Role of the Healthcare Professional

Managing non-compliance

Despite the best intentions there may be circumstances in which a patient is finding it difficult to comply with the OPTIFAST VLCD Program. Listed below are some possible reasons as to why someone may not have followed their meal plan and appropriate answers to help guide you.

I have too many social outings involving eating out and I don’t want to miss out on these.

Suggested answer for Level: Intensive

That’s ok; you can still enjoy social occasions whilst on the OPTIFAST VLCD Program. Your life doesn’t have to stop nor should it have too. Try to focus on the other aspects of socialising such as the people you are with and the location rather than focusing solely on the food and drink.

Try having your OPTIFAST VLCD product prior to going out and then choose a low starch salad or vegetables. Try a Miso soup, stir-fry vegetables, or a garden salad with the dressing on the side (no creamy sauces). If possible, skip the protein and carbohydrates on offer. If you must eat something other than just the vegetables or salad, miss the OPTIFAST VLCD product for that meal and opt for a small portion of protein such as 100g meat or chicken, some fish or eggs. If possible avoid the carbohydrates as this will affect ketosis.

Remember it is important not to drink alcohol whilst on the Intensive Phase of the program. Try some mineral water with a spritz of lemon or lime instead.

Suggested answer for Levels: Active 2 and Active 1 

That’s ok; you don’t need to miss out on your social outings.

Choose grilled meat, chicken or fish with a side salad or cooked low starch vegetables. Always ask for the sauce/ dressing on the side so you can control the amount that is put on the meal (if any). Always pick your own meal, avoid banquets and sharing meals. If possible get a copy of the menu prior to going out so you can take your time to review the menu options.

Avoid alcohol - have a sparkling mineral water with a wedge of lemon or lime in it or a diet soft drink served in a champagne or wine glass.

I am just too hungry, it is too restrictive.

If followed correctly, most people find after the first week, appetite is actually suppressed during the Intensive level of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program.

If additional carbohydrates are avoided, your body should enter a state of ketosis and this chemical reaction in turn reduces your appetite. If you are really struggling to stick to the program, you can include some lean meat or fish in the first week prior to the onset of ketosis to help manage hunger levels.

Many people are surprised that the Intensive level may actually be easier to adhere to than the later levels in the diet when ketosis is mild or not present. Remember to stick to the OPTIFAST VLCD Program and only have the foods recommended on the plan along with your OPTIFAST VLCD products.

To make sure the signals of hunger are not getting confused with other body signs, drink the recommended 2 litres of water daily, have the recommended serving of low starch vegetables and get sufficient sleep each night. Ask yourself if it is true hunger or whether you are eating because you are bored or stressed.

I am getting constipated.

A complete meal replacement program is usually a dramatic change of intake for most people, and this can cause changes in bowel habits. In addition, if the recommended fluid and low starch vegetables are not consumed, a lack of fibre (dietary bulk) and fluid can cause a dramatic change.

It’s important to know the difference between going less frequently and true constipation. It is normal to go less frequently when you are consuming less food and only considered true constipation if the consistency is also affected. Try to consume more than the recommended 2 cups of low starch vegetables per day, drink 2-3 litres of fluid, as well exercise daily to help keep your bowels healthy and regular. If you still find that you are constipated try a fibre supplement such as Benefiber, Metamucil or psyllium husk.

It is too boring.

When you stick to the same thing for a long period anything can become boring. To make things a little more interesting, vary the OPTIFAST VLCD products as much as possible rather than sticking to the same products each day.

Also play around with the way you prepare your salads and vegetables. Don’t just have them plain - try adding fresh or dried herbs and spices, and buy vegetables you wouldn’t normally eat to create variety. Adding lots of different colours on the plate is important to help make the meal look appealing, whilst also getting a range of vitamins and minerals which are vital for optimal health.

It is winter and the thought of having shakes and salads is not comforting in the cold weather.

Try making your Shakes with warm water (not boiling) or try the OPTIFAST VLCD Soups. During the winter months we often divert from salads to cooked vegetables, so do the same on the OPTIFAST VLCD Program.

