Weight loss is hard. . . . . . . Managing diabetes is even harder.
Trying to manage BOTH diabetes and weight loss together can feel so overwhelming you just want to give up. On the other hand, losing extra weight can really help lower insulin resistance and improve blood sugars. How to accomplish that is the big question.
I want to share with you 7 things I think an effective diabetes weight loss program should have. These suggestions come from a combination of reviewing research, from my own experience working with clients, and from being coached myself in past years.
1. A way to personalize the food plan to your preferences and lifestyle
If you don’t like the foods or it’s too restrictive you will not stay on the plan. Part of personalizing a food plan is to try different strategies and piece together a custom plan that works well for YOU. In my program, we customize the meal plan for each person according things like . . .
- what foods you like
- your wellness and blood sugar goals
- how much cooking you want to do
- what foods are in season or available
- your food budget
I also help people find recipes they like and teach them how to adapt them to their liking. You can search all kinds of recipes online but so many are gourmet recipes or include foods you might never try or buy. Learning to cook and eat healthier can be simple if you learn some tips and tricks to making the foods you like.
2. A system you can stick with long term, even if you stop paying for the program
Every program has a way for you to monitor or plan your portions. It might be points, or carbs or calories or entering food to an app or prepacked foods or meal replacements. Bottom line, there will be some way to limit your calories.
In my program, whether we are working on blood sugars or other weight related health concerns, figuring out a simple method to portion carbs is usually the most beneficial. Carb portion methods can also give you freedom in what to eat. You just focus on how much you have.
There are so many ways to go about doing that and the key is finding the strategy that works for you and that will be easy enough to use long term. I don’t believe you should have to get out the calculator and do a big math problem every time you eat. We want to keep your eating plan simple and enjoyable.
3. Quality nutrition
If you are in the 50+ age group like me, you are probably at the point in life where you are not watching your weight to fit into that bikini anymore. You are trying to stay well so that you can live an enjoyable life now and into retirement years!
My first choice is to get as many of our nutrients from food, but often that is not possible. Sometimes we need supplements. However, you want to choose the right supplements in the right amount based on your health situation, including factors such as your lab results, age, and genetics. You also want to make sure you have a quality supplement, know when to take it, how it might interact with other supplements or medications and how to store it.
4. Tracking methods
This could be a journal, app, or smartwatch. When you focus in on what you need to change, you need to track it, so you know what is working and not working and then make adjustments. You might track water intake, calories, carbs, steps, mood, inches, blood sugars or weight, or something else.
I find that using Continuous Glucose Monitoring has been one of the most helpful tracking methods for getting both weight and blood sugars under control. In the medical system world CGM is not usually recommended for weight management or even prevention of diabetes. But I am all about helping people PREVENT health problems. That is where nutrition is most effective.
So if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes, CGM is the best tracker to help you prevent actually developing type 2 diabetes. Not sure if you are at risk? Take this quick test.
5. A holistic approach
Weight and health are not just about a diet. Our bodies are complex and so many things affect our eating habits, weight, and our blood sugars. Sleep, environment, stress, activity, other health conditions, and medications are just some of the factors. Any quality program needs to help you take all those things into consideration.
In my program, Your Weigh to Vibrant Life, that is exactly the approach we take. We can look at your lab results, test your genetics to see what health problems you might be more susceptible to, and take all of your lifestyle factors that might be affecting weight.
Taking diabetes as an example, there are certain medications for blood sugar that can make you gain weight and some that can help you lose weight. Insulin resistance is the underlying problem in type 2 diabetes, and can be influenced by many things including diet, activity, inflammation, pain, lack of sleep and stress. Many of these conditions can affect your hormones and blood sugar and ultimately make it more difficult to lose weight.
So for success, we need to look at the holistic picture of all things affecting your weight and wellness.
6. Coaching and/or community support are key
We all need someone to be accountable to when we are making life changes and that’s where a coach or group is important. This support might be phone or video calls, messaging, private groups, live groups, or office visits. If you have diabetes, it would be to your benefit to have a health professional coach who is knowledgeable in diabetes as well.
That’s how I have designed my programs. I include a combination of private calls, private messaging and the option of group support online. Over my 30 years of helping people with diabetes and nutrition I have found that regular contact for support and problem solving is most effective to help clients reach their goals. I know artificial intelligence is becoming popular but I think it will have a difficult time replacing a truly personalized program with one to one support.
7. Your WHY
This might be the most important one of all.
We all need a reason to get out of bed and get stuff done every day right? I list this last but really, it’s the foundation of a successful program. If your foundation is weak your chance of building a strong plan for wellness that will last is slim. Starting with the right mindset and having a WHY to keep you motivated helps you keep going when you are struggling. For more on that, I talk about 4 ways to get your mind set to fight diabetes in this blog article.
Looking for a diabetes weight loss program?
My program Your Weigh to Vibrant Life is a 3-month program for those who want to reverse or prevent type 2 or prediabetes. It covers all 7 of the things I talked about in this article.
I can also customize the program for those who don’t have diabetes but might want to lose weight to help other health conditions or just elevate their wellness!
Contact me if you would like to learn more about my program.