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Should I go on a VLCD?

Hello there.

I'm new to the forums :wavey:, having found it in my search for information about VLCDs (mainly the popular four).

I've been overweight for most of my life; I'm 19 now. I'm not sure how much I weigh, but I imagine it's around 240/250lbs (I think the last time I was medically weighed, I weighed in somewhere around 114kg and that was a few years back). So I'm not familiar with being slim. But being overweight has set me back a lot in my life, mainly because I've always obsessed about it. Unfortunately, my family are all quite overweight too, and have encouraged comfort eating habits in me; my mum's way of rectifying my dislike of school (which I avoided because I had panic attacks each morning, because I was being bullied, because I was fat...) with chocolate at the end of each school day, and an edible 'treat' at the weekend. I've completely screwed up my first year at university (I had to push my exams back to next August, and am at such a low point in my mood that I'm thinking of either resitting the year or not bothering going back) because of how low my mood is, and it is about my weight and figure. It's not even just vanity anymore; I hate how slow I am, and how unfit I am because of it.

Anyway, this has led me to consider a VLCD because I'm at such a low ebb. I'm pretty sure I can do the diet - I was forced into not being able to eat much over the last few months at university because I ran out of money (ironically, I'd used it all up on alcohol and fast food; I didn't cook the entire year...) so was rationing, going a few days without food. I know that's not healthy, BUT the fact that I know it's my money, and having control over what I buy and when without having a family or living with my family to put me off - i.e. I've experienced life consuming very little so I'm not sure it will be as bad, plus dieting before for me has always made me paranoid I'm not getting enough vitamins or whatever, that I'm starving myself of nutrients...the whole point of these schemes is that you're NOT starving yourself, just reducing the amount of calories you're digesting, correct? (Whoosh - sorry for that massively run on statement!)

What I am worried about is this: if I return to university, I need to do something about my concentration levels, which are pretty poor already (I'm not stupid - I used to find it quite easy to read, and when I read things I could comprehend it pretty much straight off, and not need to go back over it. Now, I can't finish a paragraph (hence why uni's been a bit of a fail...))? I'd be starting on my return pretty much, and if I go back as a second year then I'll have exams again in December/January. It's got to the point where I want this weight loss more than a degree, but failure at anything at the moment is likely to set me really far back in terms of depression...

Thoughts? (+ I hope that made sense...)

Vicky x
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Silver Member
Hi Vicky - ok before doing anything else I would ask if you have had your thyroid levels checked? If you are struggling to lose weight and your concentration levels have gone from being pretty normal to suddenly struggling to finish a paragraph then that rings some bells for me and I would say you should discuss the possibility with your doctor before you consider any kind of vcld diet. Dropping your calories as low as you do on the vcld diets reduces your thyroid function and if its already a problem for you it can cause all manner of additional problems - as I found out to my cost unfortunately.

As for the VCLD I would say that as long as you are fit and healthy enough to do it, again you need to discuss this with your doctor, then its a matter of personal choice really. I did Cambridge a couple of years ago because literally nothing else worked for me and as hard as it was to stick to at times it really did give me a boost to see the weight coming off so quickly.

In my case we then found out that I do have health problems and due to them I couldn't maintain the weight loss and 2 years later I was back where I started.

The advantages for me of the VCLD were the speed I lost the weight and the lack of choice so I didn't have to think about what I was doing at all and there was no adjusting the diet which for me worked better. You do have to be in the right headspace for it and be ready to make that commitment as there are times when its really hard not to just give in and go and eat something because the desire for something normal can get overwhelming at times.

The disadvantages for me were that I found it quite expensive, I got really bored with it by the end of the 3 months and I ended up in A&E with a kidney stone because even though I was drinking the recommended amount it still formed crystals in my system (at least I think that was how they described it) and it was agonisingly painful. I also found with Cambridge that there was no group setting for me to discuss certain aspects of dieting etc and any issues I had with food were still there afterwards. In fact in my particular case by the time I finished doing it I had an even more screwed up relationship with food than I had before I started because I became absolutely terrified of eating anything for fear of putting the weight back on.

On the flip side I have a goddaughter who did Lighter Life, went to all the sessions where they do discuss the psychological side of making changes etc and she embraced it whole heartedly and has maintained the weight loss for 3 years now - but she does admit that she's still terrified of putting it back on and the slightest gain sends her into a panic.

I'm glad I did Cambridge when I did and it did serve a particular purpose for me, plus its slightly unfair for me to look at weight gain etc since then as its more down to health issues than necessarily the diet. However it did cause me a problems both physicaly and psychologically and when its come to losing the weight again this time I've gone down the route of joining Weight Watchers where I'm learning to deal with my issues with food and instead of being on a plan that takes the weight off quick and then I have to learn how to maintain that I'm making life changes that will be there forever and will hopefully ensure that I don't rebound after. Its a lot slower - and in my case I mean a LOT slower! - but it does feel like a more sustainable solution for me. Plus if you find that your weight is causing you health problems there is the option of requesting your doctor to put you on the Weight Watchers on prescription plan where you can attend meetings for free for 6 weeks I believe - I don't know a lot about it but you should be able to find details online. As a student on a restricted income that might make a big difference for you.

I'm sure others will have different views and I'm not knocking the VCLDs - its purely a view on how I found the comparison of the two and what works for me which will hopefully help a little bit.

Good luck with whichever way you choose to go :)
Thank you so much for your response :) I'm glad to hear you've found something suitable though, and it's scary that people do end up with such a screwed up relationship with food.

I'll try and check out the thyroid issue; I'm going to try and go to the doctors about it (I'm not registered at home anymore, and have no idea whether they're going to mess me around trying to get a temporary residency). But it's good to consider.

Thanks again!

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