Thursday, May 5, 2011

Balloons of Despair

  • It's what people must feel when dieting doesn't work for them and they resort to surgery for weight loss.
  • It's what I feel when I consider that they believe it is their only option.
  • It's what I feel when I think about how our medical system allows and even encourages high-risk surgeries to solve a simple problem, but refuses to tell people the truth about the role carbohydrates play in their weight gain. 

Gastric bypass surgery and stomach stapling have been around for a while.  Special stomach balloons are available as an option for people who are not fat enough to undergo the more invasive surgeries. "You only need a BMI of 27 or above to undergo the gastric balloon procedure."  Isn't that creepy?

As much as I believe carbohydrate and sugar restriction is the way to go if you want a healthy metabolism, I do understand that it's not that simple for anybody with diabetes.  If you're taking insulin to control your blood sugar, it can be dangerous to simply stop eating the foods that increase blood sugar levels.  You need to proceed carefully and gradually, and preferably with a doctor's supervision.  And depending on where you live, it may be difficult to find a doctor or nutritionist willing to step outside the traditional "balanced eating" box.

But there are plenty of people who "only" have a BMI of 27 and who are nowhere near to developing diabetes.  For them to even consider surgical means of reducing their weight is complete folly, in my opinion.

For one thing, there is the risk of complications, including death.  According to the bariatric surgery page on Wikipedia:
Complications from weight loss surgery are frequent. A study of insurance claims of 2522 who had undergone bariatric surgery showed 21.9% complications during the initial hospital stay and a total of 40% risk of complications in the subsequent six months.
And some patients even die.  You would have to be in a serious state of despair to brave these odds to lose weight.

Especially when there are other options.

Surgical websites touting weight loss surgeries all tell you their programs include learning to eat healthfully:  "the aftercare and support you receive through behavioural change is crucial to your success."

How many of these eating plans include grains and sugars?  How many people considering this option have spent any amount of time studying the science surrounding low-carb eating and how many of them have actually tried it?

The best way to find out is to ask the patients themselves.  I found a great online discussion.  Some quotes:
  • I lost a lot of weight in the first 2 months (20 pounds) but nothing over the past month or so. I have also noticed my appetite is increasing too.
  • My appetite has returned, ... I only seemed to lose weight for the first 2 months and that was because I constantly felt like throwing up!
  • They told me to only eat low fat food drink loads of water and not eat after 6pm, which is basically just a diet, if I could stick to a diet I wouldn't have got the balloon!
  • So basically the advice is pretty much what you would expect from weight-watchers! We could have saved ourselves the money.
  • I contacted the clinic earlier this week as I was getting so despondent and they suggested I eat less. DOHHHHH!!!! errrr.....thats what I paid 2 grand for a balloon for. 
Can you see why I'm feeling so depressed?

Thankfully there is also a brighter side.  The more I search for information, the more physicians and researchers I'm finding who are sharing their knowledge about how  carbohydrates affect metabolism.  Dr. Eades, Dr. Davis, Dr. Willett and Dr. Lustig are just four names off the top of my head.  And while Gary Taubes may "only be a journalist" (having also studied applied physics and aerospace engineering), his books are meticulously researched and written. 

I'm astounded by the wealth of credible information and excellent websites by people who have been doing this for long periods of time.  It simply isn't true that low carb eating is a new unproven fad - check out Arthur De Vany's site or read about Jack Lalanne for examples of people living a paleo lifestyle for over a quarter of a century.

If you are feeling despondent about your inability to succeed with dieting, and you're  even considering a surgical solution, please do yourself a favour and start reading about carbohydrates first.

It will keep you busy because there is so much to read, but you will finally figure out how to lose weight and be healthier.  Naturally and without investing in a plan or surgery.  It will save you a fortune and it might even save your life.

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