Foods to Avoid on a Diabetic Diet

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Sweets are OK on occasion, but keep your portions small.
Sweets are OK on occasion, but keep your portions small. (Image: Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images)

What you eat is an essential part of how you manage your diabetes. While it's important to fill your diet with nutrient-rich foods, there's no need to avoid any specific food. But you do need to limit your intake of certain foods for both blood sugar control and overall good health. Consult your doctor or dietitian to discuss your diet, blood sugar and activity needs.

Limit Those Sweets

It's true that people with diabetes were once told to avoid sweets because it was thought that these foods caused very high blood sugars. Experts now know that it's your total carbohydrate amount that raises blood sugar, not sugar alone.

That doesn't mean you can fill your carb allotment with sugar-ladened goodies, however. Sweets are a more concentrated source of carbs, meaning a little goes a long way when it comes to carb counts. Plus, sweets are not a good source of nutrients you need for good health.

The American Diabetes Association suggests that you limit your intake of sweets to special occasions and consume small amounts that fit into your diet plan. For example, a serving of two small cookies or a 2-inch-square brownie without frosting each has 15 grams of carbs.

Fewer Refined Carbs

Don't make the mistake of thinking you need to avoid all carb-containing foods. Certain carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables and milk, contain nutrients you need for good health. Additionally, the fiber in whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables aids in blood sugar control.

Refined carbs, such as white bread, white rice and sugary cereals, are considered unhealthier sources of carbohydrates and may increase your risk of weight gain and heart disease, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Less than half your carb choices should come from refined carbs, says the American Diabetes Association.

Unhealthy Fats for Heart Health

Diabetes not only affects your blood sugar but also increases your risk of heart disease, according to MayoClinic.org. Limiting your intake or avoiding saturated and trans fat may help improve cholesterol and lower your risk of heart disease.

Saturated fat is found in marbled meats, sausage, bacon, butter and whole-fat milk and cheese. MayoClinic.org recommends that less than 7 percent of your calories come from saturated fat.

Avoid any food that contains trans fat. This includes the trans fat in processed foods, baked goods and stick margarine. Check the nutrition label, and avoid anything that contains hydrogenated fat.

Sodium Too

Diabetes also increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, which is another risk factor for heart disease, according to the Joslin Diabetes Center. So it is recommended that you limit your intake of sodium to 2,300 milligrams or less a day.

Eliminating or decreasing your intake of foods high in sodium, such as canned soup, cold cuts and highly processed foods, can help you limit your sodium intake. Also, don't add salt to your food at the table or during cooking.

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