According to the World Health Organisation, a whopping 422 million people worldwide are living with diabetes. And while there are medications to help those with this chronic disease, medicine alone can't stop it from progressing and getting even worse. Because of this, those with diabetes have to drastically change their diet to maintain healthy levels of insulin in the body. But what can they eat? Well, the rules are pretty strict - and even food and drink that seem healthy can actually be detrimental to their health. Read on for a healthier diet!
When diabetics are given the choice between regular soda or diet soda, there's a very high chance that they're going to choose diet soda. But it turns out that both have their downsides, and if a diabetic wants to maintain healthy insulin levels, it's probably best if they don't drink any soda at all. After all, the American Diabetes Association found that those who drank diet drinks were 67% more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
Not only that but it's also been found that diet soda can lead to an increased risk of diabetic retinopathy, which can actually result in blindness for those who already have diabetes.
Foods for diabetics come in many different shapes and forms, but they're usually marketed as low-sugar or low-calorie. This is certainly the case for artificial sweeteners, which have long been marketed as a diabetic-friendly sweetener that diabetics can use instead of real sugar. But if you're diabetic and regularly put this stuff in your coffee, we have some bad news for you: some artificial sweeteners can still affect your insulin levels.
However, only certain artificial sweeteners fall under this category. Popular choices such as tagatose and Stevia have been found to be safe for diabetics, as they don't impact the blood glucose levels in any way.
In a world full of low-fat, full-fat, and plant-based milks, it can be hard to know what to drink - especially for diabetics. And while there was once a time when it was recommended for diabetics to drink low-fat milk, times have changed and research has found that low-fat milk isn't actually the best option for diabetics. That's because low-fat milks actually replace the fat content with extra sugar, which can be harmful for diabetics.
Because of this, it's suggested that diabetics skip low-fat milk for full-fat milk instead. Especially after one Swedish study found that a high-far dairy diet could actually reduce your chances of developing diabetes.
Some people love to start their day with a bowl of yogurt and granola, but diabetics need to be careful with the yogurt that they buy in the grocery store. While whole, unsweetened yogurt is perfectly safe and healthy for diabetics to eat, flavored yogurts topped with extras can lead to spikes in the glycemic index. This is especially true if the flavored yogurts are then topped with high-sugar additions such as fruit and syrup.
Because of this, diabetics should focus on making their own delicious yogurt in the morning. You can do this by topping the unsweetened yogurt with nuts and healthy granola to keep insulin levels in check.
Canned Fruits and Vegetables
In a world where fruits and vegetables are expensive and not readily available to everyone, canned fruits and veggies seem like a handy and cost-effective solution. And while there was a time when canned healthy goods were considered to be just as nutritious as fresh fruits and vegetables, it seems as though research has found some downsides. That's because canned foods items are almost always covered in sugar and salt to preserve them for longer.
Of course, adding any kind of unhealthy preservative to a can isn't going to work in a diabetic's favor. Especially when they also include the harmful bisphenol A (BPA), which can lead to a higher rate of type 2 diabetes.
Most people can't start their day without a fresh cup of Joe. But no matter whether you opt for a skinny latte, cappuccino, espresso, or even a matcha latte, you need to be careful as a diabetic when drinking coffee. Although coffee won't increase your chances of getting diabetes, caffeine can naturally destabilize and increase your blood sugar - sometimes by as much as 8%. Of course, this is exactly what you don't want to happen.
Naturally, adding cream and syrups to a coffee only heightens its sugar content, which is why diabetics who still want to drink coffee should try and drink decaf black coffee as much as possible.
Dried fruit is a great option for the average Joe. This fruit is normally smaller and easier to eat for those who don't particularly like the taste of fresh fruit, and it also lasts a lot longer. But it's important to note that dried fruit shouldn't be part of a diabetic's diet. That's because dried fruit has a higher concentration of sugar, which can ultimately cause spikes in your blood sugar levels.
Not only that, but most people also eat more dried fruit than they would fresh fruit, which means that they're putting even more sugar into their bloodstream. So, it's best to stick to the fresh stuff where you can.
