foods to avoid with diabetes
Nutrition

Unhealty Foods & Drinks For Diabetes

A diabetes diagnosis is never easy. People who are not actively dealing with it would not be able to accurately understand the daily challenges faced by individuals who are living with this disorder. It may seem like any other condition to a third person, however, every single day a person with diabetes discovers something new about their condition. Most often than not, their discovery is not a good one. If you are someone who has been diagnosed with T1D or T2D, go back in time and think about when you first got a confirmation. Even to you, it may not have seemed like something huge back then. Because it has become so common in India, there’s not much we attribute to diabetes. However, slowly, as you live with it, you understand the nuanced layers that you never knew about. 

  • The daily injections – thrice for most people
  • The 24/7 insertion of the pump site on the abdomen or thigh
  • Having to smell like insulin
  • Dealing with highs and lows
  • Constantly carrying additional supplies like – glucometer, sugar pills, etc
  • and of course, having a list of certain foods to avoid with diabetes. 

There is a lot more apart from these challenges that a person with diabetes has to deal with. One of the major setbacks would be the restrictions on the diet. For people who have gotten a taste of the yumminess of cakes, brownies, ice creams, bread, French fries, noodles, etc. it is even tougher to stop themselves from indulging in the temptation once in a while. The massive amount of self-control that each person with diabetes has to exhibit is commendable in itself. 

Food to Avoid When You Have Diabetes

When diagnosed with diabetes, food choices matter a lot. Foods are the primary way via which carbs enter the body. Any food that you consume will be converted into energy and glucose which can lead to a rise in sugar levels. If you are wondering why people with diabetes are required to have strict control over their diet, this is the reason. However, it is important to understand that no food is completely off-limits. With the right kind of carb counting and carb-to-insulin ratio, you can make sure that you are allowing yourself those occasional treats and yummy foods that you long for. Even though those foods may not be completely healthy, you can have them occasionally to satisfy your cravings.

Your dieticians would have given you a list of foods that are safe to consume, however, it is also important to know what food to avoid in diabetes so that you keep an accurate check on the same. Here are some foods that you need to steer clear of:

1. Starches: While your body does need carbs to survive, it is important to know what kind of carbs to choose. Avoid the use of starches like processed grains, white rice, white flour, sugary cereals, white bread, French fries, etc. These come with an unhealthy amount of carbs that can lead to severe consequences and high blood sugar levels

2. Vegetables: You might be surprised that there are a few vegetables to avoid for people with diabetes. Not all veggies are healthy for a person with diabetes. Try to incorporate vegetables with more fiber and protein and avoid canned vegetables, cooked veggies with a lot of added butter or sauce, avoid pickles and sodium, etc. Limit your intake of potatoes and other starchy vegetables as well

3. Fruits: Fruits are often recommended for people with diabetes, but there are a few fruits to be avoided for people with diabetes. This is due to their high sugar content. Natural sugar makes the glycemic index higher which can result in blood sugar spikes. Try to avoid the consumption of canned fruits, jams, and other preservatives, sweetened applesauce, fruit juices, fruit punch, etc.

4. Protein: Proteins are highly vital for survival and can add to better health. A person with diabetes can have many choices regarding proteins. There are some proteins, however, that can be kept off the diet chart. Cut down on fried meats, pork bacon, deep-fried fish, etc

5. Dairy: The everyday coffee, milk, and tea need not be skipped, however, milk does have significant amounts of fat. Therefore, try to keep the portion of milk small. Avoid whole milk, sweetened yogurt, regular cottage cheese, regular (sweetened ice cream), sweetened tea and coffee, etc.

6. Fats, Oils, and Sweets: Even though these make up some of the most delicious food items, they must be consumed in very minimal amounts. They can be tough to resist, however, for a person with diabetes, they can be dangerous. These foods also make it easy to gain weight – adding to the complications. Avoid trans fats, big portions of saturated fats, etc.

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Drinks to Avoid When You Have Diabetes

Keeping blood sugar levels in the optimal range is paramount. This can be done by avoiding certain foods and drinks as they can turn out to be extremely unhealthy and detrimental. Most of us have a habit of having sweetened tea or coffee in the morning. These can contain a lot of sugar and can lead to glucose spikes. Here are some drinks that a person with diabetes should be wary of:

1. Sodas – Sodas have about 51-77 grams of sugar per can. This is a very high quantity and can lead to instant spikes in blood glucose. Opting for diet sodas will be much better as they do not have as many calories and sugar content as regular sodas

2. Sweet tea ­– In the store-bought versions of sweetened teas, one serving would have about 25-50 grams of sugar. Try to go for sugar-free options or totally unsweetened teas. Teas also contain caffeine that can elevate blood cholesterol levels.

