Managing your diabetes may require improving your dietary habits, including an exercise routine to your lifestyle and taking medication such as insulin; as directed by your physician. However, for most people living with diabetes, figuring out what to eat and what to avoid is a difficult task since many foods can increase your blood sugar significantly, cause inflammation and lead to other serious health complications.
Heart disease, kidney disease, and nerve damage are only a few serious issues associated with poor diabetes management.
Stick to the right diet and you’ll greatly improve your chances to avoid them. Essentially when we say ‘the right diet’, we mean foods that are low glycemic index.
What is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index (GI) is a number (1-100) assigned to a food that represents its impact on blood glucose levels. The higher the number, the more impact it will have on your blood sugar. Your goal should be to eat more foods with low GI scores while limiting those with high GI scores.
In this article we will examine foods that you should avoid if you have diabetes.
White bread is the most popular type of bread in the US. It’s everywhere, but don’t be tempted. It is made with refined grains and some added sugar which can shoot up your blood sugar level. Also, the method used in processing white bread strips it of vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients. Of what good is it then?
If you must take bread, get the whole grain bread or whole wheat bread. Whole grains are rich in fiber. Fibers helps to slow down the rise of sugar in the blood and keeps you from hunger pangs for a longer period of time.
Other types of breads to stay away from are those that contain dried fruits, sugar, molasses, and other sweeteners.
You stop by an eatery and you’re famished. You take a quick look at the menu and you see muffins, your favorite snack. Then, you make an order quickly while waiting for the arrival of your main meal. You see, eating one muffin is equivalent to consuming five (not one) slices of bread. It contains a high amount of fat and calorie. It is also addictive. So, there are chances that you would finish it all with no left overs (even if you are full).
One of the most appealing aromas in a restaurant comes from a freshly fried chicken. Very enticing! But before you give in to the temptation, relax, take a deep breath, and remember that a fried chicken is a significant source of carbs, calories, sodium and fat. Even though chickens are healthy, frying them makes them bad for the health.
Sugar cravings are real. Sometimes you just want to settle down with a bottle of soda after a hard day’s job. But as much as you can, resist that urge. Don’t satisfy it. Here is why – within the first few minutes of drinking soda, your body absorbs about 10 teaspoons of sugar. This action forces an insulin release, which is bad for anyone living with diabetes.
Not only does it affect your sugar level, it leads to weight gain. As a substitute for soda, take a cup of sparkling water infused with lime, lemon, or cucumber.
Tempted to grab a cup of ice cream while shopping? Wait! Ice creams are sweet but have several downsides. It has a low nutritional value with lots of added sugars and calories. They also contain saturated fat which is bad for the heart. That’s not all. Ice creams can trigger a response in your brain that keeps you wanting more.
You may be wondering why popcorn is on our list when it is made of natural corn. Well, corn is highly glycemic. The snack even gains a higher glycemic index after processing. It is processed with artificial butter, caramel sauce and some other non-nutritive items.
Instead of munching some popcorn, get a handful of almonds. They contain several vitamins and are helpful in reducing your blood sugar.
Cereals are the most convenient food option when hunger comes knocking. While they save time, they fall in the ‘not-so-healthy’ category for a diabetic. They are loaded with lots of carbs with an insignificant quantity of protein or fiber.
Sweetened cereals also come with loads of sugar that can affect your blood glucose level. Instead of a sweetened cereal, go for a more nutritious meal like hard-boiled eggs, vegetables, and a plateful of avocado.
You may already know that noodles are not diabetic-friendly, but you may not understand how detrimental the food can be. Instant noodles are packed with loads of sodium and refined carbohydrates. These ingredients that can increase your blood sugar quickly.
Pancakes are friendly to your taste buds but are totally void of any nutritional value. They are packed with sugar, unhealthy toppings, saturated fat, and refined carbohydrate. The combination of these ingredient will not only impact your blood glucose level, it also leads to weight gain.
Manufacturers of artificial sweeteners have made us believe that they are healthier and better than the refined sugar. Well, that’s not entirely true. These sweeteners are not healthy for people living with diabetes. They are about 180-20,000 times sweeter than the usual sugar. Consuming them regularly may affect your sweet taste bud receptors.
What happens when your taste bud receptors are affected? Fruits, vegetables and other healthy meals start having a bitter taste to you. This may cause you to abandon healthy foods for extremely sweet foods.
French fries are basically deep-fried potatoes. While potatoes are not bad in themselves, the way it is prepare affects its glycemic index. For a person living with diabetes, French fries are a taboo. It is extremely high in fat and carbohydrates which is a very nasty combination for a diabetic person. Consuming it will negatively affect your blood sugar. Note that the fat content takes a pretty long time to digest. So, it keeps the blood sugar high for a long time.
