Friday, July 15, 2016

The Day I Threw Down With the Founder

One of the primary sources for support and information for those of us going through bariatric surgery is the World Wide Web. We can find medical info, tips and recipes, "journey" blogs like Misdirected and The World According To Eggface, and good old fashioned "support" sites.

Early on in our process, a friend introduced us to a closed Facebook group for bariatric surgery support. The support group (who I will not name, you'll see why shortly) was an outreach arm of a company that manufactures, among other things, protein shakes.

The group was a bit disconcerting, to say the least. The atmosphere was very similar to attending a group of religious fundamentalists. Here, though, the "devil" was carbohydrates, and the holy writ was something like "Drink our protein shakes every day, lest ye experience regain."

I tried, I really did. I spent months on this group, looking at recipes, investigating nutritional advice, reading about other people's experiences with bariatric surgery. But I was perpetually taken aback when the group leaders would brutally slam members whenever they would mention the forbidden word: carbohydrates.

The primary enemy, as this group's moderators see it, is anyone teaching that Everything In Moderation (EIM, as they called it) was a reasonable diet after surgical recovery. Nope, they very mention of adding white rice, or a potato, or pasta to a post-surgical diet was enough to send them into full-on frenzy: "EIM is a ticket to failure! Any carb ingestion will ultimately doom you to a regain, and ruin your diet! Carbohydrates are what caused your obesity!" (All paraphrased, but you get the point.)

Oddly, one of the primary products this group was promoting was a program to re-start weight loss after a regain, centered around purchasing their protein shakes.

For months I had remained silent. But this morning, a member of the group posted a copy of her Phase 3 diet - you know, the diet handed to her by her surgical team. But, after all the anti-carb info she had received from this support group, she was a little uncomfortable with the carbs included in this diet. 

This is what fearmongering gains you, you see. Lor just finished this transitional diet, on her way back to normal foods. It includes several soft foods that would not be considered low-carb friendly. Things like applesauce, mashed potatoes and the like. Things that are retraining the recovering stomach into digesting food, and not pure liquid. This poor woman was worried that the minuscule amounts of "unhealthy" carbs in her recovery diet would somehow damage her attempt to lose weight via bariatric surgery. 

Was this woman encouraged, that this was a temporary phase, intended by her doctors and nutritionists to ease her through a two week period?

Nope. A group moderator instantly jumped in with the following:

Moderator: "I wouldn't touch those foods with a 10-foot pole!!! Here are some awesome choices!!!" 

The "awesome choices", of course, included a recommendation for the company's protein shakes.

This was just too much for me. Where was the advice to "follow your surgical team's instructions."? What, exactly, was the basis for the expertise that allowed this moderator to direct this questioner to an alternate source of nutrition, rather than the one dictated by her surgical team? I removed the muzzle I have been wearing for several months, and replied:

Me: "Every time I start to get comfortable with the ***** group, something like this happens: ***** directly contradicting advice from a patient's medical team, all in the name of selling more protein shakes. I am fully aware that ***** is in business to sell shakes. But the number of times I have seen this kind of ***** activity makes me very uncomfortable. The fact that someone represents themselves as ***** on this group does NOT supersede advice from your surgical team, folks.

Asterisks represent redacted names and identities, not expletives.

Within 10 minutes, the Founder of the group had appeared. Her initial post told me that I was "missing the message" if I thought the group was doing this to sell shakes. This was not surgical advice - this was nutritional advice - advice that was being used by surgeons across the country because it worked! Hundreds of people were regaining weight because they weren't obeying the advice found in this group!

All in all, it was a very "How dare you?" kind of post.

Why no quotes here? Because within 20 minutes of her very angry post, she edited it to a much more friendly tone. But, as far as I was concerned, the damage was done here. Any site that is directly opposing medical advice, and then responding quickly, defensively, and angrily when called on it, is probably not a source I need for assistance with my weight loss. I replied to that effect, then left the group.

It's too bad, really. Some of the recipes were great.

Back In Search Of Sane Bariatric Surgery Support,

- Hawkwind

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