Eating a healthy diet isn’t just about choosing the right foods; it also means avoiding foods that can spike your blood sugar and increase your risk of diabetes complications.
Diabetes requires daily maintenance that includes monitoring your blood sugar, eating a healthy diet, exercising, and of course staying on top of any complications with your heart, eyes, and other organs. Controlling your weight is key when you have diabetes. If you’re overweight, losing weight — even just 10 to 15 pounds — can help improve your insulin sensitivity and glycemic control, reduce triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, and lower your blood pressure. A healthy diet for diabetes will help you manage your weight and lead you toward foods that have a positive effect on your glucose levels, while guiding you away from those foods that are likely to cause dangerous spikes in your blood sugar. Learn which 9 foods you should steer clear of if you have type 2 diabetes.
Soda, sweets, desserts, and other foods that are made primarily of sugar are considered low-quality carbohydrates. Not only are these foods lacking in nutritional value, they can also cause a sharp spike in your blood sugar and lead to weight problems, both of which exacerbate diabetes complications. Instead of satisfying your sweet tooth with cookies, candy, cake, or soda, reach for delicious fruits, such as apples, berries, pears, or oranges. These high-quality carbohydrates contain plenty of fiber to help slow down the absorption of glucose, so they’re a far better choice for blood-sugar control.
While fiber-rich whole fruits are considered healthy carbohydrates for people with diabetes, fruit juice is another story. People with diabetes should avoid drinking fruit juice, even 100 percent fruit juice. Fruit juice contains more nutrition than soda and other sugary drinks, but the problem is that fruit juices have concentrated amounts of fruit sugar and therefore cause your blood sugar to shoot up. Plus, sipping fruit juice doesn’t fill you up the same way that eating a piece of fruit does. If you want a refreshing drink, go for zero-calorie plain or naturally flavored seltzer with a spritz of lemon or lime.
Although dried fruit contains fiber and many nutrients, the dehydration process causes fruits’ natural sugars to get super-concentrated. While snacking on raisins or dried apricots is better for you than eating a cookie, it’ll still send your blood sugar soaring. Skip the dried fruit and instead stick with fresh fruit options, such as grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, and peaches.
White Rice, Bread, and Flour
Big offenders on the low-quality carb list are refined starches like white rice and anything made with white flour, including white bread and pasta. These “white” carbs act a lot like sugar once your body begins to digest them, which means that they will interfere with your glucose levels. Replace white carbs with whole grains, such as brown or wild rice, barley, oatmeal, high-fiber cereals, and whole-grain breads.
You’ve probably heard that the saturated fats in dairy products can raise your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease, but saturated fats may cause yet another serious problem for people with diabetes. Some studies have found that eating a diet high in saturated fat may worsen insulin resistance. Do your best to avoid dairy products made with whole milk, such as cream, full-fat yogurt, ice cream, cream cheese, and other full-fat cheeses.
Fatty Cuts of Meat
You’ll want to avoid high-fat cuts of meat for the same reason as whole-milk dairy — they’re high in saturated fats. Saturated fats in meat raise cholesterol and promote inflammation throughout the body, and it can also put people with diabetes at an even greater risk of heart disease than the average person, since their risk is already elevated as a result of diabetes. Also cutting back on your meat intake to twice or less a week will be a healthy choice.
Packaged Snacks and Baked Goods
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 are dealing with diabetes and its complications. 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.
You may have a weakness for french fries, fried chicken, potato chips, fried dough, and the like, but kicking this craving will be better for your health in the long run. Fried foods typically soak up tons of oil, which equates to lots of extra calories — and many are coated in breading first, jacking up the numbers even more. Overdoing the greasy stuff can pack on the pounds and cause blood-sugar chaos. To add insult to injury, some foods are deep-fried in hydrogenated oils that are laden with unhealthy trans fats. As mentioned in the past slide, trans fats will raise your LDL, lower your HDL, and increase your risk of heart disease. And remember, there’s no amount of trans fats that you can safely include in your diet, especially if you have diabetes.
Before you go for a pre-dinner cocktail, or even a glass of wine with dinner, check with your doctor to make sure that it’s safe for you to drink alcohol, since alcohol can interfere with your blood-sugar levels. If you do drink, keep it in moderation. “Moderation” is generally defined as no more than one serving per day if you’re a woman and no more than two if you’re a man. A typical serving is measured as 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1 ½ ounces of liquor.
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