When it comes to food for diabetics, cheese is a tough one. On the one hand, certain cheeses have been found to actually lower the chance of someone developing type 2 diabetes. On the other hand, however, cheese is full of salt that can ultimately make your diabetes even worse. Because of this, it's best to be strict when it comes to your cheese intake and opt for low-salt options if you have diabetes.
For example, it's best to ditch feta in favor of something lower in salt, such as mozzarella. It's also a good idea to get clued up on cheeses, as some cheeses have more nutrients than other cheeses.
When you think of fast food, you probably think of burgers and fries. And everyone loves burgers and fries, right? Although this food is both cheap and delicious, fast food can be detrimental to the health of diabetics. That's because this food is generally very high in saturated fat, carbs, sodium, and sugar. Of course, diabetics should do everything in their power to avoid spikes in these nutrients and maintain healthy levels at all times.
That doesn't mean that diabetics can't eat fast food at all, though. With many chains now offering low-card and low-fat options, there will almost always be a healthier alternative that you can order.
Fat-Free Salad Dressing
In the food world, we're often told that the 'fat-free' options are healthier for us. And while there's no doubt about the fact that fat-free salad dressings have less fat in them, that doesn't mean that they're necessarily healthy. That's because food manufacturers simply substitute the fat for something else, such as sugar or salt. Not only that, but research has actually found that full-fat dressings contain healthy fats to help the body to function normally.
So, next time you decide to add some dressing to your salad, don't worry about choosing the fat-free option. In this instance, the full-fat option is a healthier food for diabetics.
Perfect for on-the-go snacking or light lunches, it's no wonder that cereal bars are so popular. And while there are many healthy cereal bars on the market, it's safe to say that many cereal bars are also very unhealthy. These bars are normally filled with carbohydrates and sugar, which means that they're not too dissimilar to a normal candy bar. Yes, this is even the case for some of the biggest brands out there.
Nature Valley and Quaker Oats cereal bars could cause a spike in your blood sugar, which is why most nutrition experts would suggest eating fruit and nuts in place of your cereal bar.
French fries can be found across the world, and it seems as though people can't get enough of these sticks of potato goodness. And while potatoes themselves are fairly healthy in small doses, eating anything in excess is bad for you - especially when that food is then fried in unhealthy oil. French fries are particularly bad for diabetics as the combination of carbs in the potatoes and trans fats in the oil will cause a huge spike in blood sugar.
Even a small portion of fries could be detrimental to your blood sugar levels, which is why it's best to avoid them if possible. Alternatively, make your own healthier and non-fried alternatives.
Many people assume that fruit juice is just as healthy as eating fresh fruit. And while this drink is certainly a good way to add more vitamins to your diet, it's important to remember that fruit juices are very high in sugar, calories, and carbohydrates. Because of this, it's recommended that those with type 2 diabetes avoid fruit juices at all costs to avoid any negative or detrimental health concerns.
If you juice your own oranges and make your own 100% orange juice, though, you should be able to get away with drinking small amounts here and there. Alternatively, buy a low-sugar orange juice.
You're probably not surprised to see these on this list. Energy drinks are designed to give you a burst of energy, and they do this by pumping the drinks full of sugar, caffeine, and other additives. As a diabetic, you want to avoid any burst of anything, which is why you should avoid energy drinks at all costs. This has been backed up by science, and one study found that a single energy drink can increase your blood glucose levels by 30%.
Not only that, but some energy drinks companies don't reveal every single ingredient in their drinks, which makes them even more dangerous for those who need to monitor what they're putting in their bodies.
While there's nothing wrong with eating the odd potato chip or two, it's important to note that potato chips aren't the best foods for diabetics. As we all know, potato chips are deep-fried and then salted and flavored using ingredients that are high in salt and sugar. This can result in a spike in your blood sugar and salt levels, which will ultimately impact how much insulin you need to control your glycemic index.
As if that wasn't enough, the high salt content in potato chips also makes them highly addictive to the point where you just want to eat more and more. So, you need to stay under control around chips.