There are plenty of low starch vegetables you can cook up to have a warm meal to eat while snuggling up in front of the heater. Why not make a hearty winter soup from the allowed vegetables or see our list of healthy recipes on the website.

Everyone around me is concerned that the diet is too strict.

The OPTIFAST VLCD Program has been clinically proven to be successful and safe. It combines support and counselling, comprehensive lifestyle education and medical monitoring with a great-tasting product range to help you lose weight fast and significantly improve your general wellbeing. Ensure those around you that this is a well-researched and very safe method of weight loss. That you are meeting your nutritional requirements and are being medically supervised.

People keep saying I have lost enough weight and should stop.

It’s hard enough for individuals to adjust to their new eating habits and body image, but it is common and sometimes even harder for others around you to adjust.

Dramatically changing to a healthier lifestyle can start people questioning themselves and whether they need to change too. Your healthcare professional will advise you on your weight loss progress, and provide tips to help deal with the adjustment you and the people around you are making.

I don’t fit into any of my clothes anymore, I will have to stop.

Although visiting the clothing store seems like a daunting experience, it’s not a reason to stop your desire to be a healthier weight. Change is a good thing when it means progression and moving in the right direction.

Ask friends and family to borrow clothes while you transition into your new body size, as you won’t want to buy too many clothes if you plan to lose many more dress or pant sizes. You may consider shopping at opportunity stores or hiring a business suit during the Intensive level of weight loss or until you have reached your goal weight.

I don’t seem to have enough energy at the gym.

Weight loss is all about eating less energy than what you are burning. High intensity exercise uses predominantly carbohydrates.

On the Intensive level of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program you are consuming very little carbohydrates, therefore you may find lower intensity exercise and weights a little easier to handle. You may also want to change the time you exercise – so tiredness from the day doesn’t play a factor.

Choosing exercise that you enjoy will always improve motivation levels, as can exercising with a friend. Even if your exercise intensity and duration slightly reduces (but not to nothing) while you are on the OPTIFAST VLCD Program, some exercise is still better than none as it greatly improves your metabolism and helps you preserve metabolic muscle tissue while burning the fat in your body.

Remember, drinking sufficient fluids and getting adequate sleep will also help improve your energy and motivation to exercise.

I keep getting headaches.

The first few days of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program Intensive Level is known as ‘The 3 Day Challenge’ because, as the body transitions into ketosis, you may experience some side effects such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Hunger
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Lack of concentration

This doesn’t sound pleasant, but most symptoms pass by days 4-6, followed by an increase in energy and reduction in appetite, of which, through this dietary phase will result in consistent and successful weight loss.

It is important that you know these are typical symptoms and you should stick to the weight loss plan as prescribed, or you will simply prolong this slightly uncomfortable few days of your OPTIFAST VLCD Program.

I’m not losing any weight.

This is very unlikely on the Intensive level of the OPTIFAST VLCD Program. If you are not losing weight and you are sticking to the plan as prescribed, then reasons for your inadequate weight loss may need to be explored.

If you haven't been exercising consider starting walking or going to the gym. The combined effects of exercise plus a VLCD have been shown to increase the retention of lean muscle mass and reduce fat mass. If just starting out with exercise it is important to establish a baseline which can be improved upon each week. If you are concerned with your weight loss, speak to your healthcare professional for further investigation.

I seem to have hit a plateau and my weight is not moving any more.

It is not unusual to experience a plateau during an extended weight loss program. Remember, as you lose weight, the energy cost of moving your lighter body during daily tasks and exercise is much less, which makes it harder to burn up the calories.

Review your plan and make sure that it is still on track. Other things you may need to consider are increasing the intensity of your exercise in order to burn more calories or alternatively look at ways to increase your daily activity levels; that is the amount of movement you are doing during the rest of your day. A pedometer is a great tool to measure this. Aim for 7,000-8,000 steps with a goal of reaching 10,000 steps per day. Around 15,000 steps/day is quite active.