If you are overweight, set a goal to lose 5% of your body weight. Even this small weight reduction can help reduce your health risks.
Like diabetes, the obesity rate has been climbing steadily over the last several years. Carrying extra weight works against the action of insulin while also increasing your chance of heart disease and high blood pressure – two conditions that affect many people with diabetes.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 85% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. If you have diabetes and are overweight, losing weight may help you better balance your diabetes. In fact, reducing your body weight by just 5% and being physically active for at least 30 minutes per day can have significant health benefits.
- Lowering your blood sugar and blood pressure
- Lowering your cholesterol
- Relieving stress on your joints, particularly the hips, knees, ankles, and feet
- Allowing you to move around and breathe easier
- Giving you more energy
- Reducing mental stress
Three key steps to healthy weight loss
- Set realistic goals with your doctor
If you are overweight, set a goal to lose 5% of your body weight. Even this small weight reduction can help reduce your health risks. Learn how to separate weight loss facts from fiction by taking our Win at Weight Loss Quiz.
- Change your food habits
You may have to say goodbye to some of your unhealthy habits and food choices. Clear the refrigerator and pantry of those tempting items and stock your home with healthier foods like fresh fruits and vegetables. Prepare to change!
- Get moving
Being inactive contributes to type 2 diabetes, and not just because it may lead to being overweight. Physical activity also helps keep blood sugar levels in check. You can try getting active by walking, dancing, or adding up those everyday movements, such as vacuuming or doing yard work. Aim for 30 minutes of movement each day. Start with these ideas!
Quick tips to get started
- Drink a glass of water during meals to reduce your appetite and food intake
Drinking a glass of water during your meal can help you feel fuller on fewer calories. The water combines with your food, expanding the volume of food in your stomach and making you feel fuller faster. You also can fill up on fewer calories by eating watery foods, such as broth-based soups, vegetables, and fruits. These foods are low in calories and high in volume—so you feel fuller faster.
- Adopt a low-carb meal plan that's healthy and realistic for you
Carbohydrates do raise blood sugar, but eliminating carbs isn't the answer to healthy blood sugar levels. People with diabetes can control their sugar and lose weight while eating a reasonable amount of carbohydrates. Eliminating carbs may even be harmful to your health. That's because many of these eating plans also omit heart-healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, which are good sources of soluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps stabilize blood sugar after meals by delaying the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. To help find a low-carb meal plan that's healthy and realistic, consult a dietitian or a certified diabetes educator.
- Eat out in moderation
Although it is more difficult to lose weight if you frequently eat out, you can still enjoy restaurants and drop pounds. Any portion of food that's bigger than the palm of your hand is too big. Size up your food as soon as it arrives at the table. Slice off any portion larger than your palm and set it aside, preferably in an enclosed to-go container so you won't be tempted to eat it. You can even eat fast food as long as you order the right foods. Ask for nutrition information before you order.
- Don't focus on exercise—focus on movement
You don't have to join a gym or buy fancy equipment. You can earn the benefits of being physically active in a variety of ways – from walking your dog to cleaning your house. It's best to aim for about 30 minutes of activity every day. If you haven't been very active recently, you can start out with 5 to 10 minutes a day and work up to more time each week.
It's important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new physical activities, especially if you have had heart problems or have been inactive. Your health care team can help you determine a plan that will work best for you.
- Fight against weight gain
Remember that you do not have to accept weight gain (a side effect of some diabetes medicines) as part of the process of controlling diabetes. Discuss with your health care team all the things that could be affecting your weight, including your medicine, the foods you eat, and your activity level.