Insulin and Body Issues

Speak to your diabetes health team/dietitian to formulate a weight management plan
Speak to your diabetes health team/dietitian to formulate a weight management plan

Many of us are concerned about how we look. Diabetes can at times cause us to be more aware of our body image, particularly if we get bruises as a result of injecting or either gain or lose a significant amount of weight.

Lumps or bruises on the skin

The occasional bruise is part of type 1 diabetes and is likely you have hit a vein when injecting. If you get a lump along with the bruise, this should settle down within a day or two and then the bruise should fade.

Getting stiff or lumpy skin from injections (without bruising) is usually a sign that you are injecting in the same place too often. This can be prevented by rotating your injection sites.

If your skin becomes lumpy or takes on an abnormal appearance, speak to your diabetes team who will be able to advise you.

Underweight with type 1 diabetes

Following a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, it is common to be underweight. Usually once you're put onto insulin you should find you settle back into your normal weight within a few weeks.

If your blood sugar levels are consistently high, you may find it more difficult to put on weight. It is important not to allow your blood sugar levels to run high for long periods as this can lead to a very real chance of diabetic complications occurring.

Insulin and weight gain

Being overweight is not a risk factor for type 1 diabetes, but that doesn't mean being immune from putting on weight either.

Gaining weight with type 1 diabetes is not uncommon but this can be managed.

The following part of this article looks at some strategies that can be employed to help reduce weight gain.

If weight gain is a concern, or causing problems, speak to your diabetes health team or a dietitian to help formulate a plan to help you to manage your weight.

Slowly released carbohydrate

Having either high or low blood sugar levels can lead to feelings of hunger. Having foods with a low glycaemic index (low GI) helps to prevent the sharp peaks in blood sugar levels and can reduce feelings of hunger between meals.

Vegetables typically have a low GI and, as you'd expect, are a good option for weight management. On the other side of the spectrum, refined carbohydrates such as pastry and dough based foods hit blood sugar levels quickly and can leave us feeling hungry soon after eating them.

Over eating in response to hypos

When we have low blood sugar, it can be very difficult to resist the urge to over eat. The reason we get so hungry is because the body is sending us a strong signal to eat to get our blood sugar levels up. The best way to treat a hypo and end the hunger without facing a big calorie intake is to quickly treat the hypo with quick acting carbohydrate such as glucose tablets or sweets.

Exercise and carbohydrate

If you exercise to lose weight, it can be very annoying having type 1 diabetes because it can mean that you take in as many calories, in the form of carbohydrate to keep your sugar levels up, as you can hope to lose by doing the exercise. There are a couple of methods you can use to reduce the amount of carbohydrate you need to take before exercising.