10 Bad Foods for Diabetes and Some Good Alternatives
Some people argue there is no such thing as bad foods and good foods, but when you have a condition like diabetes that is largely dictated by what you eat, these labels carry significant meaning. With that in mind, any discussion of bad foods for diabetes should include some good alternatives so you will not feel deprived or left out.
Bad foods and good foods for diabetes
Asian food: Oftentimes people believe all Asian food is healthy and low in fat, but the trouble often lies in the preparation methods. Therefore, stay away from deep-fried entrees (including anything labeled tempura) and spring rolls, sauces thickened with cornstarch, and breaded foods. Instead, choose entrees that include lots of steamed or lightly stir-fried veggies, plain fish or chicken, and thin sauces (on the side if possible). Choose steamed brown rice (one-third cup) rather than white, and low-sodium soy sauce.
Candy: This category of bad foods is no surprise, but it can be one of the hardest ones to handle if you have a sweet tooth. Candy in the form of chocolate, hard candies, caramels, and others can send your blood sugar levels soaring while filling you with empty calories.
Yes, you could choose artificially sweetened diabetic candies, but research has shown again and again that use of artificial sweeteners actually increases a person’s cravings for sweets. Therefore, good food alternatives to candy include fresh fruit, frozen fruit pops made with real fruit, and frozen grapes or bananas.
Coffee drinks: Yes, coffee has been shown to be beneficial for diabetes, but the line is drawn when it comes to the high-calorie, high-carb coffee drinks you buy at cafes and specialty coffee shops. Save yourself calories and money while keeping your blood sugar levels in line by adding a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg to your own homebrewed coffee with a dash of nonfat soy beverage or skim milk.
Doughnuts: If you like to start your day with a doughnut and coffee, the good news is that one of these items helps reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but the other one (and you know which one I’m talking about) is a fat and carb feast your body does not need. Fortunately, half of a whole-grain bagel is the same shape as a doughnut, and with a teaspoon of whole fruit, no-sugar added jelly, you have a healthful alternative.
Flavored water: You may wonder how water can be off limits for people with diabetes, but the potential danger lies in the added flavoring, which is typically some form of sugar. Not all flavored waters are high in carbs, so be sure to read the label carefully. A better choice is to make your own flavored or infused water at home and save money as well.
Fruit juice: While whole fruits are recommended in moderate amounts for people with diabetes, fruit juices are another story. Yes, fruit juice is better than sugary soda, but they still are rich in fruit sugar and can cause blood sugar levels to spike. Good alternatives to fruit juice are your own flavored water or sparking water with a dash of fruit juice, lemon, or other flavors.
Ketchup and other condiments: Ketchup is made from tomatoes, and they are good for you, right? Yes, except when they are processed along with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a typical recipe for commercially prepared ketchup. Many other condiments, including sweet pickle relish, BBQ sauces, steak sauces, and salad dressings, also are a haven for HFCS. Tasty, healthful alternatives to consider, depending on the food you are accenting, include mustards, herbs, spices, flavored vinegars, low-sodium soy sauce, chopped onions, garlic, and fresh horseradish.
Pizza: Before you get upset by the inclusion of this food favorite, let me qualify by saying you should avoid restaurant and frozen pizzas, over which you have little to no control regarding fat, sodium, and calorie content. Just take a glance at the nutritional label on the frozen pizzas in your supermarket and you’ll know what I mean! But a good alternative is to make your own pizza. Reduce carbs by using eggplant slices or Portobello mushrooms instead of crust and be generous with the crushed tomatoes, herbs, and veggies.
Sausage: Processed meats such as sausage, hot dogs, and bacon are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, two hazardous materials for people who have diabetes since they are already at higher risk for heart disease and its complications. Healthier choices include skinless chicken and turkey and fish. Other good alternatives are faux bacon and sausage products, which are cholesterol free and low in fat as well.
Store-bought cookies: Do you have trouble making it down the cookie aisle in the supermarket or walking by a bakery display of cookies? Those tempting sugary treats are also typically packed with high fructose corn syrup, shortening, and other ingredients that can raise your blood glucose levels and calorie intake. Instead, consider making your own cookies at home.
Bhatti SK et al. Coffee and tea: perks for health and longevity? Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 2013 Sept 25