Time to Cry Tuesday – Brides with Feeding Tubes

This is usually a place where I write about poignant, touching moments in life. Today I am reserving my right to talk about something that disturbs and saddens me quite deeply.

I will put this on my list of Top 10 Most Disturbing Stories of the Year. Ok, I don’t have a list like that but I am going to start one. I will also include vaginal cosmetic surgery. You see where I am going.

Briefly, here is the story. Brides-to-be are turning to feeding tube diets, or the K-E diet, for rapid weight loss of 10-20 lbs. in 10 days in order to fit into their wedding gowns. Here’s a novel idea ladies: alter a wedding dress to fit you instead of altering you to fit a dress!

This diet involves inserting a nasogastric tube to ‘feed’ the woman  for 10 days; cutting the daily intake to 800 calories. It is described as a hunger-free form of dieting. Correct me if I am wrong, but is this INSANE?

What blows my mind is a 41-year-old woman, Jessica Shnaider, had no problem being featured in this NYT story and then again on most major TV morning news shows. Here are some quotes from this person:

“I don’t have all of the time on the planet just to focus an hour and a half a day to exercise so I came to the doctor, I saw the diet, and I said, ‘You know what? Why not?”

Yeh, I can see why walking around with a friggin’ tube in your nose and not eating for 10 days would be less of a hassle than exercising and healthy dieting!

And then there was this beauty of a soundbite:

“People think I’m sick, I’m dying,” said Ms. Schnaider, a watch wholesaler in Miami. She refrained from going into her daughters’ school. “The children, they would be scared,” she said.

The adults that she knew were not scared by this behavior? Let me think of one adult that should have been running to catch the next train out of crazy town – THE KNUCKLEHEAD WHO WAS ABOUT TO MARRY HER. And did you catch the fact that she has a daughter?! Is there any hope for this young girl?

What is so disturbing about this diet is the doctors who are willing do facilitate it. Is the $1,500 that much of an incentive in the days where health insurance has shaved down the profitability of a medical practice? Here is a quote from a doc who might think they are tempering this with some solid advice:

“I don’t want to tell a bride she shouldn’t look good for the wedding,” Dr. Aronne said. “But we tell them, ‘You can get to the same place if you started earlier, instead of waiting until the last minute and doing something drastic.’ ”

How responsible, doc. How about something we rarely hear these days… the word NO and a referral to a good therapist to work out these debilitating body image issues and help these women to start their marriages on a healthy note instead of sending them right down the road of serious problems.

I have both a son and a daughter. This story disturbs me on so many levels. I don’t know which would worry me more, my daughter wanting to do this or my son marrying someone who did. Imagine these women raising kids.

Let me remove my outrage for a moment and get down to why this has me so inflamed. I have watched too many woman fall down this hole. Not just young women, but those who are at an age where you would hope they would finally get over their value being tied to how thin they are. I can sadly say that I count more women of all ages in the category of poor relationships with food than not. The scary thing about this therapy is it could be argued that it is ‘healthier’ than most eating disorder related behaviors because at least there is an attempt at nutrition, it is doctor-supervised and it is only short term. How sad is that?

Some sobering statistics from The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc. (please see this link for sources). I have picked only a few, but the ones that struck me as the most appalling.

  • Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness amongst adolescents
  • Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression
  • Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the US
  • Over one half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives
  • In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight
  •  42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner and 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat

This last one saddened me the most. It is starting at such an early age. The little girl that dreams of her wedding day and then sticks a tube down her nose to lose weight could most likely have been carrying this baggage since she was 7 years old.

How do we stop this madness?

Here is a start. Anya Strzemien of Stylist wrote this fabulous post. Women and men alike, please make this required reading for you, your friends, your daughters and most importantly anyone you worry about regarding risky body image and eating issues. In short, Ms. Strzemien implemented a tip jar to fine anyone in the office who says something negative about their appearance. The fine is $1 for every negative comment someone makes, with proceeds going to Girls Inc, an organization that promotes self-esteem and leadership skills for young girls. She took it one step further and flipped the focus to a positive one by using the comments section of her post to ask readers to say something good about themselves. In return, the Huffington Post Media Group will donate $1 for every comment up to $5,000.

