What Are the Different Types of Diet Therapy?

Denise Reynolds

The term "diet therapy" refers to a modification in food intake for the purpose of improving health. Balanced nutrition is essential to overall wellness, but medical nutrition therapy (MNT) describes an intervention that adjusts both the quantity and quality of food to treat a disease or its symptoms. Diet therapy is devised and monitored by a certified healthcare provider, such as a physician or a registered dietitian.

Post surgical patients are usually prescribed a liquid diet.
Post surgical patients are usually prescribed a liquid diet.

When designing a diet therapy menu, a dietitian will take into consideration a number of factors. These include the age of the patient, the specific illnesses to be treated and the functional ability of the patient to achieve success with a therapeutic diet. The type of diet therapy prescribed will include modifications of three general factors: texture, nutrients to minimize and nutrients to maximize.

The patient's age and specific illness determine the type of diet therapy that she or he must undergo.
The patient's age and specific illness determine the type of diet therapy that she or he must undergo.

Certain medical conditions require a modification in the texture of a diet because of swallowing or chewing difficulties. A liquid diet, for example, would be prescribed for a post-surgical patient who needs easily digested nutrition or a person who has had oral surgery and is unable to consume larger chunks of food. A puréed or blended diet would be provided for an elderly nursing home patient who is unable to chew food to a safe consistency for swallowing. When a soft diet is prescribed, tough meats are either chopped or ground and served with a sauce or gravy for easier chewing and swallowing. Foods such as corn on the cob or nuts are eliminated from a soft diet.

Foods that may be considered healthy for the general population may not be for those requiring specific diet therapies.
Foods that may be considered healthy for the general population may not be for those requiring specific diet therapies.

Diet therapy also refers to nutrient modification for therapeutic purposes. A diet type described as “low” would minimize a certain nutrient or nutrients. A low-fiber diet, for example, might be prescribed for a patient after stomach or intestinal surgery to reduce the amount of digestion taking place after a meal. Other diet therapy types that minimize nutrients include a low-cholesterol diet, a low-sodium diet or a low-oxalate diet.

Some patients need to boost their consumption of healthy sources of protein, such as cottage cheese and lean meats.
Some patients need to boost their consumption of healthy sources of protein, such as cottage cheese and lean meats.

Certain conditions require an increase in nutrient intake. Pregnancy diets are prescribed to supply the mother and fetus with extra calories, protein, iron and folate. A high-fiber diet might be recommended for patients suffering from constipation, which is a side effect of many pain medications.

People who often eat foods that are high in sugar have an increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
People who often eat foods that are high in sugar have an increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

A comprehensive diet plan, prescribed for patients with multiple issues, might increase certain nutrients and minimize others. Patients who suffer from heart disease, diabetes or obesity might be prescribed a plan that reduces the amount of calories, fats and sugars in the diet but increases fiber and protein intake for satiety. For a person to ensure that a diet therapy regimen is sound and appropriate for a particular medical condition, it is important for him or her discuss nutritional intake, including the use of alternative therapies such as dietary supplements, with a licensed healthcare provider.

A low-fiber diet may be prescribed for a patient after intestinal surgery.
A low-fiber diet may be prescribed for a patient after intestinal surgery.
Dietitians help devise eating regimens that are tailored to the individual's unique dietary needs.
Dietitians help devise eating regimens that are tailored to the individual's unique dietary needs.
Children who are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) may benefit from a diet that's free of food coloring and other additives.
Children who are diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) may benefit from a diet that's free of food coloring and other additives.

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Discussion Comments

discographer

@ddljohn-- Avoiding sugar is a part of it. Diabetics limit sugar consumption but also carbohydrates. And if a diabetic needs to lose weight, calories will be reduced as well.

Diabetes is a condition when the body doesn't produce insulin or when the insulin does not work properly. I have type 2 diabetes so I belong to the latter category. Diabetics experience high blood sugar levels for this reason. Actually, everything we eat is changed into sugar or glucose for the body to use. But some foods raise blood sugar slowly while others raise blood sugar quickly. So diabetics follow a diet composed of low glycemic index foods so that their blood sugar remains within normal range throughout the day.

I eat a lot of vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts, dairy and some meat. I eat whole wheat bread but only a few slices per day and I try not to have more than one or two small fruits per day. I also take diabetes medication.

ddljohn

What type of diet therapy do diabetics receive? Is it just about avoiding sugar?

SteamLouis

I must be very difficult to be on a liquid diet. I know many people have no choice but to be on it because of surgery or other illness as the article said.

I was reading about anorexia for an assignment last week and learned that those suffering from the condition may be put on a liquid diet if they continue to refuse food. A tube is inserted into the stomach from the belly and liquid food is pumped into the stomach. Women suffering from anorexia nervosa usually cannot get better without diet therapy. If they have remained without food for a long time, food must be introduced in small amounts so that the stomach can adjust.

My cousin had suffered from the condition and spent some time at a treatment center. Thankfully she recovered. I never asked her about the details of her treatment but now I know.

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