The Feeding Tube Diet

by Katie on April 16, 2012

in Daily Curve, Health

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.

Amateur Mommy April 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm

A) That doctor should lose his damn license and B) Any woman who is going to do that should call off the wedding and invest in some lengthy and intense therapy.

Stacy April 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Scary. I have a friend who just completed a doctor supervised HCG injection diet. She took a daily hcg injection and ate 500 calories a day for 40 days. She ended up with amazing results, but I can’t imagine what it did to her body OR how she will be able to maintain.

Katie April 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm

That completely terrifies me. 500 calories a day? I just don’t understand how a doctor can endorse that. I am typically not hyper-critical of most physicians or their motives for treatment (I’m married to one, it’s one of my internet pet peeves), but it seems so clear to me that these doctors are so much more focused on money than on their patients when they resort to things like this.

SwingCheese April 16, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I had a friend who did the HCG diet, too, but although the entirety of the diet lasted 40 days, she was not restricted to 500 calories every day of those 40 days. Some days, she could eat an unlimited amount of calories, and some days she was restricted to..1000, I think? I don’t recall all the details, but I do remember that the 500 calorie per day segment wasn’t for the entire thing. But I thought the same thing about maintenance, too. And our schedules have been opposite for the last few months, so I haven’t had a chance to ask her about her results, but the initial ones were amazing.

Stacy April 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm

My friend may have had more flexibility with her calories as well, she only briefly stated what she did and how much she ate when she posted her before and after pics/stats on facebook. She is a nurse working on her graduate degree, so I am sure she made an informed decision, but it is still scary. It took me three years to reach my goal weight by eating healthy and exercising, but I’m okay with that.

SwingCheese April 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm

FWIW, I’d be worried about it, too. If nothing else, it can’t be great for you to have HCG in your body when you’re not pregnant. And in my experience, it has only been suggested to people who really need a hand and not people who want to lose 5 or 10 pounds, like this nose diet.

b. April 16, 2012 at 4:21 pm

I saw this, too, and it made me cringe.

What an astonishingly first-world thing to do.

Brittany April 16, 2012 at 4:42 pm

This statement could not be more true.

Kate April 16, 2012 at 5:22 pm

As someone who can proudly say they are on the other side of what was one a very serious Eating Disorder this completely frightens me. For 8 months of my life I was fed through a feeding tube because I simply refused to eat. It was a last resort.
I have nothing but horrible memories of the discomfort it caused (though I assume a bride to be wont be constantly pulling/cutting theirs out) and I cannot believe any woman would choose to walk around with that horrid tube in her noise. I was always so ashamed.

It horrifies me that a doctor would even think of such an idea. Every bride is beautiful, they don’t need to be a certain shape or size. This man needs his license revoked immediately, intentionally malnourishing healthy women for the sake of vanity? My goodness.

Krystal April 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm

judging by the woman’s collarbones, she is already very thin….i don’t understand. i don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

Elizabeth@Table for Five April 16, 2012 at 7:32 pm

When I was on the medicallly-supervised Optifast diet, I consumed 800 calories a day in the form of 6 shakes/bars. Each had 15 grams of protein and 20% of the RDA for vitamins and such. So it is possible to live in 800 calories a day if it’s the right “food”, but I know that’s not the point. I also stopped losing weight as soon as I finished the 6 weeks of the program and went back to real food. Chances are very likely that those brides will gain back everything they lose plus more. And yeah, talk about a first-world problem. That doctor should have his license revoked.

Fanny April 16, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I’m amazed. I’m shocked. I’m dumbfounded. My mouth is to the floor.

I’m sitting in my home in haiti reading this, and though I’m in no way in need of anything, I see it everyday. Hungry, starving ppl all around… This is a slap in the face of every hungry man, woman and child in the world…

Like the other commenter said: “What an astonishingly first-world thing to do.”

Katie B. April 16, 2012 at 8:09 pm

I know a women who recently followed the 500 calorie hCG diet against my plea. She is now awaiting removal of her gall bladder due to painful gall stones- directly related to this low calorie diet. I don’t necessarily think it is only our ideal “perfect” weight that is causing all the fad and the Yo-yo dieting patterns. I too think that women should respect thier bodies and accept imperfection. What is a perfect body shape anyway? There is no such thing. I think unhealthy daily patterns like lack of physical exercise and unbalanced eating are most to blame for sending people into a diet panic. The extra weight can sneek up on people pretty fast with our current typical lifestyle. We need to learn to respect food, eat quality food- only for the right reasons, and improve our food and physical activity environment. That is the real reason why excess weight gain is considered negative anyways, due to the health consequeces, short and long-term. We are currently living in a toxic environment; eat junk and then hate yourself for feeling unhealthy.

