Search This Blog

Monday, 19 March 2012

What not to say

Things doctors should not say when confronted with an Eating Disordered patient:

"He/she's not that thin"
"I've seen worse"
"It's just a phase"
"Only 35% of patients recover, you know.  You may be lucky"
"Anorexia Nervosa is very rare."
"Try and get her/him to eat a sandwich"
"He/She'll grow out of it"
"He/She is too young to have an eating disorder"
"Just tell her to stop"
"He/She's just doing it for attention.  Ignore it."
"If you back off about eating, it will probably resolve itself"
"Oh Teenagers - it is a difficult time."
"Do YOU think you are ill or is it just Mummy fussing?"


  1. My mother was told by our GP "It's just a phase" when she took me to the doctor as a 12-year old. He also said: "She will eat when she's hungry".

    I was told by GPs - wehn I went to see them because I was constantly fainting and was very underweight: "You look very stressed. Perhaps you could try yoga". "Your low blood pressure makes for a long and healthy life".

    Finally, finally.... a Consultant (gynaecologist, actually) told me: "You should not be taking all this HRT. Why isn't your GP treating your anorexia nervosa instead?". This Consultant was a sensible man.

  2. Although I've gotten the "sandwich" comment from strangers and friends, the most common doctor suggestion seems to be milkshakes. That was what my pediatrician suggested the first time I was evaluated. My mother was freaking out, I was smiling and clearly lying about what I ate, my BMI was in the emaciated range, my vitals were awful, and the doctor suggested milkshakes. (A few weeks later, I was told "IP now" by the same doctor. What?) Apparently this is a pretty common anorexia remedy; at least 5 of my eating disordered friends have been told the same thing by pediatricians or GPs (all different doctors--and several in other countries). Telling anorectics to "just eat" while also suggesting a food that is "scary", nutritionally empty, and (let's face it) easily purged is just...exponentially ignorant.

    But hey. Doctors know best, right?