Inside The Diets Of Participants On My 600-Lb Life

The following article includes mentions of addiction, disordered eating, sexual abuse, mental health issues, and suicide.

TLC's "My 600-Lb Life" has continued to remain a hit, primarily for the weight loss transformations, but also because we can't help but grow attached to the participants. The series digs into the back stories behind these remarkable people as they attempt the challenge of losing a tremendous amount of weight, and it adds so much perspective within the genre of reality TV.

While some of the transformations are almost unbelievable, other stories are completely tragic, with many patients sadly dying, despite the effort they put into their health. The TLC series is not without its own controversy, as well. Some have accused the network of exploiting the patients for more viewership, feeling that the show has caused more harm than good. Nevertheless, many people manage to shed the weight and keep it off thanks to the watchful support of Dr. Younan Nowzaradan, typically referred to as Dr. Now, just to keep things simple. He's become a familiar face on the series and has amassed a pretty impressive net worth while he's been at it. 

Dr. Now is largely responsible for the diet plans that the patients follow in the hope of qualifying for gastric bypass surgery. Patients must be successful in losing weight before the surgery so that after, they don't move back into the realm of the morbidly obese. The diets that participants follow on "My 600-Lb Life" are pretty strict and can vary from person to person.

Melissa Morris took to the diet quickly

Melissa Morris is the OG of "My 600-Lb Life." She was the first patient ever featured on the show and came into the reality TV world in 2012, weighing 653 pounds, TheCinemaholic notes. Typical of "My 600-Lb Life," the show also featured Melissa's relationship with her husband, Chris, who took on the role of codependent caretaker so that she could remain inactive and eat as much as she wanted.

But once she decided to follow Dr. Now's plan, Melissa took to it quickly, which is impressive since his diet is famously strict. He puts his patients on a 1,200-calorie-per-day meal plan, according to Distractify, with a goal of a 400-calorie intake per meal. Snacks are absolutely prohibited, and the focus is low carb, high protein. Carbs like potatoes, pasta, and cereal are out of the question, as are any sugary drinks. Even certain fruits, like watermelon, are on the no-no list since they are high in sugar, too.

So how did Melissa make this diet her own? In a 2017 blog post, she shared a meal plan that prioritizes meat and fish, as well as vegetables, both raw and cooked. Melissa does eat dairy, but focuses on things like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. If she wants something sweet, she goes for Splenda or Truvia. Melissa also shared that she's a huge fan of tracking her food on her phone so that she's aware. Hey, she lost over 500 pounds over the years, so she must be onto something.

June McCamey is finally 'feeling' herself

June McCamey had another incredible story on "My 600-Lb Life." She came in weighing just shy of 600 pounds, according to People, after a lifetime of slowly accumulating weight. June had four children and wasn't able to drop the weight after giving birth. Then tragedy hit when her son died in 2016. The grief led her to food, which eventually became an addiction. June's girlfriend, Sadi Gregory, acted as her caregiver and told TLC: "I get fast food anywhere from one to two times a day, sometimes three."

June found help with Dr. Now, and after her gastric bypass surgery, she went down to 389 pounds, per InTouch, and has since continued her weight loss journey. So what did she do exactly? YouTuber Zachary Michael paid Dr. Now for a Cameo video, where he got the full breakdown of the famous diet, so this would be the exact advice that June got, too. Patients only eat three times a day, Dr. Now explained. Snacking is absolutely not allowed. Meals should be made up of protein and vegetables and total 400 calories. For breakfast, he suggested steamed vegetables and an egg. For lunch and dinner, he suggested a 4 oz. or 6 oz. portion of meat accompanied by, you guessed it, vegetables.

Clearly, the strict regime worked for June, who shared a post on social media in 2016 after she lost hundreds of pounds (via InTouch), saying: "Feeling myself, being in love with me is a beautiful feeling." Love it!

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Paula Jones' weight loss story

Paula Jones joined "My 600-Lb Life" in 2014, coming in at 542 pounds when she was 33 years old, according to Woman's World. She had recently lost her husband, who died because of "weight-related causes," and was left to raise their four children on her own, when she finally decided to enlist Dr. Now's help.

In preparation for the gastric bypass surgery, Paula went on an all-liquid diet and lost 33 pounds. In a charming moment, Paula dyed her hair green to symbolize the new direction of her life. Following the success of her surgery, she lost a total of 400 pounds. By 2015, Paula was ready for the next step, a procedure to remove excess skin, otherwise known as a panniculectomy, which is "considered a medical necessity after a significant amount of weight loss," according to Healthline.

