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What Not To Eat When You Have Diabetes


Whats The Best Diet For Diabetes

What to Eat When You Have Diabetes | Mastering Diabetes | Robby Barbaro

Whether youre trying to prevent or control diabetes, your nutritional needs are virtually the same as everyone else, so no special foods are necessary. But you do need to pay attention to some of your food choicesmost notably the carbohydrates you eat. While following a Mediterranean or other heart-healthy diet can help with this, the most important thing you can do is to lose a little weight.

Losing just 5% to 10% of your total weight can help you lower your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Losing weight and eating healthier can also have a profound effect on your mood, energy, and sense of wellbeing. People with diabetes have nearly double the risk of heart disease and are at a greater risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression.

But most cases of type 2 diabetes are preventable and some can even be reversed. Even if youve already developed diabetes, its not too late to make a positive change. By eating healthier, being more physically active, and losing weight, you can reduce your symptoms. Taking steps to prevent or control diabetes doesnt mean living in deprivation it means eating a tasty, balanced diet that will also boost your energy and improve your mood. You dont have to give up sweets entirely or resign yourself to a lifetime of bland food.

Add Extra Activity To Your Daily Routine

If you have been inactive or you are trying a new activity, start slowly, with 5 to 10 minutes a day. Then add a little more time each week. Increase daily activity by spending less time in front of a TV or other screen. Try these simple ways to add physical activities in your life each day:


  • Walk around while you talk on the phone or during TV commercials.
  • Do chores, such as work in the garden, rake leaves, clean the house, or wash the car.
  • Park at the far end of the shopping center parking lot and walk to the store.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Make your family outings active, such as a family bike ride or a walk in a park.

If you are sitting for a long time, such as working at a desk or watching TV, do some light activity for 3 minutes or more every half hour.5 Light activities include

  • leg lifts or extensions

Opt For Lean Proteins Over Fatty Cuts Of Meat

People with type 2 diabetes should limit or avoid high-fat cuts of meat, such as regular ground beef, bologna, hot dogs, sausage, bacon, and ribs, because like full-fat dairy, theyre high in saturated fats, explains Kimberlain. Saturated fats in meat raise cholesterol and promote inflammation throughout the body, and can also put people with diabetes at even greater risk for heart disease than the average person, since their risk is already elevated as a result of diabetes . Instead of fatty cuts of meat, choose lean proteins, including skinless chicken and turkey, fish and shellfish, pork tenderloin, and lean beef. When it comes to ground beef, make sure you choose beef thats at least 92 percent lean and 8 percent fat, advises Kimberlain.

Also Check: Why Does Blood Sugar Go Up At Night

Breakfast Ideas When You Have Diabetes

Diabetes wont stop you from enjoying your food, but knowing some simple hacks and swaps will help you choose healthier options and make planning your meals a little easier. These ideas may not look much different from what you eat already, and your favourite recipes and meals can usually be adapted to be healthier without you noticing too much difference.

Here are some healthy breakfast ideas to choose from:


  • a bowl of wholegrain cereal with milk
  • two slices of wholegrain toast with olive oil-based spread
  • a pot of natural unsweetened yogurt and fruit
  • two slices of avocado with a hardboiled egg.

When Should I Eat If I Have Diabetes

Foods to Eat &  Avoid If You Have Diabetes

Some people with diabetes need to eat at about the same time each day. Others can be more flexible with the timing of their meals. Depending on your diabetes medicines or type of insulin, you may need to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at the same time each day. If you take mealtime insulin, your eating schedule can be more flexible.

If you use certain diabetes medicines or insulin and you skip or delay a meal, your blood glucose level can drop too low. Ask your health care team when you should eat and whether you should eat before and after physical activity.

Read Also: Does Glucagon Inhibit Insulin

What Is The Glycemic Index

Along with a number of carbs, foods also have a glycemic index . This number measures how fast a food raises your blood sugar. The index goes from 0 to 100. Your body turns some carbs, like refined sugars, into glucose quickly. These have a high glycemic index. Low-GI foods take longer to digest and release glucose more slowly. Theyâre usually high in fiber, protein, and fat.

Choosing low-GI foods can keep your blood sugar levels steady. And while the glycemic index can be a helpful tool, it isnât perfect. It doesnât rank a foodâs nutrition. For example, a low-GI food can still be high in calories or unhealthy fat. It also doesnât factor how a food is prepared or what you combine it with. Your body absorbs carbs slower, for example, if theyâre paired with a protein or fat.


Dried Fruit And Fruit Juices

Fruit is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and potassium, and is linked to a healthier body weight, but dried fruit and fruit juice and drinks are among the foods to avoid if prediabetic because they are concentrated sources of sugar and calories. A quarter-cup of raisins and a 2-ring serving of dried pineapples each have 29 grams of sugar, according to the Department of Agriculture. Worse are sugar-sweetened dried fruit and canned fruit and fruit cocktail in sugar-added syrup.

What is better: Fresh or no sugar-added frozen fruit, especially when eaten with a source of fat or protein, such as apple slices with walnuts or strawberries with cottage cheese, nuts or seeds for a portable snack, and, instead of fruit juice, water or a low-calorie beverage.

