Diabetes is a chronic disease that has reached epidemic proportions among adults and children worldwide.
Diabetes, if not controlled properly, can have serious consequences, including heart disease, kidney disease, blindness and other complications.
The complications listed above may also arise if you have been given a diagnoses of prediabetes.
What Is Prediabetes?
If you receive a prediabetes diagnosis, it means you have a higher-than-normal blood sugar level that’s not high enough to be diagnostic for diabetes. If you don’t get treatment for it, prediabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), prediabetes is reversible. Treatment may include lifestyle modifications, such as diet and exercise, and medication. Type 2 diabetes can develop within 10 years if you have prediabetes and don’t make lifestyle changes, says the Mayo Clinic.
The first step for managing prediabetes is understanding what a prediabetes diagnosis means. Read on to learn more about this diagnosis and what you can do.
Your doctor may refer to prediabetes as the following:
- impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), which means a higher-than-normal blood sugar after a meal
- impaired fasting glucose (IFG), which means a higher-than-normal blood sugar in the morning before eating
- insulin resistance, which means your body can’t use insulin effectively
Insulin resistance leads to a buildup of sugar in the blood. Read more…
Weight Loss and Diabetes
Controlling your weight is a key aspect of managing type 2 diabetes. If you’re overweight, losing even a small amount of weight can help improve your insulin sensitivity and glycemic control.
This can result in a reduction in triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein(LDL) cholesterol and also lower your blood pressure.
The Benefits of Weight LossBy losing weight, people with type 2 diabetes can become less insulin resistant, and they’re able to use insulin better. (To learn more about how the hormone insulin works, read our article on how insulin regulates blood glucose levels.)
If you’ve recently been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and you’re overweight, you should get started as soon as possible on a weight loss plan. It is important to work with a registered dietitian to help you figure out a plan that will work for you—a healthy meal plan, physical activity, and realistic goals will help you reach a healthy weight. Read more…
In the video below Dr. Jason Fung speaks about how in addition to eating a diet low in carbohydrates, fasting can help keep sugar levels in check and also control insulin levels.
What Food Should Diabetics Avoid?
Diabetes requires daily maintenance that includes testing your blood sugar. So it goes without saying you need to carefully monitor your daily intake of foods that will cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
Carbohydrates have the greatest effect on your blood sugar by far. This is because they are broken down into sugar, or glucose, and absorbed into your bloodstream.
The blood sugar levels of diabetics and prediabetics can rise to dangerously high levels when they consume too many carbohydrates at a time
To prevent blood sugar spikes and reduce the risk of diabetes complications, maintaining a low carbohydrate intake is essential.
10 Foods to Avoid If You Have Diabetes
The list of foods below, although not by any means exhaustive, are some of the foods you should try and reduce or cut out of your diet.
Soda, also know as sugar sweetened beverages, has been a topic of debate for some time now. Researchers and health experts alike questioning: do they contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic problems?
The answer is a clear YES.
Sodas contain copious amounts of sugar and fructose. Studies show that fructose/sugar is one of the main drivers of type 2 diabetes and it’s horrible complications. The World Health Organization now recommends that added sugar be limited to just 6 teaspoons per day, or 25 g.
A typical soda such as Coca Cola contains 39 g of pure sugar/fructose in a 12 fl oz. / 354 ml can. So just one can of coke is pushing you way over the recommended sugar intake.
Researchers have found that sodas are linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that affects around 30% of US adults. NAFLD is thought to be directly linked to type 2 diabetes. When we get more fat storing up in the liver, this promotes insulin resistance, high cholesterol, more fat storage in other areas of the body – so weight gain, and various other issues.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is another metabolic problem that is linked to drinking soda, this includes both sugar sodas and artificially sweetened ones – meaning the diet soda is really no better.
That may come as a shock, but researchers have found that diet sodas promote weight gain, not weight loss as might be expected. Other studies show diet sodas are linked to higher risk of diabetes. And studies in rats show artificial sweeteners interrupt glucose balance, promoting diabetes.
So regardless of whether it’s a plain old sugary soda, or a diet soda sweetened with aspartame or some other form of artificial sweetener, when it comes to taking control of your diabetes, this is one food/beverage you absolutely want to avoid.
Industrial trans fats are extremely unhealthy.
They are created by adding hydrogen to unsaturated fatty acids in order to make them more stable.
Trans fats are found in margarines, peanut butter, spreads, creamers and frozen dinners. In addition, food manufacturers often add them to crackers, muffins and other baked goods to help extend shelf life.
Although trans fats don’t directly raise blood sugar levels, they’ve been linked to increased inflammation, insulin resistance and belly fat, as well as lower “good” HDL cholesterol levels and impaired arterial function (11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16).
These effects are especially concerning for people with diabetes, as they are at an increased risk of heart disease.
Fortunately, trans fats have been outlawed in most countries, and in 2015 the FDA called for their removal from products in the US market to be completed within three years (17).
Until trans fats are no longer in the food supply, avoid any product that contains the words “partially hydrogenated” in its ingredient list.
Aside from all the sugar, junky white flour, sodium, and preservatives they contain, packaged snacks and baked goods like chips, pretzels, crackers, cookies, doughnuts, and snack cakes often have trans fats.
Trans fats increase your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, lower your “good” (HDL) cholesterol, and raise your risk of heart disease. And they are even more dangerous than saturated fats for people who have type 2 diabetes.
