For many, diabetes cannot be controlled through diet alone, but making wise food choices is beneficial for all people with diabetes. There are no foods that are absolutely prohibited when you have diabetes, but certain food types make controlling blood sugar extremely difficult and also contribute to poor overall health. If you have diabetes, avoiding sugary foods and foods with unhealthy fats, for instance, can enhance your wellness and minimize the necessity of medical intervention to manage your diabetes.
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Foods and Drinks High in Sugar
Natural sugars are present in many healthy whole foods. You can eat sugar in moderation, even if you have diabetes. But sugar is a carbohydrate, and like all carbohydrates, it will affect blood glucose levels. When you do consume a food high in sugar, let it take the place of another carbohydrate you would have otherwise consumed. For example, if you plan to having a cookie after your meal, don't eat the baked potato that came with the meal. In general, it's advisable to avoid regular consumption of sugar-rich foods like cake, cookies and candies. Also, be aware of the sugar found in beverages, including sodas, fruit drinks and highly sweetened coffee drinks, and in dried fruits and packaged snacks. Because everyone's response to sugar differs, there is no set amount considered "moderation." To maintain moderation, generally, save sugary treats for special occasions, and select natural sources of sweetness, like fruit, to tame cravings.
Foods High in Unhealthy Fat
When trying to manage your diabetes, avoid foods high in saturated fats. Among other things, saturated fats may raise your cholesterol, increasing your risk of developing heart disease -- in addition to your heightened risk caused by diabetes. Additionally, diets high in saturated fat are linked to an excessive buildup of fats in the fat tissue, liver, heart and muscles. This condition is also associated with insulin resistance, which means your body doesn't respond appropriately to the presence of insulin.
Saturated fat is present in many processed foods, in butter, high-fat meats, high-fat dairy foods, chocolate and many desserts. Foods high in monounsaturated fats, or healthy fats, can actually help lower cholesterol. These foods include avocado, olive oil and peanut butter. Even though this type of fat is healthy, moderation is key -- healthy fats are still high in calories.
Foods High on the Glycemic Index
Where a food falls on the glycemic index is exceptionally important when managing diabetes. The glycemic index measures how much a carb-containing food affects blood glucose. This measurement, which ranges from 1 to 100, also takes into consideration the fat and fiber in a food. Even the degree to which a food is processed can determine the glycemic index ranking. Foods low on the glycemic index have little impact on blood glucose levels, while foods high on the glycemic index have major impact.
To control your diabetes, consume a diet rich in foods in the low or medium levels of the glycemic index. Pay attention to portion sizes and mixing of foods. If your meal contains a food high on the glycemic index, balance it with low-index foods to complete your meal. Foods that rank high on the glycemic index include pretzels, white bread and bagels, and starchy vegetables including russet potatoes, rice cakes and crackers. Foods that rank low include oatmeal and sweet potatoes.
Foods Rich in Processed Grains
Processed, refined grains tend to go hand in hand with high scores on the glycemic index. Whole grains are preferable carbohydrates, but excessive consumption of any carbohydrate can be a problem. Whole grains contain substantially more nutritional value than their processed counterparts. When you eat a refined grain, you're getting all the glucose-level effects with none of the benefits. Processed grains can be found in any food made with white flour, including white bread. Degermed cornmeal is also a processed grain, and, as a result, should be avoided.