If you are overweight, losing weight is one of the most important things that you can do to help manage your diabetes. Even losing a small amount of weight will help, and will also reduce your risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases.

Attempting to lose weight can be very challenging, especially if you have been told to shed a large amount! It is very important to work towards a weight loss goal that is realistic and achievable, so that you can lose the weight and keep it off.

Maintaining your weight within the healthy range for your height is ideal, but even losing a small amount of weight can have a big impact. Studies have shown that losing 5 to 10% of your current body weight can help to reduce blood glucose levels, and improve blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

Small gradual changes to your regular food intake can be very beneficial to help you lose weight. Being physically active is also important to help with weight loss.

The good news is that eating for weight loss is not that different to eating for good health. There is no need to go onto a “diet” or prepare one meal for yourself and a separate meal for your family. The whole family will benefit from forming life-long healthy eating habits.

Ten tips for successful weight loss

1. Avoid yoyo diets.

“Quick fix” diets that offer fast weight loss may be unsafe and generally do not result in long term weight loss and improved health. Often people will regain the weight they lost and sometimes end up heavier than before they started the diet.

2. Don’t skip meals to lose weight!

Skipping meals can lead to overeating later in the day, so it is important to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Some people may find that snacking between meals can also help to manage their appetite.

3. If you do snack – choose your snacks wisely.

Go for healthier choices such as a piece of fruit, low-fat yoghurt, a slice of fruit bread, or high fibre crackers. Don’t forget all foods contain kilojoules – the more you eat, the more weight you will gain. So limit yourself to a small serve.

For more snack ideas, see our healthy snacks factsheet.

4.“Sometimes food” really does mean sometimes only!

Lollies, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and soft drinks are best kept to a minimum. Not only are they high in kilojoules, fat and sugar, they can be damaging to your teeth.

5. Did you know alcohol contains a lot of kilojoules?

One stubbie (full strength beer - 375mL) has approximately 585 kilojoules, which is equivalent to two slices of bread. If you drink four stubbies that equates to eight slices of bread! If you do drink, choose a light beer where possible. Try to limit your intake to two standard drinks a day, and make sure you include a few alcohol free days per week.

Read more about alcohol here.

6. Watch your portion sizes.

People often become overweight because they simply eat too much. Even eating too much healthy food can result in weight gain. Try eating smaller portions by using smaller plates and bowls. Resist going back for second serves by putting any leftovers in the fridge straight away. Use the portion control guide below to know how your plate should look.
  • Fill at least half the plate with a variety of vegetables
  • Divide the other half equally between protein and carbohydrate
  • One serving of protein is about the size of your palm, or a deck of cards
  • One serving of carbohydrate is about the size of your fist. This is about 2/3 of a cup of cooked rice, 1 cup of pasta or noodles, or 3 small pieces of potato or sweet potato

Read our healthy meal ideas factsheet for more information about portion sizes.

7. Smart dining out

Share an entrée with a friend, or order an entrée as a main. Choose grilled, steamed, roasted or stir-fried foods rather than fried. Steer away from creamy sauces, dressings, mayonnaise, butter or cream as these are generally high in saturated fats and kilojoules. If nothing is suitable on the menu, don’t be afraid to ask the chef to prepare something different for you. Try to avoid the bread basket as you often don’t need this on top of your meal.

Water is the best drink to choose as it contains no kilojoules, and won’t damage your teeth. If you feel like a flavoured drink try low-kilojoule beverages such as soda water with lemon, sparkling water with lime or a diet soft drink.

More tips can be found in our eating out factsheet.

8. Slow down your eating!

Enjoy each mouthful and avoid eating while doing other things such as watching television or reading.

9. Avoid using food for comfort.

People often use food for comfort when they are upset, angry or stressed. Explore other healthy ways to cope with these feelings.

10. Get off the couch - burn those kilojoules by moving more!

The current recommendation for physical activity is a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days. However if losing weight is your goal, you should aim for approximately 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity activity on most days of the week. For even more benefit, try to move more in your day to day life – limit the amount of time that you spend sitting still.

Read more about physical activity here.

More information

Check out the Live Lighter website for more tips and tools to help you lose weight and get active.

For individual nutrition advice, find an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) or contact the Diabetes Victoria Clinic.