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11 Foods a Diabetic Should Avoid

作者: Content Team



阅读时间 10 min

What to eat and what not to eat? That’s the most important question to ask if you have diabetes. The short answer is: avoid any food that can spike your blood sugar and increase your risk of complications.

Eating a balanced diet and making careful food choices that improve insulin sensitivity can help your body better respond to diabetes treatment, whether it’s oral medication or insulin injection.

A healthy diet for people with diabetes starts with avoiding foods that raise their blood sugar levels. Let’s look at 11 foods a diabetic should avoid.

11 Foods to Avoid if You Have Diabetes

To keep your blood sugar under control and prevent diabetes complications, you should avoid the following foods:

1. Fried Foods

Fried chicken legs on a wooden table. Breaded crispy fried chicken Kentucky fried delicious dinner
Fried chicken legs on a wooden table. Breaded crispy fried chicken Kentucky fried delicious dinner . Source: DepositPhotos

Fried foods like fries, fried chicken, and anything you can find at a state fair stall are full of oil, which means hundreds of extra calories. They’re also often made with carb-rich batters, doughs, or have a flour breading that causes blood sugar spikes.

The oil in these foods also takes a long time to digest, keeping your blood sugar levels high for hours.

This may cause cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol — especially if the frying oils used for these foods are hydrogenated and full of trans fats. These contain very low-density lipoprotein (vLDL) that can clog up your arteries and worsen diabetes complications.

Here are some healthier alternative ways of cooking your favorite fried foods:

  • Air-frying
  • Baking
  • Roasting
  • Grilling

2. Alcohol

Assorted liquor bottles containing alcohol.
Assorted liquor bottles containing alcohol.  Source

Drinking alcohol has a negative impact on your system. Sugary wines and cocktails lead to blood glucose spikes that can cause the accumulation of ketone bodies in your blood if left unchecked. This can damage the circulatory system, eyes, and kidneys.

Alcohol can also damage your liver, which slows down the processing of your diabetes medication and causes dangerously low blood sugar. This is especially dangerous if you’ve only been drinking and not eating anything on the side.

To keep things safe, you should have at most two servings (1.5 oz of distilled liquor, 5 oz of wine, and 12 oz of beer) per day or 14 units of alcohol per week.

3. Dried Fruits

Mix dried fruits and nuts, healthy diet, eating lean, old wooden background, selective focus
Mix dried fruits and nuts, healthy diet, eating lean, old wooden background, selective focus . Source: DepositPhotos

While many dried fruits are high in essential antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, some like apricots, pineapples, dates, and raisins may also contain large amounts of natural sugar or added sugar. 

This is because of:

  1. The drying process, which removes water and increases a fruit’s sugar-to-volume ratio
  2. Desiccating fruits using sugar

This means if you eat dry fruits in high quantities, you may experience a prolonged sugar spike. Instead, eating a smaller portion of dry fruits’s a good idea when you decide to snack on them. You can also mix them with nuts, which have been shown to reduce blood sugar spikes.

4. Refined Carbohydrates

Foods containing mostly refined carbohydrates (carbs) on a table
Foods containing mostly refined carbohydrates (carbs) on a table. Source: HollandAndBarrett

Foods made from highly refined carbohydrates, such as regular pasta, white bread, rice, and flour, are considered “empty” calories. That’s because they don’t contain fibers and fats, and cause sharp spikes in your blood sugar. They’re also absorbed quickly by your gut, which can lead to long-term weight gain and cardiovascular problems.

To replace refined carbs, switch to whole-grain, complex carbohydrates like quinoa, beans, brown rice, and lentils. Aim to get at least 26% of your daily calories from these complex carbs.

5. Full-Fat Dairy Products

Various fresh dairy products on wooden background
Various fresh dairy products on wooden background . Source: DepositPhotos

The literature is generally conflicted about the full-fat vs. low-fat dairy debate. However, regularly eating dairy products with a high content of saturated fats can increase your chances of getting cardiovascular disease.

This may be because milk products contain LDL-raising fatty acids, like polyunsaturated fatty acids, branched-chain saturated fatty acids, and trans fat, which can clog arteries.

Dairy also contains lactose that may increase your blood sugar levels and elevate them longer — especially if you haven’t eaten anything before consuming it. Although this issue is shared by low and full-fat dairy.

