Soda, also known as sugar sweetened beverages, has been a topic of debate for some time now. Researchers and health experts alike questioning: do they contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other metabolic problems?
The answer is a clear YES.
Sodas contain copious amounts of sugar and fructose. Studies show that fructose/sugar is one of the main drivers of type 2 diabetes and it's horrible complications.
The World Health Organization now recommends that added sugar be limited to just 6 teaspoons per day, or 25 g.
A typical soda such as Coca Cola contains 39 g of pure sugar/fructose in a 12 fl oz. / 354 ml can. So just one can of Coke is immediately pushing you way over the recommended sugar intake!
Researchers have found that sodas are linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that affects around 30% of US adults. NAFLD is thought to be directly linked to type 2 diabetes. When we get more fat storing up in the liver, this promotes insulin resistance, high cholesterol, more fat storage in other areas of the body, which means weight gain and various other issues.
Hypertension or high blood pressure is another metabolic problem that is linked to drinking soda, this includes both sugar-filled sodas and artificially sweetened ones – meaning those diet sodas are really no better.
That may come as a shock, but researchers have found that diet sodas promote weight gain, not weight loss as might be expected. Other studies show diet sodas are linked to higher risk of diabetes. And studies in rats show artificial sweeteners interrupt glucose balance, promoting diabetes.
So regardless of whether it's a plain old sugary soda, or a diet soda sweetened with aspartame or some other form of artificial sweetener, when it comes to taking control of your diabetes, this is one food/beverage you absolutely want to avoid.
One of the main reasons soda contributes to weight gain and risk of diabetes is the high sugar and fructose content. As we pointed out above, the World Health Organization now recommends that added sugar be limited to just 6 teaspoons per day, or 25 g.
This is not a lot of sugar and is more difficult to achieve than you might imagine.
Because sugar is hidden in literally every single packaged and processed food we find lining our supermarket shelves. Check out the following 40+ names for sugar.
Even things we don't think would contain sugar, often do. And this is a problem because many times people don't even know they are consuming so much sugar.
What type of products do we find sugar in?
- Many sauces and condiments
- Breakfast cereals
- Many crackers
- Microwave meals
- Ice creams & popsicles
- Cakes & cookies
- Pies and pastries
- Candy bars
- Jams & jellies
- Milk & yogurt
- Dried fruit
- Breaded or battered foods
- Corn chips and crisps
Sure, we know things like chocolate contain sugar but as you can see by the list, savory foods like crackers and microwave meals also contain high amounts of sugar.
You need to start becoming a food label detective and follow a whole foods low carb diet like the one we encourage here at Diabetes Meal Plans.
The main point is: cutting out sugar can drastically change your life (and your numbers)!
3. Fatty Deep Fried foods
When a person eats an unhealthy typical Western diet, it usually contains too many deep fried fatty foods. And unfortunately, these have been linked to increased risk of diabetes.
While eating healthy fats like avocado or olive oil are considered good for our health. Bad fats such as the kind created from deep frying, promotes insulin resistance, weight gain, inflammation, and other unpleasant things.
And unfortunately, deep fried foods are often fried in cheap vegetable oils, which increase inflammation in diabetes.
One of the main reasons they are “bad” is that the oils become oxidized, and studies show oxidized oils contribute to higher levels of LDL cholesterol and heart disease.
Fatty deep fried foods also make higher levels of advanced glycated endproducts (AGE) – substances in the body that are promoted by high heat cooking. Deep frying is one of the highest heats we can cook at. In diabetes, higher levels of AGE contribute to increased oxidative damage and more inflammation.
There are plenty more reasons why you should avoid deep fried fatty foods, but hopefully that's enough to convince you to avoid them.
While you may know that cutting out sodas, sugar, and deep fried fatty foods is a good idea, now we start getting into some of the more common foods that we all tend to love – bread being one of them.
We've all become pretty reliant on bread as a staple in our diet. It's an easy grab for breakfast – make a piece of toast. And for lunch it just makes sense to make a sandwich – it's what we've always done, after all.
But is bread really a healthy nutritious option for people with diabetes?
The answer is no, not really.
Bread is high in carbohydrates so eating it is going to make it difficult to manage your blood sugar well.
For instance, 1 slice of white bread contains 15 g carbs. While that's not huge, it contains virtually no fiber 0.7 g and has been stripped of many nutrients. Often they add nutrients to bread to increase it's nutritional value, because compared to a vegetable, bread has very low nutrient quality.
Whole wheat bread is a bit better containing 12.7 g of carbs and 2.7 g fiber. That's still a lot of carbs, especially since we tend to eat bread in pairs, so instantly you're pushing your carbs up to 25.4 g, from the bread alone!
