The Post In Which I Bitch-Slap the Medical Profession

This post is a long one, so please bear with me.

I ate a salad for lunch yesterday.  It had mixed baby greens, grilled chicken, ham, pickled beets, hard-boiled eggs, grape tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, cheddar cheese and was dressed with ranch dressing only because the oil and vinegar at the salad bar I went to is decidedly inferior.  I followed it up with a small hunk of cantaloupe and a small hunk of watermelon.

It took me nearly an hour to eat it, but it tasted absolutely amazing.  More importantly, it felt absolutely amazing.

I lost nearly 7 pounds in less than a week right after this surgery.  The first few days were just a wretched experience – I was in constant pain (well, I still am, but it’s bearable now) and, especially since I was taking Prednisone, I was constantly hungry.  When it got to the point that I could stand to swallow anything that wasn’t ice water or beef broth, it was soft, bland things – and almost exclusively things I no longer eat.

Namely, grains.  Grits.  Oatmeal.  Cream of Wheat.  Pasta.  Pancakes.  Bread.  Not the most nutritious of foods; in retrospect, I’d probably would have been no worse off if I’d stuck with water and homemade beef and chicken broths, especially since I’d been told to avoid dairy.  But I felt absolutely miserable and eating those things I could swallow without screaming in pain took some of that misery away.

Temporarily, anyway.

By yesterday morning, I was cranky, tired, achy and I’d gained back 3½ of the 7 pounds I’d lost.  Then, on the way back to the office after my doctor’s appointment, I experienced something I hadn’t since giving up grains, sugar, vegetable oils and soy:  heart palpitations.  Hence the salad from the local grocery store’s salad bar; the meats weren’t pastured, the vegetables weren’t organic or sustainably grown and the salad dressing was made with soybean oil, but it was protein, fat and nutrient-dense carbohydrates in the form of raw fruits and leafy green vegetables – far better than the bowl of microwavable mac ‘n’ cheese I might or might not have scarfed down at 2 a.m. the night before.

(I bought it so The Young One would have something to fix for himself, since I’ve not exactly been up to cooking and Beloved has been out of town all week, so cut me some slack for having it in the house in the first place.  Please, cut me some slack, because I’m not…)

I’ve had moments when I’ve doubted if I should have had this damn surgery in the first place, but it’s been a marvelous reminder for just why I changed my diet in the first place.  Eating grains, sugar, vegetable oils and soy made me sick.  Eating grass-fed beef and pastured pork, chicken, eggs and dairy, mostly locally and sustainably grown produce and healthy, natural fats has healed that sickness.  It’s not that hard to understand.

Or so you’d think.  About a week before the surgery I found myself in the endocrinologist’s office, taking some sort of “metabolic test” and getting the results of my blood test from the nurse practitioner.  Without going into how stupid it seems that they could test my metabolic rate by having me breathe into a plastic tube for 10 minutes or how pointless it was to hear that my metabolism is perfectly normal for a short, fat, middle-aged, perimenopausal woman, let me just say that both the nurse and I were both pleased with my blood tests.  My blood pressure is 116/68.  Cholesterol is great; LDLs well within an acceptable level and my triglycerides levels should be the envy of the neighborhood.  My HDLs were a little on the low side, but regular exercise can take care of that.  My blood sugar levels are perfect.  My chronic anemia is gone.  My thyroid and liver functions are fine.  I have a very slight vitamin D and B12 deficiency and that was it.  In short, I’m in pretty good shape for a short, fat, middle-aged, perimenopausal woman.

She asked me if I’d kept a food diary, and to give me credit I did not roll my eyes and ask her if she would have time to keep a food diary if she were married to her job and simply said no; we’d been to Cincinnati to visit the G Man and Jolly and hosted nearly 30 of our clients for two days just prior to the appointment, the planning and execution of which kept us busy – and eating out far more often than is the norm for us.  But I did tell her what I normally eat during the course of any given day: namely grass-fed beef and pastured pork, chicken, eggs and dairy, mostly locally and sustainably grown produce and healthy, natural fats.  I gave her the run-down on giving up grains, sugar, vegetable oils and soy.  I told her that we do not eat anything processed, that we do not eat anything with artificial ingredients, including artificial sweetener.   And I told her that I’d lost nearly 30 pounds since June.

This woman then looked me dead in the face and said, “Stop eating the beef and pork, especially the sausage and bacon.  Only eat lean chicken, turkey and fish.”  She pulled out a piece of paper with a graph showing me my normal metabolism.  “This shows what your metabolism is – you need to keep your calories under 1,400 a day in order to lose weight.”  (I’d just told her that when I have kept tract of what I eat, I average about 1,600 – 1,700 calories a day.)  “And, you need to exercise more.”

I cocked an eyebrow at her and said, “That’s the ONE thing we agree on.”

