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Getting the Right Diabetes Treatment

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9 Foods to Avoid with Diabetes

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Jennifer Larson on October 1, 2021
  • woman-outside-on-swingset
    Moderation is key—most of the time
    People with diabetes have high blood sugar levels because their bodies don’t make or use insulin effectively. Learning how to make nutritional choices can help you keep your blood sugar level within your target range. While moderation is important in many cases, there are some food items you may want to eliminate from your diet altogether. Working with a registered dietitian can be a great way to set up a personalized plan that fits your lifestyle.
  • box-of-french-macarons
    1. Prepackaged cookies and baked goods
    As a general rule, most people with diabetes have to keep an eye on carbohydrates and extra sugar. Those cookies may look tempting, but a few minutes of enjoyment probably isn’t worth the effect they’ll have on your body, as packaged foods tend to contain a lot of hidden sugars that can wreak havoc with your blood glucose levels.
  • sliced-white-bread
    2. White bread
    Just about anything that’s made from white flour instead of whole grains should give you pause. Opt for whole-grain bread instead of the white version. Whole-grain bread will give you some extra fiber, which can help you maintain better control of your blood sugar levels and lower your risk of heart disease.
  • bowl-of-white-rice
    3. White pasta and rice
    You’ve made the switch from white bread to whole-grain bread; now it’s time to do the same with pasta and rice. Pasta made from white flour ranks very high on a tool called the glycemic index, which measures how a carbohydrate raises blood glucose levels. Since white flour has a high glycemic index, that means that your body tends to digest it more quickly, which can lead to a spike in your blood sugar levels. Whole-wheat pasta and rice has a lower glycemic index, causing your body’s blood glucose levels to rise more slowly. Look for whole-wheat versions of your favorite pasta, and check out grains like whole barley.
  • canned-pineapple-processing-line
    4. Canned fruit with syrup
    Fresh fruit is good for you. Frozen fruit is a great option when fresh fruit isn’t available or practical. But enjoying canned fruit that’s been sitting in heavy, sticky, sugary syrup is basically like eating candy. If you don’t have access to fresh or frozen fruit, opt for canned fruit that’s packaged in unsweetened fruit juice.
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  • Soda can tops
    5. Sugary soft drinks
    A can of cola may contain as many as 10 teaspoons of sugar — and that’s 10 teaspoons you can avoid by simply choosing a diet soda sweetened with a calorie-free sweetener. An even healthier option is to go for unsweetened tea or water with a twist of lemon or lime. If you prefer carbonated drinks, opt for sparkling water.
  • cappuccino
    6. Blended coffee drinks
    You’re probably sensing a trend here: foods that contain lots of extra sugars are not the best choice for someone with diabetes. Those tempting coffee beverages are tempting for a reason — they’re full of syrups, whipped cream and sugar that could send your blood sugar through the roof.
  • Salty snacks
    7. Chips and other snacks made with trans fats
    Trans fat is considered to be the worst type of fat, since it raises your ‘bad’ cholesterol and lowers your ‘good’ cholesterol levels; this combination increases your risk of heart disease. People with diabetes already have a higher risk of developing heart disease, so avoiding this unhealthy fat is a good strategy. Trans fats often lurk in foods like chips, crackers, and other snacks. Examine nutrition facts labels carefully for words like “partially-hydrogenated oil”— then put that package right back on the shelf.
  • Meat and Cheese
    8. Meat that’s high in saturated fat
    Eating meat that’s high in saturated fat can increase your chances of developing clogged or hardened arteries. Some examples include bologna, sausage, and regular ground beef. These foods can also be high in sodium, and a diet high in sodium increases your risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • baked-potato-with-sour-cream
    9. Full-fat dairy products
    Once again, foods with a high saturated fat content are hard on your arteries and your circulatory system. Swap out high-fat dairy products like sour cream and ice cream for the reduced-fat or fat-free versions. However, be aware that sometimes reducing the fat means increasing the sugar, so checking out nutrition facts labels is never a bad idea.
9 Foods to Avoid with Diabetes
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Last Review Date: 2021 Oct 1
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.