Diabetes & Weight Management
You already know that being at a healthy weight is important for your overall good health, but it is particularly important for people with diabetes. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure, both of which occur at higher rates in people with diabetes. Being at a healthy weight may also be able to reduce your diabetes symptoms and better control your blood glucose levels.
Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind to help you manage your weight:
- Avoid fad diets. Many people turn to fad diets to lose weight. The problem with this type of diet is that they typically omit one or more food groups, which can cause problems when it comes to regulating your blood sugar. Work with your physician or a dietitian to develop a nutritionally balanced eating plan that will work for you.
- Be physically active. Exercise is another important component of managing your weight. In addition to improving your muscle tone and keeping your heart, blood vessels, and lungs healthy, exercise also helps stimulate insulin functioning and may reduce your need for medication. A balanced exercise program can also help reduce your stress level, enhance your mood, and decrease your appetite.
- Stick to your insulin schedule. If you take insulin to help control your diabetes, it is important that you don’t skip your insulin injections to help lose weight. Delaying or skipping injections can lead to very high blood glucose levels and a serious condition called diabetic ketoacidosis that can result in seizures or coma.
- Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals, breakfast in particular, is one of the worst mistakes that a person trying to lose weight can make, whether they have diabetes or not. Breakfast is actually the most important meal of the day, as it ends the self-imposed fast that occurs during the sleeping hours. It is even more important that people with diabetes not skip meals so that their blood glucose levels don’t drop due to a missed meal.
- Be patient. Don’t be impatient with yourself if the pounds don’t magically melt off once you start a healthy diet and exercise routine. In fact, it’s better if they don’t, since weight that is lost rapidly is often water weight, or worse, muscle mass. This results in any weight that was lost being gained back quickly. Long-lasting weight loss is best accomplished when it is done slowly and steadily. A loss of one to two pounds each week is ideal.
- Avoid excessive snacking. Some people with diabetes eat too many snacks because they are afraid their blood glucose levels will get too low, which can lead to weight gain. Be sure to follow your diabetes control plan and take your medications at the correct times to help avoid weight gain. When you do have a snack, choose healthy foods such as fresh fruit, a small salad, or unbuttered popcorn instead of candy or cookies, which are high in fat, sugar, and calories.