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Diabetes and the Risk of Fad Diets

Plenty of popular gimmicks promise quick weight loss, but for people with diabetes, fad diets can be dangerous.

Meal Replacement Diets continued...

The Slim-Fast plan involves eating six small meals/snacks every day -- with three involving Slim-Fast products. The rest of the day, you're on your own to choose healthy meals. No foods are forbidden; you can still eat your favorites. However, lean protein, fruits, and vegetables are emphasized.

The products take the guesswork out of portion control, says Nonas.

"A person with diabetes can do a Slim-Fast diet," she explains. "What's important is that you're eating healthy meals, eating smaller portions, eating fruit and vegetables, and getting some exercise. You also need to monitor your blood sugar."

One word of caution: "You must take into account the number of carbs in those products," Gidus tells WebMD. "You may need a shake plus a banana. Also, just because something is low-carb doesn't mean it's good for you. There's the danger of going too low."

Also, if you're eating six small meals a day -- instead of three - adjust your insulin or medications to allow for this change. That's why discussing any of these diets with your doctor is an absolute must.

Extreme Liquid Diets

These are all-liquid meal replacement products - generally, 800 calories or less for daily intake.

For these diets to be safe, you and your doctor must closely monitor your blood sugar and fine-tune your insulin and medications. Using the products can result in an average total weight loss of 44 pounds over 12 weeks. In the long run, that weight loss can improve obesity-related medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. But in the short run, these diets are risky for people with diabetes.

"Generally, with these liquid diets, four 200-calorie shakes a day are allowed -- and that's all," says Gidus. "But those shakes aren't just low-calorie, they're also low-carb. When you add up the carbs, it might not be enough for you. I don't recommend those diets for people with diabetes."

Also, liquid diets don't teach you about healthy eating habits -- which is the most important thing to learn.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

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If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

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