Sports drinks are perfect for non-diabetics who want to rehydrate and reinvigorate themselves quickly. They're both delicious and practical, and readily available in almost every grocery store across the world. But when you think about these drinks from a diabetic point of view, it should probably come as no surprise to learn that they're not diabetic-friendly at all. After all, anything that causes a drastic change to the internal bodily system isn't good.
That's not to say that diabetics should avoid all sports drinks. With so many diabetics in this world, there are now diabetic-friendly sports drinks that are free from caffeine and sugar.
Pre-Packaged Baked Goods
It's easy to assume that there are no foods for diabetics, but that's not the case at all. Diabetics can eat most foods in small quantities, and this is also the case when it comes to pastries and sweets. This is especially true if they're homemade to be low-fat and diabetic-friendly, but not so true if these pastries and sweets are pre-packaged. That's because these goods are made with extra preservatives to make them last longer.
Alongside this, pre-packaged baked goods are also full of refined carbohydrates, which then become sugar when they're inside the body. Of course, this means your body will rely more heavily on insulin if you eat them.
You might be wondering what oatmeal is doing on this list. After all, it's generally considered to be one of the best breakfast options for those with diabetes as it's full of all the good stuff and is a slow-release food that will help to maintain your blood sugar levels. However, flavored oatmeal is a whole different story. This type of oatmeal is full of added extras, such as extra sugars and preservatives.
Of course, if you don't like the taste of regular oatmeal, you can flavor this food yourself using fresh and natural ingredients such as homemade granola, nut butters, and diabetic-friendly toppings.
No, diabetics don't have to become vegetarian. But if you're already diabetic or in the pre-diabetic stage, it's probably best to cut processed meats out of your diet. This notion has been backed by a study undertaken by Harvard University. they found that eating processed meats has the ability to increase your chances of developing type 2 diabetes by a whopping 19%. That's because these processed meats are extremely high in preservatives and salt.
Fresh meat is perfectly healthy for diabetics to eat, but processed meat is a no-go. This is especially true as it's also been found that processed meats can also increase the body's resistance to insulin.
You probably don't need us to tell you that white bread isn't as healthy as wholegrain bread. And while people with diabetes shouldn't eat too much bread, they can do so in moderation as long as that bread is wholemeal. That's because white bread is full of sugar, which can raise your blood sugar level and ultimately rely more on your insulin. Plus, there are so many other benefits of wholegrain bread.
Wholegrain bread is incredibly high in fiber, which people with diabetes should be looking for. In fact, fiber can help the way your body responds to eating sugar, which is definitely a positive.
There are two types of muffins in this world: good muffins and bad muffins. Good muffins are the ones made from wholegrain flour and grains that are chock-full of fiber and vitamins, while bad muffins are instead packed full of sugar, preservatives, and other nasties that won't sit well with a diabetic and their blood sugar levels. Thankfully, you don't have to completely rule muffins out of your diabetic diet.
If you're diabetic and looking for a sweet treat, there's no harm in eating a good muffin every now and then. Just make sure that you do so in moderation, and avoid bad muffins at all costs.
In the healthy eating world, smoothies are elite. They're considered one of the healthiest things you can eat, as they are packed full of fruits. But you need to be careful when it comes to fruit, as it's also full of sugar. Sure, this is all-natural sugar, but it's sugar nonetheless. Because of this, diabetics should be cautious when drinking fruit smoothies - especially if that smoothie has been made from many different high-sugar fruits.
But if you're diabetic and still craving a smoothie, the best way to make it healthier and happier for your body is to swap out some of the fruits for some vegetables and protein.
If you're looking for the best foods for diabetics but also love to fire up the barbecue at the weekend, you need to be careful. Experts have found that chargrilled meat is so bad for diabetics that it can actually result in an increase in insulin resistance. Not only that, but it can damage your cell receptors and make your diabetes even worse. That doesn't mean that you have to avoid the barbecue altogether, though.
Just make sure that you're protecting your meat from getting burnt on the barbecue. If it does, simply cut off the blackened pieces so you can just eat the healthier bits instead.
Country Fried Steak
We can understand why so many people love country fried steak. It's the ultimate comfort food, and is normally coupled with delicious sides that make an excellent meal. However, it turns out that country fried steak should be removed from a diabetic's food list, and there are many reasons for this. The most serious is the fact that white flour breading is used to coat the meat for this dish.
