It’s the beginning of the year, and weight-loss season is in full swing. Most of us probably have at least one friend or co-worker who is on a diet – and if it’s working for them, you may be asking yourself, “Will this diet work for me too?” But not every diet has the same results for everyone – and if you have diabetes, some diets might may actually put your health at risk. Many of the popularized fad diets omit major food groups that are nutrition powerhouses and can actually help with blood sugar stabilization.
Of course, you should speak with your doctor and/or dietitian regarding any change in diet plans. But you can probably weed out some of the popular diets on your own using these three questions:
What is your long-term goal?
Before committing to a diet, it’s important to be honest with yourself about your expectations. If your end goal is to improve blood glucose levels without the help of medications, even a modest amount of 5-10% healthy weight loss can have a positive impact on your blood sugars.
The biggest pitfall my clients find themselves in is attempting a diet that is so drastic that it promises extreme weight loss of 5, 10, or more pounds per week. While you may lose weight in the short-term, these methods of dieting are usually unsustainable and not going to have a lasting impact on blood glucose levels. Try to find a style of eating that you can implement slowly and that you will be able to turn into a lifestyle, not just a temporary diet.
Will you be missing out on important nutrients?
Be cautious of diets that promote restricting entire food groups, especially those that promise weight loss or blood glucose control by eliminating almost all carbohydrates. Carbohydrates come in many different forms from foods with varying differences in quality. While it may be necessary to practice portion control with foods containing carbohydrates, completely eliminating carbohydrates from one’s diet, such as those from fibrous fruits or whole grains, can leave you missing out on important nutrients that can be essential to blood glucose regulation—such as fiber. Going on a ketogenic diet is also not recommended for blood glucose stabilization because of its strict food restrictions and questionable long-term safety implications.
Will the diet interfere with your medications?
If you are taking medications, whether for diabetes management or another condition, it is important to understand how your diet can affect any medications you are on. For example, some medications are required to be taken with food or use certain types of food groups, like fat, to help them better absorb.
Insulin and other diabetes management medications can make blood sugar levels go too low if you begin restricting carbohydrates.
Be especially cautious if the diet requires that you take special supplements or additional medications for weight loss, as you may run the risk of cross-medication interactions.
If you are considering going on a diet, it’s important to be a skeptic for the sake of your health. Many diets are created solely for the purpose of weight loss without keeping health implications or pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, in mind. So ask questions, and again, make sure to see your doctor before pulling the trigger on any diet changes.