How to Lose Weight and Conquer Diabetes

How to Lose Weight and Conquer Diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 12 percent of the U.S. population over 20 suffers from diabetes. Almost 20 percent more show warning signs for diabetes. Obesity holds much of the responsibility for the increased prevalence of the condition. But the real culprit behind the scenes is the high consumption of processed sugar in prepared foods. Weight loss through controlling sugar intake is crucial for overweight diabetics, but "fad" diets can interfere with the process.

In this article, we give general diet guidelines for how to avoid fad diets, get to the root of the diabetes problem, and lose weight.

Why Fad Diets are Unsafe in Diabetes

Insulin-resistance occurs when the pancreas produces insulin, but it is not used effectively to control the sugar (glucose) level in the bloodstream. After eating a meal high in glucose (such as a sugary breakfast cereal, orange juice, and sweetened coffee), a person with diabetes can experience a spike in blood glucose. An uncontrolled blood glucose level can lead to complications such as high blood pressure, nerve pain, and kidney damage - and even a diabetic coma. Diets that involve skipping meals or intermittent fasting can lead to hypoglycemic episodes in diabetic individuals, resulting in mental confusion and seizures.

Insulin and oral medication doses are prescribed for diabetic persons based on specific calculations of daily food intake. Some fad diets involve a drastic reduction in carbohydrate or calorie intake. The sudden weight loss that occurs as a result can produce a medication reaction in diabetics that can cause a medical emergency. Additionally, diabetic individuals need to eat a balanced diet to reduce the effects of typical diabetic complication (e.g., cardiovascular disease).

The Importance of Nutritional Counseling for Weight Loss

Obese diabetic individuals need to work closely with a trained nutritionist to create daily meal plans that enable weight loss through nutrient-rich meals. Creating an appropriate diabetic diet involves awareness and calculation of the glycemic index (GI), which rates the likely effect of each food item on blood glucose and insulin. The lower the GI, the less its predicted effect on blood glucose and insulin.

Since high blood lipid levels (e.g., cholesterol and triglycerides) are also often a problem in diabetes, reducing cholesterol intake is especially important in designing a diabetic weight loss diet. Additionally, the dosage of medications needs to be considered in the meal planning for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (as well as snacks between meals).

The American Diabetes Association's website includes the following food items on its list of low GI foods: oatmeal, 100 percent (stone-ground) whole wheat bread, legumes, corn, most fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and carrots. High GI foods include white bread, short grain white rice, Russet potatoes, melons, and pineapple.

Weight reduction to achieve a targeted BMI can eliminate the need in some diabetics for insulin or oral diabetes medication. It can also reduce the likelihood of developing future complications (e.g., peripheral vascular disease). By maintaining a strict diet, it is possible for many diabetic people to control the condition, and not become dependent on any medications to lower their blood sugar.