3. Slush drinks – 83 grams of carbs in one serving of slush drinks is more sugar than a person with diabetes should intake in a whole day.

4. Iced coffee – Iced coffees have approximately 75-84 grams of sugar in them. Try to choose light coffees or ones with no sugar in them. You can also have it in low-fat milk to cut down on calories

5. Sports drinks – In one serving, 34 grams of sugar would be present. These days, the options of sugar-free or “zero” sports drinks like the red bull are also available.

Why does carb intake matter for people with diabetes?

One of the most vital things in diabetes management is the proper intake of food. No matter what you do, how much you workout, how many units of insulin you take, if you are indulging in foods that you aren’t supposed to eat, you may end up causing more damage to yourself in the long term. 

Talking about T2D in particular, since it is a lifestyle disease that sees its onset due to unhealthy eating patterns or an overall unhealthy lifestyle, this aspect becomes a priority even more. Type 2 diabetes foods to avoid, therefore, require strict management. 

Carb intake and regular carb counting are important for any diabetes diagnosis because they can help you decide and inject the appropriate amount of insulin. To be able to manage your blood sugar levels effectively, restricting your carb intake would take precedence over everything else. 

It also helps in the prevention of other complications such as:

  • Kidney diseases
  • Stress on the heart
  • Stroke, diabetic retinopathy, etc. Overall, since carbs are not absorbed fast into the bloodstream, they can spike sugar levels. Sticking to a low-carb diet is best. However, carb intake does not use a ‘one size fits all’ approach This is something you will have to understand with your endocrinologist and dietician. 

Sugar-sweetened beverages

One of the worst and most dangerous categories of food for people with diabetes would be sugary and sweetened drinks. Any liquid with high levels of sugar does not take much longer to enter the bloodstream and immediately and sharply raises the blood sugar levels. In fact, these are often advised to be consumed in case of severe hypoglycemia owing to how fast they act in increasing glucose levels. Iced tea, lemonade, and even fruit juices are unhealthy for consumption. Not only do they increase the mg/dL levels but also result in other issues like fatty liver disease, high cholesterol, etc. Since there is no nutrition and only carbs, they also lead to an increase in weight which can cause insulin resistance

Trans fats

Another extremely unhealthy group of foods to avoid with diabetes is trans fats. Anything that comes under baked goods, maida, biscuits, high-fat food, etc could be considered high in trans fats. Even if this category may not directly and immediately increase the sugar levels in the blood, it may lead to the development of belly fat which may deteriorate the effects of the insulin taken externally. An increase in cholesterol is also common with the constant consumption of trans fats. Keep a lookout for these levels on the packaging of the food before consumption.

White bread, rice, and pasta

Yes, diabetes is associated with ‘sugar’ but it is a lot more than that. Among the foods to avoid diabetes in India, starchy and high-carb foods are a must. White bread is almost all maida. This refined wheat flour significantly increases the sugar levels in both, T1D and T2D. Rice has a lot of starch, which is also, essentially, high in carb content. Pasta made from maida often tastes the best but is the unhealthiest. All of these food categories are tough to break down in the body. This means that even if you take external insulin, it may not work the way you expect it to.

Fruit-flavored yogurt

Plain and unsweetened yogurt may not be a bad idea and can also be healthy. However, any yogurt that is sweetened artificially and flavored has large amounts of carbs and sugar. Frozen yogurt and ice creams are also not ideal for consumption. Even if you choose low-fat options, they may not necessarily mean low-carb. Check the labels or read about it thoroughly. 

Sweetened breakfast cereals

Children and even adults have breakfast cereals like chocos, ‘froot loops’, etc. Consider these under the type 2 diabetes foods to avoid list. Not only are they dangerous in increasing sugar levels but they have almost zero nutritional quality. If your morning sugars are high, it is very likely to affect your all-day glucose levels resulting in a high Hba1c. Corn flakes with milk and honey may also not be ideal. 

Flavored coffee drinks

Not all coffee is bad, don’t worry! You do not have to stop your consumption of this drink that keeps most of the world going. However, you will have to make sure that you are not using any of the coffee packets and sachets that are artificially flavored and sweetened. Any coffee that has caramel, hazelnut, etc would only spike your sugars. If you are a frequent Starbucks or a regular at your local cafes, make sure you are not indulging in drinks that are too sweet for good.

