Thursday, 10 February 2011

High blood pressure and weight

Gretel Hallet, came on our Chocolate Fairy Training last year and is running workshops in East Anglia.  If you live in the area and would like to attend a Beyond Chocolate course, Gretel would love to hear from you!  Meet Gretel.

My doctor is concerned about my blood pressure. I wasn’t particularly concerned until I looked up the possible outcomes of failing to be worried about high blood pressure … now I’m worried too!

At my last meeting with my doctor, I was braced for mention of the ‘D’ word. I had all my arguments lined up and ready. No, I don’t diet any more. Because it doesn’t work for me. Instead I’m working on my relationship with food and my body and I am happy with the way that’s progressing. No, thank you, I don’t want to be weighed. Well, if you insist, but please don’t tell me what the number says. No, I’m absolutely sure I don’t want to go on a diet etc.

But, to my surprise and relief, my arguments weren’t needed. The doctor didn’t even mention the ‘D’ word. I chose to interpret this as that either I’ve got a very enlightened doctor, or I don’t look as though I’m a target for lectures on the ‘D’ word.

One of the things that I’ve noticed recently is that weight or fat (however you want to put it) has become the bogeyman of the NHS. Not that long ago anyone who smoked was told that the only way to improve their health, or start any treatment was to stop smoking. Now it seems everyone who goes to see their doctor is told to lose weight.

Now I know that carrying excess weight can be injurious to health, I’m not going to say it isn’t. But it certainly isn’t the primary factor in many illnesses or conditions, and it certainly shouldn’t be the whipping boy for a whole range of health issues.

In fact, as some of you may have seen, recent studies are tending towards fluctuating weight as being the ‘baddie’, rather than being consistently overweight. Someone whose weight remains constant, even if higher than currently recommended, is actually less at risk than someone whose weight fluctuates between two extremes. Anecdotally, I worked with a woman who I’d known for over 20 years and she’d always been the same size. I guess she would be considered overweight in medical terms – but it certainly didn’t stop her from living well and enjoying her life. She didn’t suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure or any of the other nasties we’re threatened with if we’re overweight. She hasn’t had heart failure or suffered any strokes. Seeing someone like her lends credence to the new theory – it’s better for us to maintain a stable weight than to slim right down and put all the weight back on again over and over again.

So, me and the doctor are still engaged in conversation about my blood pressure. I’m glad that the weight issue wasn’t raised and I’m hoping that between us we can reach a solution that will benefit me without any nasty side-effects.

And in the meantime I will continue working with Beyond Chocolate on my relationship with my food and my body, because I know this is the only thing that works long-term, and is the best I can do for me.


  1. That is good to hear about your treatment Gretel. I have been struggling with my breathing with any kind of exercise I do and at my current size I have been called obese in the past. Now when I went to the Dr last week about this I was expecting the "weight" and "diet" word to crop up but was pleasantly surprised. I think "weight" was briefly mentioned but no suggestions, lectures, appeals, weigh-ins. I now have an inhaler.

  2. Good luck with the inhaler, Mandykay - I don't suffer from shortness of breath, mercifully - hope you are now able to exercise a bit more.

  3. I agree about the fluctuating weight being bad for you - I clearly remember the many times I rapidly put weight on again..often after losing 3 or 4 stone. Those were probably the most miserable and unwell times of my life (even in my teens). And actually I know that the misery came first, and the weight gain was just the symptom.
    Weight is such an easy target! It often saves busy health service professionals looking critically at the evidence and making their own judgements, and it gives politicians something they think they can 'cure' with referrals to WW and bootcamps, when they don't want to look at underlying, longer term issues because they are costly and require a longer term approach.

  4. You're right, Anonymous. I recently read a biography of Oliver Hardy (the famous comedian) who was a larger gentleman all his life. In later life he was told to lose weight and lost over 100 lbs. His subsequent series of stroke and heart failures were blamed by doctors on his rapid weight-loss. He probably would have lived longer if he'd stayed a stable weight, poor chap.


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