What foods should I avoid if I have diabetes?

Amy Campbell
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
The quick answer is that you don't have to completely avoid eating any food just because you have diabetes. However, some foods are healthier than others. What you'll likely need to focus on is how much carbohydrate you eat. Carbohydrate is found in starchy foods (bread, pasta, rice, and cereal), fruit and fruit juices, milk and yogurt, beans and peas and sweets. You don't need to stop eating these foods but you will need to control how much you do eat. Also, choose the healthier carbs -- these are the carbs that are whole grain, such as brown rice or whole wheat bread, and/or higher in fiber, like fresh fruit and beans.

Go for nonfat or low-fat milk and yogurt. For heart health, choose leaner protein foods, like skinless poultry, seafood, lean red meat, eggs and tofu. And for fat choices, go with healthy fats like olive and canola oil, nuts, seeds and avocado. Limit saturated fat, found in butter, stick margarine, red meat and whole-milk dairy foods. Also, limit the sugary/sweet foods, mostly because they contain empty calories and may also be high in fat. These foods may also raise your blood glucose more quickly than whole grain or unrefined carbs.
William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
I hope your doctor didn’t give you a list of foods you can and can’t eat because of your diabetes, because it really is simpler than that. I want you to know that you can eat anything you want to. Of course there are some rules.

Here is the secret: The fuel that runs the human body is sugar. The job of your digestive system is to turn everything that you put into your mouth into sugar to feed the trillions of cells that make up your body. The problem is that some foods become sugar in your body more quickly than other foods. Oh, and the second problem is that you have diabetes, which means your body doesn’t deal too well with big amounts of sugar all at once.

To survive with diabetes, all you need to know is that food that is white in color will make your blood sugar go up more quickly than food that isn’t white in color.

So . . . what is white? Obviously, anything made with sugar: candy, ice cream, cake frosting.
Anything made with flour: bread, tortillas, crackers.
Anything that comes from a potato: fries, chips, hash browns. Did you know that a mouthful of baked potato will turn to sugar in your blood faster than a Hershey bar?

Pasta is white. So is rice. And corn, while usually yellow, acts like a white food. Milk is white. Most cereals are white foods, including oatmeal.

About the only two white-colored foods I can think of that don’t hurt your blood sugar are cauliflower and cottage cheese.

Please remember that you can eat all of the white foods. These are just the foods that you need to keep an eye on.
Taming the Tiger: Your first year with Diabetes

More About this Book

Taming the Tiger: Your first year with Diabetes

If you ve just been diagnosed with diabetes, this book is for you! It is a fact. Getting a diagnosis of diabetes has the same impact on your body and soul as having a heart attack. Right now you are...

Continue Learning about Diabetes


Diabetes mellitus (MEL-ih-tus), often referred to as diabetes, is characterized by high blood glucose (sugar) levels that result from the body’s inability to produce enough insulin and/or effectively utilize the insulin. Diabetes ...

is a serious, life-long condition and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. Diabetes is a disorder of metabolism (the body's way of digesting food and converting it into energy). There are three forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that accounts for five- to 10-percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes may account for 90- to 95-percent of all diagnosed cases. The third type of diabetes occurs in pregnancy and is referred to as gestational diabetes. Left untreated, gestational diabetes can cause health issues for pregnant women and their babies. People with diabetes can take preventive steps to control this disease and decrease the risk of further complications.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.