Just when I think I’ve seen it all, another quick fix weight-loss method pops up. Over the years I’ve heard about weight-loss lollipops, diet chopsticks, even slimming sunglasses (designed to change the color of food and make it unappetizing). There will always be silly and trendy get-slim-quick tricks, but what really worries me are approaches that are invasive, extreme, and downright dangerous. Here are seven I hope you’ll never, ever try:
Plastic tongue patch
Created by a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, this yet-to-be FDA-approved patch is sewn onto the tongue with six stitches in about 10 minutes, at a cost of roughly $2,000. The device and sutures make eating solid food so excruciatingly painful, patch wearers are forced to adhere to a liquid-only diet, which supplies about 800 calories a day.
When I first heard about this trend, I was speechless. To lose weight quickly, women, including many brides-to-be, are opting to have a feeding tube inserted through their noses, which travels through the esophagus into the stomach, remaining in place 24 hours a day. For 10 days, eating is avoided completely, and a high protein, low carb formula is fed through the tube, delivering roughly 800 daily calories. The medical procedure, which costs about $1,500, is normally used to nourish people who cannot eat due to illness or injury.
Drunkorexia is a relatively new term for the overlap of binge drinking and disordered eating. The pattern can involve behaviors like: restricting calories to “save them up” for alcohol; drinking excessively to the point of throwing up as a way to purge; overexercising before drinking or the following day; or starving the day after a night of binge drinking. The potential side effects of combining alcohol with undereating and/or purging are serious, including trouble concentrating, and difficulty making decisions, in addition to a weakened immune system, and a greater risk of injuries and acute alcohol poisoning. This is a trend I’ve noticed not just in college students, but also among women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.
While possessing tapeworms is illegal in the U.S., I regularly hear about people seeking them out for weight loss. The sad reality is that many people who unintentionally become infected with tapeworms in the United States suffer from serious dangers, including digestive blockages, organ function disruption, brain and nervous system damage, and even death.
Your body is like an engine that’s always turned on – from head to toe, every cell needs a constant source of fuel to perform its job. In addition, your structure is in a continual state of repair, healing, and regeneration, so your cells needs a steady supply of “building blocks,” including protein and healthy fats, to maintain your tissues. When needed fuel and essential raw materials don’t show up for work, or you consume less than your body requires to support a healthy weight, the deficits trigger a cascade of side effects. Even semi-starvation (less than about 1,000-1,200 calories per day for most women, depending on height and frame size, or more if you’re active) can lead to fatigue, depression, the breakdown of muscle, organ and bone tissue, suppressed immunity, hair loss, hormone imbalances, sleep disturbances, and an increased injury risk.
I wish this wasn’t the case, but I have had clients tell me they took up smoking specifically to lose weight, fully knowing the unhealthy consequences. It is true that smoking dulls taste buds, suppresses appetite, and slightly increases metabolism. But the health risks are so great that experts estimate they’re equal to gaining 100 pounds (not to mention the impact on aging your skin).
Throughout my years specializing in weight loss and disordered eating, I’ve seen many women and men fall into the trap of using stimulant drugs to lose weight, then becoming addicted, and ending up in rehab, or worse. And even without dependence, over-the-counter, prescription, or illegal stimulants are risky, with potential side effects ranging from poor judgment, impulsivity and mood swings, to dangerously high blood pressure, seizures, and stroke.
Bottom line: in our weight-obsessed culture, it’s easy to understand the temptation to gamble on a quick fix, but no loss of inches and pounds is worth risking your health. And while it may take a little more time and patience, clean eating and exercise do work – while also keeping you safe and healthy. Remember, YOU are more important than the number on a scale.
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches. Connect with Cynthia on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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