Once you have a chronic disease, your chances of getting rid of it are slim. Type 2 diabetes might be the exception. Its symptoms may be devastating, and its side effects life-altering (and sometimes life-threatening). However, for some people, losing weight means taking fewer medications — or going off them entirely. Being able to control your blood sugar as a diabetic can feel like a miracle — almost like you never had the condition at all.
Here’s how to regain control of your life for good — instead of letting your diabetes control you.
What causes Type 2 diabetes?
Normally when you eat, your body converts your food into glucose, which ends up in your bloodstream. (This is where the term “blood sugar” comes from). According to Mayo Clinic, your pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin, which transports that glucose (sugar) from your blood to your cells. When you eat too much food, excess amounts of sugar build up in your blood. Eventually, your pancreas just can’t produce enough insulin to compensate. Your blood sugar spikes regularly, which makes the problem worse.
If implemented early on, weight loss might be able to mostly resolve this problem.
Why weight loss matters
Losing weight can significantly improve your qualify of life while living with Type 2 diabetes, says Everyday Health. Dropping pounds makes it easier for your body to properly use the insulin it produces. Weight loss also reduces common diabetes complications like high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. The more efficient your body becomes at keeping you healthy, the less you will have to rely on medications to stimulate normal processes artificially.
What to eat to lose weight if you already have diabetes
The good news is, the same foods you eat to prevent diabetes are the same foods that can reverse it. Low-carb fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber, the best form of carbohydrate to stabilize blood sugar and promote weight loss.
Eating plenty of protein and avoiding refined sugars and processed foods also help. The sooner you cut back on junk food, the better. You’re more likely to reduce your need for medication if you lose weight soon after developing diabetes.
Is exercise safe if you have high blood sugar?
Yes! Regular exercise is one of the most effective ways to lose weight, especially if you have problems controlling your blood sugar. Health suggests engaging in shorter workouts — doing two 15-minute workouts per day instead of working out for 30 minutes daily, for example. Keeping track of your steps every day can also encourage you to move more, instead of just focusing on a single workout and then spending the rest of your day sitting in a chair.
What you should never do to lose weight with diabetes
Some common weight loss methods are actually extremely dangerous if you have diabetes. You should never, ever skip meals or snacks, warns WebMD. Blood sugar crashes aren’t good for anyone — and low blood sugar can interfere with some medications.
Eating regularly, especially keeping track of carbohydrates and getting enough protein, are extremely important for keeping your blood sugar levels within a normal range.
Here are the other ways losing weight can improve your life
Weight loss doesn’t just improve your blood sugar. According to Men’s Fitness, losing even a few pounds can help you sleep better, reduce stress, improve your sex life, and decrease your disease risk. It’s good for your heart, your liver, and even your brain. If improving your diabetes symptoms isn’t enough motivation, maybe some of these things will be.
Other ways to lose weight and control your blood sugar
Even if it’s too late to prevent diabetes, there are other factors besides diet and exercise that can help you better control your blood sugar and lose weight. Managing your stress is one of the most important things to consider when trying to shed pounds. Chronic stress messes with your hormones — something you really don’t want when your hormones are already struggling. Getting enough sleep also promotes weight loss, since sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain and hormonal imbalances in some people.