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Some Are More Obvious Than Others

If you have diabetes, it is probably not surprising to hear there are foods you should avoid. Certain foods, particularly those rich in carbohydrates, can cause blood sugars to rise quickly. This can make you feel sluggish, cause high blood sugar, and even pack on weight.


What might be surprising, however, is that some foods you might think are healthy are actually foods you should limit or avoid due to their high carbohydrate content, lack of fiber, and generally limited nutritional value.

Below is a breakdown of some unhealthy foods that are often disguised as healthful:

Whole-Wheat Bagels

Don’t be fooled – choosing a whole wheat bagel does not translate to fewer carbohydrates when compared to its white counterpart.

Eating just one is about the same as eating four to six slices bread. Whole wheat bagels are very carbohydrate-dense, can raise blood sugar quickly and are lacking in filling fiber and protein. Eating foods that are low in fiber and protein often leave people feeling hungry just an hour or two afterward.


There are healthier breakfast options out there that can have a positive impact on your diabetes. Studies suggest a larger, higher-protein, higher-fat breakfast may help to reduce HgbA1c.

If you really want the bagel, you should at least adjust and find a healthier middle ground. You can scoop the bread out from the middle of the bagel and and top it with a few scrambled egg whites and a vegetable of your choice.

Protein Consumption And Diabetes

Worst Foods For Diabetics |Avoid These Foods If You Have Diabetes

The body uses protein for growth and repair. Most people only require 2 to 3 small serves of meat or other protein foods each day. Most protein foods do not directly affect your blood glucose levels.

Protein foods include lean meat, skinless poultry, seafood, eggs, unsalted nuts, soy products such as tofu and legumes . Legumes also contain carbohydrate, so they may have an impact on your blood glucose levels.

Some sample serves of protein foods that are low in fat include:


  • one cup of cooked split peas, beans, lentils or other legumes
  • 100 g of cooked fish or other seafood
  • 65 g of cooked lean red meat
  • 80 g of cooked poultry without the skin
  • 2 eggs .

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Prevent Low Blood Glucose

Because physical activity lowers your blood glucose, you should protect yourself against low blood glucose levels, also called hypoglycemia. You are most likely to have hypoglycemia if you take insulin or certain other diabetes medicines, such as a sulfonylurea. Hypoglycemia also can occur after a long intense workout or if you have skipped a meal before being active. Hypoglycemia can happen during or up to 24 hours after physical activity.

Planning is key to preventing hypoglycemia. For instance, if you take insulin, your health care provider might suggest you take less insulin or eat a small snack with carbohydrates before, during, or after physical activity, especially intense activity.4

You may need to check your blood glucose level before, during, and right after you are physically active.

What Can You Eat If You Have Diabetes Foods To Eat & Avoid

By Elisabeth Almekinder RN, BA, CDE


Through twenty-five years of working with people with diabetes, when they come in for diabetes education, their first question is most often What can I eat . The next question is often, What cant I eat ?

In this article, we will explore what foods are best to eat when you have just been diagnosed with Pre-Diabetes, and Type 2 Diabetes, and what foods are best avoided.

Quick Links

There is no other guide available on the internet that will guide you through the best foods to choose, and the best foods to avoid. Take heed, as some foods in the American diet are detrimental. These are also the same foods that Americans are addicted to.

On occasion, you will be able to eat from the foods to avoid list, such as on a holiday, or your birthday. It shouldnt become a regular occurrence to eat foods that are best avoided if you have Pre-Diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. Also, eating healthier throughout your lifespan, can prevent Pre-Diabetes and Type 2 Diabetes from ever surfacing at all.

Starting to eat a healthy diet can help you to reverse your Pre-Diabetes, along with regular physical activity, and sometimes medication . You can either get Type 2 Diabetes in good control, or you can reverse it to a Pre-Diabetes state in some cases, if you work on healthy lifestyle changes.


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Be Smart About Sweets

Eating a diabetic diet doesnt mean eliminating sugar altogether, but like most of us, chances are you consume more sugar than is healthy. If you have diabetes, you can still enjoy a small serving of your favorite dessert now and then. The key is moderation.

Reduce your cravings for sweets by slowly reduce the sugar in your diet a little at a time to give your taste buds time to adjust.

Hold the bread if you want dessert. Eating sweets at a meal adds extra carbohydrates so cut back on the other carb-heavy foods at the same meal.

Add some healthy fat to your dessert. Fat slows down the digestive process, meaning blood sugar levels dont spike as quickly. That doesnt mean you should reach for the donuts, though. Think healthy fats, such as peanut butter, ricotta cheese, yogurt, or nuts.


Eat sweets with a meal, rather than as a stand-alone snack. When eaten on their own, sweets cause your blood sugar to spike. But if you eat them along with other healthy foods as part of your meal, your blood sugar wont rise as rapidly.

When you eat dessert, truly savor each bite. How many times have you mindlessly eaten your way through a bag of cookies or a huge piece of cake? Can you really say that you enjoyed each bite? Make your indulgence count by eating slowly and paying attention to the flavors and textures. Youll enjoy it more, plus youre less likely to overeat.

