November is American Diabetes Month, and with about 8.3 percent of Americans having diabetes—and another 80 million at risk of becoming diabetic—it’s crucial for all of us, not just nutritionists and celebrity fitness trainers, to pass on some of these tips on weight loss for diabetics.

 

The overwhelming majority of diabetics have type-2 diabetes, sometimes referred to as, “The Lifestyle Disease.”

 

Poor nutrition choices and lack of exercise are almost always the culprits of diabetes. “Nutrition illiteracy,” which can be defined as lacking the knowledge that certain foods are unhealthy, as well as access to affordable healthy options, can both be factors in becoming diabetic.

 

There are currently no cures or immunity to diabetes, but it is possible to control it.

 

If you have type-2 diabetes, safe and effective weight-loss strategies include:

 

  • Eating at least 3-5 smaller, balanced meals
  • Drinking enough water
  • Avoiding eating products with white flour and refined carbohydrates
  • Including lots of fiber in the diet
  • Exercising daily
 

What is a balanced meal?
For those who are nutritionally literate, it might be obvious what constitutes a balanced meal. But for many diabetics who have gone through much of their life raised on sugary cereals, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, fries, Coke and other junk food, it might not be so obvious what constitutes a balanced meal.

 

Every meal you eat should be at regularly-spaced intervals. Try to go no more than three to four hours without eating. Have breakfast at 8 a.m., lunch at noon, an afternoon snack at 4 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. Try sticking to the same eating schedule every day as this will help regulate blood sugar levels.

 

Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are the three macronutrients and all three should be eaten at every meal to maintain steady blood sugar levels.

 

The majority of carbohydrates you eat should come from vegetables (both cooked and raw). Earlier in the day, at breakfast and lunch, you can have a moderate amount of low-starch carbohydrate such as wild rice, oat bran, oatmeal and quinoa, a grainy, high-protein alternative to other blood-sugar spiking carbohydrates like white rice and pasta.

 

Try to limit your portion sizes of carbohydrates to a fist or fist and a half. Your protein choice should also be limited to about the size of your fist. Good protein choices to choose from at every meal include:

 

  • Lean meat and poultry
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Soybeans (don’t opt for soy meat substitutes)
  • Protein powder (perfect for late-morning smoothies)
 

Dietary fats are the third component of balanced meals. Fats get a bad rap in the media. Eating fat won’t necessarily make you fat. Eating more calories than you burn and consuming too much sugar without burning them by exercising will make you fat. Natural fats help slow down blood sugar and regulate insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar. Some nutritionists think that eating full-fat ice cream is actually better for you than fat-free because the fat prevents blood sugar spikes. The problem, of course, with eating any ice cream variety is portion control.

 

Examples of natural fat include:

 

  • Olive oil
  • Egg yolks
  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Flaxseed oil
 

The amount of natural fat at every meal should generally be low, as in a tablespoon of olive oil on a salad or an eighth of an avocado and a handful of sunflower seeds and one egg yolk.

 

If you need to snack, it’s best to eat something that contains all 3 macronutrients, such as an apple with celery and a wee bit of peanut butter.

 

In addition to eating at least three small balanced meals throughout the day, here are some other tips for diabetics who need to lose weight:

 

  • Drink at least eight, 8-oz. glasses of water per day
  • Have most of your calories come from vegetables
  • Melt a tablespoon of butter over your veggies and sprinkle some sea salt to make them more appetizing.
  • If you eat at least 21 meals a week (three a day), allow yourself two very small ‘cheat’ snacks per week. Try to make them healthy ones like one small square of dark chocolate.
  • Try to walk after every meal for at least 10 minutes. This will help regulate blood sugar.
 

Judd Handler is a health writer in Encinitas, California.

 

Got any other ideas for weight loss for diabetics? Share them below…