Going on a diet, losing weight, and living healthier are the most common New Year’s resolutions in America. And if you have sleep apnea, this resolution could literally be a matter of life and death.
But there are so many diets out there, it can be hard to decide which one is best for you–and your sleep apnea. Here are some suggestions about finding the right diet for you.
The Mediterranean Diet Has Scientific Backing
Among the diet choices out there, the one that comes up probably most often as being a healthy choice is the Mediterranean diet. This diet is commonly recommended for weight loss and for heart health. It’s also the only one that seems to have scientific support to its ability to help control sleep apnea.
In one study, two groups of people with sleep apnea were recommended to exercise, use CPAP, and follow a diet. In one group, people were encouraged to follow a prudent diet, high in fruits and vegetables, legumes and poultry. The other group was encouraged to follow the Mediterranean diet. At the end of the study, people on the Mediterranean diet saw their sleep apnea improve much better than the other group. They also saw much better improvements in their waist circumference.
As a result, this diet is often recommended as the best approach for people with sleep apnea who want to lose weight.
The True Best Diet for You
However, there are many caveats to recommending the Mediterranean diet. Although it’s not the hardest diet to follow, it’s not the easiest. And it’s important to talk about the inclusion of wine in the Mediterranean diet. Having a glass (or sometimes two) with dinner is fine, but it’s also important to make sure you don’t consume too much, as this can interfere with sleep patterns and increase the severity of your sleep apnea.
In the end, the best diet for you and your sleep apnea is the diet you’ll be able to follow. If the Mediterranean diet seems appealing to you, and you think you’d be able to stick to it well enough to lose weight over the coming year, than that’s great.
But if it doesn’t appeal to you, and you don’t think you could stick to it, then it’s best to look for another diet. Changing your eating patterns and reducing caloric intake will generally result in weight loss down the line, so there are many good diet options to choose from, as long as you pick one you’ll stick to.
Sometimes Sleep Apnea Treatment Must Come First
Losing weight can definitely help improve your sleep apnea. But sometimes it’s hard to lose weight when you have sleep apnea. Daytime sleepiness can make you more prone to giving in to food cravings or lean on high-sugar, high-caffeine drinks in the afternoon. This will undermine your weight loss program.
But if you get your sleep apnea treated first, with a simple, noninvasive treatment like an oral appliance, you’ll find that it’s easier to stick to your diet, get exercise, and lose weight.