Weight Watchers is a popular program that teaches healthy eating habits that are maintained throughout life to avoid regaining the weight that is lost. This is particularly helpful for diabetics because obesity raises the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and can make it harder to control blood sugar levels. Weight Watchers can be a good fit for diabetics since it does not advocate cutting out specific food groups or severely limiting calories, but some precautions need to be followed.
Diabetes is a condition in which the body either does not produce enough insulin or cannot properly use the insulin that is available. Type 1 diabetes, which usually occurs during childhood or young adulthood, is diagnosed when the body does not produce insulin, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. Type 2 most commonly occurs in adults and is diagnosed when the body does not use the available insulin. Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle and poor nutrition often contribute to type 2 diabetes and can make both types harder to manage. Along with medication, exercise and monitoring blood glucose levels, losing excess weight is a large part of a total diabetes management program.
Weight Watchers assigns point values to foods, and program members are assigned a certain number of points to eat each day based on their weight, gender, age and level of activity. Point levels are designed to encourage weight loss of about 1 to 2 lbs. per week. When the goal weight is achieved, additional points can be added to maintain that weight.
Weight Watchers emphasizes eating a variety of foods from all of the food groups. Weight loss occurs not by cutting carbs or fats but by being mindful of portion sizes. It offers a plan to eat foods that are normally purchased and found in restaurants, with a focus on controlling the amount.
Carrying excess weight means the body has an increased need for insulin, which the body might not be able to keep up with, warns Weight Watchers. In fact, type 2 diabetes might be delayed or even prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise.
Losing even 10 percent of current body weight can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and can help to prevent complications in those already diagnosed. Following a sensible eating plan like Weight Watchers can provide diabetics with the structure needed to start dropping those extra pounds.
It is easy to overestimate how much food is being eaten. Large portions in restaurants and fast food super-sized items can make identifying a correct portion size difficult. A crucial step in weight loss is relearning to identify a singe-serving size and keeping track of how much food really is being consumed. To help in this process, the American Diabetes Association recommends keeping a food journal and writing down everything that is consumed during the day.
Weight Watchers advocates this as well, calling it "tracking." Everything that is consumed it is written down along with its point value. In addition, food might need to be weighed and measured to make sure it is actually just one serving size. This can help to show how points or calories can add up quickly when snacking or nibbling throughout the day.
A healthy diet to manage diabetes is not just about losing weight -- it also is about keeping blood sugar levels in check. Since the Weight Watchers plan does not eliminate certain foods, diabetics following this program will need to do a little extra work. The total points eaten during the day should include mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains, states MayoClinic.com. Foods high in fat and calories should be eaten in moderation, and foods high in fiber should be included.
Since each person with diabetes is different, it is essential to test blood sugar often to see how the body is responding to any dietary changes. Some fruits considered healthy and good for weight loss can shoot blood sugar levels up and might need to be eaten less often.