People with type 2 diabetes can fight back the disease by improving their eating and exercising habits. But it means to go an a diet, and that’s a difficult challenge for most.
First, there are plenty of contradicting information that we read on the Internet or magazines, or that we hear from friends or TV. After Atkins a few years ago, and the Paleo diet more recently, it’s the Mediterranean diet that is all over the news. Yet, there are long-term, fact-based studies that contradict the supposedly health benefits of those diets.
Secondly, there are strong beliefs when it comes to food. For instance, meat and dairy consumption are considered by most as essential to good health and nutrition. Indeed, the $170B US dairy industry is very powerful and efficient at convincing people (starting with children in elementary schools) that dairy promote bones health and growth despite irrefutable studies showing that people who consume the most dairy are those who suffer the most from bone diseases later in life. Nonetheless, the myth that meat and dairy are healthy perseveres.
Thirdly, most people associate dieting with deprivation and a chronic state of hunger and fatigue. And they are right! A recent study has shown, by analyzing chemical brain reactions (nothing less!), that “self-imposed caloric deprivation increases responsivity of attention, reward, and motivation to food”. In other words, restricting diets make us crave food to a point where we give up and overeat, gaining back the weight. So restriction is not a successful approach to losing weight for the long term. It just does not work for most because parts of our brain fight back and win (it’s the body that loses).
The best thing to do is to visit a registered dietitian who can share with you the latest studies in nutrition, dispel myths and beliefs, and help you set a realistic weight goal and an approach to reach it. Lifestyle changes, such at this 4-month program, are far more successful than diet restrictions.
By understanding what the food does to your body, you can adjust your perception to what you should eat and what should leave aside. Sure it means less fats, less sweets, less salt, more veggies, more fruits, more grains, but it turns out that our taste buds adjust within days (healthy food start to be tastier), the health gains (weight loss, increased energy, improved overall mood) quickly become apparent and less medicine is required over time. And all that without counting calories.