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What's your healthy weight when you have diabetes?

When you have diabetes, keeping to a healthy weight has a lot of benefits. It helps protect your blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduces your risk of developing serious problems with your eyes, feet and heart. Most people say they feel and look better too.

Losing the extra weight can be hard, but once you’ve lost some it can be even harder to keep it off. Your weight might go up and down, and this can be really hard to cope with. But with the right plan and support, you can get there.

Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight – or you’re a healthy weight already and want to stay that way – we’re here to help you with expert advice.

“Staying healthy is a mindset for me. It’s a case of thinking, okay I might have a young family, stressful job, health condition, but when can I steal a little bit of time for me? I think it’s important to give back to yourself and to look after yourself. It’s not only beneficial to your health in terms of your body, but also your mental health. Just give it a go and see how you feel. Set a goal and when you achieve that goal, you’ll feel so proud of yourself.”

Ramona changed her way of thinking about diet and lifestyle

How to lose weight when you have diabetes

If you need to lose weight, we’ve developed a weight loss guide to help you. We explain the many benefits of losing weight and give you tailored diabetes diet plans to choose from. One of the first steps you can take is to get support and advice from your healthcare team, you're not alone in this.

You can also download My weight-loss planner (PDF, 534KB) as a way to set weight-loss goals and track your progress. By putting a plan in place and noting down your progress, you'll be able to see the positive changes you're making. 

"One of the lessons I’ve learnt from the trial team was to measure and weigh myself frequently, and celebrate if it’s good and do something about it if it’s bad. I keep a daily diary and log my weight and activity. It keeps me accountable and focused."

Edward Morrison

How to gain weight when you have diabetes

If you have diabetes and you’re underweight or struggling with your appetite, it’s important to eat the foods you like rather than being too restrictive with your diet. We’ve got tips to help you and explain where to go for more support.

Get our expert information on how to put on weight.

How to stay at a healthy weight when you have diabetes

You now know the basics – eat healthily, watch your portions and get moving more. To prevent the weight creeping back on, you need to keep going with the healthy habits you’ve formed.

Here are our top tips for keeping to a healthy weight when you have diabetes:

Eat well

After you've lost the extra weight, it's a good idea to think about how many calories you're having. A lot of people need less than the government’s recommended amount – 2500 calories a day for men and 2000 a day for women – to maintain a healthy weight. Depending on how much you weigh now and how active you are, you can follow any of our meal plans to keep you on your healthy weight journey. 

Ask your diabetes team to help you work out how many calories you need if you're not sure.

For more tips on eating well, check out our 10 top tips for eating well when you have diabetes.

Once you're eating well, some healthy food can get a bit repetitive. You can always try shaking things up a bit with some new recipes. This could help you stay motivated. Try one of our recipes and share it with friends. 

Watch your weight and waist size

Get into the habit of measuring your waist and weighing yourself regularly. This will help you keep a close eye on any changes. You can work out your body mass index (BMI) using this tool.

And here’s our community champion Rohit to remind you how to measure your waist.

Remember, a healthy waist size depends on your gender and ethnicity. It should be:

  • less than 80cm (31.5in) for all women
  • less than 94cm (37in) for most men
  • less than 90cm (35in) for South Asian men.

Plan ahead and write it down

By planning ahead, you're less likely to slip up. But if you do, don’t beat yourself up about it. 

"If I do miss a run because it’s raining, I don’t beat myself up about it. And if I do eat a piece of cake I don’t mind, because you can’t be good all the time. But it will only be a day off."

Karen shares her tips for sticking to a healthy lifestyle

One way to plan ahead is to think about the action you might take when faced with different situations or obstacles get in the way. This can be really helpful when things don’t go according to plan. For example:

'If I’m late home from work and don’t have time to cook dinner, I’ll pick up a bag of salad and plain piece of cooked meat or some tofu from the supermarket for an easy healthy dinner'. 

Think about writing your goals down and make a note of your progress each week. If you’re having a bad day, think about what you might do differently the next day. Setting goals and reading back over what happened can help keep you motivated. 

You could even show it to a family member or friend, to help them see all your hard work – not everyone wants to share this though, and that’s okay too.

Stay active

If getting active helped you lose weight, stick with it and make it part of your everyday. If you're just starting out, try walking more and build up your activity gradually. 

A lot of people find it helps to write stuff down, like what activity you did, how long you did it and how you felt doing it.

Try some new kind of activity if you’re getting a bit bored of what you’ve been doing – this is where our challenge events come in. We've got lots of events to choose from, from walking to swimming, find something that suits you.

Before you start any new physical activity, speak to your diabetes team. They can make sure you have all the information you need about how your diabetes might be affected. Especially if you treat your diabetes with insulin or certain diabetes medications like sulphonylureas, as being more active may increase your risk of hypos.

Your diabetes team will support you to make the right adjustments to your medications to reduce your risk of hypos. 

Get support and give back

Now you’re at your healthy weight, think about passing your tips and advice on to others. A lot of people find mentoring others and sharing experiences really fulfilling.

You can connect with other people with diabetes and share what you’ve learnt in our online forum – we’ve made a board especially for people who are looking to lose weight.

And remember, you can speak to your healthcare team if you're having trouble keeping to your healthy weight.

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