On 1st September 2020 Matt Hancock announced that the Government would offer a soup and shake diet to about 5000 people with Type 2 Diabetes for 3 months to help put their condition into remission. But what is involved? Well the plan itself is going to take shape over a 12 month period, with the first 3 months seeing those on the plan sticking to a shake and soup only diet, followed by help to increase exercise and reintroduce food.
My initial reaction as a Nutritional Therapist is that I’m not a fan of these types of ‘diets’ as they don’t address any of the thoughts and emotions people have about food, their eating habits and their overall knowledge about food and nutrition, so these end up being a short term solution for a long term problem, which is why I often get clients coming to me when they have tried everything else.
So how does it work? Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that if you dramatically reduce your calorie intake, then you will lose weight which impacts the way in which the body uses insulin and can help put Type 2 Diabetes into remission. The suggested four meal replacements a day will see patients consuming about 860 calories a day, so it will come as no great surprise that they will lose weight, but at what cost?
Well financially there is no cost to the individual if they get referred through the NHS scheme, but there will be a cost to the NHS for providing this. So how about the health costs for those on the diet? I wanted to know what was in these products, so I researched one product that has been endorsed by the NHS for this programme, and I am shocked at what I found; here are some examples:
By drinking four meal replacements a day you will consume about 35-40g of sugar, which based on the governments recommendation to have no more than 30g a day flies in the face of the advice, this is in addition to the harmful sugar alternatives such as aspartame E951 in the shakes; this has way too many side effects to list here, but one of the known dangers is onset of diabetes and an increase in weight gain. In addition, the soup contains monosodium glutamate E621 which has possible side effects such as obesity, rashes, itches, migraine, IBS, I could go on. Sorry lets rewind there…..onset diabetes, weight gain, obesity? I’ll leave you with that thought.
Another staple found in most of the products is Canola oil. This stuff is banned in most countries due to the GM crops, excess levels of Omega 3 & 6 and chemicals found in the product.
In conclusion, they are paying for people to drink products that are likely to give them other side effects as well as potentially making their diabetes worse. Then as part of the ‘diet’ they are put on they are told to avoid convenience foods which contain additives and sugar, which is what they are consuming in the soup and shakes! They cite people who have trialled the diet and claim it’s a huge success, however I would like to see where these people are in two or three years’ time and if they have managed to keep the weight off and their type 2 diabetes in remission.
There are no specific details about the lifestyle support they are being provided, but in my experience of working with clients who have Type 2 Diabetes and helping them put it into remission, this is the most important part. The link between food, our beliefs and behaviour are the things that have to be addressed, otherwise this is a ‘diet’ not a lifestyle change and it’s just another short-term fix.
If you want to make a real lifestyle change get in contact with me and I can help you put your Type 2 Diabetes into remission with real food, real lifestyle changes and make a real difference for the rest of your life.
Health & Wellbeing Coach