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If you have diabetes and you're overweight, don't despair. You don't have to get model-thin or fit into skinny jeans to manage your diabetes better and boost your health. Losing any amount of weight can lower blood sugar, improve blood pressure and blood fats, and make it easier for your body to use insulin.

You can do it by making small changes in what and how much you eat and by getting exercise most days. This can help you lose 1 to 2 pounds a week. In 7 to 10 weeks, you can lose about 10 pounds. You'll improve your health, and you may even be able to cut back on your diabetes drugs if your doctor gives you the OK.

You may be thinking, "Well, I've tried this before and never got anywhere." The key is to think in terms of small steps. You're not trying to lose 50 pounds -- just a few pounds will do.

No matter how much you want to lose, it helps to plan ahead for weight loss before you start trying to lose weight. Always work with your doctor during the process, especially if you take any drugs. Weight loss is likely to affect them.

Start with these three steps:

  1. Ask yourself why you want to lose weight -- and why now.
  2. Set clear goals that you can follow to help you lose weight and keep it off.
  3. Think about the hurdles you may face, and plan ways to get over them.

Here are some tips to help you get started.

Diabetes and Weight Loss: Why Do You Want to Lose Weight?

It's not enough to hear from your doctor that you should lose weight. It must be something that you want for yourself. Think about why taking off unwanted pounds is important to you. This will help you keep on track through the tough times of low drive or high temptation. What inspires you to lose weight?

  • Do you want to be able to keep up with your children as they get older and more active?
  • Is there a charity walk or run you've always wanted to join?
  • Are you tired of feeling tired?
  • Do you want to manage your diabetes more easily?
  • Are you planning a big vacation and want to be fit enough to fully enjoy it?
  • Do you want to lower your chances of heart disease and other health problems?

Whatever your reasons -- and there may be more than one -- write them down, and post them on the refrigerator door or somewhere you can see them. The list will remind you every day why you're tackling the challenge of losing weight.

Healthy Weight Loss: Set Eating Goals You Can Meet

Crash diets or those that limit you to a few foods are tough to maintain over the long haul, and your lost weight is likely to come back. In the long run, it's better to start with a smaller goal, like losing 10 pounds. Set a doable date for reaching this goal -- studies show this can help you get there. Then focus on making healthy changes in your eating and activity habits.

Try these healthy weight loss goals on for size. Which goals fit your lifestyle?

  • I'll eat whole-grain cereal and skim milk instead of a muffin for breakfast 4 days a week.
  • I'll cut back on eating out or plan before I do by looking at the menu online and deciding ahead of time what to order.
  • I'll eat blueberries and non-fat yogurt instead of ice cream.
  • I'll use the "Plate Method" to help manage my portions. Non-starchy vegetables and fruits go on half the plate, starchy foods such as brown rice go on 1/4 of the plate, and lean proteins such as skinless poultry, fish, and lean meat go on the other 1/4th.
  • I'll write down everything I eat for 2 weeks.