Three Cough Drops Are Not A Snack And Other Terrible “Health” Advice

MYHEAR~1There is so much terrible information being spread about healthcare right now (some coming directly from the “president”) but this mess, found by Beckie H, might take the proverbial cake (Trigger Warning – discussion of food and dieting/disordered eating behaviors)

Three Cough Drops

Here’s the text:

What to do when you’re SICK and want to stay in fat burn

  • Most liquid cold/cough syrups tend to be sweetened with sugar
  • Chose [sic] a capsule or tablet (pill form) when possible
  • Select sugar-free for throat lozenges
  • If you need to have liquid medications, you should consider omitting an optional snack–you may need to watch the addition of any condiments–you may want to try selecting vegetables from the lower and/or moderate carbohydrate sections.
  • Zycam – no carbs so this will NOT take you out of fat burn
  • Hall Cough drops (3 sugar free) = 1 optional snack.
  • Robitussin Sugar-Free Peak Cold cough and chest DM has zero calories and zero carbohydrates.
  • Dayquil capsules are also calorie-free.
  • Mucinex DM is calorie-free
  • Alka seltzer Plus Cold Medicine tablet = one condiment.

Ok, first of all, nobody has to give a shit about staying in “fat burn” ever, and especially not when they’re sick (with a reminder that it’s a near-certainty that they’ll gain all their weight back in a few years anyway so they might as well have that cold medicine.)

There are legitimate reasons to care about some of these things (for example, if someone is dealing with blood sugar issues.) But most of these are ridiculous under any guise. The idea that three sugar-free halls equals an “optional snack” means that the snack was going to be something like a half teaspoon of peanut butter. In what world is 1/2 a teaspoon of peanut butter “optional?” If you’re measuring your food down to the 1/2 teaspoon, none of it should be optional – you’re going to need every last bit of it (which is why this kind of behavior can be so destructive to our relationship with food.) Plus, if your snack was food, it would have some nutritional content  – vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, fat, carbs etc. – whereas three sugar-free halls just have the ability to suppress coughs – an important thing to be sure, but not life-giving. So this is not a reasonable exchange under any circumstances.

The Alka seltzer exchange is equally ridiculous – it only works if your condiment was the equivalent of 1 teaspoon of mustard. If your diet hinges on a teaspoon of mustard, I would advise you to ask some questions as to their long-term success rates (I’d advise this under any circumstances but, I mean, a teaspoon of mustard? Come on.)

Weight loss advice is essentially completely useless at any time, but when we add it to a time when we’re dealing with other stressors like illness or, say, being stuck at home during a global pandemic, things can get out of hand, people can be misinformed, eating disorders can get triggered, and health can suffer.

Extracting myself from diet culture wasn’t easy, but it has absolutely been worth it in so many ways, many of which are being highlighted now as I’m able to focus on getting through this difficult time, rather than worrying about manipulating my body size.

My heart goes out to everyone who is dealing with diet culture, disordered eating, and eating disorders during this rough time. We can do our part to help by not spreading diet culture crap, and calling it out as dangerous when we see it.

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12 thoughts on “Three Cough Drops Are Not A Snack And Other Terrible “Health” Advice

  1. One time I was the pharmacy I use regularly, wanting to buy Robitussin because I had a cough. The pharmacist said that she “wasn’t allowed to sell it to me because it has sugar in and I am diabetic. She wasn’t willing to be persuaded that she would sell it to me. So I politely told her that I would continue to use my home remedy. She asked what it was, and I told her – chocolate, sucked a square at a time, so it coated my throat. I wish I had photographed her face when I told her. She still wouldn’t sell it me, and I wasn’t listening to a lecture, so I went out of the shop. I didnt need to go buy the chocolate, I always have it in the house. Pain management clinic told me to have 2 squares with every dose of pain killers. I didnt tell the pharmacist that 😉

    1. Was it the chief pharmacist doing this? Or was it an underling? Because if she “wasn’t allowed,” then that is something to take up the chief pharmacist, or possibly corporate, because that is a downright dangerous rule. If she was an underling, following the instructions of the chief pharmacist or corporate, then it’s time to boycott that pharmacy.

      If she was making up her own rule, then she needs to be disciplined, and possibly terminated.

      Also, diabetics NEED sugar, from time to time. It’s called “avoiding a diabetic coma from low blood sugar!” As a trained medical person, she should know that. She should also know that sugar-free food or medicine can seriously screw up a diabetic, because it primes the body for sugar (from the sweet taste), and then doesn’t give it the sugar it expects, so that the body doesn’t know how to respond, and it can actually trigger a low blood sugar episode.

      Ask her if she’ll pay your emergency-room bill when you have a low blood sugar episode, because of it? After all, if you KNOW you are ingesting sugar, you can compensate for it, and your body knows just what to do. But if she forces you to use a sugar-free option, and confuse your body into going comatose, then it’s on her, right?

      Also, why didn’t she offer a sugar-free option? There are sugar-free cough suppressants.

      You know what? This “I’m not allowed to give you medicine you need to keep from coughing up a lung, coughing until you vomit, coughing until you pass out, because you might actually have a slight, temporary spike in blood sugar that you could compensate for, knowing that there is sugar involved, and you could could drink some extra water or go for a walk, after you get your cough under control, because SOMEONE made this stupid rule without any scientific or medical backing, but just society’s ‘everybody knows’ bullshit” is absolutely horrible, and I’d be choosing an entirely new pharmacy based on that, if I were in your shoes.

