On Diets

I’m writing this post in response to Meowser’s excellent post There Are Diets, And Then There Are DIETS. It was truly excellent, and made me start thinking about how my very unusual dietary requirements go practically counter to how fat people such as myself are often told they “should” eat.

I have orthostatic hypotension, brachycardia, vasovagal something-or-other, and generally horrible circulation. These are all generally spawned from too-low blood pressure, or hypotension. I also have lipedema, which though thought largely genetic, is also associated with hypotension and poor circulation.

Because of these conditions, I have to make sure I eat a sufficient amount of things most fat people (and most people in general) are told aren’t generally good for them:

1. I have to make sure I’m salting my food.

2. I have to get enough sodium in general.

3. Every morning I should drink a cup of strong coffee.

Keeping hydrated is something else I need to do, though I need to make sure sometimes to:

4. Drink water with some kind of sugar in it.

I also should:

5. Stay away from alcohol. Even a glass or two could send my blood pressure through the floor, as it is a depressant.

6. Stay away from other depressive substances.

And exercise? I need to:

7. Be careful and don’t do cardio training for any solid length of time (like months). Cardio training can lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

Also, guess what else lowers blood pressure? Calorie restriction. So:

8. Do not diet for weight loss.

Additionally, women with lipedema are usually told:

9. Do not diet for weight loss, since there is a much higher incidence of anorexia in women with lipedema. Dieting will not remove the lipedemic fat, the metabolism of the cells of which are damaged and the lipedemic fat won’t “shed.”

So all in all, with my various very genetic (all passed from my Dad’s family) disorders that are tied into hypotension, dieting for weight loss, and cardio training, are generally prohibited.

What happens if I don’t follow the prescriptions to keep my low blood pressure at a reasonable rate? I didn’t, for a few years, so I know the answer to this:

I generally feel ill. I pass out after getting out of the shower, on a humid day inside or outside or in the car, feel ill after exercising, feel ill all the time in general. Foggy, can’t think, nauseous, can’t breathe, headaches, dizzy.

I was lucky. Only one time did I pass out and get slightly injured; the other times I was able to “take myself down” once the symptoms of fainting starting cropping up. But as anyone who’s watched “Million Dollar Baby” knows, it only takes one bad fall to pretty much end your life.

So is a weight-loss diet, the antithesis of what *I personally* need to eat for *my personal* optimal health, worth paralysis or death?

The person who refuses to sit next to me on an airplane, or the subway, or a bus, or the train, thinks so. The person who has to look at my cellulite on the beach thinks so. Tam Fry thinks so.

What do you think?

5 comments on “On Diets

  1. vesta44 says:

    And that is precisely why you can’t tell, just by looking at someone, why they are fat. Not that it’s anyone’s business to begin with, but still, no one can tell why a person’s body is the way it is just by looking at them. And I, for one, am not going to go around with a shirt that lists all of the reasons I’m fat. It’s no one’s business why I’m fat, it’s no one’s business why someone else is skeleton thin. Whatever size a person’s body happens to be is not an indication of their moral values. Society needs to quit judging people based on looks alone, but I fear it will be a cold day in hell before that ever happens.

  2. meowser says:

    Hmm…low blood pressure –> horrible circulation? I always wondered why I got such cold toes and fingers. Maybe that’s it. I need more salt!

    Interesting that you call it “brachycardia.” The term doctors usually use is “bradycardia” (slow heart rate), which I think means the same thing. But if I ever hear a doctor dictate “brachycardia” during the course of my job, I’ll know what it means.

    And thanks!

  3. bigliberty says:


    I know, I know! Grrr. When it comes down to it, NO ONE has the right to treat me as a lower human animal because of the body I’m in, whether that body has male or female bits (or both), whether that body is light or dark or spotted, whether that body is able or disabled, and so forth. My humanity and worth has nothing to do with any of those things.


    I’m not sure that if one has bad circulation one has low blood pressure necessarily (though I’ve met my share of human furnaces who have, concurrently, run a higher-on-average blood pressure than mine), but for me low blood pressure certainly exacerbates my bad circulation, which may or may not be a separate entity.

    Oh yeah, I forgot that it’s usually called bradycardia…I just remember brachycardia and tachycardia as opposites, and use those terms. 😉

  4. […] Stumbling Towards Ecstacy.  Both of those articles gave me a lot to think about, and then I read On Diets by Big Liberty, and finally, Rebellion or Restriction? by […]

  5. blablover5 says:

    This is another reason why I loathe those stupid “Super food” articles. You know the ones where they list 10 magical foods that will make you feel instantly healthier, cause you to lose 50 pounds and do your taxes for you?

    There is no magical pill, or food stuff, or even nut that will make you feel better just for eating it. Trying to convince people of that is like shooting yourself in the foot though.

    I don’t get why they want to ignore the fact that we’re all omnivores and more likely each person has an intuition to figure out what they should eat. Changing that up and eating nothing but pomegranates for a week is just going to make you feel worse (though the placebo affect comes into play sadly).

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