When most of us think of medical diets, we probably think of the horrible hospital diet necessary after a surgery or the medical liquid diet necessary before an ultrasound. The truth is that medical diets are prescribed all the time to treat patients suffering from a multitude of diseases and ailments. These diets aren't limited to the hospital, either—patients are expected to practice them at home in order to treat their conditions.
One condition for which a medical diet is often prescribed is morbid obesity, because someone who is dangerously overweight is likely on the road to developing other potentially deadly medical conditions. While many people resist a medical diet, believing they are fine, food choices can often affect longevity and can make a very significant difference between a healthy and an unhealthy life.
Types of Medical Diet Plans
Medical diet plans typically include a combination of recommendations for foods to eat and foods to avoid. The exact foods will depend on the condition. Common medical diet plans include:
- Diverticulitis diet. Diverticulitis is a flare-up in the large intestine caused by inflammation or infection. Less "bulky" foods, such as white rice, canned fruits, fish and eggs, are recommended to allow the walls of the intestine to heal.
- Arthritis diet. Many arthritis sufferers have different trigger foods to avoid, but common culprits include caffeine, dairy and refined sugar.
- Celiac diet. The celiac diet, or gluten free diet, is used to treat people who have a gluten intolerance that can lead to severe symptoms. Gluten is found in many breads, cereals and other grain products.
- Cancer diets. Cancer diets are prescribed for nearly every type of cancer. While individual foods may vary—soy for prostate cancer, for example—generally an increase in fruits and vegetables is always part of the equation.
Medical Weight-Loss Diets
Sometimes, medical diet plans are recommended to help patients avoid developing certain medical conditions rather than to treat existing ones. For example, a medical weight-loss diet might be prescribed when a patient is in danger of developing diabetes or heart disease.
A medical weight-loss diet is prescribed not only to help patients lose weight, but also to help them change the course of their overall health in a way that is sustainable. These diets emphasize portion control and may also include an exercise regime that can assist in the weight loss. They're generally designed to start off slowly with small changes that a person can easily incorporate into his or her daily life. In some cases, however, it may be necessary to radically alter diet in order to prevent an impending medical condition.