Cushing's disease is a condition where the pituitary gland produces too much ATCH, or adrenocorticotropic hormone. The increased ATCH levels cause the adrenal glands to release additional cortisol, a hormone used to metabolize carbs, fats and proteins, as well as regulate the effects of insulin, which moves glucose from the bloodstream to the cells where it can be used for fuel. The changes in metabolism and insulin usage may lead to unintentional weight gain, specifically along the midsection and upper back.
While there's usually no way to avoid weight gain with Cushing's disease, you can often minimize it by limiting your caloric intake. The number of calories, however, varies greatly from person to person. This is at least partly why the Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center at the National Institutes of Health recommends talking to a dietitian to establish the appropriate caloric intake for you. Not only is your caloric need affected by the disease, but it's also based on your height, weight, gender, age and level of physical activity.
Besides limiting caloric intake, most medical professionals will tell you to balance your diet. It isn't enough to just cut calories; you should do so healthily. Draw from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy when changing your diet to minimize weight gain. Again, a dietitian is your best source for determining exactly what your body needs.
Weight gain isn't the only complication associated with Cushing's disease. Many people with this syndrome find that their bones are thinning, which may require an increased intake of calcium. Try to get at least 800 mg a day, unless you are between ages 11 and 24, which necessitates an intake of 1,200 mg. To help the body better absorb calcium, increase your intake of vitamin D, advises MayoClinic.com.
Fat and Cholesterol
Watch your intake of total fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol. Along with weight gain and thinning bones, many people with Cushing's disease have difficulties managing their cholesterol levels.Keep your total fat intake to no more than 25 to 35 percent of your calories. Limit saturated fat intake to no more than 7 percent of your calories and trans fat to no more than 1 percent. Limit dietary cholesterol to less than 300 mg.