Diabetes and Weight Loss

5 Smart Ways to Shrink Your Belly
steel-cut-oats

Overweight and recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? Your doctor is probably encouraging you to try to lose weight. Weight loss can help get blood sugar under control and avoid the need for medication. Shedding just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight -- 10 to 20 pounds, for a 200-pound woman -- can lower blood sugar.

Forget counting calories, though. A diabetic is better off changing the way he or she eats, says Beth Reardon, director of nutrition at Duke University's Duke Integrative Medicine. "There are no 'magic bullet' foods," she says. "Instead of thinking about calories-in, calories-out, focus on changing your lifestyle -- you'll lose weight and improve your blood sugar."

Try these key ideas to help send all your numbers in the right direction:

Baby Your Pancreas to Lose Weight -- by Choosing the Right Carbs

When you're diabetic, your pancreas is worn out from working so hard to produce insulin to process the glucose building up in the blood. Simple sugars and starches, like those in processed grains, sugary foods, most baked goods, and fruits or juices flood the system quickly with sugar. Instead, Reardon advocates showing your pancreas "loving kindness" by choosing healthier carbs -- those that are slow to absorb in the bloodstream and rich in fiber.

Remember that carbs aren't just in grains. Amp up your vegetable intake, and eat a serving or two of fruit a day. Limit grains of all kinds and when you have them, choose whole grains.

"If you're picky about the type of carbs, you don't have to worry so much about amounts," Reardon says.

Star Choices
Steel-cut oats and whole-grain barley. Great sources of soluble fiber, they increase feelings of fullness and are processed slowly.

How Colorful Plants Help You Lose Weight

A plant-based diet should be the cornerstone of a weight-loss plan for anyone, not just those with diabetes. Look for richly-colored veggies, which tend to be highest in phytonutrients (also called phytochemicals -- phyto is Greek for "plant").

Types of phytonutrients, compounds that help protect against disease, include carotenoids, flavonoids, and resveratrol. But you don't need to remember their names, only this rule of thumb: The brighter or deeper-hued a veggie or fruit, the better for you it generally is. Think deep-blue or red berries, red grapes, bright-red tomatoes, cheddar-gold cauliflower. Purple carrots have as much as eight times the phytonutrients as the conventional orange ones, which are good sources themselves. See if you can eat seven or more kinds of vegetables and fruits (but especially vegetables) each day.

Star Choices
Kale, spinach, arugula, and broccoli. These deep-green veggies are super sources of antioxidants and fiber as well as magnesium, which the insulin hormone needs to function. Herbs are also a good phytonutrient source that can be added to almost anything you cook. Try mixing hamburger meat with chopped parsley, or topping a tomato salad with chopped basil.

Fats That Can Help With Weight Loss

Your body needs fat to function -- and the right fats help your body work better, without making you fat. Fats derived from plants (such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds) are better metabolized by the body than animal fats (such as butter, lard, and cheese) and help to lower cholesterol.

"Eating nuts and avocadoes doesn't make you fat and can be part of a healthy weight-loss plan," Reardon says.

Star Choices
Almonds and walnuts. These nuts provide protein as well as unsaturated fat, and a handful gives you a sense of fullness. Snack on raw almonds or add chopped walnuts to your breakfast cereal or a vegetable dish. Top a salad with a handful of nuts sautéed in a dab of olive oil.

Lose Weight by Swapping Animal Proteins for Fish and Plant Proteins

Protein helps prevent spikes in blood sugar. That's not only kind to your pancreas but it helps you avoid those energy crashes that make you rabid for the quick pick-me-up hit of doughnuts, chips, or a candy bar. The healthiest proteins are found in cold-water fish, which contain beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, and in plant sources -- especially beans and nuts.

Try to eat a little protein with every meal. Get away from thinking of it as the main dish; instead it should be a complement to vegetables and grains. Go vegetarian every other day, or three to four times a week.

Star Choices
Salmon, azuki beans, black beans. Canned salmon is an inexpensive source of wild salmon, which has fewer toxins than farmed varieties. For a powerhouse bean, look for azuki, a small red Japanese variety (also used to make sweet bean paste) that's especially low in calories but high in protein -- and tends not to make you gassy. Black beans may be easier to find, and all kinds of beans have been shown to stave off hunger by raising levels of the hormone that provides a sense of satiety. Eat them cooked and warm, or cooled in a salad mixed with olive oil, vinaigrette, and a mix of vegetables.

Foods and Spices That Can Lower Inflammation

People with diabetes tend to have inflammation overload. Inflammation is the body's natural way of protecting against damage. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is a state that can result from a history of eating highly glycemic foods and being overweight. Chronic inflammation is now known to contribute to many diseases, including diabetes.

A plant-based, whole food diet -- based on foods like those cited above in this article -- tends to be anti-inflammatory. In general, look for foods with strong flavors, strong smells, and strong colors. Spices are an overlooked source of anti-inflammatory properties.

Star Choices
Cinnamon, turmeric. These spices have the added advantage of enhancing food tastes -- important if you're trying to lose weight and are adjusting to a less-processed diet. Stir cinnamon into morning oatmeal or hot tea. Turmeric (also called curcumin, or ground turmeric root) gives curry and mustard their trademark colors. You can add it to eggs, lentils, and vegetable dishes. Some nutritionists recommend turmeric in capsule form for diabetics; ask your doctor.


over 1 year ago, said...

