Nutrition > Diets

Diet change, but how? Here’s how to get started successfully

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

Food is not only essential to life, it is also of high social importance in our culture. Thinking about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle is also very trendy. Conventional “diets” now have a bad reputation because they are suspected of promoting eating disorders. Due to the yo-yo effect (renewed weight gain after the diet), they are also not always promising. That is why doctors and nutritionists recommend changing your nutrition as part of a long-term diet instead. But what can you achieve with a change in diet?

What is a change in diet?

At first, it seems like it makes perfect sense: You change your diet. So that means you change your previous diet. This can happen in different ways:

  • What do I eat?
  • When do I eat?
  • How do I eat?

At the beginning, you should first be clear about what your current diet looks like. To do this, take notes on the three questions for a few days. Our free food diary app will help you here. Only when the current situation is clear can you make a conscious decision to switch. Often people just think “what do I eat?” However, all levels are important for healthy well-being. Nevertheless, you decide what exactly you want to change and to what extent. Unlike a classic “diet”, changing your diet means that you will eat differently in the long term. Therefore, the new diet must ensure an adequate supply of nutrients.

At a glance Examples
What do I eat?
  • Lots of vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Low-salt
  • Low-sugar
  • Balanced calories
  • Unprocessed food
When do I eat?
  • Intermittent fasting (16 hours of no calorie intake overnight)
  • No snacks in between
  • Not just before bed
  • For migraines: regular meals
How do I eat?
  • In peace, slowly
  • While sitting
  • Slowly
  • Chewing adequately
  • Without distraction
What types of diets are there?
  • Whole food
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan
  • Ayurveda
  • Raw food diet
  • Low-FODMAP diet
  • Paleo diet

What are the goals when changing your diet?

Goals can be very different. Some people change their diet for their own well-being. But ethical or ecological aspects can also play a role (veganism, vegetarianism). Diet also plays a role in the prevention **of **diseases **and as **therapy. Diet changes are used specifically for the following diseases:

  • Metabolic syndrome: Overweight (obesity), high blood pressure (hypertension), increased blood lipid levels, and type 2 diabetes mellitus (insulin resistance)
  • Digestive system disorders: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), irritable stomach, celiac disease
  • Food allergies, food intolerances
  • Rheumatic arthritis
  • Gout
  • Malnutrition in old age and with tumors

Tips for vegetarians and vegans:

To prevent nutrient deficiency, you should design your diet as follows:

  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds
  • Possibly also vitamin B 12 supplements

Depending on the goal, an **individual **change in diet is pursued. It can also help to be supported with professional nutritional advice.

Is there a diet for IBS?

Do you often have a bloated stomach, irregular stool with diarrhea or constipation, and abdominal pain, especially after eating? Then you could have IBS. The symptoms of IBS can be significantly reduced through specific nutritional therapy.

In the first step, a so-called **low-FODMAP diet **is introduced. During this step, foods that often cause irritable bowel symptoms are not consumed. Then, you test the food for your individual tolerance and tolerance limits. At the end of the low-FODMAP diet, you have a good idea of what foods are causing your symptoms and in what quantities. With this knowledge, you can change your diet over the long term by eating fewer of the troublesome foods. Our Cara Care App has an IBS program with an easy-to-follow low-FODMAP diet plan.

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Which diet changes suit me?

Nutritional requirements vary individually. Living conditions and physical activity also have a major impact. That's why there is no one-size-fits-all recipe that applies to everyone. But there are a few basic rules that can be followed for a healthy diet. These recommendations generally apply to healthy people. If you suffer from an illness, your body may have other needs that you should definitely consider.

Energy balance

To keep your weight constant, you should only consume as many calories as you need. Instead of counting calories, the first step is to cut or reduce high-calorie foods and drinks from your regular menu:

  • Sugary soft drinks and fruit juices
  • Sweets and treats (also granola bars)
  • Fatty and salty fast food (fries, burgers, sauces)

Tip: Exercise, on the other hand, consumes calories and is also beneficial to health, among other things. Exercise regularly.


Fruit and vegetables

Vegetables are not only low in calories, they—like fruit—are rich in nutrients, fiber, and vitamins. By eating a lot of vegetables, you also automatically consume fewer high-calorie foods. In addition, eating five servings of vegetables and fruit daily reduces the risk of heart disease, stomach cancer, and colon cancer.

Fats

Not all fats are bad. Too much saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. The “good” fats (unsaturated fats) have a protective effect, helping to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Nevertheless, a maximum of 30 percent of daily energy should be consumed through fats.

Unsaturated fatty acids are contained in:

  • rapeseed oil
  • linseed oil
  • hemp oil
  • walnut oil
  • soybean oil

Tip: Exchange animal fats like butter with vegetable oils!

Sugar

White sugar, chocolate, and sweets challenge your body and can even lead to insulin resistance in the long run, so you should only enjoy sugary products in moderation.

Tip: For a snack, nuts are better than chocolate!

Salt

Salt intake of less than 5 grams a day is recommended, although we consume between 8-10 grams per day on average. The “white gold” is particularly hidden in baked goods and processed products. As we get used to the salty taste over time, salt consumption usually increases as a result. Many people even salt their food before tasting. However, excessive salt consumption can increase the risk of some diseases:

  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • certain cancers

Tip: Reduce your salt intake slowly, because that's how your taste perception gets used to it, and doing so will mean the food won't taste bland. Use pepper, spices, and herbs to vary the taste of your food.

Which type of diet change makes sense for which diseases?

Depending on the illness, symptoms can be improved by changing your diet: People with celiac disease are symptom-free if they do without gluten; if you are lactose intolerant, a reduction in milk products helps. There are also other nutritional recommendations for the following special diseases:

  • gastritis
  • diverticulitis
  • ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Histamine intolerance
  • sorbitol intolerance
  • gluten free diet

Is it good to change diets during menopause?

The hormonal change in menopause also leads to changes in the metabolism, and many women gain significant weight in these years. More exercise and smaller portions will help. In older age, however, you may gain a few kilos. Because in this phase of life, weight gain can be a protective factor for a longer life.

Biesalski, HK, Pirlich, M., Bischoff, SC, & Weimann, A. (Eds.). (2017). Ernährungsmedizin: According to the nutritional medicine curriculum of the German Medical Association, Georg Thieme Verlag.

Franke, K. (2016). Reizdarmsyndrom–FODMAP-Diät verringert Symptome. Zeitschrift für Gastroenterologie, 54(02), 113-113. Downloaded online on 11/01/2019 from: https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0041-111677.

Koch, AK, & Langhorst, J. (2018). Entwicklungen in der Gastroenterologie. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Akupunktur, 61(4), 233-236. Downloaded online on 11/01/2019 from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42212-018-0104-1.

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

Dr. med. Andre Sommer

I’m André, a medical doctor from Berlin. Together with a team of medical doctors, nutritionists and data scientists we empower people to understand digestive issues with our app Cara Care.

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