Like other patients, Paula followed the low-carb, high-protein diet of Dr. Now and has continued to share her food journey with her followers on Instagram. She still favors meals that are high in protein, including foods like ribs and chicken. But she also goes for breakfast wraps filled with spinach and roasted red peppers in a whole wheat tortilla. Clearly, she's found an awesome balance of delicious food while keeping the weight off.

Milla Clark lost almost 600 pounds

Milla Clark might be one of the biggest success stories of "My 600-Lb Life," because she came on the show weighing 751 pounds and by the end of her journey, she weighed 155 pounds, according to InTouch.

But her story is a tough one. Milla began eating excessive amounts as a child because her mother forced her to eat everything that was put on her plate. "If we didn't take that food, [my mother] would take that as a rejection," she said, according to Woman's World. "But my sister was small, and she could not finish her plate. And I would sneak and help her with her plate so they wouldn't get punished. ... At the same time, food was my mother's warmth to me. So I just ate everything I was given. And I just wanted more and more."

Milla began her weight loss journey with Dr. Now and was approved for the gastric bypass surgery, which helped facilitate her transformation. So what does Milla eat to keep trim? She's posted a lot on Instagram about how she does it, sharing photos of tuna, Jamba Juice stops, and shots of shopping to prepare for making steamed wilderberry juice. Milla has also stayed committed to regular exercise, and we know this because she posted a video of herself on the treadmill after an 8-hour work shift. That's some impressive dedication!

The late L.B. Bonner shared Dr. Now's diet

While James "L.B." Bonner did have success on "My 600-Lb Life," his overall story is a tragic one. He started having issues with his weight after he lost his leg in an accident, per People, and when he joined the show, he weighed 650 pounds. He began his weight loss journey and even got sober along the way, so Bonner worked hard to improve his health.

It was actually Bonner who shared with fans the paper he received after visiting Dr. Now, listing "high calorie foods that must be avoided," per Distractify. The list included "candies, cookies, cakes, donuts, pies, and ice cream." Both white and brown rice were prohibited, as were popcorn and peanuts. Interestingly, "meal supplements and shakes" were also on the list because they can be high in carbs and sugar. Instead, Bonner followed the classic diet that Dr. Now suggests: low-carb, low-fat, high-protein foods. On Instagram, Bonner posted photos of his meal prep, sharing meals made up of Brussels sprouts, green beans, shrimp, beef, and broccoli. He also shared photos of steaks and Greek salad, with the hashtag, "#meatymealprep," so clearly he vibed with the high-protein component of Dr. Now's diet.

Tragically, Bonner died by suicide in 2018 when he was 30 years old, TMZ reports. One of the last Instagram posts he shared was a photo of Robin Williams with the statement, "Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

Joe Wexler dealt with childhood trauma

Joe Wexler came onto "My 600-Lb Life" weighing in at 792 pounds and shared with fans that a major part of his food addiction began in childhood. His parents divorced and Joe had a particularly hard time bonding with his father, who was often distant and emotionally absent. When his father was present, he made up for it by buying him things and allowing Joe to eat whatever he wanted, which usually consisted of fast food.

"Joey wanted to be close to his dad, and instead of his dad being there, he would buy him things like video games and movies," Joe's mother said, according to Life&Style. Joe himself admitted, "I would've given up every single one of those things that I had if he had paid me any attention. I felt like life was punishing me for some sin that I didn't even commit."

Joe's weight loss journey began when he discovered that, while he thought he was eating a healthy and balanced diet, he was actually intaking over 10,000 calories a day, through things like Ranch dressing and frozen Greek yogurt in unlimited quantities. Because of Joe's traumatic childhood, Dr. Now decided to send Joe to a therapist to help him deal with the psychological component of his eating. In terms of his diet, Joe followed Dr. Now's diet plan with meals consisting of meat and vegetables primarily, resulting in a weight loss of over 400 pounds.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Laura Perez's weight changes also changed her relationship

Laura Perez also shared her story with fans on "My 600-Lb Life." When she was a child, she was molested by an older cousin and to cope with the trauma, she began overeating, according to Starcasm. As she got older, she continued to eat and at her heaviest, she weighed 594 pounds. Her husband, Joey, ended up being her caretaker since she couldn't even leave the house.

When she finally enlisted the help of Dr. Now, not only did her body change but her relationship with Joey changed, too. As Laura became more independent, Joey felt less needed, and there was a palpable shift in their relationship. "He looks at me different because I look different," Laura said in her "Where Are They Now?" episode. With her health, came her freedom, and she added, "I'm not going to keep living dependent on anyone."

