A fad diet is a diet that is not scientifically designed, lacks one or more foods or nutrients and claims some extraordinary health benefits. Fad diets can be dangerous especially for people with diabetes.
Types of fad diets to avoid:
- Low-calorie diet- Severe calorie reduction can shock your system, and any diet that prescribes one meal (or in some cases, one ingredient) for several days or weeks is sure to result in a nutritional deficit.
- Low carbohydrate diet- Any diet that pushes fat and protein while restricting all carbohydrates is never a good idea since complex carbohydrates (whole grains, vegetables, and fruit) are loaded with nutrients and minerals that your body needs. The South Beach Diet is one example where carbohydrates cutting could be helpful, as long as diabetics skip the first phase meant to trigger ketosis, they can benefit from the reduction in simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats that the plan prescribes.
- High protein diet- In many cases, low carbohydrate goes hand-in-hand with high protein. If you cut out one of the three major nutritional compounds (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins), you’ll naturally take in more of the other two. The major problem with high protein diets like the Atkins is that they rely on ketosis, a process that forces your kidneys to deal with all the extra protein, which can lead to kidney failure in people with diabetes. Remember, shakes and supplements may help at first, but they’re not a long-term solution.
- Restricted ingredients- Plans such as the Blood Type Diet, the pH Diet and Glycemic Index diets may seem like a custom fit for your body, but they generally lack evidence to support their claims, and they can be extremely difficult to follow. Not only will you have to stick to a very specific ingredient list, but you must keep your insulin and blood sugar requirements in mind at every step of the way.
Disadvantages of Fad Diets:
- Drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) – Most people with diabetes are familiar with the effects of low blood sugar, even one low-calorie meal can significantly lower your blood glucose levels. A string of low-calories meals can compound the problem, and if you take medication to keep your blood sugar down, restricting your calories can lower all your body’s natural processes.
- Increase in cholesterol and blood pressure – In fact, a diet higher in fat or protein is more likely to cause cardiovascular problems.
- Increased risk of kidney failure – Certain low carbohydrate, high protein diets (e.g. Atkins, Zone, and Sugar Busters diets) stress the kidneys, affecting their ability to function, which will speed up the progression of kidney disease.
How to Build a Good Diet for Diabetes:
- Portion control- One of the best ways to reduce your calorie intake and lose weight without harming your body is by eating a range of wholesome foods in smaller portions. It could be useful to kick-start healthier eating habits. Do try out a low-calorie plan, measure your carbohydrates closely and adjust your insulin and medications to allow for several smaller meals during the day (rather than three big meals).
- Approval from the experts- Before you sign on to any diet, be sure it’s from a professional dietician or diabetes educator or from recognized health advisors.
- Focus on health, not weight loss- any person with diabetes will need to lose weight in order to gain control over their disease. But focusing all of your energy on dropping pounds can make the goal harder to attain. Instead, get into the habit of eating smaller portions of fresh foods that are filling and nutritious. Weight loss is a natural side effect of a nutritious diet based on whole, unprocessed foods!