When navigating chronic illness in a fatphobic medical system, it is imperative that you do your own research and know and understand your condition.
I say this and I know exactly where your mind is going. I am not telling you to go down a rabbit hole on the internet here especially if this is an anxiety provoking task for you. What I am telling you is to get curious and be open to it all. Read articles and blog posts on the condition. Look into podcasts or people on social media sharing their lived experience. If you have any friends or family you trust in the medical field that are nurses or doctors that can provide resources or information to you, reach out to them and ask! If you have a therapist or a dietitian, bring this up in your sessions and do some research together.
*HUGE AND SUPER IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER / HARD TRUTH:
If you have a medical condition that is stereotyped to be an issue “only fat people have” (which correlation does not mean causation but wellness culture and diet culture surely don’t acknowledge this golden rule of statistics but another rant for another time) you will inevitably come across research and information with treatment options including weight loss recommendations or maybe even specific restrictive diets. This is good though, because now we can roll our eyes and be fully aware of the likely bs recommendations that we COULD be told when we are at the appointment and won’t be blindsided. This also means we can start the second portion of the work which is figuring out how to challenge it when or if it comes up at the appointment. Then, we can work through our feelings and emotions about this information. Because let’s be real, it is annoying, frustrating, disappointing, defeating, infuriating, and all the feelings.
The goal here is to empower you with as much knowledge as you can access. My goal for you here is to take it all in but with a grain of salt. Try and decipher between opinion and fact and seek out additional findings on things that seem factual. What are the cited sources? Look into those as well. Your own experience with a chronic illness will be unique to someone else’s and your body will respond differently to some interventions than others. Medicine still attempts to put people in boxes with “one size fits most” recommendations. Be aware and cautious of this. You won’t know everything but you will know enough that you can ask a doctor 1:1 follow up questions and for more information when they offer specific recommendations to you. This will also help with making you feel more empowered to challenge them on any fatphobic responses you may receive.
Please make sure you are checking in with yourself and your anxiety as health concerns and researching them are going to bring up anxiety. If you need support, do the research with your therapist! If you don’t have a therapist, seek one out! Navigating this stuff is stressful and I have learned in my own journey that stress makes many chronic illnesses worse. Talk about that mind-body connection! I want to validate this is part of the process and it is okay to be anxious. It’s unfortunate you have to educate yourself first, I know. But not educating yourself leaves you vulnerable to falling into immediately taking on recommendations that are stewed in weight stigma.
*ANOTHER SUPER IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER!
It is so important that you know as a patient that most doctors and other health professions outside of registered dietitians have minimal to no training on nutrition science unless they have special training that they themselves seek out in addition to their general education. If you are looking for nutrition advice, you need to seek out a registered dietitian who works from a weight neutral lens (not a nutritionist or personal trainer as they do not have the adequate education for this).