My weight-loss journey has had hundreds of ups and downs. It is always tough, but having Type 2 diabetes has made it even harder.
Along the way I have made mistakes. Here are a few, shared with you in the hope that you can avoid the discouragement and desire to quit that can plague us as we try to deal with diabetes.
Our Western diet is full of convenience foods that are loaded with added sugar, salt, and other things we would not put into a recipe at home. The reason? To keep processed foods from spoiling and to make them taste better.
Hydrogenated fats, MSG, and nitrates are not good for us, especially in the large amounts we find in our fast-food world. So changing to another way of eating, something like the Mediterranean diet, for instance, can make us not only lose weight, but be healthier as well.
Fresh foods, homemade recipes, and good fats like olive oil make a much better diet for a person with Type 2 diabetes than the typical Western diet. An added bonus is that when you make the food yourself, you know what’s in it.
Because we have Type 2 diabetes, a low-carbohydrate diet may work better for us than a low-calorie one. Yes, we need to watch calories when want to lose weight, but we are sensitive to carbohydrates because of our insulin resistance.
One mistake I made more than once was to eat a super-low-calorie diet for fast weight loss. It worked, but it did not last. For one thing, my metabolism slowed way down, making it harder and harder to lose the next pounds.
When I went back to eating more normally, the weight jumped back on. My body was getting ready for the next starvation diet by storing up as much as possible. It was the opposite of what a diet was supposed to do. Frustration and depression followed.
Instead of dieting now, I am learning to eat more low-carbohydrate foods. Fewer and fewer of the high-glycemic foods find their way onto my plate.
Lowering your insulin needs by eating protein and good fats along with low-glycemic carbohydrates will do more for you than simply counting calories will. Having diabetes has taught me this.
A third mistake that can undermine us is having unrealistic expectations. High expectations lead to discouragement, depression, and giving up. Many of us with Type 2 diabetes are already fighting depression. Adding another burden to that will make things worse, and trying to lose weight can be heartbreakingly hard.
So you must rein in your expectations. It is good to set goals for where you would like to be in the next month or year, but make them reasonable. If you are like me, you may lose no weight for a week or two even when you are doing everything “right.”
Keep the goals small for the short term, celebrate even the little victories, and remember that change takes time. Give yourself room to make mistakes.
Do not try to diet. That may seem crazy, but it is not. Every diet works well for a few months and then hits plateaus. The average person sticks to a diet for about six months, and most people only keep half of the lost weight off over the next six months.
So I have decided not to diet. Instead, I am changing the way I eat. Lifestyle changes mean just that. They are for life. The word “diet” implies that it is not forever, just for a while until you lose weight.
Real change will last, and so will the weight loss that goes with it. These are the things I have learned on my journey with Type 2 diabetes. I hope you avoid the mistakes that make losing weight while dealing with diabetes so difficult.
Best wishes for the New Year.