She continued as if I hadn’t spoken and handed me a piece of paper and a booklet.  “Here are some good diet guidelines you should follow in order to lose weight and be healthy.  We’ll see you again in three months, after we’ve done some more blood work.  Try and keep a food diary.”  And she walked out of the room, leaving me gaping at her.

The booklet was printed by Lilly Pharmaceuticals, the people who just happen to produce Cymbalta and a host of injectible insulins under various brand names, and was full of the same bullshit advice for diabetics that doesn’t work – eat lots of grains (only half of which need be “whole” grains), fruits, vegetables and small portions of lean meats while restricting fats.  Think about that for a minute:  she gave someone who is NOT diabetic, diabetic literature.  Why?!?

The sheet of paper was even more interesting.  It had my name at the top and was a list of what I will assume is this doctor’s recommendation for what I should eat in order to “lose weight and be healthy” (and I’ve reproduced here it exactly as written):

Breakfast choices:

  • Unsweetened cereals (“Cheerio’s”, “Wheaties”, “Special K”, “Kashi Cereal”)
  • Hot cereal with 2% or 1% milk.  No Cream of Wheat
  • Cooked eggs
  • Fruit (apple, melons, berries, pears, kiwi, oranges) No bananas and grapes
  • Lean lunch meat (chicken or turkey breasts)
  • Low fat, sugar free yogurt (with artificial sweetener aspartame) or Splenda
  • English muffin with peanut butter


  • Protein snack bar
  • Hummus with fresh vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Unbuttered popcorn
  • Peanut butter with apples or celery
  • Dry roasted or raw nuts (peanuts, almonds,cashews)  No walnuts or pecans
  • Lean lunch meat or low fat cheese
  • Low fat, sugar free yogurt
  • No crackers,cookies, pretzels, and chips
  • All fresh, raw vegetables except for peas or corn

Innocent sweets:

  • Sugar free Jell-O or pudding
  • Sugar free hard candy
  • Berries with low fat cool whip
  • Splenda ice cream
  • No sugar added popsicles and fudgesickles

Food choices:

  • Soups (chicken broth with boiled chicken, tomato soup, Italian wedding soup, vegetarian chili,etc.) No creamy soups
  • Lean meat (grilled, baked or broiled chicken, turkey or fish)  No breaded meat
  • Green beans, salad or grilled vegetables as side dish.  Almost NO potato, pasta and rice
  • Olive or canola oil
  • Salad with any vegetables, hard boiled egg, nuts, feta cheese
  • Lima beans
  • Seafood

No Mexican, Chinese and fast food except for Subway or Taco Bell (fresco menu)

No butter (only Benicol spread)

No juice

No regular pop

(Out of all the ludicrous things on this list – Taco Bell?  Low fat Cool Whip?  Lunch meat and low fat cheese? VEGETARIAN CHILI?!?!? – I think my favorite is “unbuttered popcorn.”  What’s the point??? I’m sorry, Ms. Nurse Practitioner Lady With Severe Hearing Loss, but I grew up in a household where popcorn was merely a vehicle for butter.)

Nearly three weeks later, I still don’t know whether to laugh or run through the streets, foaming at the mouth and screaming in frustration.  This woman listened to nothing I said.  Nothing.  We discussed my exemplary blood test results.  I sat there and told her I ate only whole, natural foods, that I did not eat anything processed or containing artificial ingredients.  That I’d lost 30 pounds in 4 months.  And this?  This is the response I get?

We’re trusting our health to an entire industry trained not to listen to us.

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday

34 thoughts on “The Post In Which I Bitch-Slap the Medical Profession”

  1. Well, since the “medical profession” nearly killed me 10 days ago by breaking several laws in a surgery center, I’m certainly not going to stick up for them here. I will say, if I were you I’d find a different doctor. I have no patience for doctors who won’t listen to their patients. (Which is not to say they have to agree with us and tell us we’re right either – but it should be a two way conversation.) I can’t live without Mexican and Chinese food – and there ARE ways to prepare healthy dishes in both cuisines. (As I’m sure you already know!)

    : )

  2. I agree, find a new doctor. Also, you can complain to the manager of the practice. Seriously, now. Lunch meat? Taco Bell? Seriously? What does the dr. think of your weight loss and blood work numbers?

  3. For the life of me, I can’t understand what could be wrong with eating a banana. Or grapes. Certainly a banana is a better food choice than Cheerios, or sugar free jello! Maybe you should become a Nutritionist.

    1. Ginger, they’d never license me, since I don’t agree with what passes for “conventional wisdom” these days.

  4. You should have lost a few more pounds now that you’ve got that off your chest 🙂
    When I had my tonsils out I had to eat crisps as the sharp edges take the scabs off the back of your throat by all accounts. That was a long time ago mind and I was only a kid.
    Hope everythings ok.

