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Skipping Meals, Using Laxatives for Weight Loss

By June 29, 2012

I just read the book, Life Inside the “Thin” Cage, after confiding in an individual that I thought perhaps skipping meals and living off one meal a day was sufficient. Through this time I started using laxatives if I did eat. I weighed 230 lbs. and have lost about **lbs. in the past 4 months. I intend on losing more weight. Do you perceive that there is a problem? (I have enough fat to live off of if I skip meals.) Also, what are the detrimental side effects of using laxatives? One last thing – when a person is forcing you to get professional help, what help is it when you are unwilling to change? Thank you for your answer. – HV

Dear HV:

It sounds like there is someone in your life who cares deeply about you. It’s only our really good friends (and family) who are truly honest and show genuine concern for us. After reading your letter, I can understand why they are urging you to get help. You are forming unhealthy eating patterns and dangerous habits that are leading in the direction of a serious eating disorder. I fear you are headed down a path of deep trouble.

First, skipping meals is hard on your body. Our bodies need a steady supply of fuel to keep our blood sugar levels steady. This means we need moderate amounts of food spread throughout the day (meaning three meals plus snacks as needed) in order to think and do our best. You probably have noticed your energy level dragging at times, and it must be harder to concentrate on your studies. Also, you are constantly ignoring your body’s hunger signals, and I would guess that you often become ravenous and end up bingeing. In addition, you may be slowing your metabolism, as your body protects itself from periods of starvation throughout the day.

Secondly, you are abusing laxatives. They are meant for help with short-term problems of constipation—not everyday use. As a matter of fact, your body can become dependent on them. With chronic use, the large intestines lose their motility, or ability to move waste products through them. You could end up with severe chronic constipation in the future. Aside from that, laxatives pull a lot of water out of the body, leading to dehydration. This also affects the balance of electrolytes in the blood, which can lead to abnormal heart rhythms and seizures. Other complications of laxative abuse include kidney disease, intestinal disease, bloating and osteoporosis.

For all the health risks and damage chronic laxative use causes, they are mostly ineffective in preventing the absorption of calories. They work in the large intestine, after about 88-94% of calories have already been absorbed (in the small intestine). The weight loss from laxatives is mostly fluid and indigestible materials.

You have such a strong desire to reach a healthier weight for your body type; you just need to shift your focus to a safe approach. The only way for long-term success is to make positive lifestyle changes—taking care of the whole you, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Listen to your good friend and check out some professional help. Be open to a better way to get to a healthy weight—that will last. You are wonderfully made, and our creator wants you to respect and care for your body. I pray that you will be inspired to do so.

Ann