Fit vs. Fiction's Blog


Diet “Doctors.” A perscription for Starvation

A few years ago, after years of anorexia, I ended up going to the other extreme and started to binge eat. At my heaviest, I was still within a healthy weight range, but I felt horrible and was desperate to lose weight…desperate enough to visit one of those “Doctor supervised diet centers”..here’s what happened:

It’s 8:30am. I just got off the phone with Rob. He’s on his way to work and called me with the number of a weight loss clinic he saw advertised on the wall of the subway he car he’s riding in. He said, “I don’t know what this is, but it might be worth a call”. I am actually familiar with the place he mentioned as they air countless ads on TV and seem to have clinics popping up daily in strip malls across the city. I suppose this is his not-so-subtle way of letting me know that my weight gain has finally started to bother him and he wants me to do something about it.

Although I’m feeling somewhat humiliated, I also feeling surprisingly hopeful. Maybe this is the solution I’ve been searching for. I call the clinic and let them know that I am desperate to lose weight. They assure me that they can help me do just that, and ask me for a partial pre-payment of the $350 consultation fee. I am surprised at how expensive it is, but well worth the price, if it can get me back to my goal weight. I’m in luck! They have an opening this morning and if I hurry I can meet with one of their diet specialists and start my new life today! It’s perfect timing as I am still reeling from the killer binge I had last night when after being able to keep myself out of the kitchen for a whopping 3 hours, I found myself plowing through an entire carton of the chocolate brownie ice cream I had stashed in the back of the freezer and an entire bag of Oreo cookies.

Knowing that once I meet with my diet specialist and start this new plan, my binging days will be over, I decide to go out with a bang and grab a few things out of the pantry in celebration of the new life and new body that awaits me. Thinking that this is my last chance to eat whatever I want before starting my new food plan, I quickly finish off two granola bars, a banana nut muffin, a piece of BBQ chicken from last night’s dinner as well as some leftover French fries. I’m ready to get skinny now!

I run up to my bedroom and throw on the very forgiving, stretchy, cotton mini skirt that I’ve grown to depend on these days and one of the many oversized, black sweatshirts I like to cover myself in. I feel hugely optimistic, emphasis on “huge”. I run out the door and head to the bus stop. While I’m standing here, a car drives by and some guy sticks his head out the window and whistles at me! My first thought is that he’s making fun of me, whistling at the heavy girl. My next thought is that he has a thing for fat chicks. Either way, I’m not terribly flattered.

The bus drops me off right in front of what I see as my last chance at happiness. I walk inside and see several women in long, white, lab coats, looking somewhat official. The first thing they do is request the second half of my consultation fee. That money is theirs, even if I were to walk out right now, never to return. Then they pull out the scale. As it turns out, I weigh in at around 140lbs. Not overweight, but at the higher end of acceptable for this office. On to step 2, my consultation with the specialist I’ve been assigned to who will give me my personalized diet plan. I discover, however, that I am not alone. I am being joined by another desperate soul; a woman, who at a quick glance, seems to be about 10 yrs older and 150 lbs heavier than I am. She quickly nicknames me “Skinny” which makes me a tad uncomfortable. Let’s call her “Hope” since I know that, like me, she is sitting here hoping that this is the program that’s finally going to change her life. Hope and I are led into a large room and are seated across from each other at a large table. We’re told that these consultations are usually done in bigger groups, which leads me to question their interpretation of the term “Personalized programming”. It seems that Hope and I will be given the same exact plan to follow, regardless of the fact that we have very different nutritional needs and backgrounds. The consultation has barely gotten started and I’m already having doubts. Our specialist, who I will call Ms. Guided, or Ms. G, for short, gives me a handout containing the foods I am allowed to eat. It is a very small handout. Apparently, in this program, carbohydrates are considered evil as they are listed in very sparse quantities. The fruits are also extremely limited, as is, basically everything else. I am confused by the ridiculously small portion sizes, as I can remember eating bigger portions when I was starving myself on my own just a year earlier. I’m becoming more and more skeptical of the health benefits being promised and start asking a lot of questions; challenging the validity of the information I’m being given. It is clear that my cynicism has become frustrating for Ms.G who has begun speaking to me in an overly polite tone and is punctuating each of her responses with a loud, irritated sigh. Since she is unable to actually answer any of my questions, it’s becoming painfully obvious that they’ve been quite generous with their use of the word “Specialist” as the only weight loss Miss G seems truly qualified in is removing the weight of the money from my wallet. Hope is a much better “patient” than I am. She’s happily taking in all the information being given to us, oblivious to the fact that she’s being set up for failure. Hope has no idea what’s in store for her. I doubt very highly that she has ever attempted getting through a day on the mere 800 calories this diet allows. I’m guessing she’s so distracted by fantastic images of the bikini worthy body she’s expecting to acquire after this, that she misses the part of the consultation where we’re told that following this diet may result in hair loss and fertility problems.

Her attention returns to our conversation, however, when she hears the word injection. In order for this diet to work, along with extreme restriction, we are also given injections. We are told that we are expected to come to the clinic 3 times a week for several shots. Miss G. explains that they contain vitamin B and certain fat burning acids. I quickly ask if we need the extra vitamin shots because we aren’t getting enough nutrients in our food, she answers yes.

I am becoming more and more discouraged as it becomes more and more evident that this is not a solution, but rather a variation of the anorexic diet I have followed for most of my life. The idea of giving thousands of dollars I don’t have, to a program I don’t trust, while being injected with something I don’t understand, by someone I don’t know, is not the solution I’m hoping for. As desperate as I am to lose weight, I just cannot bring myself to return to the extreme diet practices that made me so miserable in the past and eventually put me on my present path of self destruction through compulsive overeating. I pick up my information packet, and tell Ms. G that I’ll have to think things over; she tries to get me to buy several bottles of vitamins before I leave, but I politely refuse. They have already taken enough of my money this morning. “Hope” says a friendly, if not completely sincere, “Goodbye Skinny-Minny!” and I leave the office. I’m walking to the bus stop, and although I’m confident that this is not the program for me” I am suddenly completely overwhelmed with the sickening realization that nothing has changed and that not only will there be no reprieve from the binge eating I did last night, but I now have to deal with all the extra food I ate before coming here. Feeling completely defeated, I head back home and spend the entire 20 minute bus ride counting the fast food restaurants located between the clinic and my house, fantasizing about stopping into each and every one for a bite. I try to convince myself that I can get through this on my own and decide to make better food choices for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, my resolve lasts about as long as it takes me to walk through my front door and listen to the lone message on my answering machine. The message is from Rob, using the most positive, optimistic tone he could muster, saying. “Hey baby, how did it go?”

It didn’t go and I end up falling right back into the madness.

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