This white flour breading will not only see a spike in your blood sugar levels, but it will also clog up your intestines in the process. Because of this, it's best to avoid this high-fat food.
There's nothing better than the smell of cinnamon rolls filling your house. But if you're diabetic, you should probably skip eating them and stick with just smelling these cinnamon rolls instead. That's because these cinnamon rolls are extremely sugary and fatty, and one of the worst foods that a diabetic could put into their body. Especially if you're someone who chooses to eat these cinnamon rolls on a regular basis.
One doctor has even claimed that 'Cinnamon rolls contain more saturated fat and added sugars than people with diabetes should have in an entire day.' So, it's best not to risk these high levels.
Of course, it's well-known that high levels of sugar are the worst thing for a diabetic to eat. But what do you do when you need to sweeten your food? Many people assume that honey is a good substitute for sugar, but that's not the case at all. Research has found that honey can raise your blood sugar in as little as 30 minutes, which isn't good for those with diabetes.
Of course, honey does contain more nutrients than the sugar you'd get from a packet, so it's not as bad as table sugar. But you should still eat it in moderation.
Sugar-Free Coffee Creamer
Many people can't drink their coffee without creamer, and that's perfectly understandable. Black coffee is an acquired taste, which is where creamer can help. And while diabetics may be drawn to the sugar-free options on the market, it's important to note that this is not as healthy as it may seem. Most sugar-free creamers actually substitute the sugar with artificial sweeteners that can still raise your blood sugar levels exponentially.
That doesn't mean that you have to drink your coffee black, though. Nutritionists would suggest having your coffee with half and half, as this will provide you with fat rather than sugar, which is better for those with diabetes.
Popcorn is one of the best foods out there for diabetes. It's a healthy snack with very few calories and additives, and it's pretty tasty, too. However, the problems arise when you choose to have flavored popcorn over plain popcorn. In adding butter, salt, candy, chocolate, or even caramel, you will see an almost instantaneous spike in your blood sugar levels. Plus, it'll also cause a rise in your blood pressure.
So, if you're craving a little snack, why don't you make your own popcorn rather than buying the pre-packaged stuff? This will allow you to control what you put on it.
With its creamy texture and sweet taste, Nutella is a popular choice for people who want to top their breakfast toast or pancakes with something delicious. And while there's no doubt about the fact that the cocoa and hazelnut ingredients aren't as bad as some sweet things on the market, we're sorry to say that Nutella still isn't safe for diabetics to eat. It's just too high in sugars and vegetable oils.
It's highly likely that Nutella-alternatives in the grocery store have exactly the same ingredients in them, but you might be interested to know that you can actually make your own diabetes-friendly hazelnut spread at home.
Whether you're a big fan of hot chocolate or chocolate milk, you probably love that hit of sugary goodness. And while cocoa powder can have its benefits, it's important to note that those with diabetes need to be careful when it comes to the amount of chocolate drinks they consume. That's because most of the stuff you buy at the grocery store is full of bad sugar that will cause a spike in your blood sugar levels.
But if you're craving that chocolate hit, one of the best ways to make your own diabetes-friendly hot chocolate or chocolate milk is to use raw cocoa powder, full-fat milk, and a sweetener that's safe for diabetics.
We know what you're thinking; it's impossible to cut out cereal, right? But we're not telling diabetics that you can't eat cereal at all. You just need to moderate what type of cereal you're eating, as many types of cereal are chock-full of sugar. Take a bowl of Frosties, for example. One bowl of this stuff will provide you with 37 grams of sugar, which is way too much for a diabetic to have in one sitting.
Instead, you should focus your attention on diabetic-friendly cereal. This is normally cereal that is low in sugar and high in whole grains and fiber. It might not taste as nice, but your body will thank you for it.
Jam and Jelly
If you've ever made your own jam or jelly, you'll know that they're made by stewing fruit with a whole load of sugar. As you can imagine, this isn't good news for diabetics. Because these foods are almost entirely made from sugar, it's important to avoid jams and jellies at all costs. If you don't, you may see a serious spike in your blood sugar levels and maybe even insulin resistance.
