When Weight Matters Blog
What Does The Natural Way Even Mean?
I've been reflecting lately on the way the discussion about weight in some circles still relegated to the personal responsibility realm. This spills into the natural vs medical debate among many people.
I've been thinking about how many loved ones lives have been saved or how many loved ones lives are now bearable or comfortable thanks to science and the discovery of medicine and surgery.
After a life threatening emergency with the birth of one of my babies I recall a friend asking me if I felt like I had failed because I did not have my baby the "natural way"
I was kind of shell shocked at that moment because the "natural way " would have without a doubt resulted in neither of us surviving.
When one of my babies was having chemotherapy there was external pressure around us asking why I was using poison and chemicals and why didn't I try using beetroot juice and a healthy diet to try and kill the cancer. My sweet then 5 ½ year old put this to our amazing paediatric oncologist who explained to him that one of the drugs he was on came from periwinkles and the other was from a fungi. Looking back it was funny listening to a five year old explain this to grown ups.
Medicine saved us again when another very dangerous and life threatening illness followed and no amount of natural healthy eating was going to be enough.(but weight loss was essential)
These situations exposed me to all sorts of confusing messages about personal responsibility and the unfortunate reality of not everything is within our control.
I think of all the people whose lives have been saved by emergency or elective surgery. How many people I know who thanks to science and research can live comfortably and pain free. Or, they are able to live without distressing symptoms, either physically, psychologically or both.
I sometimes see social medial posts saying all people need to do to manage their health no matter what illness we are speaking about is get some sun, be in nature and eat fresh fruit and vegetables.
I have nothing against sun, exercise or a healthy diet.I actually think these things are extremely important for health and wellbeing.
However sometimes it's just not enough.
This is what I am learning more about when it comes to long-term weight management for people living with obesity. Sometimes a good diet and exercise is simply not enough to be able to lose weight or keep it off.I've had the most amazing opportunities to work alongside researchers and practitioners who understand the science of obesity and recognise that medical treatment and surgery are often needed to make a difference.
I have had clients express such gratitude when they have been heard and believed when they have said I do eat well, I do exercise, I am fit, don't eat junk, but I can not shift my weight. The most powerful sentiment I hear is when clients tell me it is the first time they have had peace in their minds. They are not only losing weight but more importantly the noise in their head has finally stopped. I have heard this enough times to know it's not a one off experience for just one person. They tell me they cannot recall a time when all they could think about was food and eating. That is until now. There was a constant gnawing hunger inside of them that could not be satiated. Once they found a medication or surgery that worked peacefulness descended upon them.
I totally get that for the most part people would prefer not to have to take daily medication or have surgery or any condition at all. I hate that anyone must suffer from pain, or illness, or trauma or poor mental health.
If a magic wand could be waived to avoid suffering I would waive it.
But this "only natural" approach seems to at times be turning a blind eye to more suffering and making people feel less than, and ashamed.
Being amongst nature, eating fresh food and getting fit are brilliant and worth doing for sure but as a stand alone treatment it may not be enough for weight management, and if more help is needed and it is in the form of medicine or surgery it is so important we don't shame people into feeling they are somehow failing because they needed extra support. No one should be forced to justify to anyone else why they are seeking extra support whether it be from counselling to talk about any challenges, worries, concerns, medication or surgery if needed.
Ginette Lenham © October 2022
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