Thursday, August 14, 2014

Should You Consult Your Doctor Before Going on a Diet?

Have you noticed every diet program has the disclaimer, "You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other weight loss program."

What's funny about this is that you never consulted with your doctor before eating all those Ho Hos and hamburgers while binge watching "House of Cards." You know, those unhealthy habits that made you fat to begin with.
Still, it makes sense that if someone publishes a diet or signs you up for a weight loss program they would not want to be sued after your gall bladder blows a gasket or your kidneys go kaput.

I suspect most people are like me, though, and do not contact their health care provider before embarking on a diet plan or fitness program. Partly it's because most medical schools marginalize nutrition, as if what you eat has no relationship to how your body functions.

"Amazingly, only about a fourth of medical schools even have a full course on nutrition," NPR's David Freudberg revealed in the HuffPo. "And residency programs, where young doctors actually learn how to practice, require no nutrition training in specialties where this could make a huge difference, including internal medicine, cardiology and pediatrics." 

Shockingly, this dearth of dietary education was called out by the National Academy of Sciences back in 1985. The group created a standard of a minimum of 25 hours of nutrition education, which most medical schools still fail to meet some 30 years later.

Which could partly explain why, according to the Centers for Disease Control, poor eating habits is one of the four leading causes of chronic disease (alcohol, smoking and inactivity are the other three).

Despite the dismal lack of nutrition education, there are good reasons to check with your doc before making a big change to your diet. You could be taking a medication that interacts with the primary foods in your new eating plan. For instance, high consumption of grapefruit can cause muscle pain, kidney failure and other side effects for people on statin drugs; so you wouldn't want to go on The Grapefruit Diet if you took Lipitor.

And soy can interfere with the absorption of thyroid medication; so a savvy doctor would guide you to take your pill at least three hours before or after eating a soy based food.

In my own experience, however, I tested hyperthyroid (too much thyroid hormone) after losing 35 pounds on the Medifast diet, many of whose replacement meals contain a fair amount of soy. My doctor explained that dosage depends on body weight; so my smaller body no longer needed the higher strength pill I'd been taking.

Since I am not a clinician -- just a person who has lost weight and managed to keep it off for a few months -- I am in no way providing medical advice here.

But if I were to offer advice to someone about to embark on a new diet, I'd recommend letting your doctor know you are doing something different. Not so much for their nutrition knowledge, but because it could impact the medications you are taking.

You can purchase Medifast replacement meals directly from Medifast Centers, the Medifast website or -- for no extra cost -- through the co-branded website of a Medifast TSFL health coach. Medifast does not recommend purchasing its products from third party vendors, but if you choose to do so, you can find them on both Amazon and eBay.

Medifast replacement meals on Amazon

Similar posts: 

How Medifast Helped Me Develop Better Habits

Medifast Centers Vs. DIY Medifast

Irrational Numbers: Doing the Math on Medifast Popcorn

Medifast Vs. Lean Cuisine Diet

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Fit Kitty

Food Trends 


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