If you consume a lot of dairy, it’s best to cut back on it until your blood sugar levels are in order. The American Diabetes Association suggests at least three servings per day of low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, or yogurt.

6. High-Fat Meats

A plate with high-fat meats (food a diabetic should avoid)
A plate with high-fat meats (food a diabetic should avoid). Source:

Eating too much red meat can lead to a 50% increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes — and can worsen your condition if you’re already diagnosed. This is because meat contains heme iron, which can damage pancreatic cells that secrete insulin, causing inflammation and insulin resistance.

Meat, especially processed products and fatty cuts, also contains a lot of saturated fat, which can raise LDL and increase the risk of heart disease.

To keep yourself safe, limit your daily consumption of unprocessed red meat to 50 to 100 grams (3.5 oz) or replace it with healthy plant-based protein sources, such as nuts and legumes.

7. Sugary Foods

Close-up Photo of Dougnuts with Pink Glaze and Sprinkles
Close-up Photo of Dougnuts with Pink Glaze and Sprinkles. Source:

Foods that are made from white or any other type of sugar, such as soda, candy, or cakes, are some of the most nutritionally lacking, high-calorie, and low-quality foods you can eat if you’re living with diabetes.

These foods spike blood sugar levels, which prompt your body to produce extra insulin to bring them down.

To prevent this, you should consume no more than 7.5 to 12 teaspoons of sugar per day if you’re following a 2,000-calorie diet. You should also increase your intake of fibre-rich fruits to satisfy your sugar cravings and slow down glucose absorption.

8. Processed Foods

Different products on white wooden table. Food donation
Different products on white wooden table. Food donation. Source: DepositPhotos

A 10% increase in processed foods in your diet can increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by 15%. This is because ultra-processed foods contain nitrites and nitrates, which are chemicals used to increase the shelf life of these products.

They can damage hemoglobin (the molecule that carries blood around the body), leaving it unable to circulate oxygen to cells. This can lead to blood poisoning and vascular damage, further increasing the risk of heart disease.

Nitrites can also damage your body’s ability to produce insulin, which can worsen type 2 diabetes.

9. Sugary Beverages

Shelves of Soda Pop sugary beverages.
Shelves of Soda Pop sugary beverages. Source:

High consumption of sugary beverages like juices, sweetened coffee and tea, as well as non-diet soda, poses the greatest risk of type 2 diabetes compared to other sugary foods.

For instance, a meta-analysis of 17 studies found that one serving of sugar-rich drinks daily led to an 18% higher risk of diabetes.

That’s because these drinks contain easily digestible sugars, but they don’t cause satiety as much as solid foods, which makes it easier to consume larger amounts of them.

10. Sugar-Containing Breakfast Cereals

Breakfast cereals containing lots of sugar
Breakfast cereals containing lots of sugar. Source: LATimes

Breakfast cereals have high carbohydrate and added sugar content while lacking protein and fibre. Consuming these can quickly elevate your blood sugar levels. For instance, one cup of chocolate-flavored puffed corn cereal has 13.3 grams of sugar and 30 g of carbs.

However, not all cereals have the same nutritional value. If you find it difficult to resist the occasional bowl, choose consider a healthier, portion-controlled alternative made from whole grains.

Consider combining high-fibre cereal with Greek yogurt to increase satiety and minimize blood sugar spikes. Please ensure that your chosen cereal provides at least 5 to 7 g of fibre/serving and no more than 6 g of sugar.

11. Refined Sugar

Heap of sugar on wooden table
Heap of sugar on wooden table. Source: DepositPhotos

Refined sugar is simple and easy to digest. It quickly goes into your bloodstream and raises blood sugar levels faster than even simple carbohydrates, which can lead to massive sugar spikes.

It can also promote fatty liver and lead to localized insulin resistance, which can trigger abnormal insulin production and worsen diabetes symptoms.

Why Is It Important to Limit Sugar Intake When You Have Diabetes?

Let’s look at why limiting your sugar intake when you have diabetes is important:

1. You Can’t Clear Sugar Fast Enough

If you have type 2 diabetes, your pancreas probably doesn’t produce enough insulin to remove the sugar from your blood efficiently.