Low Carbohydrate And Low Fat

What Not To Eat When You Have Diabetes

This type of eating style primarily focuses on eating non-starchy vegetables, beans, good proteins like fish, nuts, edible seeds, and poultry products. It also includes healthy fat such as avocado and olive. When it comes to eating meat, a diabetic person has to make sure that he is restricting fat content, especially the unhealthy fat.

Meat products that should be included in your diet include lean protein like chicken and turkey , fish, and low-fat dairy products. Following this eating style can significantly help improve the blood sugar level. It also lowers the risk of heart-related diseases.

Recommended Reading: Insulin Is To The Pancreas As Ghrelin Is To


The #1 Best Breakfast To Eat If You Have Diabetes Says Dietitian

According to the American Diabetes Association, 1.5 million people will be diagnosed with diabetes this year alone. If you’re someone who has been newly diagnosed, you most likely have a ton of questions about what your life will look like and what will need to change.

Oftentimes people with diabetes are encouraged to pursue a more active lifestyle, change their diet, and take medicine if needed. But when it comes to finding more healthy ways of eating, it can feel overwhelming trying to choose what’s best while still enjoying the foods you love.

According to Mayo Clinic, people with diabetes will benefit from a diet that helps them maintain a healthy weight, manage their blood sugar levels, and keep heart disease risk factors at bay like high blood pressure. To do this, they recommend a diet of “healthy carbohydrates, fiber-rich foods, fish, and ‘good’ fats.”

To learn more about how people can incorporate this healthier diet into their daily breakfast, we talked with Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook, and a member of our medical expert board.

“If you have diabetes, your breakfast goal is a high fiber carbohydrate and a lean protein,” says Goodson.


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Now For The Best Foods

All of the foods on our list have a low glycemic index and provide important nutrients you need to stay healthy.

  • Sweet potatoes. A great source of vitamin C, potassium and fiber. Add cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or allspice for extra flavor. ½ cup cooked sweet potato = 1 carb serving
  • Cruciferous vegetables. These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts. These non-starchy vegetables are rich in potassium, folate and vitamin C. 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked = < 1 carb serving. They are just 5 grams of carbohydrate and 15 grams is one carb serving so you can load up on these!
  • Legumes. These include a variety of beans such as black, garbanzo, kidney, lima, navy, pinto and white. They are loaded with fiber and protein, which will help you feel full with fewer calories. ½ cup cooked = 1 carb serving
  • Nuts. Especially walnuts, almonds and pecans. They are a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fats and antioxidants and they reduce LDL cholesterol and promote heart health. Consume in small amounts as they are high in calories. Add to salads, oatmeal and yogurt. If you are trying to watch your calorie intake, buy the 100 calorie packets in a box. They may cost a little more, but they help with portion control. 1 serving = 1 carb
  • Berries. They are full of antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber. Add to salads, cereal, summer desserts and yogurt. 1 cup of strawberries, blue berries or raspberries = 1 carb serving
  • Read Also: Which Pancreatic Cells Release Insulin And Glucagon

    Do Mentally Prep Yourself

    “Losing weight is more like a marathon than a sprint you can’t go as hard as you can for a short period and then stop,” says Michael Dansinger, MD, director of lifestyle coaching for diabetes weight loss at Tufts Medical Center and nutrition doctor for NBC’s The Biggest Loser . “If you’re not ready, any changes you make aren’t going to be sustainable.”

    To get the push you need to keep going and going, Dansinger suggests comparing where your current habits are taking you to where you’d rather be in 5 years. Will you have diabetes-related complications? Or will you be healthier than you are today? The decisions you make now can shape your future.


    Sugar Intake And Diabetes

    Diabetics/ What To Eat and Not To Eat

    People with diabetes who follow a healthy eating pattern can include a small amount of sugar in their diet. However, the sugar should be eaten as part of a nutritious meal. For example, one teaspoon of honey with plain porridge, tinned fruit in natural juice and some types of high fibre breakfast cereals with dried fruit, such as natural muesli.

    Also Check: Can Type 2 Diabetics Eat Bananas

    What You Need To Know About Eating With Diabetes

    How much do calories matter? For people with diabetes, the exact number of calories to consume each day is based on the amount and timing of food that assures you can youre your blood sugar levels stable and your weight within a healthy range. That number can change, depending on your age, activity level, frame size, current versus preferred weight, and other factors.

    When the goal is a healthy weight and blood sugar control, a good starting point for a woman is 1,400-1,600 calories a day, with main meals containing up to 30 grams of fiber-rich carbohydrates, and snacks containing 10-20 grams of fiber-rich carbohydrates, Ms. Zanini advises. For men and more physically active women who are already at a healthy weight, you may start with a 2,000-2,200 calorie meal plan, in which you may increase proportionately your carbs.

    Recent research suggests that by eating a big breakfast, and a modest lunch, so you get most of your calories in by 3 pm, you will find it easier to lose weight and achieve better blood sugar control.

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