Diabetes and Weight Loss: The Right Path
If you've got diabetes, weight loss can get you off insulin and other medications. But diet safely, with the help of experts.
Special Challenges for Diabetes Weight Loss Diets
"For anyone, losing weight is challenging enough," Meneghini tells WebMD.
"For people who inject insulin, it's even more difficult because they have to
eat when they have low blood sugar. When you have to reduce calorie intake,
prevent overmedication, and eat to correct your low blood sugar, it's very
Indeed, low and high blood sugar levels are the two big concerns with
diabetes and weight loss.
Low Blood Sugar (hypoglycemia) occurs when the amount of insulin in
the body is higher than your body needs. In its earliest stages, it causes
confusion, dizziness, and shakiness. In its later stages, it can be very
dangerous -- possibly causing fainting, even coma.
Low blood sugar is common when people lose weight, because cutting calories
and weight loss itself affect blood sugar levels. If you don't reduce your
insulin dosage or pills to match new blood sugar levels, you'll be risking high
High Blood Sugar (hyperglycemia) can develop when your body's insulin
level is too low to control blood sugar. This happens when people on insulin or
sugar-lowering medications don't take the correct dose or follow their
Diabetes and Weight Loss: Getting Started
Losing weight is never easy. That's where a diabetes educator or a
nutritionist can help, advises Deeb, president-elect of the American Diabetes
Association. A diabetes educator or nutritionist can develop a program that
fits you and your lifestyle -- a program with realistic goals, he says.
"You will need a meal plan, one that you can follow every day. You'll need
to know how to alter your insulin and medication based on what you're eating
and whether you're exercising more," Deeb tells WebMD. "That's the safest way
to lose weight."
A consultation with a diabetes educator or dietitian/nutritionist can cost
from $60-$70. Typically, insurance covers the first two visits, but may not
additional ones, says Meneghini.
Reasonably priced support groups and classes are available, frequently
through hospitals, to help with diabetes and weight loss. Ask your doctor or
physician assistant for recommendations.
There are also web sites with in-depth information on diabetes and weight
- American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
"Information is power, and the better informed you are, the better decisions
you can make," says Meneghini.