Diabetes is one of the chronic diseases that have reached epidemic height among children and adults worldwide.
Eating the wrong foods can raise one’s blood sugar and insulin levels and also promote inflammation that may increase diabetes risk. In this article, you will find out the foods to avoid with diabetes.
Why carbohydrate intake mater for people with diabetes?
Carb, fat and protein are the macronutrients that provide the body with energy. Carb is the only one with a greater effect on blood sugar. This is because they are broken down into glucose or sugar and then absorbed into the bloodstream.
Carbs include sugar, fiber and starches. However, fiber is not digested and absorbed by the body in the same way other carbs are, so it doesn’t raise blood sugar.
Removing fiber from the total carbohydrates in your food will provide you with its digestible or net carb content. For example, if a cup of mixed vegetable contains 4 grams of fiber and 10 grams of carbs, its net carb count is 6 grams.
When those with diabetes eat too many carbs at a time, their blood sugar levels can rise to dangerously high levels.
Over time, too many carbs can damage the body’s nerves and blood vessels, which may set the stage for kidney disease, heart disease and other serious health issues.
You can prevent blood sugar spike and reduce the diabetes complications risk by maintaining a low carb intake.
11 foods to avoid with diabetes
Try to avoid the following foods.
1. Sugar-sweetened beverages
The worst ever drink choice for someone with diabetes is a sugary beverage. To start with, they are high in carbs, with a 354-ml (12-ounce) can of soda offering 38 grams.
The same amount of sweetened iced tea and lemonade each contain 36g of carb mainly from sugar. Additionally, they’re loaded with fructose, which is strongly linked to diabetes and insulin resistance. Studies showed that consuming sugar-sweetened beverages may increase the risk of diabetes-related problems such as the fatty liver.
If you want to control blood sugar levels effectively and prevents disease risk, consume club soda, unsweetened iced tea or water instead of sugary beverages.
2. Fruit-flavored yogurt
Consuming plain yogurt is not bad for people with diabetes, but fruit-flavored varieties are not good for people with diabetes.
Flavored yogurts are typically made from low-fat or non-fat milk and loaded with sugar and carbs. In fact, 1 cup (245 gram) serving of fruit-flavored yogurt may contain 47 grams of sugar, meaning 81 percent of its calories come from sugar.
Some people believe that frozen yogurt is a healthy alternative to ice cream, but it can contain as much or even more sugar than ice cream.
Rather than consuming high-sugar yogurts that can increase your blood sugar and insulin, go for plain, whole-milk yogurt that has no sugar and may be beneficial for weight control, gut health and appetite.
3. White bread, rice and pasta
White bread, rice and pasta are processed foods high in carbs. Studies showed that eating bagels, bread and refined-flour foods can significantly increase blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
But this response is not exclusive to wheat products. One study showed that gluten-free pasta also raises blood sugar, with rice-based types having the greatest effect.
Another study showed that a meal containing a high-carb bagel will both raise blood sugar and reduce brain function in people with mental deficits and type 2 diabetes.
In another study, replacing white bread with bread high in fiber was shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. In fact, they experienced a reduction in blood pressure and cholesterol.
4. Trans fats
Consuming industrial trans fats is not healthy because they are created by adding hydrogenated fatty acids to make them more stable.
Trans fats are found in frozen dinner, creamers, spreads, peanut butter and margarine. Also, food manufacturers often add them to muffins, crackers and other baked foods to extend shelf life.
Although trans fats don’t raise blood sugar levels directly, they have been linked with increased insulin resistance, belly fat and inflammation, as well as lower “good” HDL cholesterol levels and impaired arterial function.
Because people with diabetes are at a higher risk of heart disease, these are going to especially affect them. Try to avoid any product with the words “partially hydrogenated” in its ingredient list.
5. Flavored coffee drinks
Coffee offers several health benefits, including a reduced risk of diabetes. However, flavored coffee drinks should be seen as just a liquid dessert, rather than healthy beverages.
Studies showed that the human brain does not process liquid and solid food the same way. When you drink calories, you don’t compensate by eating less later, potentially leading to weight gain.
Flavored coffee drinks contain too many carbs. In fact, its light version contains enough carbs to raise the blood sugar levels significantly. To keep your blood sugar levels under control and prevent weight gain, plain coffee or espresso with a tablespoon of heavy cream is good.