  5. Oh my goodness, Jan! I haven’t been to your blog in waaaaay to long. It’s gorgeous and I love the layout and this month’s header is lovely. You make me want to go home to my blog and do a complete remake. gah!

    Also, it’s time for a different doctor since the one you have is DEAF. Did you try sign language with her? I fired a doctor some years ago who brushed me off. Seriously, I over-heard him out in the hallway say to an associate that he had a golfing event to be at at 5pm and he was going to “do whatever was necessary not to be late for it”. Then he came in to see me and brushed me off over my medical concerns. I paid the bill on my way out and then immediately went home and put a stop payment on the check and wrote a letter of complaint to the administration office where he worked. They wrote me back asking me to not come back to their office and to find a different doctor… “OH, really??????” I replied, and I have bad mouthed him to every person I have met since who is seeking a gynecologist in Goodyear, AZ.

    Seriously, find a doctor who listens and truly cares about your health concerns.

    Wish you well.

    1. Di, I’ve been looking for the elusive doctor who listens and truly cares for so long it’s not even funny. I’m not sure one exists.

  6. Meat was making me sick so I gave it up. I only ate veggies and eggs that we raised (now organic farmers market stuff). I only cook from scratch because I’m cheap. But still every time I go to the doctor’s, the nurse will try to push the pamphlet on me and the doctors almost always want to do blood test because as a vegetarian I must be deficient in something. I never am. I have finally found a doctor that doesn’t want to push me to eat meat. He wishes all his patients were more conscience of their food choices.

    Ignore them because most are bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical companies. Unless, they are like mine.

    1. “…most are bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical companies.”

      Truer words were never spoken – the “no butter, only Benicol (sic) spread” advice shows that this doctor is no different. I envy you your doctor.

  7. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it but about your new blog look………WOW! What Di said.

    And everyone here is right Time for a new doc. As someone who works in the medical profession, I can assure you that there are doctors out there who will listen. Keep looking.

    Happy Friday, Jan.

  8. forgive me if i didn’t notice any changes to the design of your blog. i am a guy some call a caveman. oh well. i did notice the words in this post and to say the least, it PISSED me off. to paraphrase the nurse “I do not care about the lifestyle change you have made in the last several months that have had such a profound effect on your health and weight. If you want to be healthy again, stop eating that naturally raised real food. Our drug reps don’t want you sick or medicated. They were nice enough to put together a list of foods to eat. Please go back to eating the crap you ate before you lost those 30 pounds.”

    Pardon my french but that is F ING ridiculous.

    1. It’s pissed me off, too. I go back in early February, I believe, for more blood work then another appointment to see how I’m doing following this marvelous advice. I’m going armed to the teeth with a full food diary that not only shows what I’ve eaten, but how many calories and with macronutrient breakdown – how much fat, protein and carbohydrates I consume. I’ll also be taking a stack of studies that back up my choice in diet, and I am going to ask them to cite their sources for their recommended diet.

      Then I guess I’ll look for another endocrinologist.

  9. Come north, young woman. The Endo I had when I was pregnant with LG was great. And his nurse listened. Her advice when she handed me the stupid pamphlet, “No pamphlet can tell you what to eat. You need to read labels closely and keep a food journal that tracks your numbers, and more importantly, how you feel after you eat! Most important- beware of advertising! Foods touted as healthy rarely are!” When we went over my journal, the Endo laughed at me. He remembered I said I liked ice cream as an evening snack, but there was no ice cream in my journal. When I said I didn’t think I could eat good tasting ice cream he said, “We won’t have any idea how your body treats ice cream until you eat it and see.” Good guy.

  10. Cheerios do not stave off hunger. They are processed grain and air. Most protein snack bars are really high in sugar. You might as well have a Snickers bar. Fake butter is so disgusting that I will not let it in my house.

  11. Oh dear God…this is why I am so fricken thankful to have a country doctor that is the exact opposite of thiese kinds of doctors and nurses. She believes exactly as you and I do. She looks at what you are eating and drinking…your life style choices…stress…she looks at the whole picture. And most of all she listens to what I say and actually wants her patients to be listening to their bodies…and she doesn’t just go by tests.
    She says if it looks like a dog and barks like a dog but a test says it is not a dog, what do you believe the test or the evidence? She believes the evidence.

    So often we the people don’t listen to our bodies and when we don’t get the answers from the medical experts, we stay far too silent. We often are made to feel like we don’t know what our bodies are telling us or what we are talking about. All too often are given a pill to cover up the symptoms instead of getting to the root of the problem. When I wasn’t feeling good I went to the doctor(not the one I have now) and told them how I am feeling and that I wondered from my own research if I was having thyroid issues. He totally dismissed me and brushed it all off on to menopause and raising little kids.

