Unfortunately, many people with eating disorders don't realize until it's too late that most doctors are NOT well-educated on eating disorders. Many people first open up about their eating issues with their doctors because they view them as educated and helpful. As a result, doctors often accidentally contribute to the pain and confusion of someone suffering from an eating disorder. Of course, not all doctors are uneducated on these issues- there are plenty of good ones out there- but a patient doesn't always know about their doctor's experience with eating disorders beforehand.
One of the goals of The Joy Project is to increase the amount of information that most doctors have regarding how to talk to and support patients with eating disorders. The following quotes are from members of our message boards, and they are examples of why increased education on these issues is necessary!
(at a very low weight, after checking my bloodwork) "well, your bloodwork seems okay, so i guess your body can handle being at this weight."
(a short while later, 15 lbs lighter, while in the hospital, same doctor came to visit me) "do you know how many people would kill to lose that much weight in such a short period of time?"
my response: "yeah, and some people could die doing it."
"I was told that I should join a freak show because I could throw up hands-free."
"I told my doctor about my eating disorder, and she felt the need to inform me that men like women with a bit of meat on their bones and that if I want to find a good husband I shouldn't be trying to look like Nicole Richie. I thought about telling her about my history of sexual abuse and the fact that I use my eating disorder so that I can be unattractive because I hate getting attention from men, but I just kept my mouth shut and nodded."
"When I went to see a GP to get a referral to a nutritionist because I was in recovery and gaining X lbs a week on XXXX cal and still eating ONLY 'safe' foods, and I couldn't figure out why I kept gaining like that......... The doc told me that I should try to write down everything I ate, count calories, avoid saturated fats, avoid extra carbs, and work out- try to do cardio at least an hour a day, six days a week. Oh, my favorite quote from him? If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less and LAY OFF THE CHEESEBURGERS!!!! I had TOLD him exactly what I'd been eating, and I was desperately trying to gain enough courage to just drink a full glass of milk!!! Cheeseburgers weren't even on my radar yet!"
"My therapist asked me exactly how i purge. Then, he told me to go on a diet if i wanna stop my bulimia. Evidently, the fact that I usually restrict between binge/purge sessions was lost on him." (One of the WORST things you can do if you're bulimic is to try 'dieting'. Restricting your food intake is the #1 way to set yourself up for a binge.....and subsequent purge.)
"My favorite - About 7 years ago i saw a doctor who was member of my normal doctor's practice. He felt the need to talk to me about my weight. He expressed concern and concluded with the statement, (all together now), "You don't want to wind up like Karen Carpenter, do you?" "Oh, I never thought of it that way before. Thanks for pointing out that possibility. You're right, I should just go eat something. I can't believe I didn't realize how easy it is to fix this little problem. Thanks for saving my life, doc".
"I was told: Eat an extra banana a day."
"In April, my therapist told me she was giving up on me because she knew I was hopeless and was going to die soon."
"One of my favorites was..."Oh you poor thing, You must not have a soul"...Wow, thankyou."
"When I told my *ED* therapist that I wanted to get better because I didn't want to die from my eating disorder, he asked me what I meant. I told him I didn't want bulimia to kill me, have my parents find me dead in my own puke etc... he told me not to worry about that. That it wouldn't happen. Ummm... yeah. I guess I can just keep right on puking with no consequences then???!?!?!"
"When I was more into anorexia and taking laxatives every day, and being weighed by my CPN weekly: For some reason I decided I'd enough of the effects of laxatives and stopped taking them cold turkey. I gained quite a lot of water weight and it really freaked me out. When I got weighed that week, I'd obviously gained. I'd told her that I'd stopped taking the laxatives and this, coupled with the weight gain led her to say " oh that's good, you're not anorexic anymore..." Needless to say, I went out of my way to prove I was."
"I told my doctor that I thought I had an eating disorder and needed treatment. He then went out and asked my mom about my eating habits. She told him I ate nothing but a candy bar or two every day. His response? 'Oh, someone who was REALLY anorexic would NEVER eat a candy bar. She must be just trying to get attention by faking an eating disorder.'"
"One of the temp staff at my ED clinic said to me, about a year ago, 'Well I don't suppose there's a lot of point in worrying too much right now anyway... I mean, it's not as though you won't relapse before you get better properly' ... way to be positive, mm?"
"My pediatrician's niece, about my age, was struggling with anorexia at the same time as me. I think my doc cared a lot more about my case because of this and usually was very good. One time, a little further into my recovery, she said, 'What was your lowest weight again?...xx lbs?....oh yes....well, my niece is an inch taller than you, and her weight is xx-10 lbs right now.'"
For more quotes from misinformed doctors, visit this site.