The point is: if you're trying to lower blood sugar and A1C, cutting carbs is essential. And in general, bread is not a food that fits comfortably into that picture.
Of course, not all breads are made alike. You can find some low carb breads but they are fairly expensive.
Here are a few examples:
The other option is to make your own bread, which is very easy to do.
What are breads made of? Flour.
Take a look at our flour chart here.
As you can see, in half cup of flour, most of them are high in carbs and they are also quite high in glycemic index.
We covered flours in more detail in the 30 Day Turnaround Program.
If you want to lower blood sugar and A1c, it's best to stick to lower carb flours like flaxseed, almond, coconut, and chickpea flours.
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Another high carb food, pasta is one of those things that we all have a love for. But because we do, it is very easy to overeat.
One serve of pasta is just half a cup, when you look at it on a plate compared to a general serve we've become accustomed to eating, it's not that much right?
It's VERY easy to overeat pasta, so it's really best avoided or you could soon see your blood sugar soaring.
But, there are plenty of low carb pasta options, which you can learn all about (including amazing recipes) in the 30 Day Turnaround Program.
Why is it that all the foods you love are not diabetic friendly?
Yep, at first it can seem a bit disappointing. But it's not the end of the world because there are lots of other options – even for potatoes!
Again, potatoes are just one of those foods that's too high in carbs for proper blood sugar control. Just one medium boiled potato contains 33 g carbs, which can quickly send you over the edge.
You might be noticing a theme here… that all the foods we've mentioned so far, apart from the deep fried foods, are high in carbohydrates.
And that's a key, key point: If you want to lower blood sugar and A1C and avoid diabetic complications, the best way to do that is to lower your carb intake.
While some people can handle a little bit of brown rice, it is still high in carbs (at 23 g per 1/2 cup), so if you want the best possible outcomes, it's best avoided.
You might notice one other thing about many of these foods: they often form the ‘base' of our meals. It's true. We have become accustomed to rice, potatoes, flour products, and pasta as ‘fillers' and ‘staples,' but there are far better things to eat.
And, there are options that are just as great – options that won't send your blood sugar haywire!
Michelle says: “I learned that eating healthy isn’t painful, time consuming, drudgery. It can be fun AND taste good.Wish the doctor’s office would have shown YOUR way of doing it when I was first diagnosed. I probably would not have stuck my head in the sand so long! Glad I found you!” 30 Day Turnaround Program member
9. Most fruit
Compare strawberries at just 5.53 g carbs per half cup, to 1 small apple at 20.58 g.
Now that's a big difference, right?
Though fruit does contain natural sugars, fiber, vitamins and nutrients, most diabetics find “natural” sugar still spikes their blood sugars too much. So most fruit is best avoided.
The best fruits to choose are:
Per half cup:
- Strawberries (75 g) Total carbs 5.5 g Net carbs: 4.3 g (glycemic index/ GI:25) (BEST)
- Raspberries (61.5 g) Total carbs 7.3 g Net carbs: 3.3 g (GI:25) (Highest in fiber) (BEST)
- Blackberries (72 g) Total carbs 6.9 g Net carbs 1.8 g (GI:25) (Highest in fiber) (BEST)
- Blueberries (76 g) Total carbs 10.7 g Net carbs: 8.9 g (GI:25)
- Cherries (77 g) Total carbs 12.3 g Net carbs: 10.4 g (GI:25)
We cover more fruit options in the 30 Day Turnaround Program, along with delicious dessert alternatives you can enjoy!
10. Low quality vegetable oils
We touched on the topic of oils when we covered deep fried foods above.
It's always been promoted that we should eat vegetable oils – polyunsaturated fats – because they are better for our health.
However, there are 2 types of polyunsaturated fats, omega-6 and omega-3. Unfortunately they have both been lumped under the same category, but they are not the same.
It's the omega-3s that are healthy. And for sure, we need to eat more omega-3s because they are anti-inflammatory.
Omega-3s can be found in salmon, tuna, sardines, chia seeds, and walnuts.
But the omega-6 fats, well, they are pro-inflammatory.
And in recent years, researchers have discovered that omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation and heart disease. As a person with diabetes, you need to calm down inflammation in your bodies cells, not promote it!
Omega-6 fats to avoid include:
- Rice bran oil
- Corn oil
- Vegetable oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil (except organic)
- Grapeseed oil
- Soybean oil
- Peanut oil
Try switching the low quality oils out for olive oil instead. It's a far better option!
So there you have it, the top 10 diabetic foods to avoid.
If you can avoid these foods and eat lower carb alternatives instead, you'll be well on your way to lowering your blood sugar and A1C.
Do you struggle with one of these foods more than another? Have you cut out these foods and noticed a difference?
Leave your comments below and share your thoughts and experiences.
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