In the end, she and Joey split up, and Laura began dating a man named Eric Juarez, according to TheCinemaholic, who was more comfortable with Laura branching out and exploring the world. While the relationship is newer, Laura has remained consistent with her eating habits, focusing primarily on high-protein meals with lots of vegetables. In that same episode, she's seen making a sandwich and instead of bread, she wraps the lettuce and tomatoes in slices of chicken breast. Looks like a creative way to stick to a healthy diet.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Zsalynn Whitworth and her complicated marriage

Zsalynn Whitworth is another "My 600-Lb Life" story for the ages. She joined the TLC show while weighing 597 pounds and wanted Dr. Now's help. Part of Zsalynn's domestic struggles were that her husband, Garreth, had a sexual fetish for heavy women and he was against her weight loss, per TV Show Ace. When she started losing weight, he urged her to put it back on. 

The pair ended up calling it quits when Garreth kept pushing her to gain more weight, according to the Daily Mail. The stress of the divorce, and sharing joint custody of their daughter, Hannah, led to a brief yet minor weight gain for Zsalynn. "Being alone a lot has been a bit of an adjustment for me," she said in an episode. "I've struggled with being depressed when I don't see Hannah for a while."

However, she found motivation again at the prospect of receiving a panniculectomy, the surgery to remove excess skin. After dropping over 250 pounds, Zsalynn had another 52 pounds of skin removed and got a whole new lease on life. However, weight loss and maintenance is crucial with a panniculectomy since the extra skin is gone. So what does Zsalynn eat to make sure she doesn't gain the weight back? In one episode, her shopping cart is filled with things like melons, strawberries, meat, eggs, milk, frozen vegetables, and lettuce. We have a feeling that Dr. Now would be proud.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Amber Rachdi had to learn independence

Amber Rachdi was 23 when she joined "My 600-Lb Life" and weighed 657 pounds. On her episode, she said: "I don't like it. I don't like being this size. Sometimes I feel so hopeless." Amber shared how hard the mindset is around food addiction, noting that food helped her escape reality. "There's anticipation before I eat, but it's not enjoyable," she explained. "It's a feeling of desperation and sadness."

She was approved for the gastric bypass surgery by Dr. Now, who anticipated that she'd lose 20-30 pounds in the first month following the procedure. This proved to be true, and Amber said that her legs also dropped a lot of fluid. A huge part of Amber's story was changing the home dynamic. Her parents and her boyfriend were enabling her eating, Dr. Now pointed out, buying her things like ice cream and giving her snacks whenever she wanted. "Families can either be enablers or encouragers. Having a supportive family for patients on a weight loss journey is an important component to their success," Dr. Now told People. "If they don't have that, it's almost impossible for them to be successful in the long term, unless they remove those people from their environment. So they either have to change their dynamic with those enablers or separate from them if they want to succeed." 

Sure enough, Amber did this. She'll still indulge in a beer every now and again, as she posted on Instagram, but she's managed to keep the weight off.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Charity Pierce had to face insurmountable obstacles

Charity Pierce joined the TLC show weighing in at 778 pounds, when she was 39 years old. Charity was one of the heaviest participants to appear on "My 600-lb Life," and Dr. Now decided the situation was so serious that he didn't allow her to go home. Instead, she had to go to a hospital where she was put on a 1,000-calorie-a-day diet, TLC revealed, of low-carb, high-protein food and absolutely no outside food permitted. "No sweets, no sugary drinks," Dr. Now told her.

In the hospital, Charity's meals consisted of big salads and smaller plates of cooked vegetables and meat. "I still have a lot of cravings, but I have no choice here," Charity said. "I only have what they bring me." After a month in the hospital, Charity lost 50 pounds. Dr. Now let her go home, but she had to lose another 40 pounds on her own for him to approve her for surgery. Once home, Charity and her daughter threw out bread, waffle mix, sugary cereals, Alfredo sauce, Ranch dressing, and taco shells. "Just about everything is junk food or unhealthy,” Charity said. She ate things like chili loaded with vegetables and meat and practiced portion control. 

Sadly, during this time, Charity found out that her fiancé had an affair with her sister, per Soap Dirt, and then her mother tragically died of cancer. After her operation, Charity — who lost over 500 pounds — experienced a painkiller overdose. She then developed alcoholism, and her daughter, who was also struggling with unhealthy eating habits, decided to move out.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Nikki Webster has shared her favorite meals on social media

Nikki Webster came onto "My 600-Lb Life" at 649 pounds, per People, after a lifetime of dieting. "Growing up I was always struggling with my weight, and I was also always on a diet," Nikki said. "My first diet was when I was seven. And it was usually successful, but then I would always gain it back and more." Her weight restricted her from doing normal activities and prohibited even basic mobility.

