The Feeding Tube “Diet”: Starvation Redux?

Wedding season is right around the corner! In keeping with the season, the New York Times recently ran an article on the lengths future brides take to lose weight and fit into their wedding dress. One of the most extreme weight loss methods described was the “K-E Diet”, which is a diet where a patient agrees to have a doctor insert a feeding tube into their stomach through their nose. The patient then carries around a plastic bag filled with a liquid mixture of protein & fat (the plastic bag must be carried around by the patient at all times in a larger bag that, ironically, has been made to resemble a purse). The patient consumes ~800 calories/day (well below the medically prescribed 1200 calorie daily minimum) until they’ve reached their desired weight loss. You can check out more info on the K-E diet, a testimonial from a bride who did it and a video showing the insertion of the feeding tube here.

The main thing I found disturbing about the K-E Diet -besides its grossness!- was that the it was being described as a diet at all! Since when has force feeding been considered a diet? Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia continue to be a problem among young women (and increasingly older women as well [1]). When a severe case of an eating disorder leads to hospitalization, what treatment is prescribed? A feeding tube! The very same feeding tube that is now being described as a diet!

To play devil’s advocate, I suppose starving yourself is a kind of “diet” to the extent that a diet is just “a regimen of eating and drinking sparingly so as to reduce one’s weight”. [2] But in my view there has to be a distinction between dieting and starving yourself. Without that distinction, how do we discourage eating disorders and unhealthy living?

Following a diet is more than just the practice of regulating your food and drink. It’s doing so in a healthy and manageable way. In fact, that’s what makes diets so difficult; it’s a daily act of will power and choice. When you decide to go on a real diet it’s actually a lifestyle change; you’re changing the foods you eat in a healthy way for the long term.

I respect that some people decide to take short cuts. Brides want to look “perfect” on their wedding day and will do what they want to their bodies to achieve that goal. All I’m saying is call a spade a spade. Not all “diets” are created equal and not all “diets” are diets at all.

***What do you think? Where do YOU draw the line between dieting and starvation? Has the K-E “diet” gone too far or is it the same as the many other extreme crash diets out there?***


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About ChicFitChef

My "deserted island" checklist: a BCBG dress, a healthy & diabetic-friendly meal and a few workout DVDs. ;-)
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3 Responses to The Feeding Tube “Diet”: Starvation Redux?

  1. The Doc Is In says:

    This is SO disturbing and the doctors doing this should be ashamed of themselves. I agree with your devil’s advocate point it’s not really *that* different from any other method of extreme caloric restriction (remember the tapeworm diet anyone?!), but I can’t believe medical professionals are enabling this. How can you see patients with NG tubes for things like GI obstructions/cancers (who would give ANYTHING to eat normally) and think they should be offered to some LAZY women for pure vanity reasons? And don’t even get me started on the risks and side effects, why are people so concerned about the numbers on the scale as opposed to their actual health? Because yeah, breaking down all your muscle and throwing your electrolytes off balance is tots worth being a size 4 for a day o_O

    You know, I’d have more respect for brides who just use the money to hire an expensive editor to photoshop the hell out of their wedding photos…who’s going to know the difference 5-10 years down the line? LOL

  2. Pingback: The Feeding Tube Diet: A Magical Weight-Loss Solution? | The Dr. Oz Show « Human Body Engineer

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