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Insulin and weight gain



Q. I am 13 and have had diabetes for seven years and I used to be very big. It wasn't just 'puppy fat', I over eat a lot.

At 10 I was very insecure and decided to lose loads of weight. At 12 I was very secure; I looked great and couldn't weight for summer bikinis to come to round it all off.

Now I have started excessively eating again, and mum has noticed I am looking 'bigger'. I don't know what to do?! Is it the insulin? What can I do to help this. I really don't want to be upset by the way I look again.


A. I do get a lot of queries about whether insulin puts weight on. Insulin does not put the weight on, however, if someone is trying to lose weight it can take longer.

From what I understand from reading your question is that you're worried that you're going to start feeling upset about the way you look. This is because you have been feeling good about the way you look previously. You write about eating excessively, so I suppose the first thing to do is to think about that. Now of course you are 13 and that means your body is going to be changing. When you go through adolescence your body is just flooded with a huge amount of hormones. You feel physical changes because of this and you feel emotional changes because of this, also.

Physical changes

As a teenager you want to look good and fit in with your mates, and I think the trick to looking good is to work with your body and not against it. So if you are thinking about diets to lose weight, the most successful way to do this is start with small steps.

Crash diets

All the diets you see celebrities doing are crash diets for rapid weight loss. They do this by usually eliminating a food group and this kind of starves the body of what it needs for energy and so the body is forced to break down muscle and fat. The side effect of this is weight loss.

However, this is not good for the body and it just wants to return to normal. So once the person stops the crash diet they are going to put the weight back on, and also it's been shown that people who crash diet tend to put on more weight in the long run. They then crash diet again and lose the weight, but of course it goes back on, this is what is knowing as the yo-yo effect, or yo-yo dieting. It does not work and ends up making the poor person more miserable about themselves.

So the trick is to work with the body and diet naturally.

Reducing calories

You need to look at how much you're eating a day, and look at how much you're putting on your plate and see where you need to reduce the calories. That might mean a little less potato, or rice on your plate or it may mean cutting back on the treats and sweet things. It might be helpful to ask your diabetes nurse if you can have an appointment with the dietician and get individual advice on healthy eating.

Also to successfully maintain a healthy weight you need to be active. An hour's activity a day will help you lose weight and maintain weight loss - and once again you are working with your body. The body needs activity; it is a natural state of being and keeps us fit and healthy in the long run. That's all the physical stuff but as I pointed out before, teenagers also feel very emotional because of all those hormones that are coursing through the body.

Emotional changes

Have you seen programs on the telly where the girl is upset about her boyfriend dumping her, or she did not get the job she wanted, and she calls up her friends and they all come round and eat ice cream or cookie dough?

We sometimes eat to cheer ourselves up when we are miserable and of course we never want to eat carrots or an apple. For some reason, ice cream and cookie dough act as a comfort and in that moment when we eat it we feel good about ourselves. So we do have an emotional relationship with food, and sometimes if we think about how we are eating we may see a pattern develop and we may notice we eat more if we are feeling stressed out or having a bad day. If you find your eating more because of your feelings, you could try and find different ways of making yourself feel better. Talking to people about how you feel and sharing your experience is always helpful.


Also exercise and activity are a great way of making the body feel relaxed and happy. So just going for a nice long walk can help people deal with the feelings of stress or having a bad day.

Now of course, if you're not feeling like the girls in the program with their ice cream and you're just feeling physically hungry, then once again look to the physical reasons and ask your diabetes nurse for support and advice and remember you can ask to see a dietician. I hope I haven't bombarded you with too much information and you may find some useful advice to take from this.


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 Your comments

"I noticed also I had gained weight, but I realised that the reason was because I'd lost so much weight before my diagnosis, because my pancreas was not working. I thought I had put loads on. Really I'm just the size I was before but never noticed until my doctor told me I had lost more then a stone. I didnt even realise. That's scary stuff but I'm happy with the weight I am to say I have been through a lot in the past months. I was diagnosed in March, I think, and it is now the end of July, everybody out there just be happy with who you are :) x"

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