It seems like there is a new crash diet in the news every single day. There’s one with lemon juice and cayenne, one where you only eat green foods, honestly, there’s one for just about every woman’s preference. I have yet to seen one that doesn’t make me cringe, but today I believe I have officially seen the scariest of them all. And even worse, it’s being promoted and provided by physicians.
Time Magazine is reporting that a Florida doctor is one of several physicians who is placing feeding tubes in healthy women who want to lose weight fast, catering specifically to brides to be. The procedure involves a feeding tube that is threaded through the nose and into the stomach and allows the women to subsist on 800 calories, without a single carb. And the procedure costs a whopping $1500.
I don’t know if I even need to enumerate all the reasons why a feeding tube diet is unsafe, but I’ll briefly do so anyway. No one’s body is meant to subsist on 800 calories a day. Even the strictest of diets are usually in the neighborhood of 1000-1500 calories a day, and some of those border on malnutrition. Your body needs calories to function, it needs protein, fats, vitamins and yes, carbohydrates. A diet provided by a nasogastric tube is not meant to sustain healthy adults, it does not provide full nutrition and is not a substitute for eating well.
Malnutrition is no joke and it is nothing short of appalling to me that a physician would allow, let alone provide, this care for an otherwise healthy woman. If it’s not malpractice, it certainly flies in the face of the hippocratic oath that all these doctors took the day they graduated from medical school. How you can pretend to first do no harm while helping women starve themselves is completely beyond me.
The physician quoted in the article, Dr. Oliver R. Di Pietro, initially refused to perform the procedure for women who were trying to lose a small amount of weight, but later changed his mind, saying, “why should I say 5 or 10 pounds are not enough? People want to be perfect.”
Please read that again, because I feel that this quote is at the heart of what’s wrong with this situation.
Losing 5 or 10 pounds does not make you perfect because perfection, or any measure close to it, is not determined by weight.
A number on a scale does not determine your worth. A number on a scale does not measure your beauty. A number on a scale clearly does not reflect your health. And any doctor who cannot see that has no business practicing medicine.
And until we abolish that mindset, we’re going to continue to see stories like this in the news. We’re going to see women starving themselves to achieve this idea of perfect. We’re going to see our daughters calling themselves fat and dieting at younger and younger ages. This idea that perfection can only be achieved by weight loss has to stop before any more women are threatened or before the next crash diet lands in our news stream.
Katie is a 28 year old Southern Californian, married to a doctor, racking up as much student debt as possible as a full-time graduate student in a health science. Her hobbies include abusing parentheses, baking complicated desserts that almost universally involve frosting and loving her two cats more than is socially acceptable. She’s currently balancing her first child and graduating from graduate school. So planning and timing are also things she excels at. You can read more from Katie on her blog, Overflowing Brain.