When you have diabetes, you simply must be mindful of the foods that you eat. And this doesn't just mean avoiding sugars alone. It also means being careful about sodium, trans fats, and starchy vegetables, and you must beware of unhealthy foods that have sneaky labels like "fat-free". Diabetes is a leading risk factor for heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, blindness, amputations, and a major part of managing your diabetes is knowing what foods to put in your mouth. So today, let's talk about it. I'm going to give you the top 10 worst foods for diabetics.
Understanding Diabetes and 10 Worst Foods For Diabetics
Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects the way your body converts food into energy. One in 10 people in the United States has diabetes, and more than one in three have pre-diabetes. A very important part of managing that diabetes is understanding which foods are beneficial to your condition versus which foods to avoid if you have diabetes. So today we're going to talk about which foods you should avoid, as I give you the 10 worst foods for a diabetic to eat.
1. Sugary Breakfast Cereals
If you have diabetes and you think that eating breakfast cereal is a healthy way to start your day, please think again because sugary breakfast cereals can be very unhealthy. Now if you're listening to me, you might be thinking, "Uh-uh, Dr. Frita, not me, because my breakfast cereal says fat-free." Well, guess what? When manufacturers make things that are fat-free and they label them in really big letters, they're doing it to advertise that the food is healthier, at least to make you think that.
But if they take away the fat from your cereal, they still have to make it taste good, right, so you'll eat it. So what do they do? They replace it with sugars. In fact, some breakfast cereals have an unbelievably high sugar content of up to 25%! Go ahead, look at your label, and be a label watcher. What you want to do when you have diabetes, is have foods with low sugar. You want to stick to a breakfast that has high protein and low carbs. Breakfast cereals are loaded down with carbohydrates and sugars and they usually have low protein and low fiber. So eating breakfast cereal is one of the worst foods you can eat if you're diabetic. And go ahead and look at the labels of instant oatmeal because that's not good for you either.
2. Barbecue Sauce
It is with a heavy heart that I report that if you have diabetes, barbecue sauce is one of the worst foods you can eat. Let me explain, because I know barbecue sauce seems pretty benign and I'm from the south, and I love barbecue. But let's just say that you have diabetes and you're trying to have a lean lunch, and so you prepare a chicken breast with white meat, no skin. Well, in order to spice up the flavor a little bit, you decide to add some barbecue sauce.
Well, if you add one tablespoon of barbecue sauce, that's seven grams of sugar. But you know you're going to do more than just one tablespoon. So if you add two tablespoons of barbecue sauce, that's 14 grams of sugar, which already is about half of the daily recommended sugar that you should take in. This high sugar is not good for your diabetes, it will spike your blood sugar and cause you to be a poorly managed diabetic. And so if you have diabetes, barbecue sauce, as well as other pre-packaged sauces like tomato sauces or even salad dressings, are among the worst foods you could eat.
3. French Fries
French fries are an all-too-familiar favorite for many people and white potatoes are already a starchy vegetable, which is somewhat of a nightmare for diabetes. But when you take that potato, you slice it up, you fry it in oils, especially oils with trans fats and then you load it up with salt, well, this is definitely a food that you want to avoid. These fried delights contain a high amount of calories and carbohydrates that can significantly raise your blood sugar levels if you’re diabetic. The potatoes used to make French fries are often deep-fried in unhealthy oils, which increases the fat content. Eating too much of this type of food can also increase the risk of heart disease, so try to avoid them if you’re diabetic. If you simply must have a french fry, try a healthier option like sweet potato fries, slice up the sweet potato, put some oil like olive oil on the sweet potato, and put them in the oven.
4. White Bread and Pasta
Eating white bread and pasta can be like eating candy, in some ways because they're loaded down with sugars and have very little protein and fiber. So when you eat white bread and when you eat instant noodles or you eat white pasta, this is definitely bad for your diabetes. What you want to do is switch to whole grains.
Use wholegrain bread and wholegrain pasta, and you definitely want to avoid bagels because some bagels can have as much as 45 grams of carbs. Ezekiel bread is something to try because it has some protein and some fiber, and it's definitely better as far as helping to prevent you from having spikes in blood sugar. Also, if you're eating white rice, change to brown rice. You can even try quinoa. Either way, white bread, and pasta are some of the worst foods you can eat if you're diabetic.
If you have diabetes, you want to avoid potatoes and other starchy vegetables. Potatoes are high in carbohydrates, one white potato can have 40 grams of carbohydrates and only four grams of fiber. Potatoes also have a high glycemic index, which means they can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. This can be problematic for people with diabetes who need to closely regulate their blood sugar levels. Additionally, as previously mentioned, potatoes are often served as high-fat, calorie-dense foods, like french fries, which can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of developing other health problems. And so if you simply must have a potato, try to use a sweet potato as a healthier choice.
