Weight Watchers and Diabetes

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According to the American Diabetes Association, weight loss of two-to-eight kilograms (2.2-17.6lbs) may provide health benefits in those with type 2 diabetes, especially early in the disease. When it comes to dieting for weight loss there is no absolute best diet for people with diabetes. The most successful diet is one that can be incorporated into your unique lifestyle while achieving a healthy weight and maintaining blood sugar control.

One diet type that has been successful for people with diabetes is Weight Watchers. If you are someone that likes to have a plan and needs continuous motivation, Weight Watchers maybe something that works for you.

Weight Watchers was not originally designed to manage diabetes, however, Weight Watchers now has a program dedicated for people with diabetes. It appears as though this specific diet program is available for companies only. Employers may be incentivized to adopt a Weight Watchers program in the workplace to help promote worksite wellness and reduce the cost diabetes has on employee absenteeism and loss of productivity.

The cost of diabetes can be an extreme expense. In fact, it has been estimated that diabetes costs about $69 billion in reduced productivity (e.g. worker absenteeism, reduced productivity at work, lost productivity due to premature mortality and inability to work due to complications of diabetes). In addition, the Center for Disease Control estimates that diabetes costs an estimated 245 billion in total medical costs and lost work wages.

How WW for Diabetes Differs From the Regular Program

Weight Watchers for Diabetes compliments the weight-loss approach by providing unlimited support and guidance from a Certified Diabetes Educator. You will also be provided with an individualized food plan tailored to individual needs.

Trying the Regular WW Program With Diabetes

In this tech-centric world, Weight Watchers has enhanced their programs to have something for everyone. You can choose to do an online program only or sign up for online and meetings, or online and coaching. However, if you have diabetes, it's important to note that their lifestyle program is not specifically designed for people with diabetes. While the program is generally considered healthy and the plan is set up to steer you toward healthier choices and exercise, Weight Watchers recommends that if you do decide to sign up and follow the plan that you talk to your doctor about using Weight Watchers and share materials with your healthcare team. Your physician, dietitian, or certified diabetes educator may want to make necessary adjustments to meal patterns, food choices, and portions. It is your responsibility to adhere to modifications made by your healthcare professional.

Another great aspect of the plan is that it provides a lot of peer support. The company offers additional guidelines and information for people with diabetes and suggests you get guidance from your healthcare team to customize the plan for your needs.

Weight Watchers recommends these additional guidelines when you have diabetes:

  • Have a consistent daily and per meal carbohydrate intake.
  • Consume sugary foods and alcohol in moderation and as part of a meal.
  • Choose low-GI (glycemic index) foods.
  • Get more exercise.

What About Carbohydrate Counting?

This program uses a point system. Food items have been evaluated according to their carbohydrate, protein, fat, and fiber content. Using a special formula, the food is then assigned a value or number of points. Followers use these points to stay within a daily food budget. The point system cannot be used or converted to track carbohydrates; that will have to be something you do on your own. You will have to make sure your carbohydrate intake is prescribed by your healthcare team and learn how to count carbohydrates.

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