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WebMD Weight Loss Clinic: Special Diets

Here are answers to frequently asked questions about how to diet with various medical conditions.

I'm a vegetarian. Can I use the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic diet?

Vegetarian diets can be very healthy, and research suggests these diets lower cholesterol, prevent diabetes, heart disease and stroke. What makes a vegetarian diet healthy are all the nutritious fiber-rich foods.

If you are a vegetarian who eats dairy products and eggs, you'll have no problem getting all the nutrients you need from the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic program. We have incorporated soy-based foods along with other popular vegetarian options, to give you a wide range of choices.

You should select from a wide variety of foods within the meal plan, including:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables and salads
  • Legumes, nuts and seeds
  • Whole grain breads, pastas, rices, and cereals
  • Low-fat or skim dairy products (for those who use milk products)
  • Eggs (for those who eat them)
  • Soy-based foods (tofu, veggie burgers)

Of course, it's always a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any weight loss or exercise plan.

I'm a strict vegan. Will this program work for me?

While our eating plan is easily adapted to a vegetarian diet that includes some dairy products and eggs, it will not support a strict vegan diet. Such a diet does not meet our minimum standards for good nutrition, as it is difficult to get all the nutrients you need in a vegan diet.

Remember, you should check with your doctor before starting any new diet.

I'm a diabetic, Type II. How do I use this plan with that condition?

Many people with Type II diabetes can control the condition with a consistent regimen of exercise and regular, well-planned meals that are limited in sweets and sugars. (Of course, the particular plan that works best for you will depend on what your doctor recommends.)

It's important for people with diabetes to eat all the food in their eating plans at the designated times, and never skip meals. And remember, exercise not only helps burn calories and gives you energy, but can help lower blood sugars.

People with diabetes should select from a wide variety of foods within the meal plan, and remember to:

  • Choose unsweetened whole grains
  • Select whole fruits more often than fruit juices
  • Eat plenty of vegetables
  • Choose low-fat or skim dairy products
  • Choose lean meats, fish, eggs, legumes, and nuts
  • Avoid sugars and sweets (you may use artificial sweeteners instead)
  • Eliminate or limit alcohol
  • Choose high-fiber foods, as these are absorbed more slowly into your bloodstream
  • Get plenty of chromium, from legumes, leafy greens, whole grains, and nuts

I have a history of heart disease. How do I factor that into this diet?

Diets that promote good heart health are well-balanced, limited in saturated fats, and contain plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with soluble fiber (including oat products, breads, cereals, and some dried beans). In fact, most heart-healthy diets are similar to vegetarian diets except that they include small amounts of lean animal protein.

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