Wellness iNPractice Diabetes

Helping Patients Manage Weight as Part of Diabetes Care

The Nurse Practitioner is an important source of information, encouragement, and motivation for patients with diabetes. You can help your patients understand how overweight and obesity can worsen diabetes and increase their risk of other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. 

When patients lose weight, it slows the progression of diabetes, allowing them to reduce their use of glucose-lowering medications and better meet their A1C goals.1 Even patients taking insulin can reduce their weight and make meaningful changes in glucose control.1

As Their Nurse Practitioner, How Can You Help?

Motivate your patients to set realistic goals for weight loss and encourage them to make incremental changes in their eating habits and activity levels. Individualize nutrition and daily activity goals, taking into account any physical or environmental limitations (e.g., limited access to fresh foods) and religious or cultural preferences of patients.2 

Make a plan with your patients for how they can be active throughout their day. Match activities to patients’ abilities, interests, resources, and health status to help them start and stick to the plan.2 Use the Stick to a Healthy Plan tool to encourage patients to track their nutrition and activity achievements. 

Show patients how to measure and track their own weight. Let them know that reaching a healthy weight is a gradual process that will take time and consistent effort. You can use the downloadable brochure below for in-office discussions with patients about how to measure their weight, ways to reach a healthy weight, and how long it might take based on their level of activity and food intake. 

Patients may need help understanding basic concepts in nutrition and how what they eat can affect blood glucose control, and figuring out where to start in making healthy food choices. Share the Nutrition Know-how brochure with your patients as a primer on how to read a nutrition label and tips for choosing healthy foods. Encourage patients to access the Diabetes Cookbook for easy recipes and tips on eating well. 

Celebrating with your patients can make a big difference in motivating them to continue pursuing a healthy weight. In addition, give patients suggestions on ways to reward themselves for their progress towards achieving their activity and nutrition goals: go to the movie theater, bring home some flowers, take a bubble bath, or plan a night out with friends. Success can be measured by weight loss as well as gradual improvements in health and wellbeing.2

Additional Resources for Nutrition

Here are several resources on nutrition for your patients with diabetes. You can visit the sites listed to obtain additional information or direct your patients to access these sites for additional tips and tools. 

MyFoodAdvisor from the American Diabetes Association

Eat Right from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A Healthier You from the Department of Health and Human Services

Empower Your Health – Eating Guidelines from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

GoMeals mobile application

Additional Resources for Physical Activity

Here are additional resources on physical activity for your patients with diabetes. You can visit the sites listed to obtain other resources or direct your patients to access these sites.

Empower Your Health – Physical Activity from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists

Be Active from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What do I need to know about physical activity and diabetes? From the National Institutes of Health

Fitness Resources from the American Diabetes Association

Tips for Weight Loss Success from the National Institutes of Health

Sit and Be Fit

You can also download and print this brochure, “Diabetes and the Role of Weight Management,” for your patients. It is available in both English and Spanish.