10 Foods to Eat and Avoid with Type 2 Diabetes


Foods to Eat and Avoid with Type 2 Diabetes

Maybe you were recently diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes. Your doctor tells you to limit certain foods, get in some exercise, but then the rest is up to you. You might turn to the internet and find out so much conflicting information on what to eat and what not to eat when you have diabetes. And all of the sudden, you’re feeling overwhelmed and more confused than when you started.

While it may seem daunting, eating with diabetes does not have to be complicated! We are here to help guide you through the muddy waters of healthy eating and diabetes.

What Are The Best Foods for Type 2 Diabetics?

When you have diabetes, we want to ensure that you are eating a diet that is rich in fiber and protein. Fiber and protein help to improve blood glucose levels, promote satiety, and provide a sustainable source of energy from our food choices. Choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean or plant-based sources of protein. 

  • Fruits: Despite a common misconception, all fruit is healthy when choosing fruits for diabetes! Choose appropriate portion sizes for fruit choices such as a small piece of fruit or ½ cup to 1 cup of fruit. 

  • Vegetables: Opt for plenty of non-starchy vegetables! Try to fill at least ½ of your plate with non-starchy vegetables for each meal. These are all vegetables aside from corn, peas, potatoes, and some squashes. When choosing those starchy vegetables, include them in your grain or starch group on your plate.

  • Whole Grains: Aim for whole grains when selecting grain products! Some common whole grains are oatmeal, brown or wild rice, quinoa, barley, farro, or whole wheat bread, pastas, or crackers.

  • Lean/Plant-Based Protein: Protein can help to regulate blood glucose levels. Pair a protein with each meal and snack to stabilize blood sugar throughout the day. Protein sources include chicken, turkey, fish, low-fat dairy products, eggs, beans, lentils, and soy products.

Aim for balanced meals with at least half of your plate non-starchy vegetables, a source of protein, and a whole grain or starch with each meal. Include fruits throughout the day with snacks or as a healthy dessert alternative!

What 10 Foods Should Diabetics Avoid?

While all foods have their place, there are some that should be limited as much as possible in order to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Here are our top 10 foods to avoid with type 2 diabetes:

  1. Soda: Regular soda is loaded with added sugar, which will spike blood sugar. Just one 12oz. can of soda has 40 grams or more of carbohydrates. That is enough carbohydrate for one meal! Avoid sodas and opt for flavored water or even sparkling water with a splash of 100% fruit juice.

  2. Fried Foods: Fried foods are high in saturated fats. Saturated fat is known to increase risk of heart disease and strokes. Type 2 diabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease. To improve heart health, avoid fried food and choose foods that are baked, grilled, or roasted instead!

  3. Processed Meats: Meats such as hot dogs, sausages, deli meats, and bacon are considered processed meats. These meats have been preserved by curing or salting, making them very high in salt. People with diabetes and kidney disease should avoid processed meats and high sodium foods to keep blood pressure under control and maintain a healthy heart.

  4. White Breads and Pastas: White breads and pastas are considered refined carbohydrates. Refined carbohydrates digest very quickly and will spike blood sugar levels. Select whole grains that are high in fiber to prevent blood sugar spikes.

  5. Alcohol: Alcohol intake should be limited for people with diabetes. Alcohol intake may result in low blood sugar levels, also known as hypoglycemia, if not consumed with a carbohydrate. On the other hand, if alcohol is consumed with a mixer like juice or sodas, it can cause blood sugar levels to spike. Limit alcohol intake and opt for some fun, diabetes-friendly mocktail recipes instead! 

  6. Sugary Cereals: Sugary cereals, like other refined carbohydrates, digest quickly and also have a lot of added sugar. They can also cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate and you may find yourself hungry again shortly after eating. Aim for whole grain cereals like Original Cheerios, Grapenuts, or Muesli with some berries and nuts!

  7. Cookies, Cakes, and Candies: These treats, while delicious, should be consumed in moderation. They are easy to overeat because they are high in added sugar and are highly palatable. Save these for special occasions and check out your Foodsmart App for some healthy dessert alternatives.

  8. Fruit Canned in Heavy Syrup: First things first, canned fruit can be just as healthy as any fresh or frozen fruit to help increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. However, when canned in heavy or even light syrup, sugar is being added in to create that syrup. Try to opt for fruit that is canned in 100% fruit juice to reduce added sugar intake. 

  9. Canned Soups: Like processed meats, canned soups tend to have a lot of salt added into them in the processing. To keep your heart healthy, make homemade soups with leftover vegetables, beans, and low sodium vegetable broth instead!

  10. Packaged Snacks: Snack foods like chips, cookies, and pretzels can be high in calories, but low in nutrients. They may also cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate, especially depending on the portion sizes that you might eat. Aim for healthy, balanced snacks like fruit and peanut butter, yogurt and granola, or cheese with vegetable sticks.

Dietitian for Diabetes: 

Navigating the nutrition world when you have diabetes can be a tricky task. But with the right information and food choices on hand, you can effectively manage your blood sugar levels to feel your best and live your fullest life! For more information and tailored recommendations, discuss with a registered dietitian at Foodsmart. 





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