Tuesday Thoughts: AspireAssist is Assisted Bulimia…Apparently

First thing’s first, it’s been such a long time since I’ve posted a Tuesday Thoughts article, and the reason why they’re being published much less frequently is because I’m just channeling my energy into other types of posts such as recipes, recaps, reviews, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore writing Tuesday Thoughts since I’m so passionate about certain topics and sharing them online is more therapeutic than anything else I could do. Anyhow, there is more to come for sure, so to kick things off, I really want to address a subject that is extremely controversial and so difficult for me to mentally process.

A couple of weeks ago, I first heard about AspireAssist from a video made by one of my favorite YouTubers known as ObesetoBeast, and learned even more about it after Brian Turner, another one of my favorites, uploaded a podcast with ObesetoBeast where both of them really nailed it on the head in regards to explaining what AspireAssist is and why people use it. If you haven’t heard of this device already, AspireAssist is basically a new weight-loss method that enables people to absorb less calories by sucking out around a third of their food from the stomach. I totally said “say what?” when I heard this, too. I explain the whole process below, but you can watch this video from the official AspireAssist website if you want to see how it works.

Here’s how it’s done: a very thin tube is injected directly into one’s stomach and connects to a button on the outer abdomen, which is used to eject the stomach’s contents into the toilet around 20-30 minutes after eating. Furthermore, When someone actually needs to empty out the food, he or she fits the button into a piece of equipment and turns a knob on the abdomen button where food that is currently still in the process of digestion travels through the tube into the toilet. After 5-10 minutes, a clamp on the equipment closes to stop the transportation and the subject squeezes water from a plastic reservoir into the stomach to reset everything. As a result, 2/3rds of the food in the stomach digests normally, overall calorie consumption is reduced, and the subject loses weight. Can I get a really-dryly-sarcastic-and-wimpy hooray?

Before I rant on and on about this new procedure ( I’m putting it out there that I’m going to rant about this, so if you don’t like these kinds of posts you should click out), I just want to disclose that I’m really in no position to speak for those who actually use this device in order to better their health and meet their goals. Some people have a serious medical condition where they might need extra help and just cannot lose enough weight naturally. I am by no means shaming anybody who would find AspireAssist somewhat beneficial for them. From looking at statistics, AspireAssist has helped over 171 participants lose three times as much weight than those who just received counseling, and even a few of them have lost 100% of their excess weight and have maintained their new weights four years and counting. What I’m saying is that AspireAssist isn’t pure evil and I commend it for several reasons: people are learning to drink more water, chew food more thoroughly, provide counseling that helps patients cope with their environmental/health/mental problems, all while not requiring any surgical procedures and being reversible.

Let me quickly address that this is also somewhat similar to euthanasia: people who have a serious illness or medical condition that sucks 200% of the joy out of their lives, and after trying everything they possibly can to see the silver lining, will obviously want to turn to assisted suicide, which their loved ones would definitely advocate against along with millions of other people. Euthanasia is a completely separate subject but those are just the simple parallels. Some people would need AspireAssist in order to improve their health after failing with everything else, and they need a lot of social support in order to make the decision.

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Now for the big fat BUT. AspireAssist has shown to be successful, but for only a very small handful of people. Less than two hundred subjects have partaken in this experiment, which means that the sample could be a poor representation of the whole nation. Nothing is a one-size-fits-all in dieting and fitness, of course, but for something that has been tested on such a tiny amount of people, I am shocked that such a procedure has been OK-ed by one of the country’s most important federal agencies. If you really take everything about AspireAssist into account, there is so much room for people to abuse this stomach pump and tumble down for the worse. Simply eliminating those with a past of an eating disorder and those who have a BMI of under 35 doesn’t help at all. Many people scapegoat this new device as “assisted bulimia” because food is literally being discharged out of one’s digestive system into the toilet, but without the tooth decay, stomach aches and absolute pain you’d endure post-vomiting.

From the devil’s advocate, say that you are a pretty optimistic and mentally-stable person who isn’t as extremist as an ED patient, but you’re still obese because of something bigger that seems to be tearing you farther away from succeeding at these elimination diets, exercise regimens, weight loss supplements and everything else in the market that could possibly be of assistance. Your doctor later tells you that you have a chronic medical condition that is causing your body to fight you, and there are no remedies powerful enough to withstand the symptoms. What do you do? Nobody wants to go through gastric bypass, so that’s not an option.

