A Place for Compassion in Healthcare

I’ve been obsessed with the HBO documentary series The Weight of the Nation, an intricate and engaging examination of the obesity crisis in the America that came out this month.  It analyizes the perfect storm of  environmental, economic, and political trends that have created this epidemic.  Media coverage of the issue has been done and done again. Very often it is superficial and offensive, focusing simply on the increasingly sedentary American lifestyle.  That more and more Americans, in fact the majority are overweight or obese, because they are lazy.It’s a convenient, uncomplicated approach to explain the crisis.  It’s why the reality series The Biggest Loser is such a hit. It’s why Michelle Obama named her childhood obesity initiative Let’s Move. It’s how the food industry shirks responsibility for dominating the market with processed, chemicalized junk passed off as food and targets our country’s most vulnerable populations in predatory marketing practices.  It’s how the federal government forges ahead with dangerous food policies and subsidies for the very foods that are making the nation sick.  Most importanly it’s how most of the American public can absolve itself of the need to be compassionate for those who are suffering when they need it most.What I appreciated the most about the documentary was its humanizing profiles and interviews of those struggling with unhealthy weight.  These were not the anonymous overweight people walking through the streets whose backsides are taped for cliched media coverage of the issue.  By really looking in their eyes as they descibe their sickness, it’s not so easy to turn our backs  and dismiss them as lazy and deserving of their fates.

I know from my own family history with obesity, I had grown up largely unsympathetic, thinking of the disease as a character flaw for those with whom I had difficult relationships.  With maturity I’ve come to accept that weight discrimination truly is the last acceptable prejudice in our society.  And perhaps it only really happened when I’ve allowed myself to be compassionate for my own shortcomings in taking care of myself.  This past month especially I have often buckled under the stress of moving and keeping up the entrepeneurial hustle, overindulging in espresso and sweets, and skimping on sleep and self-care.  At any given time, we all try to do the best with what we’re working with, and often we’re flawed.  These struggles create the foundation for our capacity for empathize with others in their times of need.

This is where professionals in integrative health seek to fill that gap for compassion in modern healthcare, by treating the whole person, not just a collection of symptoms.  The team of practitioners that I have joined at Pekoe Wellness and Acupuncture, a holistic health clinic in downtown DC, is inspiring not only becacuse we each share a mission that attends to the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness of our clients, but above all, because we offer respect, compassion, and support.  Please check out all of our offerings at Pekoe, including nutrition & wellness services from your truly.

Please enjoy the contents of this month’s newsletter, including the spicy, rich Penang curry recipe I brought back from Thailand and summer musings of turning body image on its head.

Be well and lots of love.
-dahlia

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