Definition of "Therapeutic Diets"

Therapeutic diets are food and lifestyle changes that have strict parameters and a narrow focus. The intention of a diet of this sort is to cleanse, build or increase health following severe illness. Some therapeutic diets could result in vitamin and mineral deficiencies. There are many sustainable, healthy diets that produce holistic results to offset severe illnesses. The UT Medical Group chronicles 40 therapeutic diets that treat or prevent a variety of disorders, or encourage weight loss.



Many therapeutic diets are intended to treat a specific medical condition or disorder. For example, gluten-free diets have been known to treat celiac disease, a disease where the small intestine can't absorb nutrients. The Feingold diet has been used to combat hyperactivity in children. The California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) defines 11 diets that treat illnesses, from celiac disease to irritable bowel syndrome.


Some diets are used to prevent adverse reactions in sufferers of disorders such as seizures or hypoglycemia. Even diets that include increasing the intake of cancer-fighting vegetables are considered therapeutic, as the intention is to prevent cancer or alleviate the effects of the disease.

Weight Loss

Calorie-controlling diets, diets to increase fiber intake and diets that reduce cholesterol and fat intake have the intention of weight reduction in a patient, with the goal of total body wellness – mental, emotional and physical – at the core. This is an extremely common way of losing weight. Due to the restrictive nature of these diets, they are not sustainable for most people and are usually recommended when significant or rapid weight loss is necessary.

Elimination and Restriction

When on a therapeutic diet, certain foods are often restricted or eliminated from the usual diet in accordance with the body’s interference with particular nutrients in them. There are diets that restrict certain foods that otherwise have significant health benefits, as in most vegetables or whole grains. These vitamins and minerals should be replaced with other foods or, alternatively, should be supplemented.


An individual’s nutrient needs should be reviewed with a doctor before using a therapeutic diet for an extended period of time. Restriction or elimination of certain foods could be detrimental to overall health, despite improvement of the targeted problem. Current medication or treatments should be considered as well.


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