5 Food Types People With Diabetes Should Avoid

by Ella

Introduction to Diabetes and Diet

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition characterized by high blood sugar levels, either due to the body’s inability to produce enough insulin or to properly use insulin. Diet plays a critical role in managing diabetes, as certain foods can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to complications and challenges in blood glucose control. In this comprehensive article, we explore the foods that individuals with diabetes should avoid, providing valuable insights and guidance for making informed dietary choices.

Foods People With Diabetes Should Avoid

1. Carbohydrate-rich foods:

Carbohydrates are a primary source of energy for the body, but they have a significant impact on blood sugar levels, particularly for individuals with diabetes. The body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose, leading to an increase in blood sugar. Managing carbohydrate intake is essential for maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Foods with a high glycemic index (GI) cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, while those with a low GI result in a slower, more gradual increase.


Refined Grains and Sugary Foods:


Refined grains, such as white rice, white bread, and sugary foods like pastries, cakes, and candies, are rapidly digested, causing sharp spikes in blood sugar levels. These foods lack essential nutrients and fiber, leading to poor satiety and potential overeating.


Sugar-Sweetened Beverages:


Sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda, fruit juices, and sweetened tea or coffee, are laden with added sugars that can rapidly elevate blood sugar levels. These drinks provide empty calories and little nutritional value, making them detrimental to overall health and diabetes management.

Processed Snacks and Sweets:

Processed snacks, like chips, pretzels, and cookies, are often high in unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, and added sugars. They offer little nutritional benefit and can lead to blood sugar spikes and unhealthy weight gain if consumed regularly.

2. Foods High in Saturated and Trans Fats

Foods high in saturated and trans fats can contribute to insulin resistance and inflammation, worsening diabetes symptoms and increasing the risk of heart disease. Individuals with diabetes should be cautious of the following:

Red and Processed Meats:

Red and processed meats, such as bacon, sausages, and deli meats, are often high in saturated fats and sodium. Regular consumption of these foods has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, which are common complications of diabetes.

Fried Foods:

Fried foods, including French fries, fried chicken, and doughnuts, are typically cooked in unhealthy oils and high in trans fats. These fats raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease.

Full-Fat Dairy Products:

Full-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, cream, and cheese, contain saturated fats that can negatively impact insulin sensitivity. Choosing low-fat or non-fat dairy options is a better choice for individuals with diabetes.

3. High-Sodium Foods

High-sodium foods can contribute to hypertension and cardiovascular issues, which are significant concerns for individuals with diabetes. Excessive sodium intake can lead to water retention and higher blood pressure, putting strain on the heart and blood vessels.

Processed and Canned Foods:

Processed and canned foods, including soups, sauces, and ready-to-eat meals, often contain high amounts of sodium for preservation and flavor. Opting for fresh, whole foods and cooking at home allows better control over sodium content.

Salty Snacks:

Salty snacks like chips, pretzels, and salted nuts should be limited, as they can quickly add to daily sodium intake. Instead, opt for healthier alternatives like air-popped popcorn or raw nuts without added salt.

4. High-Glycemic Fruits

While fruits are generally healthy, some have higher glycemic index values, leading to quicker increases in blood sugar levels. While it’s essential to consume fruits in moderation, individuals with diabetes should be mindful of the following high-glycemic fruits:


Pineapple is a tropical fruit with natural sugars that can raise blood sugar levels rapidly. Limiting portion sizes and balancing with low-glycemic fruits is advisable.


Watermelon has a high GI due to its natural sugar content. While it can still be enjoyed in moderation, portion control is essential.


Dates are concentrated in natural sugars and have a high GI. They should be consumed sparingly and in small portions.

Read more: 10 Best & 10 Worst Fruits For People With Diabetes

5. Alcohol and Sweetened Beverages

Alcohol consumption can impact blood sugar levels and interfere with diabetes medications. Additionally, sweetened alcoholic beverages can cause sharp spikes in blood sugar. Individuals with diabetes should be cautious with alcohol intake and opt for the following considerations:

Moderate Alcohol Consumption:

If you choose to consume alcohol, do so in moderation and always with food to help mitigate its impact on blood sugar levels.

