Should I avoid certain foods if I have diabetes?

Enas Shakkour
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

It is okay to eat bread if you have diabetes. However, you much watch how much you eat. Bread is a carbohydrate, and you should be counting or taking into account the amount of carbohydrates you consume. Fifteen grams of carbohydrate is a serving. Males should consume about 5-6 servings of carbohydrates per meal, and females should consume about 4-5 servings of carbohydrates per meal. If you choose to eat bread, count the carbs you are consuming. Also, choose whole grain breads. Whole grain breads are more nutritious and are a better choice for glucose control.

Emilia Klapp
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

It is okay to eat breat, depending on the type of bread you choose. You will need to avoid white bread, rye bread and products made from whole-wheat flour because these breads are easily digested, leading to quick boosts in blood sugar. Better bread choices for diabetics include:

  • Stone-ground bread made from 100 percent wholemeal flour
  • Whole-grain pumpernickel
  • Sourdough

Because of the way their ingredients are milled, how the breads are prepared, or their general composition, these breads all slow the digestive process, making for a slower blood-glucose response.

The following are some foods to be weary of if you have diabetes:

White pasta: White pasta is made from refined white flour, which is an easily digestible starch. That raises your blood sugar level. It also tends to provoke overeating because it's quickly digested, so you want to eat again. As if that's not bad enough, overcooking the pasta worsens the blood sugar impact.

Bagels: Back during the low-fat diet craze, bagels were darlings because of their "no-fat/low-fat" label, but that's one of the very reasons they wreak such havoc on blood sugar. Like in white pasta, the refined flour in bagels causes huge spikes in insulin and get absorbed quickly, which causes problems. If you must get your bagel fix, pair it with a smear of avocado, which is loaded with healthy unsaturated fat, and a few slices of smoked salmon (a great source of both protein and omega-3 fatty acids) to help slow down digestion and regulate your blood sugar. You get extra points if you have a whole-grain bagel.

Energy bars: Because of all the added sugar, some energy bars may as well be labeled candy bars. Indeed, a single bar can carry a glycemic load over 49 (anything over 20 is considered "high"). That's more than a king-size Snickers bar! Bars made from refined flours and sugars are the worst culprits, since these have the harshest impact on blood sugar. If you like the convenience of energy bars, read labels carefully and choose bars made with nuts, whole grains, and few added natural sweeteners. Don't forget to account for the carbs in your daily tally.

Ketchup: We tend to think of ketchup as a salty condiment, but many brands list some sort of sweetener as the second ingredient, which can have a disastrous effect on your blood sugar level if you have diabetes. It doesn't matter if it's called sugar, evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, or malt syrup. They're all sugar, and all of them will elevate blood glucose.

While it's okay to eat candy when you have diabetes, it's all about moderation and making smart choices when you do eat it. It's important to maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet when you have diabetes. Eating too much sugar or starchy foods can have an effect on your overall health. Consider choosing sugar-free options or only having one piece.

Overly processed white rice has more carbs and less fiber than brown rice, and will raise your blood sugar levels. When white rice is created (by removing the healthy germ and bran portions), many vitamins and minerals are lost in the process (including magnesium). Therefore, it is strongly recommended to reduce your consumption of white rice. In fact, a recent study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that people who took white rice out of their diets and replacing it with brown rice reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People who ate five or more servings of white rice per week had a 17 percent increased risk of type 2 diabetes, compared with those who ate white rice only once per month.

It is okay to eat anything as long as you don't eat too much and you know how much you're eating, so you can make adjustments to keep your blood glucose close to normal. More and more candy and sweets have labels with a nutritional analysis, including the amount of carbohydrate and fat, so it is easier to know how much you are eating. When you know that, you can compensate by eating less of something else, exercising or taking more insulin (if this is an option).

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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.