In general, I avoid talking about losing weight when it comes to managing Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Weight is such a personal thing. Instead of stressing about those judgmental numbers on the scale, I encourage people to focus on eating foods with the biggest nutritional bang for the buck (in reasonable quantities).
Recently, however, I’ve spoken with a lot of people who are trying to better manage their weight. One person received a prediabetes diagnosis and wants to do whatever she can to stave off Type 2. One gained weight after starting insulin therapy and wants to stop the upward trend. Another needs to drop 15 pounds in a short period of time in order to schedule knee surgery. They all asked for help.
When I was diagnosed with Type 2 back in 1999, I was about 45 pounds heavier than I am now. Like many of you, I’ve had ups and downs over the years with my weight but in general, I’ve kept the weight off. Here’s more about my weight loss journey if you’re interested. Here’s the food philosophy I follow most of the time.
How to Lose Weight and Keep it Off
Unfortunately, just like there’s no one magic diabetes diet, there isn’t one way to lose weight and keep it off that works for everyone. Instead, let me give you a few guidelines that may help you decide where to start.
- You’re making a lifestyle change. You are not dieting. Pick a way of eating that will work for you long-term.
- Eat foods that contain a lot of fiber and nutrients. Beans, leafy greens, berries, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.), whole grains, nuts, and seeds fall into this category. Eating carbs (while controlling portion size) is perfectly fine, but make sure the ones you choose are actually fueling your body and not just providing empty calories.
- Don’t focus on the number. Just like your blood glucose (BG), your weight is simply a number to help guide you in making decisions. If you’re trending up, you need to analyze what’s happening and make a change.
- Exercise to keep weight off. People who participated on the TV show The Biggest Loser were studied for six years to see how many of them maintained their weight loss. Bottom line: Exercise is key.
- Manage the stress in your life. I’ve found that the 5-Minute Journal (affiliate link) helps me focus on positive things happening in my life. Yoga, meditation, walking, bubble baths, or reading a good book while sipping a cup of tea can also help manage stress. Find your happy (quiet) place and go there at least once a day.
- Get enough sleep. A small study on Japanese adults with type 2 diabetes showed that the optimal amount of sleep per night was 6.5 to 7.4 hours. More or less negatively impacted blood glucose levels. Aim for 7 hours each night.
- Do the best you can and don’t beat yourself up. You’re human. It’s a journey. If you eat something that doesn’t align with your goals one day, do better the next.
Resources for Losing Weight with Type 2 Diabetes or Prediabetes
If you have recently been diagnosed with prediabetes, I highly recommend reading Jill Weisenberger’s book Prediabetes: A Complete Guide (affiliate link). In it, she walks you through the process of doing a “lifestyle reset” which includes tips for managing your weight.
Organizations like Weight Watchers and apps like MyFitnessPal and Daily Dozen (iPhone or Android) can help you set goals and track your progress.
If you need help with portion control, you can also download a copy of Livliga’s Get Started Guide. (For those who don’t know, Livliga makes gorgeous portion-controlled dinnerware and that’s an affiliate link because I love their products so much.)
You can also grab a copy of my book The Pocket Carbohydrate Counter Guide for Diabetes, which is full of nutritional strategies for managing your blood sugar and your weight.
If you are actively trying to lose weight in order to better manage your type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, think of it as a lifestyle change rather than a diet. Find an eating plan that works for you, move every day, manage the stress in your life, get enough rest, and reach out for support when you need it.