By: Barbara Ross
Weight loss can help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar and avoid potential health risks associated with the disease. Did you know that losing even seven percent of your body weight can lower blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels1?
“Consider diabetes as a disease that has different phases–with the central feature a disorder of insulin production and insulin use,” said Roberta Anding, MS, RD/LD,CSSD,CDE. Anding is a clinical dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Baylor College of Medicine, as well as a national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. “To better control and lose weight safely with type 2 diabetes, it is important to consider the type and amount of food on your plate.”
“Provided there are no diabetes complications,” Anding went on, “I teach my clients how to eat healthy at every meal. For example, breakfast might be the most important meal of the day, but it also sets the stage for blood sugar control throughout the day. Blood sugars can be high in the morning because of hormones that antagonize or fight against insulin. Consider avoiding fruit and juices in the morning, and make protein a priority.”
For lunch and dinner, Anding recommended filling half of your plate with vegetables cooked with minimal or no oil. “Steamed with added seasonings is the best cooking method,” she emphasized. The other half of the plate should be filled with a portion of lean protein, about the size of a deck of cards, and some starch, such as a small sweet potato or brown rice. “One of my favorite client success stories,” said Anding, “concerns a busy attorney who travels around the world and eats out at least six out of seven nights a week. By ordering his food via the plate method and asking that his foods to be prepared without oil, he has lost 40 pounds. He asks for extra vegetables and avoids the breads and chips and salsa, and he is controlling his weight and his blood sugar.”
Being overweight with diabetes can impair glucose tolerance, increase insulin resistance, and enlarge fat cells, which can lead to diabetes complications. Excess fat interferes with the body’s ability to use insulin effectively, which makes it more difficult to control blood glucose levels. This can create a vicious cycle in which the excess blood sugar is stored by the body as new fat, making weight control even more difficult. While the benefits of losing weight are irrefutable, the difficulty is to maintain these healthy lifestyle changes.
“I have long held the belief that our society places too little emphasis on nutrition and behavioral change to prevent and manage disease,” said Bruce Daggy, PhD. Dr. Daggy, who is vice president of research and development at Nutrisystem and adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food, and Exercise Sciences at Florida State University, has more than two decades of consumer healthcare and nutritional experience. “People with type 2 diabetes who want to lose weight have a real challenge ahead of them because it is so much more than simply reducing calories,” he said. “Meals have to be healthy, balancing carbohydrates and protein with overall calories to keep blood glucose levels stable while losing weight, and they have to taste good.”
The Nutrisystem D program, developed specifically for people with diabetes who want to lose weight, is based on the proven science of the glycemic index, which measures how the carbohydrates in food affect blood sugar levels. “This is a low glycemic diet that integrates good carbohydrates into the meal plan, along with foods that are low in fat and high in fiber,” said Dr. Daggy. “When combined with fresh foods like fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy items, these foods break down slowly to help stabilize blood sugar.” The portion-controlled meals in the Nutrisystem D program were developed in compliance with USDA national guidelines for people with diabetes who want to lose weight, and they even include a variety of foods typically considered off limits for people with type 2 diabetes.
The Nutrisystem D program was the ideal approach for Carol Robinson, 57, a registered dental hygienist from Little Rock, Arkansas. Diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 50, Carol was 65 pounds overweight, with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. “My doctor wanted to put me on insulin because my diabetes was so out of control,” she said, “but I asked him to wait and give me a chance to try and get some weight off.”
Inspired by Marie Osmond’s weight loss with the Nutrisystem program, Carol consulted with her physician before she began her diet and daily exercise program. One year later and 50 pounds lighter, Carol feels happier and healthier. “Eating low glycemic foods and eliminating the need to count calories, carbs, or even points makes it so easy to lose weight safely,” said Carol. “My blood pressure and cholesterol levels are at normal levels, and my doctor has taken me off all my medications.” She intends to lose another 15 pounds on the program to get back to her college weight.
William Trevizo from San Bernadino, California, was 33 years old when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. “With my weight at 285 pounds, I knew this diagnosis was a real wake-up call for me,” he said. For the next year, William struggled to get on the right track–testing his blood sugar regularly, taking three medications daily, and working out at the gym five times a week. With all that effort, he lost just 25 pounds. “So much of my time was focused on work and school that it was difficult for me to make the right food choices,” he said.
For people with diabetes like William, education and support are just as important as diet and exercise. Feeling frustrated by his lack of progress, and with his physician’s approval, William chose the Nutrisystem D program. “I needed to have ongoing guidance and support from nutritional experts, and this program provided it,” he said. “I understand the importance of eating right, and that has inspired me to develop a life-long approach to healthy eating.” With his weight down to 225 pounds, William is healthier and more energetic, and he was recently taken off all medications by his physician. “I know I still have work to do, but I’m finally leading the active life I have always wanted,” he said.
Nutrisystem D efficacy is supported by a three-month, randomized, controlled clinical study, funded by Nutrisystem and conducted at Temple University School of Medicine. During the study, Nutrisystem D participants lost as much as 16 times more weight than controls, while lowering blood sugar levels and A1C. The weight loss was associated with significant reductions in cholesterol and waist size.2
Thousands of people with type 2 diabetes have chosen the Nutrisystem D program to lose weight. “I feel we have a tremendous responsibility to help them along their journey, and I believe we can and do help our clients change their lives for the better,” said Dr. Daggy.
1 The American Diabetes Association (ADA), “Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes” 2010, pg. S24, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Obesity Education Initiative, 1998 and Diabetes Prevention Program, DPP Research Group, 2002.
2 The Effects of a Commercially Available Weight Loss Program Among Obese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Study, Gary D. Foster, PhD, Kelley E. Borradaile, PhD, Stephanie S. Vander Veur, MPH, Kerri Leh Shantz, MPH, Rebecca J. Dilks, RD, Edie M. Goldbacher, PhD, Tracy L. Oliver, PhD, RD, Caitlin A. LaGrotte, MEd, Carol Homko, PhD, RN, Wayne Satz, MD www.postgradmed.org/doi/10.3810/pgm.2009.09.2046