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Magic fad diets (and other ideas that don't work)

Fad diets make losing weight sound so easy (if not necessarily appealing—we're talking about you, baby food diet).

Ask someone who's successfully lost a fair amount of weight and the answer is bound to be something like, "I ate better and exercised more." Bummer.

Year after year, new miracle diets come and go, each one promising to help shed pounds effortlessly. Here are a few that should get you to just roll your eyes and walk away...

Skipping meals or cutting too many calories.
For people who don't have diabetes, doctors have found that skipping meals may actually make you gain weight. Seriously. When your body goes too long between eating or doesn't get enough, it slows down your metabolism to conserve calories. You may wind up eating less and storing more. When you have diabetes, skipping meals can make it harder to control your blood glucose, which can also affect your appetite.1

Focusing on one type of food or no food at all.
There are diets that suggest lots of protein and no carbohydrates. Diets that limit you to liquids, grapefruit or cabbage soup. And others that just seem weird, like the aforementioned baby food diet. You may lose a few pounds quickly, but you can't eat like that forever.2 Besides, cut out the foods you like, and you may wind up resenting your diet and packing the pounds back on.

Going completely fat-free.
Fat isn't the bad guy—some fat in your diet is good. It helps you feel full longer, helps you digest and absorb vitamins, promotes a variety of body functions and can help temper blood glucose spikes after meals.3 Just don't go crazy with it.

Letting your blood sugar levels run high.
Okay, this isn't a diet fad, but we know it can be tempting to cut back on insulin to lose weight. This can be pretty dangerous, though, as high blood sugar can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis or long-term complications, or snowball into a full-fledged eating disorder.4 It's just not worth putting yourself at risk—there are safer ways to lose weight.

So what works?
Stick to colorful, flavorful, healthful meals that will help rev up your metabolism and give your body the nutrients it needs without lots of extra fat or calories. If you want to take steps to manage your weight, talk to your doctor or educator. There may be ways to adjust your self-care routine to achieve the results you're looking for.

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1Diabetic Living. The dangers of skipping meals when you have diabetes. Available at: Accessed April 6, 2016.

2Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Staying away from fad diets. Available at: Accessed April 6, 2016.

3Mayo Clinic. Dietary fats: know which types to choose. Available at: Accessed April 6, 2016.

4Medscape. "Diabulimia" signals trouble in type 1 diabetes. Available at: Accessed April 6, 2016.

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