Diabetes, Diet and Motivation

Diet finds its origins in ancient Greece. To the Greeks, it represented a way of living, essentially an approved way of living. Its meaning was broader originally and designated what was proper in the ways of food, dress and housing. The Romans turned the word into a different meaning: the daily food ration, for which the citizens had to assemble. As the years progressed it even became the term for the government assembly in several countries including Germany, Japan and Sweden.

In modern Anglophone countries, the word diet is restricted to meaning food management, and in effect refers to food amounts. In certain circumstance it may actually indicate an increase in the average amount of food intake, like when an athlete is in training, but for the vast majority of individuals the word means a person needs to eat less of in order to lose weight.

Diets and Dieting

There are essentially two types of foodstuffs: macronutrients and micronutrients.  The intake of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is usually not to be decreased in any diet. However, to control your weight, the intake of macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, protein) must be balanced.

You can remove a macronutrient for your diet, but if it is essential to life or biological processes, you won’t be able to stay healthy. This is true whether you are or are not diabetic. For example, if you reduce the intake of your protein, it will result in weight reduction. Yet, if too much weight is lost, so too will muscle (protein) be lost. Moreover, while it is true even healthy diet restrictions do work, they cannot do so alone.

While your diet needs to concentrate on the reduction of fat and carbohydrate, it should also live up to the spirit of the Greek term. A diet should not merely alter your eating habits. It should also involve a variety of life style changes. You need to expend your energy. This means burning calories through exercise, physical work or physical activity. People can eat a severely restricted diet and lose little weight. This is because they are not expending the energy required to help balance off the intake of calories. As a result, losing weight is never as simple as many of the available diets in the marketplace claim.

Obesity, Diet Control and Diabetes

In the instance of someone who is carrying too much weight, the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes (T2D) and metabolic syndrome is high. Research indicates you can reduce the risks of both by adopting a plan of weight loss and regular exercise.[1] This is applicable even if you make only moderate changes to both your diet and your activity level.

In regards to exercise, make sure the types of exercise are varied. The plan should include both aerobic and resistance training components. In including the 2 types of exercise, you also prevent yourself from becoming bored with the same old routine. If you are doing something different every day, you will be more motivated to work out regularly.

Tying the 2 aspects of diet and activity together is the most effective means of reducing weight. Research repeatedly indicates even combining together decreased fat intake with resistance training can prove to be more beneficial and successful than either of the components alone.[2] Remember, adding physical activity to your dietary plan is beneficial for diabetes in more ways than one. It lowers your insulin resistance. This means insulin will work better for you. It also means your own insulin will do the job requiring less need for medications.  Exercise also helps to improve your good cholesterol and helps to lower your risk for diseases such as heart attack.[3]

Losing Weight: Tips to Help You Control Your Dietary Intake

While there may be only 2 main types of food stuffs in a diet (carbohydrates and protein), there are literally and figuratively thousands of different diets. All have one specific purpose – to help you lose weight. Moreover, dieting has become an industry. It is fostered by the desire to become thin and to fit in with the current, generally unhealthy, fashionably thin female form represented in print, videos, movies and on the runway. Famous personalities want you to believe they have come up with a unique way to lose weight.

Losing weight is easy, some say. They compare it to giving up smoking: The first day is tough, the second day is miserable and on the third day you find an excuse to sneak a little food. The truth is that to adhere to a diet, to keep the weight off once it has been lost, can be difficult. It requires certain motivations and a support system.[4] If you have diabetes, you would think the potential serious consequences for not following a diet are sufficient motivation to maintain a healthy diet. This is not always true.

Prediabetics are aware of the potential for becoming diabetic. Many still do not accept the diagnosis and find they end up diabetic and obese. Obese individuals may be aware of the impact of the body fat on health. Yet, due to other factors, even when on a stable and healthy diet, they do not find the path to achieving a normal weight and obtaining control over their diabetes for the long term. It is not simply a matter of a “lack of will power” but the result a mixture of emotional, cultural and family factors.

For some individuals, controlling obesity and diabetes requires several things. One thing needed is helpful valid dietary information. The other things needed are emotional support and encouragement. Information and support can be found in several ways:

  • Diet programs – sign up and go to meetings
  • Diet groups – meet frequently to discuss issues. Some operate like AA
  • Online groups – offer 24 hour support and availability. Someone is always online to chat with[5]
  • Telephone support[6] – is a means of providing support and encouragement cost effectively
  • Family support – an essential ingredient to managing weight and diabetes

Success after a few months is a common result of all diet plans. However, to be successful for more than 5 years requires motivation and courage. It requires behavioral change. It is also more possible to achieve if you do have support.

An Alternative to or an Adjutant to Groups: FOOD LOGS

If you decide not to join a group then perhaps the next best thing is to keep a Food Log. This is a relatively inexpensive and simple way of keeping track of your diet. All it takes is an exercise book or a few sheets of paper.

Alternatively, you can purchase a software program for your computer.  This format will provide you with everything you need to do and will give you the tools for tracking calorie intake and calorie expenditures through exercise. It will also supply you with the specific food values. Some even provide you with suggestions for meal plans. If you are a diabetic, you can always look at various books published by the American Diabetes Association to determine what is best for you, your body and your type of diabetes.

The major positive feature of keeping a food log is that it is an active step in diabetes management. It requires motivation and determination to maintain and use one. To even spend the time putting in the figures and consulting tables and charts indicates that you are serious about taking back control of your weight, diet and diabetes.

Conclusion

Taking control of your diabetes through diet is not simple. It requires a multi-prong approach. You have to address your diet and your weight. You need to get your family and friends to be supportive. You have to have a plan. This can require the use of a diet plan, a diet support group, the internet or a food log and, of course, a physical activity element. All are components that can help you keep your weight and your diabetes under control. They are useless, however, if you do not integrate into the overall plan a goal, combined with your motivation.

References

[1] Church, T (2011). “Exercise in Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and Diabetes.” Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, 53 (6): 412-418.

[2] Wycherley, TP; Noakes, M; Clifton, PM; Cleanthous, X; Keogh, JB; and Brinkworth. GD (2010). “A High-Protein Diet With Resistance Exercise Training Improves Weight Loss and Body Composition in Overweight and Obese Patients With Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes Care, 33 (5): 969-976.

[3] Meltzer, SJ; and Belton, AB (2009). Diabetes in Adults. Toronto: Key Porter Books.

[4] Kelly, EB (2006). Obesity. New York: Greenwood Press.

[5] Webber, K. H.; Tate, D. F.; Ward, D. S.; and Bowling, M. (2010). “Motivation and its Relationship to Adherence to Self-Monitoring and Weight Loss in a 16-week Internet Behavioral Weight Loss Intervention.” Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 42(3): 161-167.

[6] Eakin, EG; Reeves , MM;   Marshall, AL; Dunstan, DW; Graves , N; Healy , GN;  Bleier , J; Barnett , AG; O’Moore-Sullivan , T; Russell, A  and  Wilkie, K (2010). “Living Well with Diabetes: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Telephone-Delivered Intervention for Maintenance of Weight Loss, Physical Activity and Glycaemic Control in Adults With Type 2 Diabetes.” BMC Public Health10:452 -460.

[7] This article was originally published July 12, 2012 and last revision and update of it was 9/10/2015.