What Foods To Avoid With Diabetes
Not all diets are created equal, and some of the more restrictive diets should be approached with caution.
Highly carbohydrate-restricted diets, such as the extreme forms of keto diets, should be assessed carefully, says Dr. Horowitz. Though many people do very well with lower carbohydrate diets, and modified keto diets are often beneficial, diets that eliminate entire food groups are not balanced and may lead to deficiencies of macronutrients. They are also difficult to maintain.
In general, foods and drinks that people with diabetes should limit include:
- Foods high in saturated fats and trans fats
- Foods high in sodium
- Beverages with added sugars
Eat Less Red And Processed Meat
If youre cutting down on carbs, you might start to have bigger portions of meat to fill you up. But its not a good idea to do this with red and processed meat, like ham, bacon, sausages, beef and lamb. These all have links with heart problems and cancers.
Try swapping red and processed meat for these:
- pulses such as beans and lentils
- poultry like chicken and turkey
Beans, peas and lentils are also very high in fibre and dont affect your blood glucose levels too much making them a great swap for processed and red meat and keeping you feeling full. Most of us know that fish is good for us, but oily fish like salmon and mackerel are even better. These are rich in something called omega-3 oil, which helps protect your heart. Try and aim to eat two portions of oily fish a week.
What Does Eating Right Mean For You
If you have type 1 diabetes, carb counting is really important to keep your blood glucose levels steady. This is where you estimate how many carbs are in your meal and match it with how much insulin you need to take.
If you have type 2 and youre overweight, finding a way to lose weight is important as it really improves diabetes management. This is because it can help to lower your blood glucose and reduce your risk of other complications. There are different ways of doing this like the low-carb, Mediterranean or very low-calorie diets. Losing weight can help you lower your blood glucose levels, and we now know that substantial weight loss can even put some people’s type 2 diabetes into remission.
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you might need to lose, gain or maintain your current weight but its important to make healthier food choices while youre doing this.
Portion sizes are important to think about whether you have type 1 or type 2. It makes calculating nutritional facts when youre carb counting or managing your weight a lot easier. Remember, portion sizes are different for everyone, so whats right for someone else might not be right for you.
If you feel overwhelmed about your feelings about food and diabetes, we have plenty of information to help you.
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Healthy Eating And Diabetes
If you have diabetes, healthy eating can help you to:
- maintain general good health
- maintain a healthy body weight
- prevent or slow the development of diabetes complications.
Healthy eating for people with diabetes is no different than for everyone else. You do not need to prepare separate meals or buy special foods, so relax and enjoy healthy eating with the rest of your family.
Type 2 Diabetes Food Breakdown
First and foremost, we recommend that the vast majority of your nutrients come from plants, due to the various risks associated with eating meat.
We also recommend removing artificial sweeteners and synthetic/processed products from your diet as much as possible, due to their proven association with chronic disease.
Finally, we recommend that you get 80+% of your calories from the carbohydrates found in whole-grains, fruits, and vegetables, with the remaining calories coming from healthy fats and proteins.
Sound restrictive? You might think, but countless plant based recipes might make you rethink your food groups.
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A Cautionary Word About Salt
Some people are sensitive to salt, which causes higher blood pressure when too much sodium is consumed. Since we have no way of testing who is salt-sensitive and who isnt, the best precaution is to limit salt and avoid sodium-containing foods if you may be at risk for high blood pressure.
Simply put, the excess salt in most peoples diets comes from processed foods, so check the package for sodium content. By adopting a diabetes diet that contains mostly whole foods, this issue will no longer present a problem. Also, foods that are flash frozen are as good as fresh.
Canned vegetables usually have added salt as a preservative. Your best bet when buying is to check the food labels for sodium content. Youll want to stay well below the upper recommended limit of 2,300 mg/day, and you can certainly look for low-sodium varieties of canned and processed prepackaged food products.
How To Get Started With A Type 2 Diabetes Diet Plan
For many people, at least initially, following a diabetes diet may seem harder than it should be. Thats understandable after all, it can seem very, very challenging to change current eating habits and find the right food rhythm to fit your lifestyle. It may ease your mind to know you will still be able to incorporate your favorite foods into a healthy diet while being mindful of your diabetes diet goals .
While the idea of changing your diet can be confusing and overwhelming at first, research shows that making healthy lifestyle choices can help you manage your blood sugar levels in the short term and may even prevent many of the long-term health complications associated with diabetes, says Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, author of The Diabetes Cookbook and Meal Plan for the Newly Diagnosed.