Your body may produce excess insulin to compensate for the insulin resistance compared to a healthy person during the initial stage of the disease. However, it might eventually burn out and completely stop producing insulin.

As a result, you may always have elevated blood glucose levels.

2. High Sugar Levels Can Cause Complications

Chronic high blood sugar levels cause the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and free radicals that lead to DNA changes. This causes irreparable damage to the cells in your blood vessels.

As a result, you may develop the following complications:

  1. Macrovascular – These affect large arteries and veins, leading to the development of coronary heart disease, peripheral limb disease, or stroke.
  2. Microvascular –  These affect capillaries and cause kidney disease, nerve damage, and retinopathy (diabetic eye disease).

Do These Dietary Restrictions Apply to People With Gestational Diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is when your blood sugar levels remain consistently high throughout pregnancy. It primarily affects females who don’t have a history of diabetes and goes away after delivery.

To manage diabetes during pregnancy, try eating:

  • At the same time every day
  • A low-sugar diet
  • High-fiber carbs
  • 20 to 30 grams of fiber/day
  • Less than 40% of your calories from carbs/day

You also have to exercise for at least 30 minutes per day and eliminate all sugary snacks from your diet.

What Is the Best Diet for Diabetes?

Glucometer for checking sugar level and fresh ripe vegetables as healthy ingredients containing vitamins and minerals using during diabetes
Glucometer for checking sugar level and fresh ripe vegetables as healthy ingredients containing vitamins and minerals using during diabetes. Source: DepositPhotos

A healthy diet for a diabetic should be low in fat, sugar, and carbs and rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It has to be based on eating low-carb all the time, which is why the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends the following eating patterns:

  1. Mediterranean – This focuses on olive oil, eggs, unprocessed red meat, fish, seafood, yogurt, cheese, beans, vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits, and whole grains. It has been shown to reduce glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), triglycerides, and the risk of diabetes.
  2. Keto – It’s a high-fat, low-carb diet that can lead to “quick” weight loss, improve blood sugar control, increase HDL, lower HbA1C levels, and reduce triglycerides. However, you have to ensure your diabetes is in control when on this diet, as high levels of ketones can lead to dehydration and cause diabetic ketoacidosis.
  3. Paleo – It emphasizes foods that were eaten in older times, such as berries, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs, nuts, and shellfish. It also avoids refined fats, sugar, dairy, and grains. Studies show it can improve glucose tolerance and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.
  4. Vegetarian – This focuses on either eating plant-based vegetarian foods with dairy and eggs or none at all. It has been shown to reduce LDL-C, non-HDL-C, and cardiovascular disease risk.


Is Coffee Good for People with Diabetes?

Research shows that people with type 2 diabetes react to caffeine differently, with some seeing reduced effects of diabetes while others feeling adverse effects.

Whether coffee is “good” for you depends on your medical history and symptoms.

What Are the Best Breakfast Foods for People with Diabetes?

Some of the best breakfast foods for diabetics include:

  • Protein – This includes Greek yogurt, eggs, tofu, and cottage cheese. These help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • High-fiber carbs – These include whole grain bread, quinoa, bran cereal, buckwheat, sweet potatoes, and oats.
  • Fruits and vegetables – These can include any non-starchy vegetables and fruits, such as beans, beets, mushrooms, radishes, and celery.
  • Healthy fats – These include seeds, nuts, and avocados. They help you feel full for longer.

Remember to always start with high-fiber foods, move on to proteins and fats, and then eat carbs at the end of your breakfast.

Which Fruits Should a Diabetic Avoid?

As a diabetic, you should avoid any fruits with a high glycemic index and low fiber. These include the following:

  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Banana
  • Papaya
  • Lychee
  • Canned fruit

You should also avoid fruit juices because they contain sweeteners and other chemicals to make them taste nicer.

Take Charge of Your Health with InsuJet

If you have diabetes, what you put on your plate is a big deal. The list in this article contains  11 foods a diabetic should avoid. You want to keep it simple — avoid fried food, watch your alcohol intake, and be mindful of hidden and added sugars.

At the same time, dietary modifications are not an alternative to insulin therapy. You must stick to your regimen if your healthcare provider prescribes your insulin.

If you have trouble adhering to your daily insulin injections because of pain or needle-phobia, check out InsuJet’s needle-free injections. Shop our products that suit your needs now!

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