How to Prevent Weight Gain from Cushing's Syndrome

Editor’s Note 05/22/2014: The information below can be confirmed in this publication from the National Institutes of Health.

One of the most troubling symptoms to the 10 to 15 million people who are diagnosed with Cushing’s Syndrome is the excessive weight gain caused by overactive adrenal glands. These glands release too much of the hormone cortisol into the body. Hormones play a role in appetite regulation, metabolism and fat synthesis. When there is too much cortisol the body’s regulatory mechanisms are knocked out of control. Weight can be managed, however. Once a Cushing’s diagnosis is confirmed, a medical expert can recommend a proper diet. According to experts who are familiar with Cushing’s Syndrome, obesity can be curbed. Doctors today know what to recommend to make sure that continued weight gain does not occur and that nutrition choices avert worsened health. Here are the guidelines:

Follow a Balanced Diet

Cushing’s Syndrome sufferers especially need to follow a balanced diet. Doctors also advise against taking up fad diets in desperation, since these diets tend to exaggerate the benefit of one type of food at the expense of others. Going by the tried and true diets like Weight Watchers or South Beach is considered suitable. Or, doctors recommend simply choosing to eat a balanced diet that features low-calorie, low-fat, low-salt foods. At least five servings of vegetables and fruits, ideally seven, should be part of the balanced diet each day.

Less Fat, Less Cholesterol

The syndrome carries an unfair disadvantage from the start, raising cholesterol levels. This is the reason that foods with high cholesterol should be avoided. One sensible way to deal with this is to read labels carefully. Even small steps like switching from a high-fat salad dressing to a low-fat dressing can help.

Hold the Salt

Salty foods lead to fluid retention, or edema, and Cushing’s Syndrome patients need to avoid fluid retention in the battle with weight gain. Read packaged foods carefully and avoid ones that carry high amounts of sodium. Avoid cured meats and mayonnaise-based potato, egg, and seafood salads that are high in sodium.

Calcium for Thinning Bones

Because one of the side effects of Cushing’s Syndrome may be thinning bones, adults should take in foods that are rich in calcium. Calcium-rich foods include low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, sardines, greens and tofu.

Blood Sugar on Low

Cushing’s Syndrome, because of the release of too much cortisol, results in high blood sugar levels. Medical advice may be given to tailor a diet similar to a diabetic’s. Some patients may be given insulin or pills to bring their sugar levels down. According to the National Institutes of Health, high blood sugar levels usually resolve when the disease is brought under control. The patient can work with the doctor to decide the best diet plan that can address blood sugar.

Have Plenty of Patience

Cushing’s Syndrome is difficult because there is no quick way to shed the excess weight. Some weight gain from this disorder is to be expected, but tailoring the daily diet can minimize the weight gained. The amount of weight gain varies, but the excess weight mostly settles in the middle section of the body. Once the disease is brought under control, weight loss is possible, according to the National Institute of Health.

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Posts By Sequoia
  • DoragonMama

    You’re going to kill people with this advice.

    You obviously don’t know what you are talking about and have no understanding of the physiology of cushings disease and its effects on metabolism.

    It’s one thing to be wrong, but you’re advice is potentially deadly and should be ignored

  • Phemale

    You have NO IDEA what you are talking about. As DoragonMama said, this advice is potentially deadly. Please do some real research before you post about a disease that is deadly. I urge people to disregard this entire post. As someone who has suffered for many years with this horrid disease, as well as watched a parent struggle with it I am VERY familiar with the disease and what it does. Please take this article down or replace it with a well researched one.

  • rfish1966

    Please take this article down as it could harm someone with cushings that might try and follow your advice.

  • Natasha

    Wow, you’re an idiot and obviously know nothing about Cushings! If you are investigating Cushings please disregard this. It’s garbage.

  • Dana Barton Mauch

    youre providing false information.if you think you have cushings get to a dr with knowledge before you turn out like me,sent to bypass drs for years and called fat and lazy i ate right.
    i still do as best i can,eating a certain way wont cure cushings.YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE SURGERY ON YOUR PITUTARY GLAND OR ADRENAL GLANDS TO CURE CUSHINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!WHEREEVER THE TUMOR IS,!
    cushings KILLS. it IS A DEADLY DISEASE. if you think you have cushings please seek medical help and fight because youll end up getting told things like this and end up near dead like me. if you have it you do NOT lose weight and you sure as hell cant exercise,taking a shower is an aerobic workout .please this is such bogus info.

  • denise

    I too had an extreme weight gain from 170 to 370 had a gastric bypass then got sick got ct that showed adrenal tumor. I struggle with cyclic adrenal problem weight is impossible to maintain help

  • Jody Williams – Former Cushing

    This is total BS!!! As a former Cushings patient, it doesn’t matter what diet you are on if you have Cushings you are going to gain and not be able to loss weight. This is dangerously stupid and bad advice. I was on 1200 calories a day and working out 6 days a week with a personal trainer. She had me on the same workout as her body builders and it had no affect. It wasn’t until my condition was discovered and the tumor removed before I started to see results of weight loss. This disease destroys the body and your advice seems to suggest that someone should just live with it and try and control the side affects. This will get someone killed. Their is literature to show that people with Cushings can be on very restrictive diets and still gain weight, not to mention they are going to have diabetes and high blood pressure. My diabetes and high blood pressure was gone within 30 days of my surgery and I dropped 70 pounds in 6 months. You really need to understand the facts and talk to true experts before you start giving advice about something you obviously know nothing about. Call NIH and get educated.

  • Ann

    “According to experts who are familiar with Cushing’s Syndrome, obesity
    can be curbed. Doctors today know what to recommend to make sure that
    continued weight gain does not occur and that nutrition choices avert
    worsened health.”

    This isn’t true, and there are no doctors or research to back this up.

    Cushing’s disease can be fatal – it would be best if you avoided giving unsound and bad advice, as this could lead to someone newly diagnosed with Cushing’s following it and DYING.

  • DoragonMama

    I see the “editors note” about the publication that this post was based on and I just want to say BS, that paper says NOTHING like this post does, in fact that paper clearly says that weight cannot be controlled until the disease is treated.

    Which, since you have trouble with science, simply means that there is NO DIETING that will prevent the weight gain from cushing’s disease.

    So again, this is a deadly post that can cause people to think they have control over the weight gain caused by a disease when they cannot possible have control over it until the disease is treated properly.

    You people should be ashamed of yourselves, I truly hope no one takes this advice you are proposing because it could kill them.

  • SammyG

    You are terribly wrong with this article! Take this down – Cushing’s is far more serious than you convey and the weight cannot be managed by switching to fat free salad dressing and weight watchers. You should be ashamed of yourself giving out advice on a deadly medical condition that you obviously know nothing about!!