But just picture yourself having to live with this device. As I’ve addressed earlier in the post, you have to drink plenty of water to loosen your stomach’s contents and chew your food super thoroughly to prevent any pieces from getting stuck in the tube. Uh, broccoli, we have a problem. Second, the first time you receive this device, you have to visit your doctor every 1-2 months for a checkup, which can definitely be a drag to have to remember. Every time after you eat, you have to devote an extra 5-10 minutes out of your life to drain the food from your stomach into the toilet–that may not sound like much, but what if you like to snack and end up eating six times a day? That’s a whole hour that could be used for exercise, meditation, spending time with friends, etc.! Lastly, the tube is only able to drain a third of the calories you’ve consumed, so you’re still absorbing most of the food you’ve eaten. That means that you may be able to enjoy your French fries, ice cream, Doritos and diet sodas with less guilt, but not with none, which isn’t of that much help if you think about it.

Speaking of which, I’m not going to beat the dead horse and stigmatize AspireAssist as “assisted bulimia”, but I do agree with the fact that it will inevitably permit people to abuse this device similarly to bulimia and develop eating disorders as a result. There are overly obsessive people who will go to ridiculous heights to schedule a binge on whatever they please, whether that be junk food or fear food, and then use AspireAssist to suck out a third of of the guilt. The problem is that because the health concerns of overeating can now be reduced, overeating episodes will occur more frequently with those who do have traces of binge-eating disorder. The episodes add up, and they’ll still develop all kinds of terrible health concerns such as tumor growth, bone and joint pain, high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, strokes and so much more. What’s worse is that it becomes compulsive. Like drug abusers who compulsively wrap their arms with a band, flick their wrists to activate a vein and inject away, AspireAssist patients may shovel down tons and tons of food until they literally feel like they will explode and drain out some of the stomach content, even if it hurts.

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The fact that this procedure has been approved by the FDA is the scariest part of everything discussed, and that’s all because of credibility. People are going to look at this new device as if it’s the utopian solution to all of their weight problems. They won’t have to learn about proper nutrition, exercise, basically all of the components that you’d typically learn as you immerse yourself in the health and fitness world. When I was at my heaviest weight, my mentality on life remained at an all-time low. I thought of myself as the fattest, ugliest, most pathetic and most disgusting creature on the planet that my family and the world were cursed to shelter. The way that I found my confidence and my personal happiness was through hard work, motivation, support, basically anything that drove me to wake up in the morning, tell myself that I was worthy of change, and conquer. Hard. Work. AspireAssist is just a bothersome commodity that would actually be pretty embarrassing to take with you. Nothing mentally, psychologically or spiritually compelling is gained. In fact, it may make it worse. You may struggle with having to deny movie theater popcorn or carnival cotton candy, but wouldn’t that actually be easier than having to lug around the stomach pump in a bag wherever you go? I feel as if this approval is almost a device of propaganda so that the government can continue to endorse medicine over researching about nutrition and exercise, which ultimately are the core of everything we have, from emotions to digestion to mental stability!

You can probably tell by now that I do not promote this new procedure at all, and I completely prefer giving exercise and optimal nutrition as many chances as possible, hands down. However, I cannot deny that AspireAssist does work for a select few and may actually improve self-discipline, mindfulness and health conditions that cause obesity. On the other hand, there are so many compromises that you have to make in order to fully incorporate this new procedure into your life, which include chewing your food super thoroughly, drinking tons of water, spending 5-10 minutes in the bathroom watching food from your stomach go through a tube into the toilet, eliminate raw broccoli and tomatoes out of your diet, carrying a bag with the stomach pump whenever you go out to eat, and so much more. I’m not ratting anybody out in this situation and I’m not going to judge anybody who would find this tool beneficial, but there are honestly so few positives I can think of whenever I picture AspireAssist in my brain. Ultimately, turning to adequate nutrition, adopting an enjoyable exercise regimen, and looking into the spiritual aspects of adjusting your lifestyle are a lot more profitable. You build character, you learn to work hard and you actually feel more accomplished because you dedicated so much time and energy into getting fitter and healthier than sticking a tube in your stomach and letting some machine do all the dirty work that could have been fixed in your personal power.

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