20 Foods to Stay Away from If You Have Diabetes
As anyone with diabetes will tell you, a large part of keeping one’s diabetes under control is to watch what one eats on a daily basis. We’re sure we don’t need to tell you to avoid any foods which are high in sugar.
But it’s a bit deeper than this simple piece of advice. For example, there could be some seemingly ‘healthy’ foods which hide much more fats and sugar than they lead on. After all, it’s the sugar you should avoid as fats and carbs also play a part in heightening your blood glucose levels.
But instead of getting into details and statistics, here is a simple list of 20 foods you should avoid if you have diabetes.
1. Dried Fruit
Even though at first glance one thinks nothing can be wrong with this ‘snack’, and indeed they are rather high in fiber and nutrients, but dried fruits are not good news for type II diabetes.
The reason is that, since the fruit needs to go through a dehydration process, its natural sugar (fructose) content becomes highly concentrated. Don’t get us wrong, it certainly is a healthier alternative than, say, cookies, but your blood sugar will still soar from it.
So why not play it safe and opt for fresh fruit instead? Grapefruit or strawberries are always a good choice.
2. White Flour, Rice, and Bread
Even though if you’re diabetic you already know far too well to steer clear of sugar, most of you pay no mind to how much carbs you consume.
And that’s a fatal mistake indeed. For example, low-quality carbohydrates such as rice, or those made with white flour like pasta or bread, have a very similar effect to sugar once the whole digestive process starts.
In other words, you can bet they interfere with your glucose levels. However, that does not mean you should give up on carbs. Simply to a healthier variety. For instance, whole grains such as barley, oatmeal, and brown rice will aid you in keeping the bad carbs’ influence at bay.
3. Full-Fat Dairy Products
It is already a well-known fact that these products are rich in saturated fat which not only increases your bad LDL cholesterol but also your risk of developing heart disease.
So, as someone with diabetes, you’d do best to steer clear of whole-milk dairy products, such as ice cream, full-fat yogurt or cream cheese. Saturated fats are also damaging to your health in other ways: they can increase your insulin resistance.
Once again, this doesn’t mean you should avoid dairy products altogether. Instead, look for fat-free or low-fat dairy the next time you go shopping.
4. Fatty Meat Cuts
You should avoid these for the same reason you’d avoid the dairy products. The main reason being their overly high saturated fat content which increases your cholesterol as well as your risk of developing heart disease.
Not to mention they can be a cause of inflammation throughout your entire body. The best thing you can do is replace these meat cuts with lean protein like fish, skinless chicken, turkey, etc.
We know they are tempting. Pastries such as doughnuts, muffins or cinnamon rolls are murder for you since they are made from processed white flour, which in turn is extremely high in sugar, fat, and carbs. Three big ‘no-nos’.
To make things worse, they are also rather high in sodium content and may even contain the dreaded trans fats. If you find you simply cannot resist, then always make sure to opt for the sugar-free and fat-free alternatives.
And your best bet is homemade pastries using healthy ingredients. That way you can be sure you’re getting the proper stuff since you or someone close to you has made them in the comfort of your home.
6. Fried Foods
Do we even need to warn you against these? Even if you do not have diabetes, foods of the fried variety are generally damaging to your health in so many ways. You should be especially wary of them if you have type II diabetes.
This includes, among many others, French fries, fried chicken, and potato chips. Deep fried foods are especially dangerous, since they bathe in so much oil that, other than being extremely unhealthy is also packed with so many unnecessary calories.
Furthermore, there is no shortage of fast food restaurants which fry their food in so-called hydrogenated oils. This also makes these already unhealthy foods high in trans fats.
There is no safe boundary when it comes to the consumption of fried foods, so take special care to avoid them as much as you can.
Alcohol’s no good for your because it can mess with your blood sugar levels, and this is especially bad news for people with diabetes.
In such cases, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor about just how much is ‘safe’ for you to consume.
Some people sometimes feel almost ‘forced’ to drink some alcohol for the sake of politeness when at social events. But even in such cases, make sure to stay within moderation. How much is that exactly?
Ideally, it should be no more than one glass for women and two glasses for men. That would be about 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and about half an ounce of liquor.
8. Fruit Juice
Fruits in their basic, raw form, thanks to their high fiber and healthy carb content, are always advisable for those with diabetes. Even though the same can’t be said for fruit juice. Sure, it’s definitely more nutritious than any sugary drinks, such as soda.
But that doesn’t mean it’s healthy in general; it is simply healthier than some other options. But fruit juices still contain high concentrations of fructose and this normally causes one’s blood sugar to skyrocket.
So in situations where you crave something refreshing, it’s always a better alternative to grab some natural flavor seltzer.
9. Sugary Foods
The name says it all. Any foods high in sugar content (especially processed foods) such as sodas, candy, and any other sweet desserts are classified as carbohydrates of low quality. Of course, they spike up your blood sugar, and their nutritional value is very low.
But you’re only human, and sometimes sugar cravings happen. In those cases, always opt for the healthy fresh fruits.
