First things first: Managing diabetes is not about running away from everything you like to eat; it’s about eating right. Even though there are many foods you would have to avoid, you can always find a tasty and healthy substitute. So, look at this list with fresh eyes and a positive perspective!
Diabetes is a chronic disease that increases your blood sugar levels.
Glucose – a type of sugar, is the main source of energy for the muscles and tissues that make up your body. Your body converts most of its food into glucose and injects it into the blood where the insulin (a hormone) comes along and helps the glucose enter the cells. With diabetes, your body can’t make enough insulin, or your body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. As a result, the blood sugar levels shoot up.
One of the best and sure-fire ways to manage your diabetes is to carefully manage your diet. What you eat can have a huge effect on your blood sugar levels.
This can leave a lot of people confused and scratching their heads over what to eat and what to steer clear of. Every time they look at a food, they look at it with a suspicious eye wondering, “Can I eat that? Or am I not supposed to?”
Let’s work our way through this confusion by looking at a list of 10 foods and drinks you must avoid if you have diabetes.
The worst drinks for a person with diabetes!
What should diabetics not eat? Simple, let’s start by staying away from foods that have ‘sugar’ in their name and the first 5 ingredients.
Sugar-sweetened beverages are very high in carbohydrates; which are converted into glucose. To make matters worse, these are also loaded with fructose, which increases insulin resistance and shoots your blood sugar levels.
You can have water, club soda or unsweetened iced tea instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Of all the fats in this whole wide world, trans-fats are the worst for your health, diabetes or not! Trans fats, or trans unsaturated fats, are chemically altered to increase their shelf-life and keep them from going stale quicker.
Trans fats don’t directly raise your blood sugar levels; they work in the undergrounds to ruin your health. They increase insulin resistance, induce inflammation and lower levels of HDL cholesterol (a good cholesterol), they are also directly linked with belly fat. All of this is bad news for people with diabetes as it can increase their risk of heart diseases.
Trans-fats can be found in MANY foods, like cakes, biscuits, popcorn, potato chips, frozen pizza, etc.
White carbohydrates are highly processed foods that are stripped of their nutrient value, they actually have zero nutritional value! But they can (and will) raise your blood sugar levels and make you gain unwanted weight.
White carbohydrates are found in white bread, white rice and other highly processed foods.
You can replace white carbohydrates with whole grain carbohydrates like brown rice and whole grain pastas and breads and rotis.
“What fruits should diabetics avoid?” Nothing, you can have any fruit as long as you’re not allergic to it. “So, I can have dried fruits!?” Hmm… nope. The reason is simple: Due to the loss of water when a fruit is dried, the sugar content becomes 4 times higher as compared to their fresh counterpart.p
For you to get a better picture: If a grape is one sugar cube, a raisin is four sugar cubes! Yeah, let’s stay away from dry fruits.
Fruit juice is considered a healthy beverage by everyone (they are not technically wrong) but it can have negative effects on blood sugar. Even 100% natural fruit juice is no exception. Some fruit juices are even higher in sugar content than sodas.
Just like sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices have high amounts of fructose that can worsen insulin resistance and increase the risk of heart diseases.
Full fat dairy products
Dairy products contain proteins, vitamins, calcium and a sugar called Lactose. They are safe for you. What you must avoid is full fat dairy products like whole milk, full fat cheese, full fat cottage cheese, etc.
You can replace full fat dairy products with non-fat dairy products and non-dairy milk like soy milk, coconut milk and almond milk. Products made from non-dairy milk are also safe for you!
Honey is natural, yes, and not processed like white sugar but it contains does contain the same amounts of sugar content.
Red and processed meat
Even though red and processed meat is not high in sugar, they are high in fat and salt. If you’re eating from a packed box and not fresh from the butcher’s, the preservatives, additives and chemicals added to the meat when manufacturing can also harm your pancreas (the organ that produces insulin) and increase insulin resistance.
Eating cereals is one of the worst ways to start your day if you have diabetes. Even though they have ‘Healthy!’ slapped on their packaging boxes, they are usually high in carbohydrates and very low in protein and can shoot up your sugar level to dangerous highs if consumed first thing in the morning. Proteins help you feel full and satisfied and keep your blood sugar levels stable during the day. There’s literally nothing good you can get from having cereals for your breakfast.
Should have started the ‘what-foods-should-diabetics-avoid’ list with French fries.
French fries are THE deadly combo! They are made with potatoes (very high in carbohydrates), fried in oil (unhealthy saturated fats) and contain a lot of salt. If you consume French fries regularly, you are paving way for obesity and heart diseases!
Try vegetable sticks and sweet potato wedges instead.
The Bottom Line: What Foods to Avoid with Diabetes
Now that we know all the foods and drinks to be avoided, our next goal is to actually avoid them. However, knowing what to avoid when you have diabetes is not the final part, you must also know “What can I eat with diabetes?”. Work with your doctor and come up with a diet plan that is best for you. Take your meals on time and try not to stray from your prescribed diet. If you want to know what to eat to avoid diabetes and some food recommendations, you can also read our blog on ‘Healthy and Balanced Diet for Diabetes.’