By Gina Cousineau
I have delayed the hot topic of “weight loss” drugs for some time now, as I have tried to figure out how to “feed” this information to you in a useful and intelligent way. Hence, the need for a “Part 1”; I have way too much to communicate.
Next month, I am going to talk about the specific drugs, their costs, how they work, projected outcomes, as well as potential side effects. It is important to understand the medications and if you should consider them, but this month we talk about the reality.
The bottom line is that these drugs “give the people what they want,” which is an easy path to weight loss. Unfortunately, these medications are not the panacea, meaning that the patient must be participatory, and not a passive observer, to actually lose the weight, improve their health, and most importantly, sustain these outcomes.
In the weight-loss world, people clearly understand the concept of being on a diet and restricting calories. Back in the early days of dieting, the ’70s and ’80s brought the diet gurus who focused on cutting calories and did so by removing or adding certain foods and food groups.
Anyone remember the “cabbage soup” or “grapefruit” diets?
We then moved into other controlling diet approaches including the Atkins diet, which limited calories and carbs, and the Scarsdale diet, which focused on curbing calories and fat. And now, we have every iteration of dieting styles with intermittent fasting, keto, time-restricted eating, paleo, vegan, carnivore, flexitarian, Mediterranean and more.
At the end of the day, we as a nation are fatter and sicker than ever before. Why, you ask? Blame the multibillion-dollar diet industry, partnered with the influx of inexpensive, readily available, highly palatable foods chock-full with salt, fat and sugar.
Mix that with the countless “nutrition and weight loss” experts at your fingertips via the internet, as well as social media spewing so much noise that we no longer have a clue as to what a “healthy eating pattern” is nor how to put it on one’s plate.
In addition to the latest pills, injectables, potions, and diet approaches, we can’t fail to mention weight loss surgery. The bariatric surgery world actually considers these surgeries a tool that aids in a patient’s weight loss.
When the stomach size is reduced via surgery, limiting the amount of food that can be consumed, weight loss is inevitable. But the surgery also reduces the ability to properly digest and absorb nutrients, which then forces these patients to take supplements to make up for the nutrient loss.
And now those providers are adding in the new medications on top of this “tool.”
All this being said, I have seen this medication in full effect in my community, and I am concerned. What I know is that many people have an emotional attachment to food, similar to any other addiction.
These medications actually calm that call to food (and drink). This allows these patients to have more self-control when it comes to overeating. In some cases, they are able to eat very little, which accelerates their weight loss, but it comes with a price tag called malnutrition.
If you need to lose weight and improve your health, these medications can be the impetus for helping you get there. The caveat will always be to understand the value of instilling a healthy eating pattern that will allow you to propel your health gain and then sustain your weight loss for a lifetime. Otherwise, this is just one more very expensive diet.
Gina Cousineau, aka Mama G, is your local nutrition expert, chef, and fitness professional, with her BS in Nutrition and MS in functional and integrative nutrition. She uses a food-as-medicine approach for weight loss to health gain, and everything in between. Follow her on social media @mamagslifestyle, and check out her website mamagslifestyle.com to learn more about her programs and freebies offered throughout the year.