Once Nikki met with Dr. Now, he put her on the classic diet with a consumption of 1,000 calories a day. "When he gave me the diet plan, I thought there's no way I could do this," Nikki explained. "I had zero confidence in myself because it was so strict. I was a little panicked." She added, "The thing that was different from the other times I tried to diet was that I knew that I had to do it. It was literally do this or die."

She succeeded and dropped over 450 pounds, per a later publication by People, and has managed to keep the weight off. "I do a lot of walking, that's my favorite thing to do," Nikki said. "I'll walk at least 2 to 3 miles a day or I try to. I'll also try to do weight training." What does she eat? On Instagram, Nikki posts her favorite foods, including fresh veggies with hummus, Red Snapper with veggies and crawfish, keto crust pizza, and of course, lots of salads.

Brittani Fulfer just wanted to be 'strong and healthy'

When Brittani Fulfer appeared on "My 600-Lb Life," she weighed 605 pounds and couldn't move. Brittani's trauma began in childhood, when she was sexually assaulted, and used food to soothe herself, per Woman's World. She said in a TLC clip that since she had nothing to do all day, she was often tempted to eat even more. She also confessed that on some days, she was eating around 35,000 calories.

Once she began working with Dr. Now, Brittani began eating a 1,200-calorie diet and only ate three meals a day with no snacking in between. She also used records to help her keep track of what she ate and followed a food chart that listed high-protein, low-carb foods. Not only did Brittani eventually qualify for the gastric bypass surgery, but she also qualified for the skin removal surgery after she lost over 300 pounds. Her journey also inspired her husband, Bill, who lost 80 pounds of his own, according to Woman's World.

In a Facebook post from 2018, Brittani shared what keeps her motivated: "I saw a shirt, that says 'I don't want to look skinny, I want to look like I can kick your a**.' I pretty much love it! I never want to be skinny! I want to be strong, and healthy. Mind body and soul! To me it's not about getting as small as possible, it is about me being the best me possible!" What a great way to live.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Ashley Dunn Bratcher went above and beyond

Ashley Dunn Bratcher came onto "My 600-Lb Life" weighing 725 pounds. In a TLC clip, she shared that her mother struggled with drug addiction and that she was sexually assaulted as a child by a babysitter's husband. At this time, Ashley said that it felt like she had no one to protect her and developed a food addiction. Her father then began raising Ashley and her siblings, which made her feel safer, but the absence of her mother remained a sorrow throughout her life.

Ashley found help with Dr. Now and she stuck to a low-calorie diet with as much physical activity as she could manage. In fact, as Starcasm noted, Ashley lost 123 pounds in just four weeks, which was actually considered too fast. However, this allowed her to first qualify for gastric bypass surgery and then the skin removal surgery.

So how does she keep the weight off? On Instagram, Ashely has shared photos of what she eats, and her meals certainly align with Dr. Now's diet plan. For one meal, she had steak and asparagus. For another, she had a salad and crackers. In another, she had an Asian stir fry with chicken breast, carrots, and broccoli. For lunch, she often goes carb-free by having sliced ham with mustard, cubes of cheese, and a side of pickles.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Lola Chay Guillory had another transformation

Lola Chay Guillory weighed 597 pounds when she first appeared on "My 600-Lb Life." After two years, she weighed 378 pounds, per the Daily Mail, and was still going strong. But Lola's transformation didn't just include weight loss — she also came out as a transgender woman and spoke about how her health journey impacted this next step in her life. "I feel like for so long I have lived a lie," Lola said during her "Where Are They Now?" episode (via the Daily Mail). "I was trapped in a 600lb body and now I started to believe I can do this. And once I lose the weight, it will be possible for me to be the person I have always identified as — and that person is a woman."

Lola qualified for the surgery necessary with Dr. Now and has been non-stop working toward living her best life. So what does she eat to stay in shape? On Instagram, she's shared loads of photos to give us a glimpse into her meals. She loves hot sauce, which is convenient since it packs a punch and is super low=calorie. Lola still bakes bread, so she lets herself break the low-carb rule every once in a while. She eats prime rib, chicken soup, pork chops and steamed carrots, lime Greek yogurt with grape nuts, and cottage cheese with toasted flax seed. On one of her lunch photos, Lola wrote: "Today's lunch: toasted whole wheat bread, thin layer of cream cheese, smoked salmon, slice of tomato, Sriracha, and green onions. Yum!" 

That sounds delicious to us, too!