One of the subjects that frequently pops up in my Slimming World group is the attitude of doctors to our weight loss. With all the publicity about obesity in our population and the morbidity it is responsible for you would have thought more healthcare professionals had reflected on the problem let alone tried to learn about it.
Some doctors’ attitudes and comments to actual slimmers who are losing weight and lost significant weight are appalling if not totally inappropriate. As someone who was once a coal faced GP myself I have wracked my brain trying to remember my own attitudes and behaviour towards those who needed to lose weight and really hope I didn’t come across the same way.
In the past week I saw my own GP for a minor ailment and when the topic of my weight loss came up I was told, “it’s really easy; you have to watch what’s going in and what’s coming out.” I was bemused because firstly, it is FAR from easy, and as I discovered simply watching what goes in doesn’t help me lose weight. Being educated about which foods are nutritionally advantageous to weight loss, extra advantageous and not so advantageous for weight loss for me by Slimming World made a huge difference in changing my life. The Slimming World members book and information from our consultant in group dispelled unhealthy myths and changed the way I view food completely. I lost over 10 kg and at no point during the course of losing weight have I found it easy. Finding out what actually goes into pre-prepared meals and everyday fast foods and even so-called “healthy options” was shocking.
When faced with this dismissive and somewhat ignorant attitude from a health professional myself I am not surprised, after all just because anyone holds a medical degree it does not make them necessarily diet and nutrition specialists, unless they have taken the time to have a special interest, which very few doctors have. Thinking about it logically we expect our doctors to know more about weight loss and nutrition than they actually have been taught. Like all people who have never had a weight problem, some of these individuals don’t know, surprisingly, that it is hard to lose weight, keep it off and even on a good weight loss plan there are mountains and disappointments. That is why target members in slimming world are so valued. They have done it! They know how to successfully organise their diets to lose weight and keep it off.
Weight loss, the one thing that has a tremendous impact on anyone’s life especially if they are unwell is just a thoughtless term for a lot of individuals. It’s only those who have tried to educate themselves or achieve weight loss goals who can really reach out and inspire us or guide us on a weight loss journey. Constant ignorance, misinformation, humiliation and insensitivity will not help patients/clients loose weight, make the population of your patients/clients healthier or enhance your reputation as a good healthcare provider.