6. Sweetened breakfast cereals
One of the worst ways to start your day as someone with diabetes is to eat cereal. Despite health claims of their boxes, most cereals are highly processed and far more carbs than most people think.
Also, they provide just a little protein, a nutrient that can make you feel full and satisfied while also keeping your blood sugar levels stable during the day.
If you have diabetes, healthy breakfast cereals are not good for you either. For example, a half-cup serving (55 grams) of granola cereal contains 30 g of digestible carbs and crape nuts contain 4 g.
Skip cereal to keep your blood sugar levels and hunger under control. You can choose a protein-based low-carb breakfast instead.
7. Agave nectar, maple syrup and honey
People with diabetes always try to minimize their consumption of white table sugar, as well as treats such as pie, cookies and candy.
However, other forms of sugar also spike blood sugar levels. These include brown sugar and natural sugars such as maple syrup, agave nectar and honey.
Although these sweeteners are not highly processed, they contain as many carbs as white sugar. In fact, most of them even contain more.
Here is the carb count of a one-tablespoon serving of well-known sweeteners:
- Marple syrup: 13 grams
- Honey: 17 grams
- Agave nectar: 16 grams
- White sugar: 12.6 grams
In a study, people with prediabetes experienced a similar spike in blood sugar, inflammatory and insulin regardless of whether they consume 1.7 ounces (50 grams) of honey or white sugar.
Try to avoid all forms of sugar if you have diabetes. You can go for natural low-carb sweeteners instead.
8. Packaged snack foods
Crackers, pretzels and other packaged foods are not good snack choices if you have diabetes.
They are typically made with refined flour and offer few nutrients, although they contain plenty of fast-digesting carbs that can quickly raise blood sugar.
The carb counts for some of the popular snack based on a one-ounce (28 grams) include:
- Graham crackers: 21 grams of carbs and 1 gram of fiber
- Pretzels: 22 grams of carbs and 1 gram of fiber
- Saltine crackers: 21 grams of carbs and 1 gram of fiber
In fact, some of them may contain more carbs than stated on their nutrition label. If you are hungry in between meals, it is better to take a few low-carb vegetables or nuts.
9. French fries
If you have diabetes, steer clear of French fries. In fact, potatoes themselves contain relatively high carbs. One medium potato with its skin on contains 37g of carbs, out of which 4 come from fiber.
But once potatoes have been peeled and fried in vegetable oil, they may do more than increase the blood sugar levels.
Deep-frying of foods has been shown to produce high amounts of toxic compounds such as aldehydes and AGEs, which may promote an increased risk of disease and inflammation.
If you can’t avoid potatoes altogether, eat only a small amount of it.
10. Dried fruit
One of the sources of important vitamins and minerals is fruit. When fruit is dried, the process removes water which contains higher concentrations of nutrients needed by the body.
Unfortunately, its sugar content becomes more concentrated too.
A cup of grapes contains 27 grams of carbs, 1 gram of which comes from fiber. However, a cup of raisins contains 115 g of carbs, 5 of which come from fiber.
It means raisins contain more than three times as many carbs as grapes. Other types of dried fruits also contain higher carbs compared to fresh fruit.
People with diabetes don’t really need to do away with fruit completely. Try o stick with low-sugar fruits such as fresh small apple and fresh berries which can offer health benefits and keep blood sugar levels in the target range.
11. Fruit juice
Although people often consider fruit juice a healthy beverage, its effects on blood sugar are similar to those of sugary drinks and sodas.
This goes for unsweetened 100 percent fruit juice and all other types that contain added sugar. In some cases, fruit juice is higher in carbs and sugar than soda.
For instance, 250 ml (8 ounces) of unsweetened soda and apple juice contain 24 grams of sugar each. An equivalent grape juice serving offers 32 grams of sugar.
Just like sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice is loaded with fructose, which drives insulin resistance, heart disease and obesity.
If you love fruit juice and you have diabetes, try water with a wedge of lemon instead.
The bottom line
If you have diabetes, knowing the foods to avoid can be difficult. However, following a few guidelines can make it easier for you.
Let your main goal include staying away from unhealthy fats, processed grains, liquid sugar and other foods containing refined carbs.
Always try to avoid foods that spike your blood sugar and drive insulin resistance in order to stay healthy and reduce the risk of future diabetes complications.