About a month ago, I started eating instant oatmeal for breakfast three or four times a week. I like the product but I don't put milk on it. Just make it with water and eat it that way with a few raisins mixed in. I got the news from this article that oatmeal is ok to have in your diet while my friends said it would get me fat and I'm already overweight by ten pounds or so. I'll be watching my weight to see what happens!


almost 2 years ago, said...

Thank you everyone for your comments! For those seeking more information, please discuss your questions or concerns with your doctor offline. Caring.com is not a substitute for medical advice from a doctor or licensed medical professional. We also offer these informational resources that may be helpful to you: http://www.caring.com/support-groups/diabetes and http://www.caring.com/diabetes and http://www.caring.com/ask/diabetes-questions


almost 2 years ago, said...

I will make a point of eating as much of the advised vega and fruit in the next few months and hope to see some good results in due course.I also like the idea of making the vegetables the main part of the meal.


almost 2 years ago, said...

I will re-iterate that no examples were given about belly fat, just carb intakes. I am somewhat underweight but with an annoying bit of belly fat--apparently a common phenomenon. In that sense, the title was misleading. Good luck with carbs--basically, the less processed, the better,. The closer to nature, the healthier the food.


almost 2 years ago, said...

Jives with what I read in Gary Taubes book "Why We Get Fat". A must read for all of us concerned about our intake of carbs


almost 2 years ago, said...

I have Type 2 Diabetes and although I am not "officially" overweight I have gained unwanted weight that is making life uncomfortable for me. This article gave me a number of simple suggestions and diet changes that might help me keep my glucose levels steady AND lower inflammation which has caused other medical problems. Losing a little weight is a terrific incentive to try these nutritious and uncomplicated diet changes!


almost 2 years ago, said...

The title was somewhat misleading,. It addressed carb choice for diabetics. Where is the information about reducing the belly fat specifically?


almost 2 years ago, said...

examples provided


about 2 years ago, said...

if you are advocating grains (steel cut oats, and whole grain barley) perhaps you could expound on where we might find these items, and how to cook them so they are edible?


about 2 years ago, said...

want to lose my belly yes but in the mean time is there anyone here with cirrhosis that could offer some advise to me.. Thanks in advance Matt


over 2 years ago, said...

Confirms information


over 2 years ago, said...

Quoting the aspects very specifically. Long write-up takes more time & the people are likely to ignore to read some of the details.


over 2 years ago, said...

Give some real meals, not just salads, real people cannot survive on off season veggies and fruit.


over 2 years ago, said...

In the need to lose weight!!!!


over 2 years ago, said...

THE whole article was helpful. Question for you. What are the benefits of eating wheat bran, spelt bran, chia seeds, or psyllium with each meal. I try for a cup of one of the above a day. Keeps me regular but is that too much. Dennis


over 2 years ago, said...

That is great! How do I lose belly fat instantly without under eating?


over 2 years ago, said...

I love spices but they were consider to be wrong for diet , thanks ,I will go back to my cinnamon and turmeric.


over 2 years ago, said...

Great ideas and ways to change what you have been doing that isn't working so well. Easy to read, understand and helps you forward to trying new ways to discover foods that are helpful.


over 2 years ago, said...

everything


over 2 years ago, said...

How much peanut butter and/or honey is too much? I heard that two tablespoons of honey and a teaspoon of cinnamon in hot water, daily, is good.


over 2 years ago, said...

I liked the explanation on spices and their health benefits. Would love some recipes using beneficial herbs


over 2 years ago, said...

Dietary advice and recommendations was excellent.


over 2 years ago, said...

This article was very helpful. I have been diagnosed as Low thyroid, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and borderline diabetes, so it has been difficult in balancing a food plan. I agree with you on going vegetarian 3 days out of the week. It has been difficult; however, I can do this!


over 2 years ago, said...

With all the talk about GMO vs organic, I'm at a loss on knowing what to eat! No oats because they are GMO, no corn products, no wheat products, and the list goes on and on... I'm on a limited budget, can't afford to go all organic. What do I eat???


over 2 years ago, said...

does doing these thing have you to lose weight because i have try an it get me no were


over 2 years ago, said...

All the information was very helpful. I have new ideas on how to eat more healthy.


over 2 years ago, said...

It was helpful to think of helping a tired pancreas. I have steal cut oats but never tried them. I even have barley but didn't know that they were better than other things.


almost 3 years ago, said...

It provides a great guide as to the right foods to consume --- I know what to eat but needed to be led to the particular foods that will help me control my blood sugar & weight. Tnx!


almost 3 years ago, said...

im so overweight it is not funny, since i had my knee replacement 4 years ego, nd my hip, last year,, gaining weight nd always hungry, lol, especially arownd 10 o clock in the evening,,im always in pauin nd i get up w hedaches,, amy


almost 3 years ago, said...

'Fruit or juices flood the system quickly with sugar' . . . but 'eat a serving or two of fruit a day' . . . How can you recommend what you warn against? Cigarettes are carcinogenic, but smoke a carton or two a day . . . Your advice is not advisory.


almost 3 years ago, said...

I now have a clearer idea of looking for the things I can consume on a regular basis.


almost 3 years ago, said...

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