Between holiday eating and being more sedentary during the cold weather, winter seems to be the season when people tend to pack on extra pounds. But people with diabetes need to maintain a healthy weight to have the best control over their blood sugar levels. Discover effective ways to melt off winter pounds and boost your overall well-being.

exercising with diabetesDuring the winter, people tend to be less active because there are fewer outdoor activities available. Coupled with a tendency to turn to comfort foods and the weather, conditions often lead to putting on a few extra pounds. If you’re struggling to fit into your spring clothes, you know it’s time to get rid of this unwanted winter weight. You start to exercise and skip calorie-packed snacks, but the weight still seems to be hanging on. Consider a few possible causes and solutions.

  • People with diabetes are more likely to have hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism. This occurs in people who have too little thyroid hormone. It can lead to feelings of fatigue that cause you to become sluggish and pack on extra pounds. Talk to your doctor about having your thyroid hormone (T4 and TSH) checked. If you take medicine, make sure to take the recommended does and ask your doctor if the dose needs to be regulated.
  • About one third of Americans do not get enough sleep. A lack of sleep is linked to serious health problems, including diabetes, obesity, anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. It is harder for sleep deprived people to manage diabetes. People who get less than four hours of sleep each night are estimated to be 73 percent more likely to pack on extra pounds. Even those who get six hours of sleep are 23 percent more likely to gain weight. Lack of sleep affects the hormones Ghrelin and leptin, which regulate your appetite. You may wind up eating more and not feeling as full. Sleep apnea, a condition where breathing pauses, also boosts the risk of obesity. Try to get 7 to 8 hours sleep each night. On the other hand, men who sleep longer than 9 hours are also at a higher risk of gaining weight.
  • Some medicines can also lead to weight gain including steroids such as prednisone, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants and antipsychotics. People who take pioglitazone or Actos to manage diabetes may also gain weight. Other medications that may lead to weight gain include antihistamines and beta-blockers. Talk to your doctor about your medications to see if they could be a culprit. Never stop taking any medications until you talk to your doctor.
  • Feeling stressed may lead to pack on extra pounds if not controlled. There is a link between stress and your weight due to a hormone called cortisol. This hormone triggers you to eat more and the body stores glucose as fat, usually in the stomach region. Try exercise, meditation or counseling to help reduce your stress.
  • Losing just one-tenth of your body weight can help you better manage your blood sugar levels. Avoid crash diets that can lead to blood sugar and weight fluctuations. Eat a healthy diet with lean meats and fish, low-fat dairy, whole grains and fruits and vegetables. Stay away from sweet treats, packaged goodies and salty snacks. If you have cravings, try diabetic candy to help ward them off. Watch your portion sizes and fit three meals and a couple of snacks into each day. Try cutting about 500 calories a day, which adds up 3500 calories per week to help you lose 1 pound weekly.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Include aerobic activities such as walking, running, swimming, dance classes or sports. Fit strength training into your routine such as weight lifting with free weights or using a band for resistance training. Exercise helps you to reduce stress and shed pounds.

With some planning, you can lose the extra winter weight and fit into your summer clothing. You’ll be amazed at the energy, confidence and blood sugar control you can achieve by losing just a few pounds and keeping them off!