You dont have to go it alone: Seek advice from a registered dietitian or certified diabetes care and education specialist who has the right training to help you come up with an individualized meal plan that will help you meet your self-management goals, get the nutrition you need, and show you how you can incorporate some of your favorite foods into your diet so that you continue to enjoy eating.
Hopefully, your doctor has someone on the team, but if not, call your health insurer to ask for the names of a few in-network RD/CDEs.
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Tips For When Temptation Strikes
In diabetes diet terms, temptation translates to foods you shouldnt eat because they are loaded with sugar and empty carbs that will send your blood sugar skyrocketing. That piece of cake, cinnamon bun, brownie, or bag of chips usually contains more than just carbsthey usually contribute unhealthy fats, too.
The less often you eat these sugary, fatty desserts and snacks, the less you will come to want them. For some people, you may do better allowing yourself to satisfy an occasional craving. Striking the right balance will depend upon your goals and urgency.
Heres the thing: This word of caution is not just for people with diabetes who need to watch their sugar and fat intake in truth, it is a red flag for anyone who wants to stay healthy and avoid chronic diseases. Thats why the whole family benefits from eating healthy foods and saving small indulgences for special occasions.
Physical Activity And Diabetes
Along with healthy eating, physical activity is important. Be as active as possible in as many different ways as possible. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most, if not all days of the week. A regular half-hour of physical activity can help to:
- lower your blood glucose levels
- improve your mood and self-esteem
- improve the quality of your sleep
- increase muscle and bone strength.
If your goal is weight loss, aim to do at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week. If 30â60 minutes of physical activity seems like too much to start with, you can break this up into smaller blocks of 10â15 minutes, spread out across the day.
Resistance activity is also highly recommended for all people and especially people with diabetes. An exercise physiologist can help you to create a safe resistance activity program. Aim to do resistance type activities at least twice per week.
This could include:
- body weight exercises like push-ups, squats or lunges at home
- using dumbbells and resistance bands to do resistance exercises at home
- doing tasks around the home that involve lifting, carrying or digging
- joining a gym and doing weights or other resistance exercises.
Also try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down either at work, at home or both. Some small activities you can do to help reduce the amount of time you spend sitting throughout the day include:
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Can I Eat Sugar Substitutes With Type 2 Diabetes
The current belief is that people who need to follow a diabetes diet should avoid added sweeteners of all kinds, including sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners. Researchers have found that people who consume foods with any form of sweetener typically crave more of these foods and end up gaining weight.
Your best bet is to begin using fruit to get your sweet fix. By adding fruit to foods, you totally avoid the added sugars and sugar alcohols and get the added benefit of dietary fiber, which is better for blood glucose control.
If you want to use a non-caloric sweetener, of all the , stevia is the one I recommend most often, says Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, author of The Diabetes Cookbook and Meal Plan for the Newly Diagnosed. Its a great natural and zero-calorie option for blood sugar control when added to beverages, hot cereals, and other foods. Youll have to experiment with stevia, she adds, because it works better with some foods than with others.
Which Foods Should Be Avoided In A Type 2 Diabetes Meal Plan
People with type 2 diabetes should avoid many of the same unhealthy foods everyone should limit. Dietary restrictions include:
- Sodas: both sugar sweetened regular soda and diet soda raise blood sugar
- Processed carbs
- Trans fats such as butter “spreads,” some mayonnaise “spreads” some salad dressings, packaged sauces, bakery goods
- High-fat animal products
- High-fat dairy products
- High fructose corn syrup
- Artificial sweeteners
- Highly processed foods novelty sweets, candies, chips, kettle corn, cookies)
The best way to avoid these foods is to shop around the edges of the grocery store and minimize the number of processed, packaged foods in the middle. Sticking with “real” food in its whole, minimally processed form is the best way to eat well for diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes who eat a healthy diet pattern like the ones discussed here reduce the risk of complications that stem from high blood sugar, like cardiovascular disease and obesity.
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Can Eating Fruit Help Me Lose Weight
No. Achieving a healthy weight certainly involves eating a healthy diet, including the right fruits. But with type 2 diabetes, the key to weight loss is shifting your whole metabolism.
This means focusing on whole food sources, healthy fats, protein and carbs mainly from non-starchy vegetables. When you can get blood sugar and A1c levels more regulated, metabolism improves and weight loss occurs naturally as a result.
How May A Fiber
Fiber helps slow digestion, keeping you feeling full longer, which can aid in weight loss or prevent weight gain. And it helps slow the absorption of sugars in your bloodstream, which can help keep your blood sugar steady and prevent spikes. Some high-fiber foods include dried beans, fruits, lentils, nuts, peas, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains. Aim for 25 to 35 grams of dietary fiber a day.
