Lipedema is not caused by overeating. All the same a diet is mostly recommended. Either because your doctor assumes you’re overeating after all or because of genuine concern the lipedema might cascade. Diets are usually associated with limiting calories. The nasty bit with lipedema is that you can still gain on the areas affected by lipedema despite pretty much starving yourself. Latest insights suggest what you eat is key. This blog touches upon diets and dietary guidelines specifically recommended in case of lipedema by doctors or other experts well informed on lipedema. The trick question is always: will it get me slim ALL OVER, legs included? I’m not giving the following diets a mention for that, since general consensus is that’s not (entirely) possible. The idea is to stop inflammation and further weight gain (and lose a bit if you’re lucky). Many of these diets have a claim related to inflammation. It’s most unlikely that this overview is complete: it’s quite possible other clinics, researchers or doctors have come up with dietary recommendations or a complete program as well.
Probably the most familiar in English speaking parts is the Rare Adipose Disease (RAD) diet. It was developed by dr. Herbst, endocrinologist (University of California, San Diego) and specialized in disorders related to abnormal fat deposits. Its purpose is to reduce inflammation and avoid further weight gain. The essentials are as follows: lower consumption of pasteurized dairy, animal protein, fats, simple sugars, carb, salt and wheat or processed flour products. Focus should be on organic fruits, veg, whole grains and healthy proteins. Foods high in chemicals and additives are also to be avoided. Regular liquid meals are suggested for easy digestion.
Also looked at by lipedema patients is the Diet for Lymphoedema by Juliet George, from the Poppy Lane Lymphoedema Clinic, Australia. It claims to have special focus on stimulating the lymphatic system and the body’s secondary systems with reference to blood circulation and wandering macrophages. This diet does allow for more animal protein as in meat and cottage cheese. Approved food items or ingredients are divided over 2 lists. From the one list you can choose 1 item, from the other 4 to combine all into a meal. This in order to create a 1:4 ratio of acid/alkaline foods.
At the 2012 Nederlandse Lipoedeemdag (Dutch Lipedema Day) the Paleo diet was recommended for lipedema by two researchers (Y. van Stigt & H. van Egmond). To state the obvious: the Paleo diet was never specifically designed for lipedema. Paleo, originally promoted by dr. Loren Cordain, blames modern diet for autoimmune disease and encourages people to return to the (unprocessed) food items we used to digest. So, no dairy, grains, processed foods and sugars, legumes, starches or alcohol. But you can have fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, nuts & seeds and healthy fats. Whether or not lipedema is truly autoimmune is an unanswered question, but the idea to support your immune system through diet is appealing.
Paleo has ways been explained and reinvented in different ways. Some advocates also allow for, for instance, bacon, which doesn’t fall into the lean meat category, or some (raw) dairy. A more well known variation is The Primal Blueprint (Mark Sisson). Guidelines include advice on exercise inspired on cave man lifestyle and getting enough sleep.
I’ve also looked into diet suggestions in Germany. At this point I don’t have much detail. I mostly found a debate on protein: do or don’t? Dr. Weiss, for instance, suggests a complete treatment including a change of diet. It should be limited in both fat and protein, since the lipedema body is already burdened by those. The rest is in a book I don’t have. The Földi Klinik, also informed on lipedema, doesn’t give specifics on their page, but dr. Martin from this clinic explicitly disagrees with that approach on a forum. He insisted the body needs protein. So much for the tip of the German iceberg regarding lipedema diets.
Different diets, different focus and, unfortunately, some contradiction. Yet, the diets I managed to look at in more detail have a few things in common: an aversion to wheat/starchy foods and sugar. They also aim at keeping your blood sugar stable. If you only look at those factors you already get issues with prepackaged off-shelf food, which explains the abundant exchange of recipes on lipedema websites and chat groups.
None of the diets above were tested on lipedema patients in clinical trials. This blog does not endorse a particular diet, but merely wishes to inform which diets are currently recommended by some medical professionals. Through Lipese we do encourage people with lipedema to put thought into their lifestyle. When continuously gaining, your mobility suffers and literature suggests potentially lower pain levels could be achieved through a change of lifestyle (diet, supplements and exercise). Hence January Lifestyle Challenge (http://www.lipese.com/lifestyle-challenge.html). Starting out can be difficult, but it becomes easier when you know you’re not alone. When considering making a change to your diet, exercise regime and/or considering taking supplements, please contact your healthcare professional first.
The medical information in this blog is provided as an information source only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This blog should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or guidance for a specific medical condition.