There’s a new crash diet that’s becoming popular with brides-to-be – one that’s so appalling to me it’s taken me several days to process the information. The diet involves a nasogastric tube (a feeding tube that goes through the nose into the stomach) that provides the bride a liquid diet of only 800 carb-free calories. Some women report weight loss of 10-20 pounds in only two weeks. Dr. Oliver R. Di Pietro, a doctor who inserts the tubes for these women, was quoted by The New York Times as saying, “At first I decided not to do it for people who just want to lose a few pounds,” he said. “But then I thought, why should I say 5 or 10 pounds are not enough? People want to be perfect.”
My daughter Madeline was born almost twelve weeks premature, and relied on a nasogastric tube to provide her essential nutrition while she learned to eat. Yes, she had to learn to eat. My husband and I, along with her NICU nurses, spent countless hours trying to teach her how to suck and swallow. Anything she couldn’t take by mouth we’d have to carefully give to her through her NG tube – slowly, to make sure her stomach could handle it and she didn’t get sick. Her feeding tube was a method of survival, not vanity.
Are brides looking at this picture of my sweet baby thinking, “Oh, gee, look how skinny that baby is! Jealous!”
Look, I was a bride once. I got up every day at 4am to exercise before work so I’d be ready for my big day, but taking it to this extreme is crazy. Women need to remember why they are getting married – not to have everyone tell her she is a beautiful bride (which she would be anyway), but because it is a beautiful, sacred event in one’s life. A union between two people, who vow to love and respect each other forever. In the audience are older couples who have been through the slings and arrows of marriage – as I have – and when they watch they won’t be thinking, “Gee, look how thin she looks. How wonderful!” They’ll be thinking about the power of a union, and the road ahead, and the beauty of two people deciding to set out together.
I’ve looked through many wedding photo books with former brides, and not once did any of them say she wished she’d lost five more pounds. They point out since-deceased family members, the big moment of the first kiss, the way she felt, how happy her face was when she looked at her husband. The important things – NOT her WEIGHT.
My Maddie passed away from complications related to prematurity. She will never wear a wedding dress. She will never know what it is to form a union with another person that the older couples at the wedding think about. But these woman will get that chance. That is something to be thankful for… the word gratitude comes to mind. The women who choose to do this ridiculous diet (and the doctors who supervise them) need to take a step back – are they getting married for love, or looks?