Starving yourself, starvation, fasting: these words seem to pop up everywhere these days in relation to lipedema. And not just with respect to lipedema. There’s talk of ‘starving tumors’, resetting and/or cleansing your body by fasting, skipping meals like a caveman etc. The emphasis is shifting to what is not ingested, instead of what you should or could ingest. Before you know it the (presumed) science behind these tools is translated into numbers of calories and ways to cut calories, as we are all drilled with the low-calorie myth.With doctors still (!) recommending gastric surgery for lipedema, the fad of the hCG diet which was paired with extremely low calorie food plans, the popularity of juice detox-fasting and the presumed beneficial effects of (intermitted) fasting, the extreme low calorie theories as somehow being beneficial for lipedema after all keep creeping into conversation. I don’t buy that. Plus, this line of reasoning is creeping me out. It creeps me out because it’s a slippery slope: if you don’t lose weight at, say, 1500 calories a day, they drop the recommendation to 1200, then 1000. Where does it end? With hCG they dropped to 600 calories. That’s incredibly low, to put it mildly. Just because we need to fit the calories in and calories out myth.
Weight-loss is not simply about calories in and calories out. Yes, a lot of doctors still say that, but that’s because they didn’t keep up with research on this topic since medical school. A frustrating example in my own household: my son has to eat like crazy just to maintain a healthy weight, my husband was the same and can still eat an insane amount of calories without showing it, but my daughter and I have to really watch what we eat. There is no general standard in metabolism which you can quantify with a number of calories per day, even though this is being done anyway. We simply are all different and don’t process food alike.On top of that, lipedema is not caused by overeating. It can be aggravated by overeating, but that’s another story. As lipedema is not caused by overeating, it seems farfetched that eating (extremely) little could fix it. I know many of you are familiar with the images of women with anorexia, who still displayed clear signs of lipedema. Sadly, these women prove that point.
Starving yourself is not the answer. Food is not the enemy. Good food provides nutrients, the stuff that keeps you strong and healthy. You can’t build muscles on air. You can’t maintain strong bones and teeth, and have enough energy to face your day by limiting yourself to a few mouths-full of food day in day out. Food is sustenance.Moreover, lipedema appears to coincide with deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B12 and D deficiency is notorious among lipedema patients, as low levels further undermine energy levels. Some say it’s because we already tend to eat too little as it is. Others speculate it’s something in our metabolism. I don’t know what it is, as lipedema metabolism has never been studied. I only know that if you’re already prone to deficiencies it’s not particularly helpful to deprive yourself of sufficient quantities of foods containing essential vitamins and minerals.
There’s no nice way to put it. Lipedema in itself already can already affect quality of life. Deficiencies only make you feel worse. It’s a sign your body doesn’t get enough of what it needs to keep the system running smoothly. It’s not just a matter of discomfort: deprivation leads to health problems and in the long run to permanent health damage.I know many of us have to use supplements or get for instance B12 shots to compensate regardless, but access to supplements cannot justify deprivation. My two cents: even if modest (!) fasting or throwing in a liquids-only day is said to be beneficial, it should be nothing but a tool in the bigger picture, never a goal in itself.