Slimming Down Helps with Diabetes & Pre-diabetes - Veterans Health Administration
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Slimming Down Helps with Diabetes & Pre-diabetes

Senior woman stands on a scale as a doctor adjusts the balances

The MOVE!® program recommends weighing yourself daily.

By by National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Monday, October 6, 2014

Most adults with diabetes are overweight. If you’re one of them, weight loss can improve blood sugar levels and decrease the need for diabetes medications. If you have pre-diabetes, you may avoid diabetes completely by losing some pounds. Other potential benefits of weight loss include:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Better heart function
  • Improved cholesterol levels

“Losing weight can even help you live longer,” says Susi K. Lewis, R.N., who works at the VHA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and with the MOVE!® Weight Management Program that helps Veterans lose weight, keep it off and improve their health.

“It’s one of the most important actions you can take to prevent cardiovascular disease, which is the cause of death for nearly 70 percent of people with diabetes.”

 Losing weight can even help you live longer. 

Slim-Down Secrets

Now that you know why it is important to lose weight, here are a few strategies about how you can get started:

Step on the scale. The MOVE!® program recommends weighing yourself daily.

Break the fast. Eating a morning meal may be linked to lower weight. In a study of more than 5,000 people with diabetes, those who ate breakfast 7 days a week had a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) than those who sometimes skipped it.

Get smart about fast food. If you hit the local burger joint, choose wisely. “Most fast food places offer salads, fruit and grilled chicken sandwiches,” Lewis says. “Hold the mayo and the cheese and ask for salad dressing on the side. Maybe eat just one part of the bun and use mustard. Skip the cola and get unsweetened iced tea or water. All these little changes can add up.”

Write it down. One study showed that people who kept a daily food diary lost significantly more weight than those who didn’t. “Use your records to identify opportunities for change in your diet,” Lewis advises. “Look at what you eat and how active you are and start making small changes. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods, just cut back on the amount. Also, record your physical activity. You may not be ready for a marathon, so just start walking a block or two and increase gradually.” For more information on how exercise improves your health when you have diabetes, read this Veterans Health Library (VHL) article.

Savor your progress. When you choose to eat a healthier meal over an unhealthy one, or when you take a 10-minute walk instead of going for a bag of potato chips, know you are on your way to making small changes that will pay off. Enjoy these little successes.

Learn more. Find out how to set your daily calorie goal with this MOVE!® handout: The Basics of Weight Control. “The basic idea of weight loss never changes,” says Lewis. “You need to burn more calories than you take in.”

Go to the Library. To learn about living well with diabetes, make the VHL go-to-guide your go-to resource. And remember that the VHL has lots of great information to help you get healthy by eating better and exercising more.

More Help and Inspiration

To inspire your weight-loss efforts, check out these VHA videos from the MOVE!® Weight Management Program: