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Weight Watchers and Diabetes

A Good Diet for People with Diabetes?


Updated March 30, 2012

In an informal poll on our site, Weight Watchers was the No. 1 commercial diet followed by readers. Please note this does not indicate that Weight Watchers and diabetes are the best combination, simply that it is one of the most common. There is no absolute best diet for diabetics. The best diet is one you can incorporate into your unique lifestyle and one that keeps blood sugar levels in control.

For People with Diabetes

According to the Weight Watchers' website, their lifestyle program is not specifically designed for people with diabetes. However, the program is generally considered healthy and the plan is set up to steer you toward healthier choices and exercise.

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.

If you decide to follow this plan, talk to your doctor about using Weight Watchers and share materials with your healthcare team. However, if your doctor has already prescribed a special diet and exercise regimen for you, follow his or her recommendations.

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.

Tracking Carbohydrates

This program uses a point system. Food items have been evaluated according to their carb, 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 carb intake is as prescribed by your healthcare team and learn how to count carbs.

Other Practical Considerations

You can attend meetings in person, follow the online plan or do both. There is a monthly fee either way with the online program, offered at lower cost.

Similar Low-Cost Alternatives

There are many free online sites that offer accountability and tracking along with peer support. On many of these sites, you usually follow a plan of your choice or you can follow a plan they offer. Again, you may have to do some additional carb counting. Some sites are large enough that you may find other people with type 2 diabetes to become friends with for mutual support. Two free sites I like are SparkPeople and FatSecret.

If you would prefer to personally attend meetings, ask your healthcare team if there are any programs in your area. Check your newspaper or other publications that list free or low-cost classes, diet programs or support groups.

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