Weight Watchers is Not an Ideal Diet for Diabetics

By Descygna Webb for DietsInReview.com

November is diabetes awareness month, and we want to help the 25 million Americans living with this disease make smarter choices to help manage and even reverse it. Those suffering from type 2 diabetes are in need of a healthy eating plan that can help them lose weight while managing their diabetes.

While Weight Watchers is one of the most popular diet programs available (it's number one on our Best Diets of the Year list), it is not designed for diabetics. Weight Watchers has a nearly 50-year history, and the program embraces several principles of healthy living making it ideal for most people who want to lose weight in a sustainable way. However, because Weight Watchers is not for diabetics, if you truly want to participate in the program, it's advised that you seek advice from your physician for adaptations that can work for your dietary needs.

One thing that can make Weight Watchers somewhat difficult to follow for those with type 2 diabetes is the fact that you cannot convert the PointsPlus program values into diabetes exchanges or grams of carbohydrates. Another reason is that Weight Watchers recommends that diabetics choose foods with a low glycemic index. If you choose to follow a low GI diet, you really have no need for the Weight Watchers PointsPlus program.

Weight Watchers is a lifestyle program that is better suited for those who have not been told to follow a specific diet or exercise regimen by their doctor. The DietsInReview.com resident pharmacist, Dr. Sarah Khan, warns that carbohydrates don't have enough of a focus on the program.

"The diabetic diet consists of eating less than 130 carbs per day and Weight Watchers may not have a clear diabetic guideline for that," she said. "When I say carbs I mean whole grains like whole wheat pasta, bread, and brown rice. They have a lesser effect on blood sugar. Eating things like pasta, breads and rice that are not whole grain make the sugar go up dramatically and in type 2 diabetics this can force insulin levels up as well. I encourage people to go on diabetic diets and to eat nutrient dense food like lean meats, protein and fiber rich foods."

Thankfully, there are helpful options for those with diabetes who want, or need, to lose weight. The key is to find a diet program that can safely meet your needs as a diabetic without being too complicated. As Dr. Khan says, find a program that includes healthy foods and the proper types of carbs. Always seek advice from your physician or nutritionist for assurance that you are following a plan that is appropriate for your health needs.

"For diabetics specifically we focus on the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) which is high in fruits and vegetables, low-fat or non-fat dairy and whole grains," said Dr. Khan.

You can learn more about the DASH Diet benefits at DietsInReview.com, where you'll find more resources like:

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