If you have diabetes, that doesn’t mean that everything you eat needs to be boring and bland. However, you do need to pay extra attention to what you put into your body, and there are some foods that should definitely be avoided.
Diabetes, put simply, is the presence of too much glucose in your blood. Glucose is an important source of energy for cells and the brain’s main source of fuel, but too much of it can lead to major health problems. A hormone called insulin is responsible for allowing glucose into the cells, but with type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks the insulin; with type 2 diabetes the cells become resistant to insulin. In both cases, sugar is left to build up in the bloodstream.
To control diabetes, it’s best to avoid foods that can raise your blood sugar too much or too fast. Obviously, foods that are high in sugar—both processed and natural—can cause blood sugar to spike, but plenty of foods that aren’t sweet, like those high in refined carbohydrates, can still have a high glycemic index and add too much sugar too quickly to your bloodstream (refined starches act a lot like sugar once they’re digested). The glycemic index is a measurement of how fast a carbohydrate raises your blood sugar; it’s suggested that when a diabetic eats one of the foods on our list (which have high glycemic indexes), it be balanced out with a low-glycemic index food, like steel-cut oatmeal or non-starchy vegetables.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that diabetics center their diet on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains instead of simple carbs, animal products, and sweets. There’s no specific diabetes diet, but some foods should certainly be avoided, or at least consumed in strict moderation. Foods that are high in cholesterol, fat, sodium, carbohydrates, and calories are unhealthy in general, but are even more dangerous for diabetics because their health is already compromised, and their body is working overtime to keep them healthy.
Each case of diabetes is unique, so diabetics should work with their doctor or nutritionist to create a meal plan that works for them. It’s also important to exercise regularly, because exercise naturally reduces blood sugar by moving it into your cells, where it’s burned as energy. Read on for 11 foods that diabetics should think twice before eating.
Potatoes are a simple starch, and can cause blood glucose levels to shoot through the roof. Frying them adds a ton of grease into the mix, which is a double whammy. Instead, opt for a side of non-starchy vegetables or oven-baked sweet potatoes, which have a low glycemic index.
Whole grain bread is a much better option that white bread, because its high fiber levels allow blood sugar to rise more slowly. White bread, with its refined carbs and lack of nutrients, causes a much faster blood sugar spike.