Jenny Barris remembers eating just one bite of beef before she was full at Christmas dinner. She had just ramped up her dose of semaglutide (a diabetes and obesity drug better known by the brand names Ozempic and Wegoby), but her appetite had plummeted. She had also lost her taste for alcohol, drug side effects. So, before her vacation in a few months, she decided to forego her dose.She was going to Disney World and she wanted to go enjoy your meal— at least a little.
Skipping the weekly injections did make her hungrier, but not as ravenous. At the beer garden buffet in Epcot’s German Pavilion, she once piled her plates high, and though she may have told herself this was a vacation after all, she tasted a little of everything. I was just satisfied. At the France Pavilion, she tasted a Grand Marnier Orange Slush. She didn’t lose her weight at Disney World, but she didn’t gain any.
Semaglutide works by suppressing appetite and promoting satiety. But more fundamentally, it works by changing your relationship with food. Doctors see the drug as a powerful biochemical tool to help patients build healthy long-term habits. Eating is not a comfort or pleasure, it is simply a source of nourishment. “It takes a little of the fun out of it,” Barris told me. “But it’s healthy,” she added, for someone like her who had an obsessive relationship with food. Semaglutide helped her lose about 40 pounds. But as the drug explodes in popularity for weight loss, those who use semaglutide to reset their eating habits are living in a world where food and its expectations are still central to the celebration. I’m here. Semaglutide is intended to be taken regularly as a lifelong medication.So what to do when on vacation fun What’s the point?
For some people, deciding to stop taking them while traveling is just a practical consideration. Side effects of semaglutide usually lessen as the body adapts, but can range from mildly inconvenient to very unpleasant, including nausea, vomiting, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, and sulfur belching. No one wants to get sick with diarrhea when a plane takes off.
Continuing to take the medication may help some people avoid obsessive thoughts and distractions about food. They enjoy that peace even on vacation. Semaglutide silences what some patients call the “meal noise” in their brains, the sound of waking up in the morning thinking about what to eat for the day. Mexican? pizza? Oh let’s take a look at some menus. It can be overwhelming to experience and fighting back all the time can be exhausting. Fatima Cody Stanford, an obesity medicine doctor at Harvard University, said patients taking semaglutide love being able to attend weddings and parties “without worrying about overeating.” Janis Jing Huang, an obesity medicine doctor at the UNC School of Medicine, says she tells patients not to view the holidays as cheat days. “I don’t like to think in a dichotomy between normal time and vacation time,” she says, advocating instead always taking a more balanced approach.
But people who want to skip work while on vacation sometimes exchange tips and experiences online instead of official medical advice. Like Barris, those I spoke to generally said they were looking for a middle ground to avoid going overboard with food. “I definitely didn’t want to overeat,” says Sarah, who was drug-free for the trip to the Bahamas on his 10th anniversary trip. She “didn’t want to have weird nausea and not be able to enjoy wine.” always liked While she was excited about her expectations this time around, she kept her diet low-key, opting for healthy options such as fresh fish. Alison Gelman, who was absent while on vacation in Mexico City, said she ended up canceling her long-awaited 12-course tasting menu nonetheless. If she eats too much semaglutide or is unhealthy, she has to vomit. She even had to run to her bathroom after drinking too much at a nice restaurant. In Mexico City, she still felt the effects of the drugs lingering in her body, and she knew she wouldn’t make it through 12 courses without throwing up.
It takes several weeks for semaglutide to clear from the body, so a single dose will lessen the effects of the drug, but it will not eliminate it completely. Marnie, who is identified only by her first name for medical privacy reasons, also takes Wegobee as prescribed on a regular basis every other week. By the second week, she feels her side effects start to fade and her hunger starts to return. For her, her skipping is mostly dealing with side effects. Because she is still very tired from the effects of the drugs. It’s probably going to slow her weight loss this way, but she says it’s okay. In some cases, Dr. Stanford of Harvard University said he instructed patients who didn’t need the full dose for weight loss to wait longer between injections to limit severe side effects. (Inexplicably, she realized that the lower dose injection pens were not covered by insurance.)
But the explosion of interest in semaglutide is so new that doctors and patients alike are wondering what it means in the long term, not just 2-3 years, but 20-30 years from now. I still don’t understand. How long will the effect last? And how permanent are these new habits? Barris believes that there is room for indulgence once in a while during special events and vacations. “It’s not routine,” she said. And splurge while taking semaglutide is no different than overeating without semaglutide.