Expert Q&A: A Healthy Diet for Type 2 Diabetes
An interview with Hope Warshaw, MMSc, RD.
Can people with diabetes drink alcohol?
Yes. Generally, the recommendations for people with diabetes are the same as
they are for everyone else. For women it's one drink a day, for men it's two.
However, the amount of alcohol you drink -- and whether you drink alcohol at
all -- should be affected by how you manage your condition, what medications
you're on, and your overall health.
One precaution: some diabetes medications can increase the risk of hypoglycemia
when you're drinking alcohol. So if you're at higher risk of hypoglycemia,
What impact does physical activity have on type 2 and prediabetes? How much and what types of exercise are recommended?
Physical activity is crucial for people with type 2 diabetes and
prediabetes. It helps lower blood pressure and boost levels of good HDL
cholesterol, which reduce your risk of heart and blood vessel disease. It
lowers blood glucose and decreases insulin resistance. Studies show that while
exercise doesn't help much with weight loss, it's critically important for
maintaining weight loss.
As for what and how much, start with small steps -- literally! Walking is
easy. Find time to walk a few times a week for 20 minutes. Work your way up to
30 minutes five times a week. You need to find physical activities that you
enjoy, since you need to incorporate them into your life permanently. Using
weights and resistance training can be a good idea too. The higher the
percentage of muscle and the lower the percentage of fat in your body, the
better your insulin sensitivity.
Do you have any other tips on successful weight loss and control for people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes?
If you're thinking about losing weight, the first thing you need to do is
assess whether you're really ready to make some big, permanent changes. If you
are, start by looking at what you're doing now. What are you eating and how
much physical activity do you get? Do some self-monitoring. Then once you have
a sense, target specific things you want to change. Don't try to fix your whole
life at once. You've got to focus on small changes to what you're doing
You also need some support. As a dietitian (and person who works hard to
manage my weight) I know how hard it is to follow a healthy eating plan and be
physically active day after day. So, it's my belief that if people are going to
be successful in maintaining weight loss, they need to be connected and
supported. For people who are comfortable online, I think the most
cost-effective and efficient approach is joining an online program that fits
your needs. Today there are a variety of them, from Weight Watchers to Vtrim to
the Cardiometabolic Support Network.