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5 foods to avoid with diabetes

Diabetes is a unique condition. With diabetes, there are steps you can take that directly impact both your blood sugar levels and the management of your disease. Yes, some of those steps are related to medications, but not all. For example, how much and how often you exercise is one of those steps. What you eat, or don't eat is another.

While there aren't necessarily foods that lower your blood sugar immediately, there are several foods and drinks that can raise blood sugar levels shortly after eating or drinking them. Avoiding these foods can therefore directly impact your blood sugar levels by not causing those harmful blood sugar spikes.

With the help of Sharon Palmer, RD and author of The Plant Powered Diet and Toby Smithson, RD, LDN, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and founder of DiabetesEveryDay.com, I've put together a list of five foods you should avoid to help control your diabetes.

Avoid these foods if you have diabetes

  1. Fruit juice. Juices contain all the carbs, but none of the fiber found in whole fruits. The sugar, even though it is a naturally occurring sugar, is typically absorbed very quickly and can cause blood sugar levels to spike.
  2. Fatty meats. This could include red meat or pork with marbling or thick fat around the edges. It could chicken with the skin, or it could be ground meats that are more than 10 percent fat. All of these foods contain a good deal of saturated fat which can increase your risk of heart disease, or your chances of having a stroke or heart attack. Having diabetes already increases those odds, so avoiding these types of foods is a good idea.
  3. Full-fat dairy. Whole milk, creams, as well as full-fat yogurts and cheeses are sources of saturated fats that can increase your blood cholesterol levels, therefore increasing your risk of heart disease. Fortunately, all of these foods come in fat-free and/or reduced fat versions to give you the flavor and nutrients without the harmful fat.
  4. Processed snack foods. Chips, pastries, cookies, etc., even those labeled sugar free, often contain hydrogenated oils which are a source of unhealthy trans fats. In addition, these foods tend to be high in empty calories, meaning you typically get very few nutrients in return for those calories. Instead, select whole foods -- such as fruits, veggies, nuts, and low-fat yogurts -- more often. And for an occasional treat, choose home-baked items over processed foods.
  5. White flour, white rice, sugar, sugar-sweetened drinks. These foods contain a good deal of carbohydrates with little to no fiber. They can cause blood sugar levels to rise quickly after eating them. In addition, because sugar is absorbed so quickly, you may find yourself hungry again shortly after eating these types of foods. Frequent hunger makes weight loss difficult.

If you tend to eat these types of foods frequently, cutting them out of your diet may seem difficult at first. But, there are plenty of alternatives, and once you adjust your habits, you should find you don't even miss them.

About Heidi McIndoo

Heidi McIndoo, MS is a registered dietitian who has been counseling women, men, and children about healthy eating for twenty years. She firmly believes food should be enjoyed and all foods can fit into a healthy diet -- it's just a matter of how much and how often.

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