By The Diabetic Friend Editorial Staff
June 26, 2011

Controlling weight. What’s particularly frightening is that the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular problems begins to increase with a body mass index as low as 22 kg/m². For each unit above 22 kg/ m², the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes increases by 25 %.

Weight gain of as little as 11 pounds (5 kg) increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Abdominal obesity-a waist circumference of greater than 40 inches (100 cm) for men and greater than 35 inches (87.5 cm) for women-seems to carry the greatest risk for Type 2 diabetes.

Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kg) or 10% of body weight can significantly reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, or at least lower blood sugar levels. Diet and exercise are the two most important factors in losing and maintaining weight. They can also improve insulin sensitivity, the major problem in Type 2 diabetes.

Diet is more than what we eat. It’s also how much we eat, when we eat, and under what circumstances we eat. Let’s take a closer look.

What we eat. No single diet is the exact diet for women with diabetes or for those trying to prevent diabetes. Instead, the goal should be to make healthy and moderate choices. “Whole,” unadulterated foods should be used. Processed, “white” foods should be avoided, or at least severely limited, because they don’t contain the same nutrients and fiber as whole foods. Grains, vegetables, and legumes contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and proteins and should be the mainstay of any diet. Refined and processed foods contain added sugar, fat, and sodium to improve taste and texture. Simple sugars are known to deplete the body of chromium, a mineral that’s important in blood sugar control.

How much we eat. Portion size is important in fighting obesity. For example, a serving of beef should be 2 to 3 ounces, according to the food pyramid. Burgers at a typical fast food restaurant are generally 4 to 8 ounces, and a steak salad at one popular restaurant chain contains 11 ounces of grilled steak. A serving of french fries is calculated at 10 fries; a large serving from a fast food restaurant can be four times that amount. A single meal at a fast food restaurant can average 2,000 calories, the upper limit of total daily required calorie intake for many people. Add two more meals and a fewsnacks throughout the day, coupled with little or no exercise, and you can see why more and more of our waistlines are expanding.

When and where we eat. Many of us eat on the run, at our desks, or in front of the television or computer. When our minds are on other things as we eat, we may not register the taste or texture of the food. Taste, texture, and the circumstances surrounding when we eat play an important role in reaching satiety and satisfaction. Satiety signals take at least 20 minutes to surface, so shoveling food into our mouths rather than savoring each bite can result in overeating.

A few simple “rules” go a long way toward attaining a healthy diet and preventing obesity:

  • Eating should be the only activity you’re engaged in (in other words, don’t read, watch television, or work on the computer at the same time).
  • Don’t skip meals; it encourages binge eating.
  • Control the portions of the food you eat. Refer to the food pyramid for help.
  • Snacks-healthful snacks, that is-are a good thing.
  • Chew slowly to aid digestion and to help register satiety and pleasure.
  • For optimum digestion, don’t eat dinner later than 7 p.m.
sources:  The American Diabetes Association