THE BLOG
04/17/2012 03:19 pm ET | Updated Jun 17, 2012

The Feeding Tube Diet? Really?

I thought this story was an April Fool's joke, except it was way past April 1. It's no joke. Women, namely brides before their weddings, are using a feeding tube for 10 days to lose weight. Yes, that's right, the kind of feeding tube they give patients who can no longer eat on their own, like those in a coma or dying and too weak to eat. These women are going to doctors who fit them with a feeding tube that goes into the nose, down through the esophagus and directly into the stomach. They are then fed a solution that contains no carbohydrates, just protein and fat, and totals 800 calories a day. They carry the solution around in a tote bag they wear on their arm that looks like a purse.

I wondered why on earth any doctor would do this to a healthy patient who could lose weight on their own by cutting calories. Then I read about the cost. According to the New York Times, it costs $1,500 for 10 days. That includes the doctor's care, the equipment and the solution. Wow! Apparently this is nothing new in Europe, but it's new here in the United States.

As a psychotherapist who specializes in eating disorders and weight loss, I am not surprised by this at all. I feel more saddened by the whole thing. I understand wanting to look good on your wedding day, but generally there is plenty of time to drop weight by tracking your calories, dropping down to a healthy 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day (depending on your activity level and starting weight) and eating healthy, whole foods. That is something you can then continue doing for life and be the weight you want to be, not just for a day, but forever. This is what I do, I was 50 pounds heavier than I am now and have maintained the weight loss for 21 years.

I also understand wanting a quick fix when it comes to weight loss. When you go on any low-calorie, high-protein diet you will lose a lot of water weight quickly. Depending on how much water your body carries and how much you weigh to start with, you can lose several pounds in the first week on this kind of diet. Most of that weight is water. This is very confusing to people who don't understand and makes it look like this miracle diet/tube/pill/powder caused this amazing, fast weight loss. When really it caused a lot of water weight to leave your body. You might lose a real two pounds a week on a super low calorie diet, but that's about the maximum that is generally considered to be safe for a person with a starting weight of 150 to 160 lbs.

There is a true story in my book about how I was once at a little cafe by the beach and overheard two young women talking. They were clearly stopping there before hitting the beach. One said to the other, "Is there any way to lose 14 lbs. between here and the beach?"

You can lose weight if you cut your calories. Anyone can. Please do it sensibly, slowly and in such a way that you can maintain that loss for life.

For more by Irene Rubaum-Keller, click here.

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