Diabetic Disaster Foods

If you have diabetes, one of the first facts you learn is that your diet must change. Fortunately, this does not have to signal the end to eating the foods you love.

However, it does mean that you will have to find acceptable alternatives or re-engineer your favorite recipes. Diabetes is defined as several diseases resulting in an abundance of sugar in the blood. The most common types of diabetes are Type 1 diabetes and Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes and prediabetes. Typically, your blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by your pancreas. Your blood sugar level elevates, normally after you have eaten, and insulin is released from your pancreas to stabilize the intake into your cells. As a diabetic, this process is impacted.  Diabetes is defined as a chronic medical condition, meaning it can be controlled with proper treatment but has no known cure.

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Diabetes affects approximately 9.4 percent of the population in the United States, which translates to roughly 30 million people. Therefore, if you have diabetes, you are not alone. It is estimated that an additional 7.2 million people have diabetes, and do not even know it. Letting diabetes go uncontrolled can have many serious consequences like blindness, kidney disease and heart disease. Living with diabetes, you are forced to live within certain limitations, especially when it comes to food. Eating the wrong foods can raise your blood sugar levels and increase inflammation in your body. The following sections explore the foods to avoid if you are diabetic.

Foods to Avoid

There are several food groups you should avoid if you are diabetic. Before exploring those foods, it is also important to note and monitor your overall carbohydrate intake. Protein, carbs and fat have the biggest effect on your body, as they provide energy to your body through various nutrients. Carbs are broken down into sugar and suffused into your bloodstream. Examples of carbs include sugar, fiber and starches. Fiber is an exception, as it is not digested the same way as sugar and starches and does not raise your blood sugar level. However, keep in mind that high blood sugar levels can eventually lead to damage of blood vessels and nerves in your body, causing potentially serious health conditions. Below are the top foods to avoid if you are diabetic and why:

  • Trans fats: These fats are generally bad for you, whether you are diabetic or not. Trans fats take unsaturated fatty acids and add hydrogen to prolong their shelf life. Trans fats do not necessarily raise your blood sugar level, but an excessive amount increases inflammation in your body. In 2015, the FDA called for the removal of trans fats within a three-year period because of the effects.
  • White bread, rice and pasta: Of course, some of the most popular and delicious food can be harmful to you if you are a diabetic. All three of these foods are highly processed and loaded with carbohydrates. These foods have been proven to raise blood sugar levels in people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
  • Sweetened beverages: Drinks filled with sugar are the worst choice if you are a diabetic. Sugary beverages are high in carbs and loaded with fructose, which is linked to stunting insulin production in the body. High fructose can increase body fat and cholesterol levels as well.
  • Flavored yogurt: While plain yogurt can be okay to consume in moderation if you are a diabetic, the flavored variety is a different story. Flavored yogurts are typically overloaded with sugars, carbs and low-fat or non-fat milk. Whole-milk yogurt is the best choice if you have diabetes.
  • Specialty flavored coffee drinks: Flavored coffee drinks are your worst enemy. These drinks are loaded with carbs and spike your blood sugar level. It is important to note that even the so called “light” versions of these drinks have enough sugar to cause issues to diabetics.
  • French fries: This is among the worst food for you to consume as a diabetic. Potatoes are well-known as a large carrier of carbohydrates. Sticking potatoes in a deep fryer with vegetable oil makes them even worse for you. If you wish to keep potatoes in your diet, a small amount of sweet potatoes may be acceptable.
  • Fruit juice: This beverage is often seen as a healthy alternative to sodas and other drinks. However, even unsweetened fruit juice poses a problem for diabetics. In some cases, fruit juice is higher in carbohydrates and sugar than soda. Fructose is to blame here. As mentioned above, an abundance of fructose is a leader in driving obesity and stunting insulin production. If you are a fruit juice lover, a great way around this is to try seltzer or water with fresh lemon.
  • Sweetened cereals: More often than not, your favorite cereal could contain added sugars harmful to your body. Cereal is highly processed and contains little to no protein to keep you filled through the morning. Living with diabetes, you are better off skipping the cereal altogether and opting for granola instead.

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Additional Foods to Avoid

Along with the foods listed above, there are a few additional foods you should avoid as a diabetic. For example, honey, agave, maple syrup and dried fruit are all on the list to avoid. An ideal diet involves removing any unhealthy fats, processed grains and liquid sugars. It is a good idea to remove any refined carbs as well. Packaged snack foods like pretzels, graham crackers and saltine crackers contain a surprising amount of carbs. A good snack alternative could be a bag of carrots, celery sticks or nuts.

It may feel difficult and exhausting to be so particular and calculated about what you can and cannot eat with diabetes. Creating a list of what you can and cannot eat with guidelines around portions can help the journey feel less daunting and more achievable. Working to avoid foods that stunt your insulin production and spike your blood sugar level is the first step to a healthier lifestyle. Taking this step and keeping yourself in line helps to avoid any future issues you may have living with diabetes.

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