I got the results back from my blood panel and aside from the high blood pressure, I also have high cholesterol.
I’ve sort of known this was coming for a while now. I have a family history of high cholesterol, hypertension and heart disease.
So my question is, what the hell do I do now? Is HAES irrelevant for me now? Is there a HAES approach to lowering cholesterol? It makes me wonder if HAES is best for maintaining health, rather than treating specific metabolic disorders, like high cholesterol or diabetes. Thoughts?
This is a really interesting question. Before I get into it let me be clear that I’m not a doctor or nutritionist. I’m just a girl with a blog and I encourage people to find practitioners they like and trust. I’m not trying to give any kind of medical advice here, but I do want to give my thoughts.
The first question I always ask when someone blames a medical issue on my weight is “Do thin people get this thing?” The answer is always “yes” so my next question is then “How do you treat it in thin people?” I want to try that before I try a risky prescription that has a 95% failure rate (which is exactly what dieting is).
Based on all the research I’ve seen the relationship between weight and health problems is correlational, not causational. Therefore fat isn’t proven to cause disease and weight loss isn’t shown to cure it. Health is multi-dimensional and includes behaviors, access, environment, stress and genetics. We can only control some of these and so my understanding of the Health at Every Size® (HAES) approach is that healthy behaviors, while they don’t guarantee health, are our best chance.
If you have a disease and it is to be managed, my understanding is that it’s managed through behaviors as well. And it seems to me that the recommended behaviors should be the same regardless of the size of the person with the disease. Even if weight loss weren’t statistically impossible for the vast majority of people, if thin people and fat people both get a disease, then being thin is neither a cure nor a preventative.
To me, following food recommendations to manage a health condition is at the very core of a Health at Every Size practice. You eat in ways that nurture you. Eating to manage a disease and eating to make your body smaller are two different things for me, and so eating to manage a health situation would fall well within my HAES practice, while trying to lose weight to manage a health situation would not.
I also think that we have to be careful of the information that is out there. In recent years what was considered “healthy” blood pressure has been lowered several times with the help of the pharmaceutical industry and “healthy” blood glucose levels have also been lowered. John Hopkins-led research found that “High cholesterol levels in middle age do not appear to increase women’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia later in life, despite a body of scientific evidence long suggesting a link between the two.” (See what I mean about correlation and causation…) That article suggests that you should still worry about high cholesterol because of heart disease, but that has been questioned as well.
Also, it has been my observation that people test extreme diets to mitigate and manage disease, but do NOT test moderate ones. Recently, a study looked at reversing type 2 diabetes with a 600-calories-per-day liquid diet. I wonder what would have happened if they had done things like eat regular small meals through the day and eat more whole grains? People seem to want to discover a “Break Through!” solution, not just “eat a little differently and move your body.”
In the end I think that we all have to decide for ourselves if, and how, we will use HAES to support us, and what health really means.
In our petition asking the National Eating Disorder Association to end is partnership with the STOP Obesity Alliance (an organization funded by pharmaceutical companies trying to get obesity declared a disease so that insurance will cover their products), we are at 567 signatures! We’ve passed our original goal because you are awesome!!!!! Now let’s blow the goal out of the water – please keep signing, passing it on and reminding people. We cannot allow people to be declaring physically or mentally ill based on a ratio of their height and weight no matter how many pharmaceuticals it might sell or how many insurance reimbursements it might force.