WTF, Workplace: Health Edition

<Trigger Warning> Encouragement of restrictive eating follows. I’m railing against it, but I’m including direct quotes from the thing I’m railing against. </Trigger Warning>

I participate in my workplace’s health initiative. I do this purely because it gives me free money, and take great pleasure in doing whatever the fuck I want while checking “Yes” on all the “Did you do the thing?” questions. You want me to walk 50,000 steps in a week? Sure, I’ll tell you I walked 50,000 steps in a week. I might have. I walk a lot. No way in hell I’m interrupting my life to count it for you, though.

Want me to be TV free for a week? Way to try and take my wind-down activity from me, workplace. Yeah, I was totally TV-free this week. Netflix doesn’t count.

Eat a healthy snack? I mean, I have a disordered eating problem, so literally anything is healthy as long as I’m approaching that elusive “enough calories to live” moment.

Speaking of disordered eating problems.

Speaking of disordered eating problems.

This week’s challenge was this. If my “problem” was a full-on “mental illness”, I’d be having an episode right now. Lucky me, I’m just pissed.

Bonus Challenge: Check Your Condiments

How To Do It: We hate to see health-conscious people ruin a perfectly healthy salad by dousing it in dressing. This week, focus on what you put on your food to make sure your decisions are as healthy as possible.

Why You Should: Proper, healthy nutrition is a delicate balance, and the key to achieving success is taking stock of everything you eat. That includes condiments — ketchup, mayo, salad dressing, and even too much salt can take a dish from healthy to fattening in no time. For example, a single tablespoon of mayonnaise has 90 calories. This week, swap those empty calories for hummus, which is only 27 calories per tablespoon. Trading creamy salad dressings for olive oil-based ones will also save you plenty of calories.

First, we’re going to talk about that bullshit with “ruin[ing]” things and “tak[ing them] from healthy to fattening”. I’m a little emotional about this, so hold on to your hats.

What the fuck are you idiots thinking? I don’t even have an eating disorder, and this is upsetting for me. For someone who’s just trying to get a free $15, and has an eating disorder? Sure, they could just not participate in this week’s challenge, but, uh, they’re still going to read the challenge rules? And they’re going to want that reward, and restricting is much, much easier than being healthy under normal circumstances, let alone when you’re getting paid for it.

Health really is a delicate balance. Blanket encouragement of calorie restriction as the be-all end-all of health? The nuance-free equation of fewer-calories with more-healthy? That is not delicate or balanced. That’s smashing a warhammer on one side of a see-saw.

Okay, so, I’m going to pretend that too-many-calories is a real problem, just for this post. It’s not, but we’re going to pretend. That assumption in place: it is wildly fucked up that my company is so invested in making fat people eat less, that they completely disregard people whose health absolutely depends on them eating more. Sure, there’s more fat people than anorexics in the world, but: disordered eating causes immediate health problems, which become more serious quite rapidly, while “continuing to be fat” carries a risk of developing problems sometime in the nebulous future.

(Quick note: I don’t actually believe that last thing. Obesity and risk factors are complicated.)

IMO, immediate development of fatigue/lethargy, difficulty making decisions, irritability, anemia, inescapable cold, depression/anxiety, food obsession, not to mention all the symptoms of active eating disorders (like, for example, debilitating muscle weakness and  the highest death rates of any mental condition (source: NIMH)), are combined way more of a problem than “might develop diabetes at some point”. And I’m pissed with my workplace for having a bullshit “health initiative” that doesn’t remotely take individual variation into account in any way. Way to go, guys.


Furthermore. And this deserves its own blockquote.

“the key to achieving success is taking stock of everything you eat”

So um, I don’t know if you know this, but if you are taking stock of everything you eat, you by definition are exhibiting disordered eating behavior. Is… is that healthy? Does my workplace seriously think that disordered eating behaviors are healthier than being fat?

I mean… yeah, they do. I can’t really argue with the literal text of their health initiative. That is what it says. And that’s why this sort of thing bothers me so much. It makes me ask, who is writing these things? Who is in charge of this health initiative? Does blanket prescription of “Pop Science Health Behavior of the Week” to thousands of people actually sound like a good idea to any actual health professionals?

No, seriously, does it? Because it sounds like a terrible idea to me, and I’m kind of afraid that an actual health professional is in charge of this, and does think this is a good idea. Because they are wrong. And I have no way of looking up who is running this initiative.

No easy way.

I’m no investigative journalist, but I’m seriously considering trying to figure it out.


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