How to avoid diabetes?

Knowing how to avoid diabetes is a tool that can come in handy for most people. Whether you are at risk for diabetes or not, this is a condition that is highly prevalent all over the globe in today’s times and is affecting people irrespective of their age. Learning techniques and preventative measures that can protect you against this chronic condition can be an advantage that can benefit you lifelong. Understand and keep a regular check on your blood sugar levels in case you have a genetic predisposition towards this condition. This will help you recognize and notice early signs and symptoms and you can take action accordingly. Having a deep insight into the symptoms of diabetes can aid you with the right kind of equipment that can help you get tested timely.

Avoid diabetes with the help of the following:

1. Physical activity – This is key to several different aspects associated with diabetes – it can help you lose weight, regulate blood sugar levels within the body, prevent the blocking of arteries, improve insulin sensitivity, etc. Physical activity reduces the risk of the development of diabetes as it keeps the body healthy overall. Studies have shown a positive link between exercising regularly and the prevention of diabetes. Using a mixture of different kinds of exercises – aerobic, strength training, and cardio can lead to the best results.

2. Eat healthy food – Exercise alone will not lead to the significant and sustainable change that you might be looking for. Complementing your exercise regime with healthy eating habits can help you go a long way. Ensure that you are loading your daily diet with higher amounts of fiber, protein, and healthy vitamins and minerals. Ensure to stay away from processed foods, highly sweetened foods, processed grains, etc. These can not only increase body weight but can also lead to unhealthily high levels of blood sugar. You do not have to enter a purely keto or vegan diet, you can keep it simple by choosing healthier foods.

3. Lose weight – Losing extra weight can help reduce the risk and delay the onset of diabetes. There was a strong association between obesity and diabetes due to lower insulin sensitivity. The risk of development of diabetes can be reduced by 60% even with a mere 7% loss of weight. Setting a weight loss goal and coming up with ways to achieve that can be helpful in this process.

4. Better stress management – More stress can lead to the secretion of the stress hormone – cortisol which is accompanied by increased production of sugar in the body. Additionally, stress can also result in a poorly managed sleep cycle and can have other effects on mental health. Therefore we can say that there is a connection between stress and diabetes. Incorporating proper stress management techniques like – therapy, yoga, hobbies, meditation, etc can help.

Bottomline

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and are looking at guidelines for a healthy diet, this article should be a good starting point. In the beginning, it would be essential to avoid foods like – sugary drinks, trans fats, maida and bread, cakes and cookies, flavored yogurt and coffee, sweetened breakfast cereals, etc. Till you can understand your patterns, exercising caution and restriction would be best. Read more to know what are the food and drinks to avoid. Also read about is sweet potato good for diabetes.

What food to avoid with diabetes?

Having diabetes, you must be extra conscious of your intake. A diabetic person should avoid items that have trans fats like frozen food, and commercially baked food like cakes, cookies, creamers, spreads, etc. Added to those items, food with high carbohydrates like rice, pasta, and white should also be avoided. Packaged snacks, processed food, food sweeteners, etc. must also be avoided. In short, food items having refined carbs, non-healthy fats, and processed grains are also to stay away from if you have diabetes.

What drinks to avoid diabetes?

Being a diabetic you need to pay attention to the things that you are consuming. A diabetic must strictly avoid sugar-sweetened beverages like soft drinks, sweetened tea, coffee, and energy drinks. These can instantly spike up your blood sugar level. Along with these, fruit juices and regular soda must be avoided if you are a diabetic person. These drinks contain too many calories that can mess with your sugar levels. Special attention must also be paid to alcoholic beverages as these may make the condition messier if you have high blood sugar. Alcoholic drinks can also drop your sugar level and cause hypoglycemia.

What is a good drink to drink if you have diabetes?

There are plenty of good drinks available for a diabetic person. The most essential drink for a diabetic person is water which is of utmost necessity for a hydrated body. If you are a soda fan, being a diabetic you can go for an alternative like seltzer water which is sugar-free and is available in many flavors. Herbal tea, green tea, unsweetened coffee, and vegetable juice are a few more alternatives available for diabetic people. You can also go for coconut, soy, or oat milk which is lower in carbohydrates than normal dairy milk. Apart from these the markets are filled with sugar-free drinks than a diabetic person can safely consume.

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