How can I lose weight safely if I have diabetes?

Typically, a 1,500-calorie diet is prescribed for weight loss. For someone with diabetes, the carbohydrates in the diet should be spread out over the day to avoid spikes in blood glucose (sugar) levels.

Most of your carbohydrate selections should be those that are digested slowly—high-fiber foods, such as whole fruit, whole grain breads and cereals. Your fat choices should come from mono- and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil and nuts.

How many servings of each category of food in your meal plan will be based on the minimal requirements for a healthy diet, the amount of carbohydrate you can tolerate based on your blood glucose levels and your personal preferences. An example of such a diet is: six servings starch, two servings fruit, four servings fat, three servings vegetables, six servings protein and two servings milk.

Some tips for helping with your weight loss efforts:

  • Preplan and prepare meals and snacks ahead of time. This helps when you are too tired to cook and can keep you on track.
  • Shop from a list, and shop when you are not hungry.
  • Eat slowly so your brain can get the message when you've become full.
  • Eat more vegetables. Cover half of your plate with greens. Take seconds of vegetables or salad instead of more meat and potatoes.
  • Snack sensibly, such as raw vegetables with salsa.
  • Choose smaller servings, get to know what a serving size is and weigh and measure portions if necessary.
  • Cut back on carbohydrates. Studies show that individuals eat too many carbohydrates, so reducing portion size should help with weight loss and better blood glucose control. But remember that portion sizes of all foods, not just carbohydrate foods, should be controlled.
  • Find support. Seek out some type of group support, such as a meeting or an online chat group.
  • Keep a food diary. Writing down what you eat, when you eat, how much you eat and why you eat can help you make changes that lead to weight loss.
  • Engage in some type of physical activity most days of the week. Physical activity is crucial to weight loss efforts.

Finally, work with a registered dietitian or diabetes educator to establish a meal plan, which is a guide that tells you how much and what types of food to eat at meals and snack times. Together, you can design a meal plan that's right for you and includes foods that you enjoy.

If you're overweight and you have diabetes, losing 10 to 15 pounds can help you reach your goals for blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Slow and steady weight loss of one or two pounds a week has many benefits. You can work with your dietitian or diabetes educator to design your weight loss plan.

Losing weight has become especially complicated with all of the weight loss programs and products out there. Despite all the options available, more and more people are struggling with their weight. Perhaps we need a different approach.

Let's get back to basics with how we eat and exercise. One truth remains in the battle of weight loss: you must eat and drink fewer calories than your body burns off.

No matter what path you choose, make sure you use a safe weight loss plan that will support your ultimate health goals. Losing weight too quickly is not good for you. Aim to lose 1/2 to 2 pounds per week. This means you would need to cut out 250-1,000 calories from what you would normally eat in a day.

There are many ways to tackle improving your health. But there are no miracle pills—you need to make permanent changes to your lifestyle if you want to lose weight safely and keep it off. It doesn't happen overnight; losing weight gradually over time is the best and healthiest way to go.

Different strategies work for different people, so you may have to try a few different approaches or a combination of techniques to be successful.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.