Health professionals need a patient perspective on obesity, writes Susan Beth
Health professionals understand the detrimental effects obesity has on the bodies of their patients. From high blood pressure to type 2 diabetes to increased stress, pharmacists, doctors and other health professionals are well-versed in the warnings they give out to obese patients every day.
However, what they may not understand is the mental and emotional effects obesity has on their patients and how they may be making it worse for us.
When it comes to your patients, it’s important to remember that we are human beings with feelings. We too, understand why we need to lose weight, but we may also be struggling with low self-esteem, depression, and food addictions.
We hear what you’re telling us, but the journey from where we are to where we want to be looks very difficult or even impossible from our point of view.
What we want to hear is that you understand. We want you to acknowledge that what you’re asking us to do is difficult. We don’t want you to shame us for our size, and we certainly don’t need you to try to motivate us with harsh words.
We open ourselves up to emotional vulnerability when we tell you about our eating and lifestyle. Going to the doctor or pharmacist can be painful and embarrassing, and negative criticism can be extremely detrimental to us.
It can lead to drastic measures such as taking unhealthy diet pills, starvation, or over exercising. Conversely, it can push us backwards and lead to depression and binge eating.
What we need to hear are words of encouragement. We need you to help us figure out how we can lose weight in a safe and healthy way. We need you to suggest diet changes and best exercises for losing weight in a non-condescending tone.
An Open Letter
Dear health professional,
I know that my obesity is not good for my health, but your harsh criticism isn’t good for my well-being either.
You once told me to lose weight or I wouldn’t have any friends. Because of those words, I fell into a battle with negative emotions and struggled to find self-love and acceptance.
I know that I need to lose weight, so please give me some kind advice for how to do it from where I am.
Please understand that it’s hard for me to overcome my habits and food addictions and that I don’t want to take this on by myself.
Please be sensitive to my emotions and most of all, don’t say anything that will tear down my self-esteem and make me forget why I want to be healthy in the first place.
Susan Beth is a freelance writer with http://weightlosstips.com.au/. When she’s not writing or working on her own weight struggles, she enjoys outdoorsy activities, helping others, indulging in dark chocolate and stealing a few extras moments of sleep.