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What Are Some Carbohydrates a Diabetic Should Not Eat?

By Whitney Hopler ; Updated August 14, 2017

While it’s important to eat some carbohydrates to help give your body the energy it needs, if you’re a diabetic, it’s also important to avoid certain types of carbohydrates that can raise your blood sugar too much and too quickly—those that have a high glycemic index, cautions the Harvard School of Public Health. Knowing which foods contain carbohydrates with a high glycemic index will help you plan healthy meals to manage your diabetes well.

Refined Grains

Foods made from refined grains contain carbohydrates that have a higher glycemic index than the carbs in foods made from whole grains, according to the American Diabetes Association. Some of the refined grains that have the highest glycemic index—of 70 or more—include macaroni and cheese, white bread, white rice, cornflakes, instant oatmeal, popcorn, pretzels and saltine crackers. Eating too many refined grains can raise blood sugar to dangerous levels, cautions the American Diabetes Association, so it’s best to replace refined grains with whole grains in your diet whenever possible.

Starchy Vegetables

While all non-starchy vegetables contain carbohydrates that have a low glycemic index of 55 or less, some starchy vegetables, such as potatoes and pumpkin, have high glycemic indexes of 70 or greater, the American Diabetes Association reports. So if you’re diabetic, you can help prevent your blood sugar level from rising too high by avoiding potatoes and pumpkin. Or, you can eat other vegetables in the same meal with potatoes or pumpkin to balance out the effect on your blood sugar. The American Diabetes Association says combining foods that have low-glycemic carbohydrates with foods that contain high-glycemic carbohydrates can allow you to enjoy high-glycemic foods without causing your blood sugar to spike.

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Melon and Pineapple

Most fruits contain low-glycemic carbohydrates, says the American Diabetes Association, but two types of fruit have high glycemic indexes of 70 or greater: pineapple and melon, including watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. The Harvard School of Public Health notes that all types of fruits that are ripe tend to have a higher glycemic index than fruits that haven’t yet ripened, so if you’d like to indulge in a bit of melon or pineapple, your blood sugar will be less affected if you eat the fruit before it ripens.

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