Although it counts as the quickest and most convenient option for breakfast time, and even the box itself boasts with all the nutrients, its content possesses. However, you might want to take a deeper look.
Most of the cereals you will find in the supermarkets have added sugar to them for the sake of making them taste better. You don’t have to give up cereal, but be sure to check the label on the boxes for any excess sugars or even dried fruits.
11. Energy Bars
Even though energy bars or sports bars are not all that bad, those with diabetes still need to be cautious around them. After all, sugars and carbs are the two main energy sources your body needs.
So bars which are supposed to supply you with more energy naturally have more of those things than necessary. You can always choose bars which are packed with protein and carbs instead of the variety high in fats and sugars.
12. Melons and Bananas
You may have already heard that most fruits are stocked with fiber, good carbs, and vitamins. All of which you need for a healthy and nutritious daily diet.
Still, some fruits contain far more sugar than others (even if it’s a much healthier sugar than the processed kind), and this may also heighten your blood sugar.
Such fruits include above all bananas and melons, but there are also stone fruits such as peaches which may have an effect on your glucose levels. There are plenty of other fruits to enjoy which pose no danger, so don’t be shy to give them a try!
Forgive us for this terrible rhyme, folks; we just couldn’t help ourselves.
13. Blended Coffee
Coffee drinks of the blended variety have gained quite the popularity in recent years. But that doesn’t erase the fact that they are high not only in sugar, but in syrup, whipped cream, and toppings, all of which are brimming with fats and sugars of their own.
You can still satiate any caffeine cravings you may have, by opting for a sugar-free cup of coffee with low-fat milk. And while the taste may not be as ‘rich’, we can guarantee you that your body will be ever-so-thankful.
14. Processed Meats
Vegetarians have it easier with such things. You may have already heard that meats of the processed variety are simply no good for you. They are packed with excess sodium.
And you are practically doubling your chances for a heart attack by eating a sodium-rich diet, especially if you have type II diabetes. You can always act your local deli for any meats which have a lower sodium content.
Additionally, you’d do well for yourself by avoiding any toppings which are full of fats and carbs. Instead, why not dress your meat sandwiches with some cucumbers, spinach or mustard?
15. Non-Homemade Smoothies
Yes, smoothies have gained their fame as a much healthier alternative to many other beverages on the market. Still, if you purchase them, you don’t have a way of knowing just what exactly they contain.
Most store or café-bought smoothies contain added sugars, which, we’re sure you’ll agree, defeats the whole purpose of being ‘healthy’. Plus, most smoothies are served in very large portion sizes, and are basically a meal in a cup.
Or, more specifically and accurately, dessert in a cup.
And since being diabetic means you should pay special attention to leading a healthy lifestyle, why not put your blender to good use and whip up a smoothie at home, one you know will be healthy since you’ll be the one adding the ingredients.
16. Chinese Food
Sad to say, this ‘take-out favorite’ among many simply isn’t considered a healthy choice for those with diabetes. As tasty as it is, it is also high in fats, carbs, sodium, and calories. Not only can it spike your blood glucose levels, but it can also keep them there for quite a while.
The top-most places are taken by sweet and sour foods which contain sugary sauce, as well as fried dishes such as, say, orange chicken.
17. Flavored Water
Even though flavored bottled water is considered healthier than soda and better-tasting than plain water, it still holds excess sugar and carbohydrates, which means it’s best avoided by diabetics.
And yes, that sugar content is still lower than in sodas, if one drinks the whole bottle their blood sugar is still bound to go up.
18. Frozen/Purchased Pizza
Pizza most probably takes first place when it comes to the preferred comfort food in the U.S.
It’s super tasty, and with so many places to choose from, one can easily obtain this fast food wherever they are.
But here’s the problem: many commercially made pizzas are packed with so many excess calories which can put a dent in any of your diet plans, and we’re only talking about one single slice here!
So you don’t have to force yourself to give up on pizza for good, but you’d be wise to make your own pizza at home instead, and make sure to choose healthy ingredients such as veggies and fresh herbs.
Even though Mexican by origin, it has certainly worked its way into most Americans’ hearts. However, whether taking them as a main course or an appetizer, most nachos are rather high in calorie content, as well as carbs and fats as an ‘added bonus’.
So it isn’t really very surprising that they don’t make the cut on the list of diabetes-friendly foods.
20. Restaurant Hamburgers
This was long due. Although most certainly making the list on favorite American fast foods, it most certainly does NOT make the list of foods diabetics should consume. It’s so laden with saturated fat that it is sure to boost your cholesterol.
But before you fall into a depression, we’re not suggesting you completely give up hamburgers. According to The American Heart Association, you should try and limit your daily saturated fat intake to no more than 7% of your total calorie intake.
You can do this by looking at the nutritional information before making your order or ask the chef to take it easy on the fats.
We realize that trying to live a normal everyday life while still managing your diabetes can be rather difficult to pull off. But we promise you it becomes easier once you’ve learned the dos and don’ts.
After all, all you really need to do in order to keep your blood sugar levels in check is to learn and listen to your body.