Hope everyone is enjoying the day after Christmas. One more week to go, and it’s back to life as usual. Got an email the other day and thought I’d share it.
The subject of the email: Paleo Discrimination
I decided to write this for two reasons: First, I want to make others aware of the bureaucracy and politics I, and possibly others, have faced. (If you have experienced anything like this, please share.) And second, to be honest, I’m looking for some encouragement and support. I’ve kept this anonymous because I don’t want to get into any more trouble; I’ve got to keep my job, right? Thank you for respecting that.
So I’ve been paleo since January of this year (2011). I’ve lost 40 pounds and 7 inches off my waist. My health has improved dramatically! But you’ve heard stuff like that before. I’m a nurse and work for the government (vagueness is very important here). I work directly with patients to, ultimately, help them get healthier and out of the hospital. Nurses are supposed to stay current on research and utilize that research in our practice. We’re supposed to educate others and share information not only with our patients, but with our fellow coworkers.
I’m always talking about the paleo lifestyle, and I love helping others get healthy and realize how amazing they can feel. I tell them all about the research and science behind the diet. But in the end I always say, “If you’re happy, keep doing what you’re doing. But if you’re not, and you want to get healthier and make a change, why not give this a shot for 30 days?” Then I tell them to buy Robb’s book.
As a new nurse, I have to attend some additional training beyond college before I can work as a “real nurse.” In this new training, my diet was naturally brought up because I was immediately refusing all the candy, cookies, and sugary drinks being passed around on day one. After hearing me discuss some basics of paleo (like cholesterol and saturated fat are not bad), my supervisor approached me and told me I should not discuss my diet with patients. I said that I would never go into a room and start preaching that the patients should start eating more cholesterol and saturated fat; it’s not that simple. She still warned (nicely) that I should not bring it up because it’s not in line with the government’s dietary recommendations. So I “silently” rolled my eyes and have not discussed my diet with patients. However, I have discussed it amongst staff at the hospital. People get curious and want to get healthy, so they ask and I answered their questions.
Fast forward a few weeks and I’m told that I need to report to my supervisor, “We have an issue to discuss.” I was given a counseling (a formal, written report) about discussing my diet in the workplace. I was told to cease discussing my diet while at work. This was extremely unfair considering I was never told I could not discuss my diet amongst staff, only patients. And I was never given any kind of verbal warning that what I was doing was wrong.
So I guess discussing accurate, research-based science is not appropriate for the hospital environment? But it’s okay to discuss the Kardashians, right? And I have to sit quietly while other people talk about which brand of low-fat yogurt or oatmeal is better for your health. And let’s not mention the barrage of candy and cupcakes being passed around daily. But most importantly, let’s not discuss what’s healthy for our patients who are fighting multiple diseases and eating disgusting foods. It really feels like discrimination. I feel singled-out. While everyone else is free to discuss their favorite fast food restaurants, I have to keep my mouth shut.
Sadly, what I learned from all this is that selfishness is more important than service. It’s better to keep my mouth shut and protect my career than help others get healthy. Inspiring message, huh? I suppose this situation will piss most people off. And it should! But there is some hope. I do have goals of becoming a doctor or…something one day where I can have more authority to help people. And I know some people (like Robb Wolf) are working to get more physicians on board with paleo. I did meet one doctor in the hospital who eats paleo. I was so excited. I felt like I’d met a celebrity. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to chat much about it.
Let’s just hope I can bite my tongue while in this government role and not get in any more trouble. But you can bet I’ll still be spreading the word and trying to help people get healthy outside of work. Thank you for reading.
Sumthin’ isn’t it?