6. Energy Drinks
When you have diabetes, then you know that exercising is another way to help to manage your diabetes. But if you are drinking sports energy drinks to get your boost of energy before you exercise, please rethink that one. Rethink it because most of these energy drinks are loaded down with sugar. And a lot of them have that high fructose corn syrup, which is one of the worst additions that you can put in a food product. So go ahead, yes, look at that label. One bottle of an energy drink will often have 32 grams of sugar, which is more than the daily recommended maximum sugar intake for the average woman in the US. Instead of an energy drink, just drink water. You can squeeze a little lemon in it, but if you have diabetes, then you do want to avoid these high sugar-containing energy drinks.
7. Dried Fruit and Fruit Snacks
Now this one might surprise you, but just because a food says fruit, does not mean that it's healthy. So when you're dealing with fruit snacks, for example, they're advertised and they look like they might be healthy, but look at that label. They have very high added sugar. If you have diabetes, you want to avoid them. So then you think, okay, well dried fruit, that's pretty natural. That's not so bad. The issue with dried fruit is that it's very concentrated and so you end up getting more and more sugar in a small amount.
Take grapes, for example. One cup of grapes has about 27 grams of sugar. Well, if you have the dried fruit version, raisins, well now one cup has 145 grams of sugar. That's more than four times the daily recommended sugar for a man. And so you have to be careful when you have this dried fruit because again, it has more concentrated sugars so you're taking in more sugar, which certainly can spike your blood sugar levels and be bad for your diabetes. If you want fruit, stick with whole fruits like pears or apples because they are loaded with fiber and nutrients. And eat the skin as well. You want to avoid fruits that have a high glycemic index like bananas. Watch out for fruit juices as well, because, with fruit juice, you have the juice, but you don't have the fiber. And so having a cup of fruit juice can spike your blood sugar as well.
8. Fried Chicken
I'm sure you already know that fried chicken is one of the worst things you can eat if you're diabetic. I know it tastes good, but it's not good for you. Fried chicken has a lot of sodium, which is not good. It also is fried. And so if it's fried in oils, especially oils with all kinds of trans fats, that's something that can worsen diabetes. Now, the trans fats in and of themselves don't directly increase your blood sugar, but high trans fats can increase insulin resistance. They can increase belly fat, they can lower your HDL. In other words, they can lower the cholesterol that we consider good cholesterol. So you want to avoid fried chicken, along with other fried foods, if you have diabetes. Oh, and if you're looking at labels, how do you know if something has trans fats in it? If the label has partially hydrogenated, avoid it.
9. Flavored Coffee
Listen, I know everyone loves flavored coffee. You like to walk around with your different cups and your lattes and your frappuccinos and all of these things. But if you have diabetes, you want to be careful about the flavored coffee that you drink, because a lot of them are loaded down with sugar. And these are liquid calories. You won't even get full from them, but you'll be sitting there spiking your blood sugar.
Just one typical cup of flavored coffee can have 60 grams of sugar or more. And so if you do have coffee, then you want to make sure that you have coffee that has very low added sugars. Watch the label. And if you're at a coffee shop, ask them how much 'added sugar' is in the product.
10. Soda or Pop
Soda or pop, depending on where you're from, is another drink/food that diabetics should avoid because when you have soda that has sugar in it, one 12-ounce can of soda can have up to 40 grams of sugar. And again, these liquid calories can be really bad trouble for diabetics because you drink a soda, and then guess what? You're thirsty for more. So you're taking in calories, you're taking in sugar, and having the sugar can lead to weight gain. Also, some of the sugar can be processed by the liver and turned into fat. So if you have diabetes, you want to avoid these sodas that have sugar.
When it comes to managing diabetes, it's all about making the right food choices. And let's be honest, it can be tough, especially when so many of our favorite foods can be a problem. But it's important to remember that the choices we make have a direct impact on our health and well-being. That's why it's crucial to avoid the top 10 worst foods for diabetics. These foods are high in added sugars, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats, which can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and put added strain on the body. The list does not end here. There are even more foods that should be avoided if you have diabetes or pre-diabetes. I encourage you to be a label watcher.
Instead, try to incorporate more whole grains, vegetables, and lean proteins into your diet. Making small changes can create a big difference in the long run, and with a little effort, you can take control of your diabetes and live a healthier, happier life.
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