Avoid Sugary Cocktails:

Avoid sweetened alcoholic beverages, as they often contain added sugars that can significantly affect blood sugar levels. Opt for light beer, dry wine, or spirits mixed with sugar-free mixers instead.

What happens to diabetics who eat high-risk foods?

When individuals with diabetes consume high-risk foods, their blood sugar levels can become unstable, leading to potential short-term and long-term health complications. High-risk foods for diabetics are typically those with a high glycemic index (GI) or are rich in added sugars and refined carbohydrates. Here’s what can happen when diabetics eat high-risk foods:

1. Rapid blood sugar spikes: High-GI foods cause a rapid increase in blood sugar levels after consumption. For diabetics, this can be particularly dangerous as their bodies may struggle to regulate the sudden surge in glucose. Frequent or severe blood sugar spikes can lead to hyperglycemia.

2. Increased insulin resistance: Consistently eating high-risk foods can contribute to insulin resistance, where the body’s cells become less responsive to insulin’s action. This can make it more challenging for individuals with diabetes to manage their blood sugar levels effectively.

3. Weight gain: High-risk foods often contain excess calories, leading to weight gain if consumed in large quantities. For individuals with type 2 diabetes, obesity can exacerbate insulin resistance and make blood sugar management more challenging.

4. Risk of hypoglycemia: High-risk foods can sometimes trigger an initial rapid increase in blood sugar, followed by a sudden drop. This drop can result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can be dangerous and lead to symptoms like dizziness, confusion, and fainting.

5. Cardiovascular complications: Frequent consumption of high-risk foods can contribute to high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and increased risk of heart disease, all of which are common complications associated with diabetes.

6. Worsening diabetic complications: High-risk foods can aggravate existing diabetes-related complications, such as diabetic retinopathy (eye damage), diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), and diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage).

Diet Tips for Diabetics

1. Focus on Whole Foods: Emphasize whole, unprocessed foods in your diet. Choose plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These nutrient-dense foods provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber without causing rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.

2. Portion Control: Be mindful of portion sizes to manage your carbohydrate intake and prevent overeating. Work with a registered dietitian to create a personalized meal plan that aligns with your nutritional needs and blood sugar management goals.

3. Distribute Carbohydrates Throughout the Day: Instead of consuming a large amount of carbohydrates in one meal, spread them out across your meals and snacks. This approach helps maintain more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.

4. Choose Healthy Fats: Include sources of healthy fats in your diet, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish. These fats can improve heart health and help with insulin sensitivity.

5. Watch Sodium Intake: Keep an eye on your sodium intake to manage blood pressure. Opt for low-sodium seasonings and limit processed and canned foods high in salt.

6. Include Lean Proteins: Incorporate lean sources of protein in your meals, such as poultry, fish, tofu, beans, and legumes. Protein helps with satiety and can minimize blood sugar spikes when consumed with carbohydrates.

7. Monitor Your Blood Sugar: Regularly check your blood sugar levels as directed by your healthcare provider. Monitoring helps you understand how different foods affect your blood sugar and allows you to make necessary adjustments to your diet.

8. Plan Meals and Snacks: Create a meal plan that includes balanced meals and snacks throughout the day. Planning ahead can prevent impulsive food choices and support better blood sugar control.

9. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain hydration and support overall health. Dehydration can affect blood sugar levels and contribute to other health issues.


In conclusion, diabetes management involves being mindful of food choices to maintain stable blood sugar levels and overall health. Avoiding or limiting high-carbohydrate, sugary, and processed foods, along with foods high in unhealthy fats and sodium, is essential. Opting for nutrient-dense, low-glycemic, and whole foods promotes better blood sugar control and supports overall well-being. A well-balanced diet, coupled with regular exercise and medication adherence, can empower individuals with diabetes to lead a fulfilling and healthier life.



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