Diabetes and excessive weight go hand in hand. Of the 21 million people in the United States who have diabetes (the most common being type 2 diabetes), about 90% are overweight or obese.

About 90% of people with type 2 diabetes, the most common type, are overweight or obese, according to a Harvard Health report. Excess weight is the top risk for developing diabetes.

Losing weight is essential to reducing your risk for diabetes. Over 37% of people over 21 are at risk for prediabetes.

Even moderate weight loss can dramatically reduce your risk; just a 7% reduction of your total weight reduces your risk of developing diabetes by 60%. So, if you have pre diabetes, losing weight must be a priority.

When it comes to dropping pounds and maintaining a healthy weight, the solutions are straightforward enough – exercise and eat right. Starting on this path and sticking to it, though, can be challenging.

Make Exercise Fun and Easy
As with all important changes, the hardest part of starting an exercise plan is getting started. Yet the rewards of finding and sticking to a consistent exercise routine cannot be understated, especially when you are at risk for diabetes. The more active you are, the more your body efficiently uses sugar. Start by walking instead of driving whenever you can. Park farther from your destinations so you can walk more during the day. Gradually move toward more rigorous activity, under the guidance of your doctor. Be sure to get the support of friends and family – or join a local support group. Make fun outings that include activity – table tennis and swimming are great and need little planning.

Create a Healthy Diet You Actually Want to Stick With
Use a calorie counter to know for certain that you are staying within your intake goals. While you’re at it become acquainted with carbohydrate levels of the foods you eat now, and replace them with lower carb, higher fiber foods you love equally.

By steering towards a diet that features healthy fats from oils and fewer carbohydrates, the effect on your calorie intake is immediate. Here are food selection guidelines from the American Diabetes Association that promote good better health for everyone, diabetic or not.

· Eat lots of vegetables and fresh fruit. Potatoes, corn and peas with their high starch levels are not the top choices for weight loss.
· Use less added salt. Go little by little, and start noticing how good the real taste of food is.
· Stick to food made with whole grains, so that the majority of the grains you eat are whole grains rather than processed or refined.
· The best protein sources are fish (twice a week or more) and bean or soy protein. Skinless chicken and lean pork loin or sirloin can be included in small portions.
· Include small amounts of healthy fats, from sources like olives, nuts, or seeds. Skip butter and creamy sauces.
· Low fat only for cheese and milk.
· Explore local markets for healthy alternatives treats to replace junk food.

It’s true that losing weight and keeping it off is never easy, but you can improve your weight loss – and reduce your risk of developing diabetes – by being good to yourself. Find the exercise and healthy foods you do like, stay engaged and take charge. And always ask for help! If you feel your weight loss is hindered by an eating disorder, emotional issues or other complications, contact the Skinny Hacks team to get the answers and compassionate support you need to succeed.

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