And while no-sugar jellies and jams sound appealing for diabetics, most of the time, brands simply replace this sugar with fructose instead. This is still very bad for those with diabetes.
Alcohol is a huge part of the modern world, and there's no doubt about the fact that alcohol and diabetes have a strange relationship with each other. While those with diabetes are certainly able to drink in small amounts, it's very important to stay on top of your blood sugar levels when you're drinking. In fact, even drinking in moderation can raise your blood sugar levels. Drinking to excess is even more dangerous.
If you have too much alcohol, you'll find your blood sugar will drop drastically, and this can even be fatal. Because of this, it's best to stick to the 'less is more' theme.
Diabetics have to be careful when it comes to the oil they cook their food in. That's because certain oils are worse for those with diabetes and much fattier than anything they should be consuming. In terms of vegetable oils, soybean oil is considered to be the worst of the worst and has the ability to increase a diabetic's body weight by a whopping 25%. So, it's best to avoid it.
Not only that, but you should also be careful when buying oils from the grocery store. If you see that an oil has been "partially hydrogenated" you should leave it right there on the shelf.
When you think about saltines, you might assume that these crackers are some of the healthiest out there. After all, they don't taste too extravagant. But it seems as though appearances (and taste) can be deceiving, as saltines aren't very diabetic-friendly. This is largely because they are made from enriched flour, which essentially becomes sugar when digested by the body. Of course, this isn't what a diabetic wants from their food.
Not only that, but saltines are also full of oils that can lead to weight gain. So, it's best to avoid these crackers and opt for a healthier alternative instead.
When you've had a long day at work and just don't have the energy to cook, frozen meals can be your saving grace. These things just need to be put in the oven or the microwave, and you can have a whole meal in front of you in just a few minutes. But while they may be extremely practical, frozen dinners aren't exactly healthy - and they're definitely not healthy for a diabetic.
To preserve this frozen meal, the food is enriched with a huge amount of sugar, preservatives, and salt, which are all things that can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels. As a diabetic needs to keep these levels under control, try to avoid them.
In recent years, there's been a huge increase in gluten-free food in grocery stores. Of course, this is a great development for those who are allergic or intolerant to gluten but it has made finding food as a gluten-free diabetic even harder. That's because gluten-free food are generally extremely high in carbohydrates to make up for the lack of gluten, which means that diabetics need to be careful and monitor their carb intake even closer.
This doesn't mean that you have to avoid gluten-free food altogether. It just means that you need to be conscious of how much you can realistically eat without it affecting your blood sugar level too much.
Although we love pretzels as much as the next guy (who really loves pretzels), you probably don't need us to tell you that these things aren't healthy. Sure, they're handy to have in your purse for an on-the-go snack, but their whole premise is that they're covered in salt or another kind of flavoring. And as diabetics need to be wary of how much salt they're consuming, adding more into their diet isn't a good idea.
As if the salt wasn't enough, pretzels are also full of refined carbohydrates that can also cause your blood sugar to rise. Because of this, you might want to keep pretzels off your grocery list for the foreseeable future.
If you're someone who loves some sweet or bottled tea to start the day, you're not alone. Most grocery stores are full to the brim with shelves upon shelves of bottled tea. And while these bottles are perfect for an on-the-go thirst quencher, the tea inside these bottles isn't beneficial for those with diabetes. Sometimes, there's a huge amount of sugar in these drinks, which diabetics need to avoid at all costs.
Not only that, but many of these bottles are super-sized, meaning you're drinking even more sugar. You can still drink bottled tea, but make sure you check your ingredients and your serving size beforehand.
You can't go wrong with a bagel for breakfast, right? Wrong. Although bagels are absolutely delicious and varied in terms of their flavors, bagels are just as unhealthy as eating a whopping six lives of white bread at the same time. As this food is made from carbohydrates and refined grains, bagels will cause a spike in your blood sugar levels in no time - and this can be hard for diabetics to control.
Even wholegrain bagels are a recipe for blood sugar disaster, so it's important to make the right decision when it comes to your breakfast. In the grand scheme of things, bread is much better than a bagel.