Let that be the kind of behavior we ask our daughters to imitate and leave the feeding tubes to the minority!


Filed under absurdities

14 responses to “Time to Cry Tuesday – Brides with Feeding Tubes

  1. Wow. Great psychological analysis.

    Also, from a physiological standpoint, there’s no benefit to this madness. The body will just fight to regain the weight again since having a feeding tube up your nose the rest of your life isn’t exactly the most sustainable way to promote long-term health. In addition to that, due to the body’s mechanisms for dealing with drastic calorie restriction, these women will end up with slower metabolisms as well.

  2. THAT. IS. TERRIFYING. No one should voluntarily be eating through a tube.
    I’m scared that this will escalate onto other “special events” where the need to look thin is prominent, like HS Proms, Sweet 16’s, College Formals. Heaven forbid.

  3. What I fabulous post. When I read the piece Sunday I wanted to flummox both the physician and the inane woman quoted (people think I’m sick! no lady, you’re banal).

    Thanks for spinning in reality to a distorted picture.

    Any thoughts on why this “made it” as a story? That troubled me as well. In my mind’s eye it wasn’t really “news fit to print.”

    Regardless, thanks so much.

    • Jody, I would like to think what made it tip as story was outrage. But I am thinking it might be a combo of that and sensationalism. In a world where so many don’t have enough to eat we are sitting smack in the middle of a self-starvation crisis. Funny the way it is when you think about it (Dave Matthews reference)

  4. Laurie

    When I read the title of the post, I immediately said to myself – “how sad that a bride would have to marry the one she loves aided by a feeding tube.” Now that I have read the piece, i am saying HOW SAD AND TRAGIC! that anyone could voluntarily do this just blows my mind, and the doctor? I have no words…

  5. I operate a physician directed weight loss program called MdweightWoRx in Bloomington IN. this story hit home for us. I hear from so many frustrated women and man who have struggled over many years to lose weight. I have patients that have gone to extraordinary lengths to lose weight. Several of our clients have flown to South American counties to go under the knife of “doctors” who have promised weight loss. At least one of our patients came close to death and several more have lifelong medical issues directly related to these procedures and all have gained back their weight plus 20 to 30lbs more, weight is a complicated story, no fast fix. If one does not directly deal with the emotional aspect of weight they will continue to yoyo for the rest of their life or even come to the point where they just give up. Exercise is important and eating health foods as well. However if one does not understand the triggers on why one over eats the story will never end.
    I was personally inspired to develop a program with in our practice called “Wedding Gown slim down” I was hearing of so many brides doing desperate “diets” to lose weight, such as this story that you published. I felt I needed to do something to try to get a handle on this by offering offer a safer and more effective way for a brides to lose weight.
    Thank for sharing this story, and I wish people new there are other options.

    • And might I add that Frankie not only talks the talk, he walks the walk. So very proud of all the hard work he has done that led him to not only living a healthier lifestyle, but finding his life’s work. Love the Wedding Gown Slim Down. Starting a healthy lifestyle at the beginning of marriage will be a wonderful foundation if and when they decide to have kids as well.

  6. Pingback: Wednesday Bubble: Thin is in - eating disorders in midlife | FlashFree : Not Your Mama's Menopause

  7. As a follow up to this post, my brilliant friend Liz Scherer of Flashfree wrote a post about midlife eating disorders that is equally as sobering. If you know someone that you think might be suffering from this, reach out and have them read this; be part of stopping the madness. http://flashfree.me/2012/04/18/wednesday-bubble-thin-is-in-eating-disorders-in-midlife/

  8. judy levy

    i am SO glad that you wrote about this. i sat there reading it with my mouth open on sunday–thinking “you CANNOT be serious!!” (sorry, johnny mac…) at first i thought it was some kind of satirical piece……unbelieveable what the world had come to. and as i’m sure you know….the 20-something girls are all talking about this now…….

    • Some things annoy me. This one broke my heart.

      Well Jude, you have them in your office everyday AND are parenting this age group. Perhaps you can talk to them about how scary this is from a medical point of view. And you walk the walk of healthy eating and exercise so it won’t be a do as I do thing.

  9. Barbara H

    Amy this is awesome. I feel exactly the same way about my “kids”. It really is crazy!!!

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