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Diabetic Diet: What Foods To Avoid If You Have Type 2 Diabetes

Written by GHBY Team on Wed, 16 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • Foods high in carbohydrates and fats may harm a person with diabetes and increase their risk for other complications and diseases.
  • A diet low in saturated fats, sugars, and processed foods help them lead a healthy life.
  • Having a balanced diet helps in maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
  • Alcohol and sugary fruit juices and drinks should be avoided or consumed in moderation.
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A person with diabetes may often ask, "Which food should I avoid in diabetes?" "What should I eat if my blood sugar is high? Or "What is a good diet for a diabetic?

Living with diabetes does not imply that a person must give up all their favorite foods. Most foods can be included in a diabetes diet plan. However, specific meals may require lower portions.

Food & drinks to avoid with diabetes

Carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins are the three essential macronutrients that provide us with energy. Each of these foods comes in more and less nutritious varieties.

Let's look at foods you should limit or avoid if you have diabetes or are at risk of developing it.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for our bodies. This macronutrient also has the most significant impact on a person's blood sugar. 'How many carbs should a type 2 diabetic eat?' is one of the most impending questions most people have.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people with diabetes should obtain about half of their daily calories from carbohydrates.

It can be beneficial to have the same number of carbohydrates at each meal to maintain steady blood sugar levels. However, choosing the proper carbohydrates to eat is essential. 

Sugar, starch, and fiber are the three most common types of carbohydrates we eat in food. Of these three, sugars and starches pose the biggest problems for people with diabetes as the body breaks them down into glucose.

Carbs to avoid:

  • White rice
  • White flour products
  • Other foods high in carbohydrates include white bread, white pasta, some cereals and crackers, and several baked goods.

Fats

Fat is a source of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s. It is an integral part of a healthy and balanced diet and helps the body absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K.

There are four types of fat - saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and trans-fat. Out of these types, saturated and trans fats are bad for your health and should be avoided.

One can easily find out about each fat type and its quantity on the nutrition label of a food packet. So, for a person with diabetes, it is imperative to focus on including the right types of fat in their diet.

Saturated fat mainly exists in animal products, processed foods, and oils. Ideally, for a person with diabetes, saturated fats must make up less than 10% of their daily caloric intake.

Saturated fats to avoid

  • Butter
  • Lard
  • Certain oils, such as palm oil
  • Cream-based dressings, dips, and ready-to-eat salad dressings
  • Full-fat mayonnaise
  • French fries, potato chips
  • Breaded and battered foods
  • Burgers
  • Fast foods
  • Premade meals

Trans-fats to avoid

Liquid oil can become a solid fat by the process of hydrogenation. The outcome of this hydrogenation is trans-fat, which is more harmful than saturated fat. So, avoid eating any foods that include liquid oils, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, or both.

Examples include:

  • Vegetable shortening
  • Microwavable popcorn
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils, fried foods such as French fries, mozzarella sticks, and non-dairy coffee creamers

If a food item contains fewer than 0.5 grams of trans fat, the labeling may state '0 grams of trans fat.' It is therefore essential to examine the ingredients thoroughly.

Protein

Proteins make up our immune systems, muscles, and organs. Although the body can convert protein to sugar, doing so is less effective than with carbohydrates.

Choosing the best protein sources for people with diabetes mostly depends on how much fat and carbohydrates these foods have. Foods high in protein that are also high in fat might result in weight gain and elevated cholesterol.

The risk of developing diabetes may be increased by consuming even small amounts of red meat, such as beef, hog, or lamb. A 2020 study found that consuming just 50 grams of red meat or fish every day can increase the chances of developing diabetes by 11%.

People with diabetes should also consider avoiding or limiting the intake of the following:

Proteins to avoid

  • High-sodium meats which are breaded and fried
  • Ribs and other fatty cuts of meat
  • Processed meats, such as hot dogs, bacon, and deli meats
  • Deep-fried fish
  • Poultry with intact skin

Sugars

The majority of sugary foods are high in sugar and have poor-quality carbs. They usually have little to no nutritional value and are capable of causing abrupt rises in blood sugar. Sugar can also lead to weight gain as well as an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

Sugary Foods
 

Sugary foods to avoid

  • Sugary foods include baked products such as cakes, doughnuts, croissants, cookies, and pizza dough.
  • Sauces and condiments
  • Candy bars
  • Syrups (maple, chocolate, and other syrups)
  • Agave nectar and other sweeteners
  • Fruit-flavored yogurts
  • Fruit juice concentrate, molasses, syrup, honey, fructose, or dextrose are all examples of added sugar on nutrition labels.
  • People with diabetes should be cautious when consuming dried fruit, prepared juices, or fruit salad, as these frequently include added sugar.
  • Although artificial sweeteners are minimal in calories, studies suggest they have a negative impact on blood sugar levels by increasing insulin resistance. More research is needed to assess the extent of this effect.

Dairy

Dairy is a good source of protein and provides calcium and essential vitamins.

However, dairy products also contain a sugar called lactose which can be troublesome for many. Dairy can be consumed by people with diabetes as long as they manage their daily diet to account for the carbs.

Dairy Products
 

According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, at least 3 cups of dairy per day is recommended. In contrast to low-fat alternatives, full-fat dairy products can raise blood cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease.

The risk of heart disease is increased by type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes frequently coexists with obesity. Although plant-based milk options like soy, rice, coconut, almond, or oat are beneficial; one should pick unsweetened plant-based milk.

According to the newest dietary guidelines, only fortified soy milk can be considered equivalent to dairy in terms of the nutritional composition.

However, it's also essential to keep in mind that plant-based milk contains less sugar than cow milk, except for oat and hazelnut varieties.
 

Beverages (including alcohol)

Many juices and soft drinks have added sugars and carbs. Unsweetened coffees, teas, zero-calorie beverages, and plain water are all fine for people with diabetes to consume. Try adding some whole fruit pieces to the water to give it some taste.

Alcoholic beverages may also include carbohydrates and sugar. Alcohol intake should be kept to a minimum, especially:

  • Beer
  • Dessert wines
  • Drinks that contain fruit
  • Drinks with a sweet mixer

How much to drink

  • A 12-ounce glass of beer
  • 5-ounce glass of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of an 80-proof spirit.

Moreover, excessive drinking can cause hypoglycemia when combined with diabetes medications, which is dangerous. It could be challenging to identify the symptoms because they are similar to those of intoxication.

Conclusion

Understanding what diabetics should not eat and what is a good diet for a diabetic is essential. The key is to choose the correct food item which is healthy from each group that we discussed here and to have a balanced diet. It is vital to know about the foods to avoid if you have Type 2 diabetes.

It may be a good idea to seek help from a diabetes educator or a dietician who could help you develop a diet plan that suits you, including what to eat and avoid.

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GHBY Team

GHBY Team comprises content writers and content editors who specialise in health and lifestyle writing. Always on the lookout for new trends in the health and lifestyle space, Team GHBY follows an audience-first approach. This ensures they bring the latest in the health space to your fingertips, so you can stay ahead in your wellness game. 
 

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