work with respectful people who want to help :-)

  9. How can a dietician be so narrow minded? I dont get it?

    Why else would she have the job if not to help overweight people. Or under weight people.

    Some people have no idea of the psychological reasons as to why some people eat, and think its just because they are lazy and want to eat all the time. Couldnt be further from the truth.

    So many people that need to open their minds. Scares me.

  10. Msybe it's human to judge but definitely valour to speak with discretion.


Awww thanks so much for the comment!