Could you be sabotaging your diabetes weight loss plan without knowing it? Learn about the factors that may be standing between you and a healthier weight.
It may not surprise you to know that being overweight or obese and having type 2 diabetes can increase your risk of diabetes-related complications. Or that, on the flipside, losing a few pounds through healthy habits like eating well and exercising can help reduce your risk for these complications and other health conditions. But what you might not realize is that even if you think you’re doing everything right, you may be sabotaging your own your weight-loss efforts without even knowing it.
Here are 7 surprising factors that may be standing between you and a healthier weight — and tips to tackle these obstacles and get back on the path to success from two certified diabetes educators (CDEs).
Weight Loss Obstacle #1: You’re overwhelmed.
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If you’re overweight or obese, the prospect of losing weight, and then maintaining it, can be daunting. “It’s a commitment and you need to renew that commitment every day,” says Margaret Powers, PhD, RD, CDE, president of Health Care and Education for the American Diabetes Association. To make it less intimidating, she suggests thinking about the commitment as though you’re just making it for today. “Start by committing to making healthy choices in the morning,” she recommends. “And then add on.” Commit to making healthy choices at lunch, then at snack time, after work, at dinner, and so on. Do this each day and keep working at it even if you slip into old habits at times. “The hardest thing about losing weight is maintaining it,” Dr. Powers says. “It takes a lot of work, but renewing that commitment sets you up for success every day.”
Weight Loss Obstacle #2: You don’t get enough sleep.
Remedy: Aim to get 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep each night; choose diabetes-friendly nighttime snacks.
Not only can lack of sleep lead to insulin resistance, it can wreak havoc on hormones associated with weight gain. When you’re not getting enough sleep, your body makes more ghrelin (an appetite-stimulating hormone), and less leptin (an appetite-suppressant). Another basic problem with staying up late, Powers says, is that people tend to eat more. “Being up late makes you more likely to snack,” she says. You may also be more inclined to choose high-calorie sweet, starchy, and salty late-night snacks, according to a study published in April 2013 in Obesity, and starchy snacks are not the best choice for balancing your blood sugar or losing weight (or maintaining a healthy weight).
Weight Loss Obstacle #3: You go for long periods without eating.
Remedy: Incorporate diabetes-friendly snacks into your meal plan and don’t skip meals.
This is particularly common in newly diagnosed people with type 2 diabetes. “They’re afraid to eat something and affect their blood sugar,” explains Arcy Segura, CDE, health education manager at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. But they’re not the only ones. Segura says that it’s also a problem among people who’ve been managing diabetes for a while but haven’t been educated around dietary issues as well as in people who work double shifts and don’t make time to eat. But going for long periods without eating may cause more fluctuations in insulin and glucose, and lead to weight for 1 last update 10 Jul 2020 gain rather than weight loss, according to an animal study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in July 2015.This is particularly common in newly diagnosed people with type 2 diabetes. “They’re afraid to eat something and affect their blood sugar,” explains Arcy Segura, CDE, health education manager at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. But they’re not the only ones. Segura says that it’s also a problem among people who’ve been managing diabetes for a while but haven’t been educated around dietary issues as well as in people who work double shifts and don’t make time to eat. But going for long periods without eating may cause more fluctuations in insulin and glucose, and lead to weight gain rather than weight loss, according to an animal study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in July 2015.
Weight Loss Obstacle #4: You eat healthy foods…in large quantities.
Remedy: Keep eating healthy foods, but watch portion the 1 last update 10 Jul 2020 sizes. Remedy: Keep eating healthy foods, but watch portion sizes.
Eating foods that are good for you is a basic tenet of a healthy diabetes diet, but serving sizes and portion control are also important. “Lots of times people equate ‘healthy’ to ‘unlimited,’” says Segura. “I have patients that are picking really healthy foods, like nuts, olive oil, and avocados, but failing to realize that they’re chock-full of calories.”
Weight Loss Obstacle # 5: You’re eating lean proteins…but using unhealthy cooking techniques to prepare them.
Remedy: Sauté using cooking spray or small amounts of olive oil. Instead of frying lean proteins, bake, broil, grill, or stir-fry them.
Proteins, like beef or poultry, don’t necessarily affect blood sugar, but they can affect cholesterol and your waistline, Segura says. Lean proteins are better for weight loss and they’re recommended as part of a healthy type 2 diabetes diet, but preparation is also important. “Frying or sautéing with butter or too much olive oil can sabotage weight loss,” Segura says.
Weight Loss Obstacle # 6: You graze mindlessly.
Remedy: Practice mindful snacking; replace grazing with a healthier alternative.
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Weight Loss Obstacle # 7: You think that because you exercised you can eat dessert.
Remedy: Exercise, but refrain from eating the dessert. Try to satisfy your sweet tooth in a way that’s low- or no-calorie.
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Remedying these obstacles to weight loss may not solve all of your problems, but it can help you make progress. If you’re still having trouble shedding pounds or maintaining a healthy weight, talk to your doctor or a CDE about adjusting your plan. Some people may need more significant weight-loss interventions and support to achieve their goals.