Questions to Ask Your Doctor Before Starting a Diet

Often times, when we hear about a new diet or new supplement in the media, we also hear the warning, “ask your doctor before starting.” This is for good reason.

Of course we know that certain supplements can interact with both over the counter and prescription medications, but did you know that diets should also be discussed with your physician?

The weight loss industry is a billion dollar industry, with many companies trying to sell you the latest and greatest diet products. But many of these products can do much more harm than good.

What You Should Ask Your Doctor

Before starting a diet, be sure to address the following concerns with your doctor:

Is this a diet or product something I can sustain long term?

Your doctor might ask specific questions about the diet to determine if it’s something that can be sustained for life, because healthy diets are ones that can (and should) be followed for a lifetime. They do not exclude food groups and are balanced nutrition. Dieters should avoid anything that doesn’t sound both nutritious and delicious. Because in the long run, if it’s not something you can stick with then you shouldn’t start in the first place. Typically, dieters cannot stick with freeze dried or frozen meals for an extended period of time, nor should they. These meals are very seldom healthy or satisfying. Fresh fruits and vegetables should be a part of every meal, and they should be foods you like. While it may take some time to fully learn to love fresh tasting, healthy foods, you should find satisfaction in how certain meals and food make you feel.

Am I mentally and physically ready to start a diet?

Your doctor is a great person to discuss your ‘readiness to change’ with a new diet. If you are not mentally ready to start, then you shouldn’t. Constantly going on and off diets is more harmful then just sticking with an overall, unhealthy diet. Your doctor will likely explain that you should have realistic and attainable goals. Making a plan, rather than stating one daunting goal can create a series of smaller steps that are much more attainable, making it more likely you will reach a goal. He or she can also help you determine a goal weight based on your height, weight and body type.

Is my condition -- diabetes or heart failure -- dangerous with certain types of diets?

It can be dangerous, for example if someone with diabetes takes insulin then it’s important to eat a certain amount of food so that blood sugars do not drop or spike. A doctor may even suggest a consultation with a registered dietitian, if this is the case. Additionally, heart failure patients have a hard limit with the amount of sodium they should consume, therefore it’s important to discuss the details of your diet so that your doctor can give you the green light.

Are there any nutrients I might be missing when I start a diet?

Your doctor knows that if the product or diet you are starting leaves out an entire food group, or expects you to rely on only shakes, bars or pills for your nutrition, it is highly likely you are missing out on some very important nutrients. Healthy diets are balanced diets that you can consume for the rest of your life, and should include a variety of all food groups.

Do I need to tell others about my plans?

Your doctor will likely encourage you to share your plan with family and friends. They may even encourage you to join a support group to reach your goals, such as a group of coworkers or an online weight loss group. Having people to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating. Further, accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution.

If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, your doctor might refer you to a counselor. Counselors are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies as to how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviors and address emotional issues.

Unfortunately, many individuals who go on a diet end up regaining the weight they lost. Discussing your plans with your practitioner increases your chances for success, along with setting realistic goals and consuming a healthy and balanced diet.

If you're looking for a healthy meal plan alternative to discuss with your doctor, based on real nutritional value and created by registered nurses and dieticians, try Seattle Sutton's Healthy Eating. Our plans are based on 1,200-calorie traditional, 2,000-calorie traditional or 1,500-calorie vegetarian meal plans, and have numerous health benefits!