Mackenzie April 17, 2012 at 7:13 am

What awesome things she could have done with that 1500 dollars. Sad.

Sydney April 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm

My mother, my sister and someof my friends did the HCG diet. 500 calories a day. I had a friend that did it, but she got the shot instead of drops, or spraying stuff in their mouth.
They have been trying to convince me for over a year to do it. They all saw amazing results and if I didnt know any better think they were addicted.
This is something I could never ever do to my body. I feel like you would see the results you wanted to on the outside, but on the inside, no telling what is going on with your body. My mother had issues with her galbladder after her last round (third time to do it thru) and now she does half rounds every few months, to ‘keep the weight off’
She gets angry at herself when she sees the numbers on the scale or disappointed. And I feel bad for her. Weight is something she has struggled with the past 15 years or so. But I think these measures are way to extreme and I am afraid she and the others that do this, are hurting their body. No one was meant to survive on 500 calories a day! And they arnt allowed to any kind of physical work. They loose muscle and fat.
I agree with Katie B. We need to learn how to eat right, work out or get in some sort of physical activity and respect our bodies.

Yahpee April 17, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I saw this on GMA and could not believe that they would run this as news. Talk about promoting eating disorders. Being in ketosis for an extended period of time is NOT healthy – also what happens when you’re off the tube? You gain it all back and you’re down $2K and back to square one.

How ridiculous!

JenniferA April 18, 2012 at 4:39 pm

The lady in the picture looks miserable.

This is ridiculous and I can’t believe that a doctor does this. If I were the groom and I saw my bride doing this, I probably would run the other way. Perfection is not attainable. And its not worth getting sick or dying.

Cher April 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm

This is such insanity and it makes me want to cry for women who’s self worth is so depleted that they think 10 pounds will make all the difference in their lives. 10 pounds lost on your wedding day will not guarantee you a happy marriage. 10 pounds lost after you have your baby will not assure you of raising the perfect child. 10 pounds lost before the job interview will not be the tipping factor in whether or not the job is yours.

As a Brand Evangelist for a swimsuit company that caters to the plus sized woman, I am surprised to see that women who have only 5-10 pounds to lose are just as, if not more insecure, than the women I come into contact with daily…who just want a swimsuit that fits their ample bodies. None of these women would remotely consider dying to get into a swimsuit let alone their wedding gowns. Just goes to show that no matter how perfect we may think another woman’s body is, it is usually never perfect enough for her. Women are truly their own worst enemy.

This article truly makes me sad. How a woman would be willing to die to look good in her wedding gown is just beyond me. I am a retired nurse. I have a feeling these women have no clue what they could potentially do to themselves…

sadder still, if they do.

That said, these doctors should have their licenses revoked.


Cher Tushiah
Brand Evangelist and
Social Media Marketing Expert

Cher April 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

I got so frustrated and upset by the article that I forgot to thank you for it, and let you know we will be featuring it on our Facebook page, Katie. The sign of a great writer is one who captures your attention so well, that they can’t even remember what they wanted to initially comment on. ;)

I wonder, you mention in your bio that your husband is a doctor. How does he feel about the doctors performing these procedures in this great state of mine? *Flori-DUH!*

Cher T.

Katie April 18, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Thank you for the compliment!

I actually asked my husband what he thought before I wrote the article because I wanted his take. He was as outraged as I was because he agrees that this is just not what physicians are meant to do. He felt that these are the kind of physicians who give others a bad reputation because it’s so blatantly clear that the patient’s best interests are taking second place to the physician’s desire for money.

The whole thing is just tragically appalling. I hope that the outrage reaches these doctors and that these women see that they are beautiful regardless of their weight.

Jess April 19, 2012 at 8:10 am

I have a delayed toddler that I can’t get to gain weight, so matter how many good fats, carbs, and calories I feed her little self. So as a parent who has had to have discussions about a feeding tube possibility….this is just. No words, really.

Some women seriously need to reevaluate priorities. Holy crap. I can’t even pick my jaw up.

Marlene May 30, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I’m astounded by the fact that women would spend that much money to get an NG tube. My daughter was fed through an NG tube for the first three weeks of her life because she could not eat due to complex medical issues. After that, she had to have a G tube surgically placed and had that for two years. Every day was torture, but those tubes kept her alive. And now, grown women are using these as fad diets; what a sad, sad world we live in.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: