Managing your weight is a crucial part of diabetes care. If you are overweight or obese, weight loss can help you reduce your blood glucose and blood pressure while improving your blood fat profile.1 Your blood fat profile is improved by reducing LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol and triglycerides and increasing HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol. Additionally, losing weight can boost your energy levels and enhance your self-confidence.2
An effective way to lose and maintain weight is by eating adequate portions of nutrient-rich foods, i.e., fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts and seeds, and increasing physical activity. Following a specific diet is unnecessary; any eating pattern that prioritises whole foods and limits the intake of processed foods and alcohol will suffice.3,4 Here are some practical tips to help you manage your weight:
1 | Set practical targets: It’s essential to set practical and realistic weight loss goals. Aiming to lose 1-2lbs per week is a good target. This rate of weight loss is sustainable and achievable for most people, and by setting practical targets, you can avoid disappointment and frustration, increase your chances of long-term success and avoid muscle loss and nutritional deficiencies that can be more harmful in the long term.
2 | Track your meals: Keeping a food diary is a simple yet effective way to track your daily food intake and become more aware of your eating habits. By writing down everything you eat and drink throughout the day, you can see patterns in your diet that you may not have noticed otherwise. This information can help you identify areas where you may be over-indulging or not getting enough of certain nutrients, allowing you to make more informed decisions about what to eat and how much. With this knowledge, you can plan and change your diet to help you achieve your health goals.
3 | Make a realistic plan that will work for you: A realistic action plan can be beneficial in achieving your goals. First, identify what it is that you want to achieve. Be specific and write it down. Next, break the goal down into smaller, more manageable steps. This will make the goal less daunting and help you stay motivated.
Once you have your steps, assign deadlines for each one. This will give you a clear timeline and help keep you accountable. It’s essential to be realistic with your deadlines and give yourself enough time to complete each step. In addition, consider any potential obstacles that may arise and brainstorm ways to overcome them. This will help you stay prepared and avoid getting discouraged if things don’t go as planned. Finally, be flexible and willing to adjust your plan as needed. Life can be unpredictable, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you need to make changes as you progress. With a realistic action plan, you can set yourself up for success and achieve your goals.
4 | Setting up your environment to make healthier choices is a great way to jumpstart a healthy lifestyle. One simple step is to clear your fridge and cupboards of foods high in sugar and saturated fats and replace them with whole foods that are lower in sugar and rich in heart-healthy fats. This can include fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. By making these changes, you’ll be more likely to reach for healthy options when you’re hungry, making it easier to maintain a nutritious diet.
5 | Monitor your progress: Keeping track of your progress is essential to achieving your goals. Whether you prefer a notebook or an app, having a record of your progress can help you stay motivated and focused on your objectives. By tracking your progress, you can see how far you’ve come, identify areas where you need improvement, and celebrate your successes along the way. This can be especially helpful when pursuing long-term goals, as it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture without regular check-ins. Find a tracking method that works for you and commit to using it consistently.
6 | Avoid using food as a reward: Frequent indulgence in food as a reward can lead to unhealthy eating habits and unwanted weight gain. Consider finding alternative ways to reward yourself for your accomplishments or to unwind after a long day. Treating yourself to a movie, getting new clothing or an accessory, going for a walk, or spending time with loved ones are great alternatives. Doing so can maintain a healthy relationship with food and improve your overall well-being.
7 | Get enough sleep: Getting enough quality sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy body. A lack of sleep can negatively impact your metabolism, making it harder to control your weight. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of the hunger hormone ghrelin and less of the hormone leptin, which helps you feel full. This can lead to increased cravings and overeating, making it more challenging to maintain a healthy diet and weight.
8 | Manage stress: Stress is an inevitable part of life and can take a toll on our physical and mental health. It can make it challenging to maintain a healthy diet, stay active and keep a positive outlook. However, there are several healthy ways to manage stress and prevent it from taking over our lives. One of the most effective methods is meditation, which involves focusing the mind and taking deep breaths to promote relaxation and reduce stress. Another great option is practising yoga, which combines physical activity with mindfulness and can help improve overall well-being. In addition, deep breathing exercises can also work wonders in managing stress, as they help slow down the heart rate and relax the body. Incorporating these techniques into our daily routine can significantly reduce stress levels and promote a healthier, more balanced lifestyle.
Losing weight is as much a mental challenge as it is physical. To be successful, it is essential to plan how to manage difficult situations, such as resisting temptations or feeling disheartened with progress. Building a supportive network comprising family, friends, fellow weight loss seekers, and health professionals can be a valuable resource. Remember to be non-judgmental and supportive towards yourself in your journey towards a healthier you.
- Alsaqaaby, M.S. & le Roux, C.W. (2023). Weight loss to disrupt type 2 diabetes. Diabetology International, 14(3): 217-233. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13340-023-00626-0.
- Klem, M.L., Wing, R.R., McGuire, M.T., Seagle, H.M., & Hill, J.O. (1997). A descriptive study of individuals successful at long-term maintenance of substantial weight loss. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 66(2): 239-46. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/66.2.239.
- ElSayed, N.A., Alepoo, G., Aroda, V.R., Bannuru, R.R. Brown, F.M., et al., (2023) Prevention or delay of diabetes and associated comorbidities: Standards of Care in Diabetes–2023. Diabetes Care, 46(Supplement_1): S41–S48. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc23-S003.
- Evert, A.B., Dennison, M., Gardner, C.D., Garvey, W.T., Lau, K.H.K., MacLeod, J., Mitri, J., Pereira, R.F., Rawlings, K., Robinson, S., Saslow, L., Uelmen, S., Urbanski, P.B.,& Yancy, W.S. (2019). Nutrition therapy for adults with diabetes or prediabetes: a consensus report. Diabetes Care, 42: 731-754. https://doi.org/10.2337/dci19-0014.