Diabetes is a common disorder in which the body has difficulty controlling levels of sugar in the bloodstream. Normally, the hormone insulin made by the pancreas (an organ in the abdomen) regulates blood sugar levels. There is, for many, a direct connection between weight, diet, and diabetes; unfortunately, the connection isn’t often one that patients to our family medicine practice want to hear.

The Types and Treatments for Diabetes

The bodies of individuals with Type 1 diabetes, which usually starts by the early teen years, do not make enough insulin to control blood sugar, so they must receive insulin injections. The bodies of persons with Type 2 diabetes are resistant to the effects of insulin. Type 2 diabetes, also known as “adult-onset” diabetes, usually develops in adulthood but can also occur in overweight children; the primary influencers for Type 2 diabetes include: family history of diabetes and excess weight, especially weight carried around the middle, are strong risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. Losing weight greatly reduces your chances of ever contracting Type 2 diabetes and can help bring your blood sugar under control naturally, even if you already have Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can commonly be treated with diet, exercise, and oral prescription medications alone, but may require insulin shots. The June 18, 2008, issue of JAMA includes an article about an association between Type 2 diabetes and depression. This Patient Page is based on one previously published in the March 15, 2006, issue of JAMA.

  • Get regular exercise — at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week of brisk walking, sports, or active games.
  • Avoid high-fat foods like ice cream, butter, and high-fat meats.
  • Eat a healthful diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and low in refined carbohydrates, such as sweets and white bread.
  • Limit the amount of high-sugar beverages you drink, such as soft drinks and fruit punches.
  • Limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women, 2 per day for men, and none if you have any difficulty controlling alcohol intake.
  • Always eat a balanced breakfast.
  • If you are overweight, aim to lose no more than 2 pounds per week. Losing more than that can be unhealthy and often leads to rebound weight gain.
  • Get your family and friends involved by encouraging them to eat healthful foods and exercise together.

Realize that your diet and exercise regimen are lifestyle changes that must be maintained in the long term to keep weight off.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please visit American Diabetes Association at www.diabetes.org and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at www.niddk.nih.gov or schedule an appointment with a physician at our family medicine practice in Waynesboro.