Carbohydrates, when consumed, are broken down into glucose by our body. Glucose is the main source of energy to all the cells, which is later converted into energy. This conversion of glucose into energy requires a hormone called insulin, produced by the pancreas. When your body cannot produce enough insulin or cannot efficiently utilize the insulin produced, a condition called diabetes arises. It is a chronic and lifelong condition, which if not managed properly could lead to kidney distress, heart disease, nerve damage, and stroke.
Since, what you eat directly impacts your glucose levels, keeping a thorough check on the diet is the easiest way to control diabetes. While eating certain foods helps you curb diabetes, some elevate the symptoms. Avoiding such foods is the key, and mentioned below are the same.
Foods To Avoid For Diabetes
1. White Rice, Bread, And Flour
Carbohydrates are broadly classified into simple and complex carbs/sugars. Simple sugars are low in fiber and get digested and absorbed quickly. This leads to a sudden spike in the blood sugar levels. Complex carbs, on the other hand, are high in fiber and take a longer time to get digested and absorbed. This results in a slow rise in the sugar levels, which is not harmful.
Replacing simple sugars with complex sugars is thus, the best bet. This means, giving up on white rice, white bread, and flour and including more of whole grains, whole wheat bread, pasta, brown rice, barley, oatmeal, and fortified cereals.
2. Fruit Juices And Sugary Beverages
Even if it is a 100% fruit juice, a person with diabetes should avoid it. This is because fruit juice is high in fructose, which is the main reason for insulin resistance. Also, since the fibers in the fruits are lost, consuming juice shoots up the blood sugar levels.
Sugary beverages like soda and sweetened iced tea have around 35–38 grams of sugar per 350 ml of the drink. This is excluding the amount of fructose if you are having a fruit-flavored soda. These drinks not only add up to the sugar levels, but also lead to metabolic changes. The changes trigger further issues like obesity, fatty liver, and heart diseases. Canned fruit syrups are also a strict no-no.
Opt for unsweetened tea, diet soda, or a sugar-free lemonade instead.
3. Certain Dried Fruits
Considered as one of the healthiest foods, dried fruits have high concentrations of nutrients. This is true for sugars as well. The process of dehydrating the fruits concentrates the sugar content in them, making them not-so-apt for diabetes. While a cup of grapes has 29 grams of carbs, a cup of raisins has 115 grams of carbs. That’s whopping more than triple the amount in grapes!
Dried fruits should be wisely chosen based on their glycemic index. Dried apples, apricots, and prunes have low glycemic index and can be included in your diet often. Figs have medium glycemic index and can be consumed occasionally. Raisins and dates are ranked high in glycemic index and should be strictly avoided.
4. Baked and Packaged Foods
Who doesn’t like chips, cookies, crackers, doughnuts, and pretzels? Especially when diabetic, your sugar cravings reach an all-time high. However, you are doing no good to yourself, if you are still munching on these unhealthy snacks. They are not only loaded with sugar, white flour, and sodium but are also laden with trans fat and preservatives. Now, that makes a perfect blend of junk! Surprisingly, studies show that the carb content is always higher than that mentioned on the packaging.
Munching on nuts is the best alternative option. Roasted seeds, avocados, and vegetables like cucumber and carrots with a bit of cheese are also good to go.
5. Full Fat Dairy And Flavored Coffee
Although full-fat dairy is a rich source of protein, it brings along saturated fats which up the levels of bad cholesterol in the body. While bad cholesterol is directly linked to an increased risk of heart disease, it also affects diabetes to a certain extent. It increases insulin resistance, decreasing your body’s ability to use insulin.
Thus, it is best to avoid full-fat dairy like whole milk, fruit-flavored and full-fat yogurt, cream, and cream cheese. Opt for fat-free or reduced-fat products instead.
Flavored coffee is ideally liquid carb, which significantly raises your blood sugar levels. While black coffee alleviates the symptoms of diabetes, adding milk, cream, sugar, and flavors like caramel nullify the benefits. To prevent a spiking of your sugar levels, opt for a black coffee instead of a flavored one.
6. Fried Foods
French fries or fried chicken, we all go weak on knees at the sight of them. Potato or chicken already have a high carb content in them. Deep frying them in oil and seasoning them with salt or taste enhancers further push them up the list of unhealthy foods. Deep frying in hydrogenated oil enhances the aldehydes content, which increases the sugar levels further. It goes without saying that the trans fat adds up to the bad cholesterol in the body, increasing insulin resistance.
7. Honey, Maple Syrup, And Agave Nectar
We usually tend to go for natural low carb sweeteners instead of white sugar, as they are not processed. Though unprocessed, natural sweeteners like honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup have an equally high amount of carbohydrates as plain white sugar. Therefore, it is best to avoid any form of natural or processed sugars.
Artificial and low-calorie sweeteners could be good alternatives. Some of which include aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose. It is suggested that you discuss with your doctor before opting for any of these.
Alcohol interferes with the normal metabolism of the body, even when you are not diabetic. When diabetic, it wreaks the blood sugar levels by suddenly spiking them. It also causes insulin resistance, worsening the condition.
While completely avoiding alcohol gains control over the condition in a quick span, consuming in moderate amounts also helps. And moderation means, 1 serving a day if you are a woman, and less than 2 servings a day if you are a man.
9. Cut Meat
Though rich in iron and proteins, cut meats are also high in saturated fats. These again contribute to bad cholesterol, affecting the way cells utilize insulin in the body. Choosing lean proteins like chicken, salmon, shellfish, lean beef, and turkey is suggested.
Managing a chronic condition like diabetes is easier, when you do not let carvings take over you! Apart from this, following an active lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, and hydrating sufficiently help manage the symptoms in a better way.