Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Why would I want to use a product like OPTIFAST without eating food? That sounds like some sort of weird, fad diet!

A. Have you tried losing weight by carefully measuring your food portions and noticed that the scale still doesn't move? Many people find it difficult to accurately determine portion sizes and eat consistent amounts of food day after day. In fact, studies show that most people actually consume about 50% more calories than they actually think they do. This is not because they are in denial about what they eat. They simply do not have the skills to accurately track what they are eating.

Clinical studies also show that when people are given very few food choices, or even no food choices, it is easier to decrease the amount of calories they consume each day. By taking away the selection and preparation of foods, and reducing the vast array of available foods, people lose weight. This is the concept called “stimuli narrowing.” By using a portion-controlled formula diet, such as OPTIFAST, all the nutrition needed each day is included. The benefits of this type of diet are in the reduced calories, complete nutrition, and perhaps most importantly, in the ability to stick with the diet because no food choices are made.

Imagine taking a break from food. While your body loses weight and your health improves, you will use the time to learn about good nutrition and healthy eating habits so that when you are again eating food, you are better equipped to manage it.

OPTIFAST weight management products offer:

  • High quality, complete nutrition.
  • Pre-portioned and calorie-controlled servings.
  • Quick and simple preparation.

OPTIFAST has been used for over 25 years—hardly a fad diet.

Q. I've read that liquid diets are dangerous and people gain all of their weight back once they start eating regular food. Is this true?

A. The OPTIFAST Formula has all the nutrients that are required for good health. This is something that nearly all fad diets do not have. In fact, the initial liquid diets that were used in the 1970’s were much different – they used low quality protein with few other essential nutrients. Today, liquid diets are medically supervised to ensure safety. When was the last time you were on a diet and were being closely followed by a physician who was trained specifically to help you, and to ensure the safety of your treatment.

As far as gaining back the weight, this could happen IF a person just did the liquid formula diet and made no other changes, like the latest fad diets. Our team of professionals, including behaviorists, dietitians, and exercise specialists, provide very intensive education and support. This is necessary to help individuals successfully discover their own issues related to weight management and help guide them in changing their habits. Plus, our maintenance program provides the on-going support needed to help make these long-term changes in your lifestyle.

Q. Will I be hungry if I'm not eating regular foods?

A. The feeling of hunger and the impulsive desire to eat are real concerns. The causes of hunger, whether physical or emotional, are difficult to determine. To increase success in sticking with the diet program, controlling hunger is a primary objective. This control involves both preventing and managing hunger sensations. The Program staff will suggest various techniques to accomplish this goal. The good news is that, for most participants, hunger sensations fade within a few days to two weeks after starting the Program.

Q. What can I do if I'm invited out to eat while I'm on the Program?

A. Dealing with social eating events is one of the topics that the staff in the OPTIFAST Program will help you work through. There are a number of options to consider and strategies that people have successfully used to help them enjoy these social events and still stick to the program. Although initially apprehensive, many patients find that not eating is actually the easiest part of the program. Being successful long-term involves improving your eating habits and choices and including regular physical activity.

Q. After I’m done using the OPTIFAST products, what makes this program different from any other diet?

A. Our program is not merely a "diet." This word refers to the way we feed our bodies. But the word "diet" to many people means something like this, "DIE-ett: a painful, unrewarding form of punishment involving reduced food intake." This is why we refer to the way we eat with our program as “lifestyle nutrition.” Trivial semantics? Not really.

The Westshore Weight Management Clinic staff has discovered that one of the biggest challenges people face when they attempt to lose unwanted body fat and improve their health is to allow themselves to believe they can and will succeed—to begin with an open and optimistic mind. However, when they think they're starting a "diet," their minds immediately begin to send negative, self-defeating messages such as, "Diets don't work... I'm going to be so hungry... I'm going to miss out on all the fun at parties, weddings, celebrations... other people can diet, but I just can't do it... after all, diets don't work." The result? They create their own reality. They fail because they decide (unconsciously) to fail.

Our program is based on scientific research as well as what works and what doesn't work in the real world. Therefore, we have to accept the fact that people (including us!) love food. We want to eat. We need to eat. The good news? Our program teaches you how to eat and helps you build the necessary skills for developing healthy eating habits.

Also, participants in our programs can continue to use limited amounts of OPTIFAST products on an ongoing basis – for convenience or to reduce the number of food choices.

Q. I’m an emotional eater. Is this program for me?

A. Yes! Eating for comfort or to relieve anxiety is one of the biggest challenges facing America today. Many physicians and psychiatrists often refer to food as "America's most popular and widely abused anti-anxiety medication." When you think of it this way, you can understand more accurately the detrimental effects eating for the wrong reasons has on our bodies and lives.

Eating for emotional reasons may be a behavior learned at a very young age, even as an infant. These patterns need to be changed before anyone can achieve the long-term success they are looking for with the OPTIFAST Program. One of the keys to changing behaviors is not to just focus on eliminating the "bad ones" but to incorporate new ones into our daily habits.

For example, people who often eat late at night, especially carbohydrates, need to commit themselves to changing this behavior. We’ve found that one of the things that works for many participants (who, just like you, eat for comfort too!) is whenever they feel like heading for the kitchen (the refrigerator), they stop and ask themselves if they’re eating to fuel their body or to feed their emotions. Then they write the answer to that question down on a notepad kept next to the refrigerator. If they find what they were about to do was eat for comfort, they immediately go to another room (i.e., home office), and write. They write about how they feel, what they’re planning to achieve the next day, and they just keep writing (sometimes even cards to friends) until they feel they've released the negative energy that was trying to "come out" by eating.

Q. How do the OPTIFAST products taste?

A. Most individuals find them pleasant and satisfying. Some may prefer one flavor over others. Remember that these products are designed to replace food entirely for a limited duration of time. This makes them much different than some commercially available nutritional formulas and products, both in taste and nutritional quality.

Q. Why is this program such a sizeable financial investment?

A. When you compare costs, some commercial programs have hidden costs that aren’t emphasized in their advertisements. In fact, when you consider the amount of time it will take to lose 40 pounds or more on some of these programs, they may not be less expensive. Generally they do not provide the same level of service by skilled healthcare professionals. Be sure to ask them for their average weight loss or 5 year outcomes…we think you’ll be surprised at the answers! Plus, with our program you have on-going support in our Maintenance Program at no additional charge.

Because this program is physician supervised, some health insurance plans may cover a portion of the program charges.