Foods a Diabetic Should Avoid

By Jody Braverman

While it's true that you have to be more careful with certain foods when you have diabetes, the foods you should avoid are the same ones that all people wanting to improve their health and prevent disease should steer clear of. Refined grains, fatty foods and added sugars are categorically unhealthy and should be avoided if you have diabetes. Always consult with your doctor about what foods you can and can't include in your diet.

Close-up of a woman taking a blood sample from her finger with a glaucometer

While it's true that you have to be more careful with certain foods when you have diabetes, the foods you should avoid are the same ones that all people wanting to improve their health and prevent disease should steer clear of. Refined grains, fatty foods and added sugars are categorically unhealthy and should be avoided if you have diabetes. Always consult with your doctor about what foods you can and can't include in your diet.

Refined Grains

A bowl of brown rice on a wood table.

White rice, white bread, white pasta and other foods made with refined grains are no better than straight sugar for a diabetic. During processing, refined grains have most of their dietary fiber removed. Without their fiber, they are metabolized very quickly into sugar and delivered directly into the bloodstream, making glucose control a problem. Whole grains have not had their fiber removed; they are metabolized more slowly and keep blood sugar steadier. Brown and wild rice, whole-wheat pasta and whole-grain bread are much better choices for blood sugar control.

Foods With Added Sugars

A plate of pears.

Sugar provides no nutrients and extra calories. It spikes your blood sugar and makes managing your weight more difficult. It also raises your risk of heart disease. Cakes, cookies and pastries serve up a double whammy with their combination of refined flour and sugar. Candy and soda should also be off your menu if you have diabetes. When a craving for sweets strikes, grab a juicy pear or a handful of berries. Fruit contains natural sugars, but it also packs in fiber to help slow the absorption of sugars into your bloodstream. It also comes chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals.

High-Fat Foods

Containers filled with sweet potatos.

French fries, bacon and whole-milk dairy products contain high levels of unhealthy fats that increase the risk of heart disease. As a diabetic you are already at an increased risk of heart disease, so you should avoid foods that contain trans fats -- bakery goods, snack crackers, some fried foods and margarines and any food that has hydrogenated oils on the ingredients list. Saturated fat also worsens insulin resistance. You can still enjoy lean meats, such as skinless chicken breast, and low-fat dairy, such as skim and low-fat milk and cheese. If it fits into your menu for the day, enjoy a small baked potato or sweet potato instead of fries.

A Healthy Diabetes Diet

A woman's hands holding nuts and seeds.

For the best blood sugar control and disease prevention, eat a diet that focuses on colorful nutrient-rich vegetables and fruit, whole grains, lean meats, nuts and seeds in moderation and low- or nonfat dairy. Keep your intake of unhealthy foods to a minimum. If you have an occasion, such as a birthday celebration, where you know you're going to have a treat, plan your daily menu to include the extra carbs and calories. Carefully monitor your blood glucose, and skip a treat when your blood sugar isn't steady.

References

About the Author

Jody Braverman is a professional writer and editor based in Atlanta. She studied creative writing at the American University of Paris and received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland. She also received personal trainer certification from NASM and her 200-hour yoga teacher certification from YogaWorks.

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