A Letter to Health Care Providers
Please understand that you have a tremendous impact on being a catalyst for someone’s disordered eating or eating disorder.
Dear Health Care Providers,
I know you are working your hardest to provide the best care possible. I know you are working to improve people’s health, so that they can enjoy their lives longer.
I know that you have to work within a rather broken system with short appointment times, insurance requirements, and have to work with the resources that you have available. I know that not every clinic, agency, hospital, or practice has the same resources as others.
I know you care deeply about your patients. You may even lose sleep or spend time thinking about how you can improve things for them. Often, you have sacrificed a lot to obtain the training that you have received and to provide quality care.
Please do not undo the great work you have done building your relationships with your clients/patients by telling them that their health is equivalent to their size. Please do not prescribe to your larger patients what would be diagnosed as an eating disorder in thinner patients.
Please do not shame people for their food choices as everyone is doing their best to live, cope, and survive. Please understand that you have a tremendous impact on being a catalyst for someone’s disordered eating or eating disorder.
Please do not congratulate your patients for starvation or semi-starvation, because you think they will be healthier due to losing weight. Please treat your higher weight patients/clients with just as much kindness and care as you would your lower weight ones.
Please do not say anything that could keep your patients from wanting to come back to see you, because shame is not an evidence based motivator, and avoiding medical care can be the reason health problems go untreated. Please see your larger bodied patients as more than their weight, because they are just as human as you.
Today is World Eating Disorder Action Day. There are so many ways that you can reduce weight stigma, and have a great impact on improving your relationship (and therefore, the health and outcomes) of your patients/clients. I’ve talked to so many people who started their first diet, because of something a health care provider said. Dieting is not only a predictor for weight gain, but also for developing an eating disorder.
As I’m sure you’re aware, there are enough problems contributing to poor health and quality of life, and you can have a positive impact by making your office space one that doesn’t shame people for their body size or food choices.
We need your help in fighting eating disorders. Please don’t contribute to them.
A Medical Advocate
P.S. If these ideas seem too radical for you to implement, please consider digging into evidence based practices such as Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating, and how they originated. You just might be surprised how misinformed most education is on weight and diet.