Sheri’s Rants #10: ‘Decision Free’ Dieting

Posted on March 5, 2009 by

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Want to lose weight really quick?  Do you want, more than anything, to see that scale on the floor drop about 30 lbs, overnight? 

“Cut your leg off.  That’ll do it.” – said by an exasperated gym partner, to me, many years ago, after a long nonsensical whine.

Many of us have done many crazy things in the interest of ‘weight loss’ without any thought to the quality of life we actually want.  What do we really want to feel like?  Look like?  We can get so obsessed with scale weight that we lose sight of the physical reality of our bodies.  Are we really willing to see that scale drop at any cost and yet be left morbidly pale, gaunt, loose-skinned, weak and overly tired?  Or how about losing bodyparts?

I became intimately acquainted with the grisly underworld of VLCD’s, or Very Low Calorie Diets, starting with the Decision Free Diet some years ago in Colorado.  ‘Maria’;  a woman 35 years of age, quite overweight, who had tried ‘everything’  was referred to me by a friend of hers.  Maria had a long history of dieting, and her latest adventure was with the hospital-promoted Decision Free diet.  She had rapidly lost 40 lbs, but the weight only stayed off for 2 months and now she was, in her own words, ‘fatter than ever’.  She casually mentioned she had recently undergone gall bladder surgery.  She showed me the products she was eating on the diet, as she was still utilizing many of them.  I found the products to have very low actual food value (in terms of whole foods).  Maria ate no fresh or whole foods, instead relying on the bars and shakes from the program.  Her caloric intake averaged 600 calories/day.

Within weeks, another woman contacted me.  Desiree, 46, was also very frustrated with the weight gain after a ‘strict diet’.  She was still in recovery from gall bladder surgery, but wanted to get on my busy schedule early.  Desiree had lost 42 lbs on the same VLCD, and regained 60 lbs.  She was still eating the products promoted by the diet, and averaged 650 calories/day.

I met yet ANOTHER woman with similar experience – except the third woman had only regained about 25 lbs of the 33 she had lost.  She was in a state of panic, and had also had her gall bladder removed within a year of completing the diet.  She was eating the diet products ‘mostly’, interspersed with binging on ice cream and self described ‘junk food’.  Her diet averaged 720 calories/day – with some days at less than 100 and others over 2000 calories.

I was truly alarmed.  What struck me was that these women all spoke of having their gall bladders removed very casually, and when I expressed alarm at the number of times I was hearing this same story, none of the women became excited or surprised.  In fact, the third woman told me of two others, who had quick weight loss and had gall bladders removed.

(The gallbladder stores bile, which is released when food containing fat enters the digestive tract, stimulating the secretion of cholecystokinin (CCK). The bile, produced in the liver, emulsifies fats and neutralizes acids in partly digested food.  After being stored in the gallbladder the bile becomes more concentrated than when it left the liver, increasing its potency and intensifying its effect on fats. Most digestion occurs in the duodenum, where the bile from the gall bladder does it’s work.)

These women had 3 things in common.  The very low calorie diet, gall bladder removal, and a distinct resistance to being responsible to their food intake on most levels.  One of the woman was subsequently successful with following through with a health transformation; the other two were neither willing to be responsible to their own food choices, nor to eat as much food as their bodies required for health.

The Decision Free Diet is hospital promoted and advertises itself as ‘simple, easy, few decisions, stay full’.  Women reportedly lose 2-4 lbs/week, and for men the weight loss is 3-5 lbs per week.  The calories average under 700/day – a VLCD.

In the words of the promotional material:

“This option uses a low calorie diet to promote significant weight loss… using only nutritionally complete HMR® weight loss shakes and entrees instead of grocery store food.  The Decision Free Diet is the easiest diet to follow as it requires no decisions about what to eat, no counting calories and no weighing or measuring of portions.”

Sound good to you?

Alarmingly, none of the women I spoke with questioned the apparently routine removal of gall bladders – and they each took it personally that their weight had come up so quickly.  They did not question The Diet – and when I asked them about this, they EACH said it was ‘doctor approved’ and ‘hospital sponsored’ and so could not be in error!

The current VLCD I see gaining in popularity is the HGH diet.  You eat under 500 calories/day and inject yourself with Human Growth Hormones.  Weight loss is purported to be fast and furious.  Long term results?  Currently unknown.  What I find disturbing is that this diet is being touted by some N.D.’s as well as M.D’s (as HGH is considered a health supplement in some circles).  I am increasingly getting questions by new Genesis clients  about why this is not a good diet – in other words, why waste all this time learning to eat healthily and only lose 1-2 lbs of fat a week when they can just starve and do shots and get skinny quick?

My answer is this – because our job is not to get you skinny quick.  Our job is to teach you how to take care of your body utilizing whole foods (not pills, not shots, not supplements) and exercise.  You will feel better and stronger than you ever have in your life, and you will drop body fat – and only body fat – while retaining and increasing your health.  You’ll not only KEEP your gall bladder, but improve the overall health of your liver and digestive system.

Okay.  Let’s get back to the gall bladder issue.  Fast weight loss can frequently equate with gall bladder removal because a VLCD increases the risk of developing gallstones in both the liver and the gall bladder, due to the lack of good fats in the diet.  As well, there is a more complicated process wherein fast weight loss results in a sudden formation of gallstones apparently as a result of increased cholesterol and decreased bile salts in the bile.  38% of patients who have had gastric bypass surgery developed gallstones within 3 months of the surgery, according to one study.

Why would cholesterol INCREASE with sudden weight loss?  Because as the undernourished body seeks to nourish itself, it will go after the most expensive tissue; muscle.  Human muscle, when digested by the body, increases cholesterol by rapidly raising blood fats.  The human body – specifically the liver – cannot metabolize more than 1 to 2 lbs of body fat per week, period.  And that is a healthy functioning liver.

This is why in Genesis Transformation we work gradually to clean up your diet and let you get used to it.  Your body heals very rapidly, your physical systems have time to regenerate, and as fat loss begins to happen it is natural, healthy, and in tune with your liver and gallbladder.  You get better and better, not worse and worse.  You can trust the results of the fat loss because you are a responsible part of the process. It makes sense, both to your head and your body.

The degree of speed at which this will occur is different for everyone, depending on both history and personal constitution.  The more you’ve  battered yourself with poor lifestyle habits the longer it will take for your body to heal.  Frequently, the folks with a more self abusive history are the folks who are inordinately impatient with themselves and have a more difficult time accepting the responsibility of self care.  With Genesis Transformation it is all about the responsibility of self care. We teach you how this works and YOU do it.  The empowerment of this process is incredible; it’s healing, it’s regenerating, and it’s a ton of fun.

Posted in: Sheri's Rants