      Also, good for your pain management doctor!

  2. WHAT THE F*&%K IS THE MATTER WITH THESE PEOPLE!!!??? OMG. Seriously disordered relationship with nutrients. My God! Anorexia, the lifestyle change. That sounds INSANE. Not “crazy”, not “off-base”, truly, mentally disordered. But I guess it is…

    1. It is a mental illness. It’s a mental illness that kills. In fact, I believe it is the mental illness that kills the most of all deadly mental illnesses.

      But, if you’re not already thin, and by that I mean “Thin enough,” and by that I mean “Thin enough that even the most fat-phobic asshole cannot deny the visible ribs under your dull skin and the hair falling out and the messed up periods (if you have a uterus),” then it’s not “mental illness,” but just “Good self-care” and “healthy!” and “good for you, for upholding society’s expectations!”

      Thanks, societal expectations, for depriving us of wonderful artists, like Karen Carpenter.

  3. One time, I had a week-long stomach bug. I couldn’t keep down anything solid. I lived on water, chicken soup, and gelatin.

    Would you believe I GAINED weight that week? Of course you would! Because you know that the human body is complex and that when it goes into famine-mode, it consumes itself in weird ways, sometimes turning muscles, organs and bones into fat, to help get it through the famine, and that means weight gain.

    But tell that to my co-workers, and they just decided that I must have been “cheating.”

    EXCUSE ME?! First of all, I wasn’t dieting at the time, anyway, so there was no diet to “cheat” on, and secondly, thanks for calling me a liar! And thirdly, NO! This sort of science-denying, because “everyone knows,” KILLS PEOPLE!!!

    And finally, when you are sick, your primary focus should be on getting well, not on losing weight. Because when you are sick, your body is using up all of its energy trying to keep you alive! You may very well need MORE nutrition while you are sick!

    This sort of “advice,” is worth the pixels it’s written with. NOTHING. It’s outright harmful.

    But looking on the bright side, at least I didn’t have to deal with the enraging treatment of “Sure, you were harfing your guts up for a week, but you look so good! Congratulations on the successful weight loss, that will surely last forev… Oh, you’re eating solids now? Welcome back, Weight! Booo! You’re being BAD! How can you throw away all that progress you made on your successful diet? You should stick to vomiting every day! That’s how the stars do it!”

    So, yay?

    1. “Would you believe I GAINED weight that week? Of course you would!”

      LOL, before I even got to the second half of that sentence, my first thought was “Of course I would!” I mean, same thing happened to me, only I *was* dieting on purpose, and for quite a bit longer than a week. “Restrictive regain” isn’t a conspiracy theory or a secret. That it happens, as well as the mechanics of how and why it happens, is well-documented:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27136388

      “And thirdly, NO! This sort of science-denying, because “everyone knows,” KILLS PEOPLE!!!”

      Too true. I’ve heard every way fatphobes have tried to explain away these results, everything from “it’s just because they lost too much weight too fast; if you go slower, you won’t get this metabolic damage!” to “it’s just because they let their bodies go into starvation mode! You can use hacks to keep yourself out of it, and then you won’t regain!” to “well, if diet and exercise don’t work, fat people should all have bariatric/metabolic/diabetic/we’ll-call-it-anything-but-weight-loss surgery!” None of those claims have any basis.

      If it were anything other than dieting, multiple studies showing a “medical intervention” caused this much harm for so little potential reward would lead to that “medical intervention” being shelved permanently. But dieting is ingrained in our culture as a *moral* obligation, a form of Good Behavior that will cause the benevolent cosmos to reward you with thinness. It’s a superstition. And like Swift said, there’s no reasoning someone out of a belief they weren’t reasoned into.

      1. Bones, organs and muscles cannot “turn into fat”, and fat cannot “turn into muscle”. Your body CAN make hormonal changes to slow down your metabolism so you burn fewer calories at rest or while being active than you did before during the same activities or rest. This is what leads others to believe you were “cheating” on your “diet” when you gain weight after a bad stomach bug or intentional restriction.

  4. My gf was accused of “cheating” on her high-protein, low-carb diet by the weigh-in person at the diet center, because she wasn’t losing any weight. My gf had had a cold, and was not only scolded for having eaten a few cough drops, she was outright accused of lying about the number of cough drops, and about her food intake in general. The diet was expensive, but the disrespect and gaslighting were free!

    1. “Either you’re lying or I’m wrong… so, obviously, you’re lying, because the possibility of me being wrong is just too ludicrous to consider.”

      Like for real, if I had a dime for every time some fatphobe accused me of lying about what I eat… and especially doctors and health class teachers who request food logs and then discard them because “There’s no way this is true; you’d never have gotten this big if you really ate like this.” Like, fuck off, grasshopper, if you already decided you knew what I was eating and/or that I couldn’t be trusted to accurately report what I was eating, why did you waste both of our time making me fill out a food log? I didn’t want to do it and you were never going to believe it unless I watched Austin Powers 2 and copied down what Fat Bastard was eating, so what was the point?

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