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What About The Glycemic Index
High glycemic index foods spike your blood sugar rapidly, while low GI foods have the least effect on blood sugar. While the GI has long been promoted as a tool to help manage blood sugar, there are some notable drawbacks.
- The true health benefits of using the GI remain unclear.
- Having to refer to GI tables makes eating unnecessarily complicated.
- The GI is not a measure of a foods healthfulness.
- Research suggests that by simply following the guidelines of the Mediterranean or other heart-healthy diets, youll not only lower your glycemic load but also improve the quality of your diet.
|Choosing carbs that are packed with fiber|
|Peas or leafy greens|
Probiotic Packed Dairy Foods
If you add any diary to your diet, make sure that its packed with healthy probiotics for the biggest benefits to your health. Greek yogurt is a great option since its low in sugar and high in probiotics. In studies done, Greek yogurt was found to improve blood sugar control and even reduce heart disease risks.3 Aim for unflavored Greek yogurt as the flavored versions are much higher in sugar and more processed, therefore may contribute to an increase in blood sugar.
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What About Prediabetes Does Eating Fruit Increase Diabetes Risk
If you eat too much fruit, probably.
If you have prediabetes, you also have metabolic dysregulation and your goal is to lower blood sugar and A1c.
Therefore, like people with type 2 diabetes, keeping a tight check on portion size and choosing appropriate fruit options will help you achieve your goals.
Why Does Diet Matter For Type 2 Diabetes
You can make some adjustments to the way you eat to help prevent blood sugar spikes. Diabetes can be much better controlled when an individual makes food choices that are going to help them manage their blood sugar levels and keep their levels within ranges that will keep them safe, says Colleen Johnson, M.S., R.D.N., adult diabetes educator at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Diabetes can be treated with many kinds of medications and different types of insulin, but the diet is really going to be key no matter what type of treatment they undergo.
More From Good Housekeeping
The main focus of an eating plan for type 2 diabetes typically revolves around reducing your intake of carbohydrates because they are most easily converted into glucose and research shows they make up a large portion of the typical American diet. When it comes to carbohydrates, what I like to remind people is that they are team players, says Samantha Cassetty, R.D.N., nutrition and wellness expert and the author of Sugar Shock. I think the biggest problem that I see is carbs on carbs on carbs. So, oatmeal with fruit with milk those are all examples of foods that contain carbohydrates. Even our wholesome, fiber-rich carbs like fruits and vegetables really ideally operate best when they’re paired with a teammate. She says not only does it allow you to get a variety of nutrients from different types of foods, it helps balance your blood sugar and enables you stay to fuller longer.
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Which Diet Is Right For Diabetes
Many diets claim health benefits. But newer guidelines for people with type 2 diabetes say that there is not just one diet for diabetes management that a variety of eating styles can work. How do you choose whats right for you?
Before you decide to commit to a particular diet, heres some tried-and-true tips:
- Eat more non-starchy vegetables things like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Raw or cooked vegetables or salads its hard to eat too many of this food group. Eat them at meals and for snacks.
- Minimize added sugars and refined grains. Choose cereals and breads without added sugars or very low in added sugar, and drink water as your main beverage.
- Choose whole foods over highly processed foods as much as possible. Look for whole grains over refined grains. Avoid or eat less from boxed mixes, breaded and deep fried foods, or those with heavy gravies and sauces.
There many diets out there that you can look to for weight loss. But our list highlights a few better diets, two you should approach with caution, and diets to avoid altogether if you have diabetes.
What Types Of Diet Or Meal Plans Are Recommended For People With Type 2 Diabetes
Several dietary patterns have been studied, and have shown to have beneficial effects on type 2 diabetes. Because multiple patterns work, people can choose the eating pattern that works best for them. However, there are commonalities among all healthy diabetes diets. All healthy diabetes meal plans include:
People with type 2 diabetes must be extra aware of the carbohydrate content of their meals so their blood sugar levels don’t rise, or if they are using injectable insulin, so they can dose insulin appropriately.
A vegetarian or vegan diet can be a good choice for people with diabetes. Vegetarian and vegan diets are typically high in carbohydrates – about 13% higher than a diet with that includes both plant and animal products which we generally think is bad for diabetes. However, a vegetarian or vegan diet is typically fiber-rich and lower in calories and saturated fat, so the inflammatory risks associated with high meat consumption are avoided. Research studies that have tested vegetarian and vegan diets for people with diabetes have found them to be beneficial at reducing blood sugar.
A good quality vegetarian or vegan diet:
- Is high in vegetables and fruits
- Includes quality proteins such as beans, nuts, and seeds
- Includes plant-based fats such as olive oil and avocado
- Prioritizes whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa rather than refined carbohydrates
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