Friday, May 22, 2009
Thoughts about Brookhaven Obesity Clinic
There are a lot of problems, as I see it, with Brookhaven's program. They claim to have a high sucess rate, but compared to what? Only 3% of all dieters ever get to their weight loss goals on their own. And out of that 3%, most of them will re-gain all of their weight plus more within the next five years. I know; I've lived it.
But if Brookhaven calls itself a facility that treats food addiction, then they better start doing something more than snatching the addicts' food away, and telling them that in exchange for eating 15,000 calories, they get to(woohoo, what fun when you are defying gravity with every step) exercise and talk to a shrink. Terrific. How motivating. That makes ME want to sign up! Luckily, I don't qualify for their program anymore! (Actually it's all due to my Higher Power, and yes, I'm referring to the 12-steps. It works for me. Nothing else, INCLUDING gastric bypass surgery, has.)
Look, anytime you take away a substance or behavior away from an addict, they become angry, depressed, pathetic, irrational, and totally unable to conceptualize the long term benefits of changing their lives. Losing 200-700 pounds seems like a fantasy, an unattainable goal filled with pain and frustration. (You should have seen me when I was de-toxing from flour and sugar. I would have scared the Incredible Hulk!) No wonder they sneak food into the hospital. The short term satisfaction of eating their binge food becomes much more desirable than that distant future of "someday I will be thin and normal."
And Brookhaven's food looks pretty disgusting. So what do these patients have to look forward to each day? Not much. There you have it. Relapse city. Not only that, they allow them to eat flour products as part of their daily food plan. Sorry folks, for food addicts, bread is NOT the staff of life--it is EVERYTHING in life, their love, their comfort, their joy! And it is addictive. One piece of bread is never enough. Why do you think they keep ordering delivery pizza? The addiction to flour has been triggered by the bread they eat in the hospital, and they want more!
The down side of taking away an addict's favorite binge food is dealing with the addict. Without their fix of flour and sugar, you have some pretty surly patients on your hands. Unless they are given, like me, spiritual and emotional support and a way to feel good about themselves. A diet feels like punishment. Exercise feels like punishment. In fact, LIVING feels like punishment to a food addict, even though the thought of dying is terrifying. But even the threat of death won't keep a hardcore food addict out of the pizza. My suggestion? Start some 12 step meetings that focus on recovering from food addiction in the hospital, and require the patients to attend at least one a day. Make sure that the speakers for the meetings are people who have lost at LEAST 100 pounds, preferably more, and have kept it off for more than a year (preferably five years or more). The patients won't like it, but they don't like what they are doing now. But they need to hear stories of hope and recovery from people who know exactly what they going through on a daily basis, and develop a network of support that will help them when they return to their homes.
Most people underestimate the fact that flour products are highly addictive (and toxic, but I won't get into that). Normal eaters (and food addicts in denial) can't understand it, but it's true. How many times have we seen in the series Brookhaven patients ordering in pizza? It's ALL about the bread: buttery, flaky croissants, an extra-large deep dish Chicago-style pizza smothered in extra cheese and pepperoni, mountains of fried chicken served with buttered biscuits and/or cornbread, mashed potatoes and rich, creamy gravy. Flour and fat--a food addict's dream. Without daily spiritual and emotional support from understanding people who have been down that addiction path, that "dream" will kill them. And more often than not, it does.
Top off the flour/fat combo with the sugary stuff for dessert, and the cravings and compulsion to eat and eat and eat even more becomes unbearably overwhelming. Next stop--face down in the food, around the clock. Trust me. I've been there. I didn't get to 400 pounds by eating fresh fruit and salad. That's what I eat now,now that I'm more than 200 pounds down from my highest weight. And I resisted eating the vegetables most all. I tolerate them now, but in exchange for eating food I'm not too crazy about, I have a much clearer connection to my Higher Power and other people on a daily basis. And life is better. It just takes a very long time for a food addict like me to see that. And I couldn't do this on my own. I have NO willpower. The best way for me to keep eating healthy is to never put any flour or sugar products in my mouth, ever. That may seem harsh to some, but it's the truth.
I had nearly die three times, have Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (July 11, 2002), lose 150 pounds and re-gain 85 back, and once I got into recovery, complain bitterly about the nasty tasting food until I finally surrendered to this program. I was severely hard core addict sinking deeper and deeper into the food. I didn't know about Brookhaven when I was deep into the addiction, but I doubt if my outcome would have been much different than the patients in the series. At 400 pounds, in excruciating pain and confined to a wheelchair, I was a quarter step away from the life those super morbidly obese patients have been doomed to live. And that's a tortuously horrific living death.