In fact, no amount of trans fats is deemed safe for you to incorporate into your diet. The good news is that trans fats are now listed right after the amount of saturated fats on food labels, making it easier to steer clear of them.
Look for labels that list 0 grams trans fat, but know that products with less than .5 grams can claim zero, so they may not be trans-fat free.
Check the ingredients list as well to make sure the product doesn’t contain any partially hydrogenated oils, a major source of trans fats. Seek out healthy fats in salmon and other fatty fish, as well as in nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive and canola oils.
One of the main reasons soda contributes to weight gain and risk of diabetes is the high sugar and fructose content. As we pointed out above, the World Health Organization now recommends that added sugar be limited to just 6 teaspoons per day, or 25 g.
This is not a lot of sugar and is more difficult to achieve than you might imagine.
Because sugar is found in literally every single packaged and processed food we find lining our supermarket shelves. Even things we don’t think would contain sugar, often do. This is a problem because many people don’t even know they are consuming so much sugar.
What type of products do we find sugar in?
- Many sauces and condiments
- Breakfast cereals
- Many crackers
- Microwave meals
- Ice creams & popsicles
- Cakes & cookies
- Pies and pastries
- Candy bars
- Jams & jellies
- Milk & yogurt
- Dried fruit
- Breaded or battered foods
- Corn chips and crisps
Sure, we know things like chocolate contain sugar but savory foods like crackers and microwave meals also contain high amounts of sugar. You need to start becoming a food label detective and follow a whole foods diet like the one promoted here at Diabetes Meal Plans.
Cutting out sugar can drastically change your life!
White bread, rice and are high-carb, processed foods.
And this response isn’t exclusive to wheat products. In one study, gluten-free pastas were also shown to raise blood sugar, with rice-based types having the greatest effect (20).
Another study found that a meal containing a high-carb bagel not only raised blood sugar but also decreased brain function in people with type 2 diabetes and mental deficits (21).
These processed foods contain little fiber, which helps slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
In another study, replacing white bread with high-fiber bread was shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. In addition, they experienced reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure (22).
Plain yogurt can be a good option for people with diabetes. However, fruit-flavored varieties are a very different story.
Flavored yogurts are typically made from non-fat or low-fat milk and loaded with carbs and sugar.
In fact, a one-cup (245-gram) serving of fruit-flavored yogurt may contain 47 grams of sugar, meaning nearly 81% of its calories come from sugar (23).
Rather than choosing high-sugar yogurts that can spike your blood sugar and insulin, opt for plain, whole-milk yogurt that contains no sugar and may be beneficial for your appetite, weight control and gut health (26, 27).
Another high carb food, pasta is one of those things that we all have a love for. But because we do it is very easy to overeat.
Over at justeasyrecipes.co.za Louise writes in regard to pasta portion sizes:
As a general guide, you should allow 75g dried pasta, 115g-150g fresh pasta or 175g-200g filled pasta (such as ravioli) per person. The same rule applies to all types of pasta – whether it’s spaghetti, penne, rigatoni or elbows. 70-80 grams of dry pasta turns into a satisfyingly deep-dish plateful. A mound is too much, because it will leave no space for the rest of the meal. When it comes to spaghetti a measuring stick is available to buy in most homeware shops, or you could order one online. This measuring tool has different sized holes from one upwards, and you put in whatever amount passes through the hole to match the amount of servings.
It’s VERY easy to overeat pasta, so it’s really best avoided or you could soon see your blood sugar soaring.
Although fruit juice is often considered a healthy beverage, its effects on blood sugar are actually similar to those of sodas and other sugary drinks.
This goes for unsweetened 100% fruit juice, as well as types that contain added sugar. In some cases, fruit juice is even higher in sugar and carbs than soda.
Like sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juice is loaded with fructose, the type of sugar that drives insulin resistance, obesity and heart disease (52).
A much better alternative is to enjoy water with a wedge of lemon, which provides less than 1 gram of carbs and is virtually calorie-free (53).
Compare strawberries at just 5.53 g carbs per half cup, to 1 small apple at 20.58 g. Now that’s a big difference right?
Though fruit does contain natural sugars, lots of fiber, and vitamins and nutrients, most diabetics find it spikes their blood sugars too much. So most fruit is best avoided.
The best fruits to choose are:
Per half cup
- Cherries (77 g) Total carbs 12.33 g Net carbs: 10.43 g.
- Strawberries (75 g) Total carbs 5.53 g Net carbs: 4.3 g (BEST)
- Blueberries (76 g) Total carbs 10.72 g Net carbs: 8.92 g
- Raspberries (61.5 g) Total carbs 7.34 g Net carbs: 3.34 g (Highest in fiber) (BEST)
- Cranberries (raw) (55 g) Total carbs 6.72 g Net carbs: 4.22 g – do not eat the dried sweetened cranberries, these are around 50 g carbs per half cup.
French fries are a food to steer clear of, especially if you have diabetes.
However, once they’ve been peeled and fried in vegetable oil, potatoes may do more than spike your blood sugar.
If you don’t want to avoid potatoes altogether, eating a small amount of sweet potatoes is your best option.
It can be difficult knowing which foods you should avoid when you have diabetes.
You should aim to stay away from the type of foods above. In general ry and avoid other foods which contain unhealthy fats, liquid sugars, processed grains and other foods that contain refined carbohydrates.
Avoiding foods which increase your blood sugar levels and increase insulin resistance may help to reduce risk of diabetes complications in the future.