    Another doctor put the symptoms as being depression and so put me on Cymbalta when I wasn’t even feeling depressed. I suppose because I don’t have insurance they didn’t want to do blood test…that’s the only thing I can come up with as to why they didn’t test me…I could have went to a direct access lab to have the test taken at a much much cheaper cost but I wonder if they even bother telling their patience about this service.

    I finally found out about this country doctor right out my back door…that still makes house calls…that doesn’t charge an arm and a leg and spends a good chunk of time with her patience…she is not a doctor to get wealthy…anyways she spent 90 minutes with me and told me in the first five minutes that I was very likely hypothyroid…just by looking at me…and so she sent me to this direct access lab and sure enough I am hypothyroid…but she also told me that the tests are not reliable…that many people have thyroid issues with a normal test result.

    It fricken blows my mind that doctors don’t feel guily for how they practice and how they play God and come off as knowing everything and not giving us regular people any credit or that we have brains. So many are tied into the giant pharma and insurance company’s that wants nothing more than to have all people on as many drugs as possible and to charge outrageously for their drugs and services. We truly do have a dumbing down of America in that so many do not question any of this. Very sad.

    I am so thankful that you are not relying on them to tell you how to eat and live and that you will not settle for this crap. Now that I have written a post of my own I will say I hope you feel completely better soon…sending you love and hugs dear friend. I have not been online very much as of late due to pain and exhaustion and little people that are keeping me on my tippy toes these days. ((((Jan)))))

    1. Lori, I’m tempted to move to Minnesota just so I can see your doctor! Are you supplementing with iodine for the hypothyroidism?

  12. I know I don’t usually curse in the blogosphere, but I will here.
    Fuck. Her.
    Anyone who doesn’t listen to the patient and ignores the results right in front of their eyes is obviously intent on getting done with the exam and out the door.
    Keep doing what you’re doing, Jan. You’ve made me a believer.

    1. Your uncharacteristic cursing sent you to my spam queue – I released it the minute you made this comment.

      I am going to go back one more time, then I WILL say “Fuck you.”

  13. I thought the medical profession was owned by the drug companies… perhaps also the food industry?

    BTW I love this post and you for writing it.

  14. I don’t normally comment but I just have to. I can totally relate!

    In July of this year my BP was 154/94 and my labs as follows:
    LFT’s 51/55
    LDL 102
    HDL 68

    Today my BP is 112/76 (the lowest it has been in 25 years)
    LFT’s 22/27
    LDL 64
    HDL 42

    Why the drastic change? Thanks to some research after reading your blog, I now only eat grass-fed beef, organic omega-3 eggs, free range chicken, organic produce, etc. I have also lost 22 pounds and feel amazing.

    My then Dr. was not behind me, so I found another one. She completely supports me and seriously folks, the numbers don’t lie.
    So Thanks, Jan from a short (not so fat any more) perimenopausal woman.

    1. Yvette,

      Wow. I am thrilled that I had anything to do with your improved health. You’re more than welcome!

      Again, I envy you your doctor – how long did it take you to find a supportive one?

  15. No point in even paying attention to these people, except it is nice to know that your vital signs are all signalling vital.

    I went to school with a Lilly heir. She hadn’t been to school before. She told me that when it seemed a good idea for her to learn “home economics” her mother bought her a house to practice in.

    That impressed me.

    But she still has nice manners. Unlike your nurse.

  16. First of all, tonsils…OUCH. I hope it never happens to me. Secondly, when I was pregnant I had gestational diabetes. They told me to eat chicken breasts for breakfast. While I was pregnant. And barfing at the thought of poultry. I gave up my unhealthy carbs and sweets but for the love of Pete! Baked chicken breasts for breakfast? Who ARE these people?

  17. Listening might mean they will hear something that requires their further attention and time. I make sure the doctor is looking me in the eye when I’m talking, and hopefully taking notes. We are our best health advocate. The medical and health professionals hate it when we become proactive in our own health.

    1. Ellie, she DID takes notes while I was telling her all of this. Well, she was just tap-tapping away on her laptop while I was talking, so I assumed she was taking notes. Maybe she was just playing Farmville.

  18. My doctor is a friend and so I know he listens, but I am not sure he hears – he always advocates taking meds and put me on a liquid diet – that screwed up my metabolism unbelievably! You were treated horribly!

  19. AMEN! The older I get the more I realize that the only one who cares about my health is ME! I’ve had doctors try to prescribe medicines to help me continue to eat foods that upset my stomach, make me feel lousy and throw my body into inbalance!!! How insane is that? Thought I was the only one on a rampage about it, so I am so happy to find your blog! I am making a SLOW journey toward wellness in my diet and I need all the help I can get! (incidentally, one of my daughters has issues similar to mine and doctors have also tried to prescribe various stuff for her too!!! Talk about motivation to get it right!) I will be back – love ur blog!

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