By Jonathan Jarashow, Publisher of Walgreens Diabetes & You, with Di Bush, PhD.
November is National Diabetes Month, so now is a good time to think about how to achieve your weight loss goals if you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or think that you might be at risk. Although it may seem basic to you, it’s still worth saying again and again. Because sometimes we all forget, myself included: Take in fewer calories and you will weigh less.
It’s easier said than done, but that’s where CalorieKing can help. It’s a great resource for letting you know just how many calories are in the foods you eat.
A healthy diet and active lifestyle are important for everyone, but even more so for people with diabetes. No single lifestyle plan will work for everyone, especially when it comes to weight loss. Our bodies are all very different and will respond in different ways to the same practices. That said, I would like to share some tips that may work for you. I hope they help.
1. Avoid stress and try “mindful eating”
For many people with diabetes, stress is a natural response to the dietary changes needed for weight loss and improved blood glucose levels. However, a study published in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine suggests that stress while dieting can lead to big setbacks. Those who were put on strict calorie-counting and calorie-controlled diets produced more of the stress hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels and stress have a well-established connection to weight gain or difficulty losing weight.
With this research in mind, it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself. Strictly cutting out certain foods or food groups can make your diet harder to maintain in the long run. The increased stress from trying to maintain a too-strict diet can also have negative effects on your quality of life. Don’t deny yourself all of your comfort foods. However, you may want to find healthier, more wholesome alternatives. Diabetesdigest.com gives you lots of healthy alternatives for better meal planning. It might also help to try “mindful eating,” a meditative approach to food that can help ease the stress of changing your diet. “Mindful eating” encourages you to eat more slowly and think on how and why you are eating. When it comes to diet, slow changes are best, unless you are told to do otherwise by your healthcare professional or team.
2. Not all activity is created equal
People with diabetes or pre-diabetes should try to keep their blood glucose levels within a healthy range at all times. Though exercise is a big part of losing weight, especially for people with diabetes, it can sometimes do more harm than good. For example, if you exercise too intensely or if you rush into it too quickly, you can make your blood glucose drop too low or even hurt yourself. Gentle exercises like yoga, Pilates and walking will have a less dramatic effect on your blood glucose and stress hormone levels and may even help make them more stable in the long run. Sign up for the Walgreens Steps with Balance Rewards program (http://walgreens.com/steps/) to get rewarded for your activity. And, as always, talk to your healthcare professional before beginning any new activity programs.
3. Try small, regular meals throughout the day
Eating small, light meals regularly throughout the day may help you avoid blood glucose spikes without increasing the amount of food you eat. Planning these light meals, which can be eaten as often as 6 times a day, can be as easy as splitting up a typical 3-meal plan into smaller portions. This has the added bonus of keeping you full of energy and keeping your metabolism up throughout the day. Both these things may help your weight loss efforts. For better long-term results, keep your daily food intake light and regular and you will help your body run at maximum efficiency.
Feel free to visit diabetesdigest.com for more practical information and tips from our award-winning Walgreens Diabetes & You magazine.