This is weird, right? Most people refer to honey as a healthy alternative to refined sugar. This is quite correct. However, for people living with diabetes, honey must be limited. Even though it is an ‘all natural’ product gotten from bees, it contains a high level of fructose. It will shoot up your blood sugar level – an occurrence you are trying to avoid.
Don’t get confused. Fruits are products of nature, with lots of vitamins, minerals and fiber. But dried fruits are entirely different. These chewy snacks are usually sweetened with added sugars and are packed with a significant amount of carbs.
Chips are probably one of the most convenient snacks to eat while watching a movie. But they are loaded with high fat content, lots of salt and are addictive. The combination of fat and carbs will quickly spike your blood sugar and keep it high for a long time.
Energy drinks may be useful for very active and healthy folks, but people living with diabetes must stay away from them. That are a major source of added sugars, sodium and calories.
It has been discovered that drinking caffeinated energy drinks can result in a 30% spike in blood sugar level and may result in other problems. The caffeine stays in the body for about 4-6 hours and hinders the body from stabilizing the blood sugar quickly. As a substitute for energy drinks, you can stay hydrated by taking cold water flavored with lemon, lime or cucumbers.
Cinnamon rolls are very tasty. But as you know, ‘tasty’ does not always mean ‘good’. They contain loads of added sugars and saturated fat – much more than the accepted amount for people living with diabetes.
If you must take cinnamon rolls, consider preparing them at home with healthy ingredients like rolled oats and whole-grain or whole-wheat flour.
Managing diabetes isn’t just about limiting sugar and carbs. It is also about limiting your salt intake. Reducing salt consumption can help lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of suffering stroke or heart attacks.
Frozen meals are convenient but are usually loaded with sodium (as a preservative and flavor-enhancer). The best thing to do is to stay away from them or limit them. Frozen foods also have fat content which isn’t safe for you.
Even though orange juice is natural and is packed with vitamin C, its sugar content is high. It also does not contain protein and fiber which is helpful in slowing down a sugar spike. Note that the sugariness in a cup of orange juice is from fructose, a type of sugar that is connected to growing belly fat.
Although diabetes doesn’t stop you from consuming alcohol, it can affect you if it is taken excessively. This is because alcohol affects the liver’s capacity to produce glucose. This can result in a significant drop in your blood sugar level.
If you must consume alcohol, take note of your blood glucose level and monitor it continually for the next few hours. Also avoid taking it on an empty stomach.
Jam and Jelly
Jam and Jelly is usually spread over bread or crackers before eating. It is a no-go for people with diabetes. Not only do they contain excessive sugar, they are without any nutrient. Spreading jam and jelly on bread or crackers is just like adding sugar to another sugar-laden food. To effectively manage diabetes, stay away from this kind of food.
Plain oatmeal is one of the healthiest meals for a person living with diabetes. This is because of its high fiber content. But flavored oatmeal is entirely different. Although made with natural oats, it comes with lots of added sugars and other unhealthy ingredients.
Desserts are not bad for people living with diabetes, but some desserts are healthier than others. A small cake serving contains a high amount of sugar and saturated fat which leads to high cholesterol and increases your risk of having cardiovascular disease.
Pizza is a go-to meal for most families in the US and in other industrialized parts of the world. It’s not just convenient, it is appealing to the taste buds. The major downside of this meal is that it is packed with loads of carbohydrates, saturated fat and sodium. If you must take pizza, reduce sodium, fat and calories by eating those with veggies or lean meats chicken, and do not add extra cheese.
Biscuits do not just contain carbs, they also contain ingredients that aren’t good for you. It’s even worse when they are commercially produced. They have the potential to cause inflammation of the body and brain in the long run.
Even though it is called a fruit snack, don’t be deceived. They are sugar-laden. While they are made with real fruit juice, they can increase your blood sugar rapidly. Feasting on low-sugar fruits like apple, cucumbers, avocados, raspberries, are much better for you.
Be careful of vegetable oils that are made with partially-hydrogenated palm oils. They contain some level of trans fats which isn’t good for you. Instead of vegetable oil, use extra virgin olive oil, canola oil, or avocado oil.
A lot of times, we believe skim milk is better than full-cream milk since it doesn’t contain fat. But that’s not true for a person living with diabetes. When fat is removed, the milk becomes nothing but a carbohydrate beverage and will lead to an increase in your blood sugar level.
They sound healthy but they aren’t. Take a cup of yogurt parfaits and you’ll be loading your body with too much sugar and calories. You may opt for a cup of plain Greek yogurt with chia seeds and some raspberries.
Tea, in its unadulterated state, is a healthy drink packed with antioxidants. But those sold in bottles have sugars added to them by manufacturers. Instead of a bottled tea, opt for pure and natural tea.
Based on research, those who consumed fast food more than two times in a week developed insulin resistance more than those who didn’t. Insulin resistance could result in other problems like type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. If you are already living with diabetes, limit your intake of fast foods.