Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Eat less, move more? Nope.

It is rare these days that I post to my blog two days in a row but I was compelled to respond to four similar anonymous comments on yesterday’s post entitled "What is your diet called?" I chose to only approve one of them since they were all basically the same (probably the same commenter who couldn’t understand why their comment wasn’t immediately visible.) What did they say? “T2s should just eat less and move more.”

First off, I was leery of using the word “diet” in that post because diet is nearly always associated with weight loss. Although weight loss is wonderful, it isn’t the reason for my current food plan, nor was it the point of my previous post. Better blood glucose control is the point and the goal.

Now to respond to “Anonymous”. My first response was less than…well, let’s just say that I won’t post it here. What a condescending, rude, inconsiderate and wrong answer to a very complicated issue! Could you be more thoughtless and unkind? If you’ve tried, you should stop now because I think you’ve nailed your hasty, careless and superior answer. Phew, I feel a bit better.

Maybe you weren’t trying to be condescending and rude. Regardless of your intent I feel compelled to correct your assumptions that weight loss is as simple as eating less and moving more on behalf of myself and millions of other people who struggle. (And to reiterate, weight loss and blood glucose control are different things although weight loss can help control blood glucose.) 

Sciencey stuff:

I have my own opinions and conclusions on this subject, based on the research I’ve done on my own. However, there are doctors and scientists who have been studying obesity, weight loss and type 2 diabetes. I’ll just let them speak since they are more eloquent than I am (and have initials after their names).

Dr. Peter Attia, co-founder of Nutrition Science Initiative (NUSI), gave a very moving Tedtalk about how we might be approaching the diabetes and obesity epidemic in the wrong way.

“The greatest cause of obesity may be that we’re applying the wrong treatment. For about 40 years, health authorities have been telling people struggling with obesity to do the same thing over and over again: eat less and exercise more. This does not appear to be successful. This would suggest that either this treatment is incorrect or it is correct and no one can follow it. Either way it’s probably time for a new treatment.”

I won’t try to tell you what he says, please listen for yourself. It’s a great talk: Listen here.

Another recent study was highlighted in the Los Angeles Times. This study, highlighted here , tells us that “For most of the nation’s 79 million adults and 13 million kids who are obese, the “eat less, move more” treatment, as currently practiced, is a prescription for failure, ...”
There are studies being done that put forth the idea that the type 2 diabetes came first and the weight gain came after. Dr. Attia addresses that in his talk. Someone can have diabetes for a looooong time before they’re ever diagnosed. 

The fact that obesity and type 2 diabetes are linked in the press, over and over again, really gets under my skin. (And if you want to really piss me off, just use the word “diabesity”.) Yes, excess weight can increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes. Yes, a sedentary lifestyle doesn’t help. But to suggest, that we just need to get of our asses and move while eating less food is wrong. We can’t “cure” our diabetes by walking. We won’t be “undiabetic” if we just stop eating “so much”. I am eating less and moving more now than I ever have in my entire adult life and I still have diabetes. I’m lucky to maintain my weight at “overweight”. Losing weight is important but doing everything we can to try to maintain a normal blood glucose is imperative. I have come to the conclusion that changing what we eat is the answer, along with medications as needed. 

If you’ve read this to the end, I thank you for caring enough to educate yourself. For anyone who is reading this who doesn’t have type 2 or didn’t understand how complex this issue is, I hope you understand it a bit better now. For those of you who have type 2 or are “pre-diabetic”, hugs to you and I hope you share this with your family and friends. The only way we can change the tide of myths and misconceptions is to educate others, including doctors, politicians and the media. Speak up and set the record straight!


  1. I am following the eat more move less future T2 diet plan.

    1. Yeah, well good luck with that. I don't recommend that approach.

  2. It looks like you thing eating less and moving more is unhealthy?

    1. Never did I say that. Never did I put forth the idea that smaller portions and added exercise are unhealthy. In fact, I've often written just the opposite. The point of all this is to say that you can't lose weight, and keep it off, simply by eating less and moving more. There is MUCH more to it than that. It is a very complicated situation that even doctors and scientists are trying to understand. I'm trying to help people understand that losing weight and controlling diabetes is not simple and it is a disservice to everyone to say, "you JUST have to eat less and move more". It is making it seem simple, when it's not. It's implying that those people who struggle with excess weight and wacky blood glucose are to blame and that they can "simply" fix it. Using that sentence to wrap up what is a much more complicated issue only fuels the stigma and problems that many people can face.

  3. The more I learn about Type 2, the less I think I understand it. Although Type 1 is hard to manage, it is more straightforward in the causes of it. Type 2 is probably more a spectrum of disorders with the problem of which comes first, the metabolic problems or the excess weight. And then of course there are some people with Type 2 who are not overweight at all. And of course lots of overweight people who do not have diabetes.

    It is interesting to see the slow change in the recommended diets for people with and without diabetes. Finally there are starting to be discussions over whether carbs or fats are the root of heart disease and metabolic disorders. For sure the advice of a lo-fat/high carb diet is starting to be questioned.

  4. Oh it is definitely not a simple issue. I think one of the main issues I have is that certain medications tend to put on weight, so we always seem to be fighting a losing battle. So sorry that you had horrible comments, i love reading about your ups and downs, so dont stop writing because of a few silly comments.

  5. Kate, you have more patience than me. Patience - that's a New Year's resolution I still have time to adopt. I hope readers who chance upon this post learn from your post and your responses to additional troll comments.

  6. Type 2 since 2002 and I've tried lots of "diets" both labeled for weight loss and for diabetics. I've finally hit upon mine. I call it "Whatever my body will allow". And the only criteria is to test, test, and test plus record food intake. Then you can tell what your body allows ---- for that day. Sometimes it likes things one day that it doesn't like the next. LOL Darn body!!!!

  7. I hear you Kate. There's no way to cure diabetes by just walking. I agree that eating the right foods and taking medications is what's needed to maintain normal blood glucose. I've read an article that shows some great diet tips for diabetes.

  8. Katherine --

    This is a great debate. Where I think "Anonymous" went wrong is to pin it on T2D's (BTW, I'm T2D since 2005, but only serious about my illness since last July). We need to eat less and move more not because of diabetes, but because we're human beings. We might not lose weight. We might have more to do to control our blood sugars. But eating less and moving more isn't bad advice … FOR ANYONE.

    Stay well.


  9. I am not your typical type 2 diabetic. I am very thin and have always been very active. I found out I was diabetic after developing neuropathy. My doctor never did an A1C even though I informed him that I had gestational diabetes and my father was diabetic. A fasting blood glucose test is worthless in my opinion. You should know if your blood sugar is too high after eating to prevent complications.


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