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Ten Worst Foods for People with Diabetes

Every day we make decisions. One of the basic things we have to decide on is to figure out what to eat. Almost every week you go to the store and do your groceries. As if doing simple grocery shopping isn’t stressful enough, add to it having diabetes. This makes things a lot trickier because you have
to be EXTRA careful and mindful of what you purchase and consume.

Others just think of “what to eat” but go to a restaurant, food store or the supermarket, they also think of “what CAN I eat”. Being diabetic doesn’t have to mean deprivation, starvation or bland and boring foods. However, that doesn’t also mean anything goes when it comes 2 to filling your meal plan. Some foods are just better left in the store or on the table. Making wise food choices can help you (1) feel good every day; (2) lose weight if you need to and; (3) lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems caused by diabetes.

What everyone needs is to have a specific list of which food items are best consumed, and which are best left in the store or on the table. Everyone — with or without diabetes — would be wise to avoid or at least limit the food items listed below. These contain high amounts of saturated and trans fat which can increase risk of heart disease; too much salt which may lead to hypertension and even weight gain due to water retention; and sugar that evidently can lead to elevated blood sugar levels and other diabetic complications that can even affect your eyes and nerves.

The 10 worst food for people with diabetes, or anyone for that matter, are the following:

Sugar and Sugar Products
You need carbohydrates for energy. Carbohydrates themselves do make sugar levels rise, complex carbohydrates, such as starches and fiber, are absorbed more slowly than the simple carbohydrates. Sugars are actually simple carbohydrates and offer empty calories. They are the first food items the body easily converts into fats. Sugar products such as candies and chocolates can lead to weight gain, especially when consumed in large amounts, making it harder to control your diabetes. Sugar-free candies and at least a 60% dark chocolate can be eaten as a treat from time to time.

French Fries
French fries are highly concentrated with saturated fat, sodium and calories. Even if fast food chains offer them as low-fat or trans fat-free, they are still not considered as healthy. They act sponges” that just soak up all the oil they are fried in. Below are the nutrition facts of the fries of some fast food chains. For a more nutritious alternative to fries try oven-baked potatoes or steak fries seasoned with herbs and spices.

Hamburgers and Pizzas
Big, cheesy and meaty hamb fried chicken and even fish sandwiches are all very high in saturated fat. Saturated fat leads to high cholesterol levels and increases the risk for heart disease. Pizza is another food favorite. Frozen or restaurant-bought pizza is very convenient, but many varieties are high in calories, sodium, carbohydrates and fat.

You can cut down on the calories, fat and sodium by: making homemade pizza and use whole grain flour tortilla or corn tortilla; choose a thin crust pizza with vegetables and lean meat, and try your best to resist the extra cheese.

Baked goods and cakes
Sugar, butter, high-fructose corn syrup, shortening, margarine, and partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils are the basic ingredients in baked goods, cakes and pies. They are also the largest contributors of saturated and trans fats that can lead to increased intake of calories and also carbohydrates. Out of all the cakes, the worst is pound cake. The US Food and Drug Administration lists one slice of pound cake as having 3.5 grams of saturated fat, and 4.5 grams of trans fat. Not all baked goods are created equal so it’s best to check food labels and nutrition facts. Look for fat-free, sugar-free and reduced-sugar varieties. However, the best way to manage and control what you eat is to make it yourself. There is no recommended amount of intake for trans fats, avoiding them completely will help reduce cholesterol levels.

Processed meats
Luncheon meats and cold cuts may seem very convenient lunch or snack foods but they become unhealthy food choices. They are actually very high in sodium. You can cut down on the sodium by slicing home-roasted meat or if you don’t have time, ask specifically for cut meats lower in sodium. Other best choices for meats are baked, broiled, grilled or stewed meats. Lesser evil choices are turkey bacon and low-fat cheeses.

Chips and coated nuts
Chips and coated nuts are considered as “empty-calorie foods” that majorly contain high amounts of sodium, sugar, saturated and trans fats. They are not advisable as snack foods because they give you a habit of munching. This leads to binging and makes you look for something to munch on even if you don’t feel hungry without getting really satisfied with what you eat. Nuts can actually be used as a substitute for meat, like the raw and unsalted almonds or cashews. Healthier options would be baked snacks such as baked potato chips, baked corn chips, puffed rice or corn snacks, and air-popped popcorn.

Smoothies and milk shakes
Smoothies and milkshakes can now be seen not only in malls but also inside fitness gyms. Filled with fruits and high-protein supplements but are actually the best hiding places for added sugar and trans fats that are bad for your heart. Topping it with whipped cream adds more sugar and calories to your meal plan as well.

Make your own milkshakes at home, use low-fat yogurt or skimmed milk instead. Use fresh fruits for shakes without added syrups. Let the natural juices of the fruit provide the sweetness you are looking for. Of course take note of the portions you take in. Too much of anything, however healthy they may seem to be, is bad for you.

Alcoholic beverages
Moderate alcohol intake for men and women is defined as 60m1 per day and 30m1 per day, respectively. Each gram (or milliliter) of alcohol you consume is equivalent to 7 calories already. Any alcoholic beverage once consumed is actually converted to fats automatically. Some cocktails and mixed drinks have sugar syrups mixed in. In effect, not only do these beverages fill up the required calories in your meal plan fast, but they also add tons of sugar. A drink of light beer or small amounts of wine and non-fruity mixed drinks can be consumed once in a while. But it is best to consult with your dietitian and physician first about adding these beverages to your diet.

Regular soft drinks/sodas
Soft drinks, specially the regular ones, are loaded with sugar and carbonated water. It doesn’t only give you a bloated feeling but it gives you the ultimate “sugar rush”. Every 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon. If you drink 30 grams of sugar (the average amount found in soft drinks) that would be like taking in 71/2 teaspoons of sugar. Not only do they add sugar, calories and carbohydrates to your meal plan, but they also raise blood glucose levels and cause weight gain. Once in a while, there are the occasional diet versions made with artificial sweeteners that you can drink.

Flavored water or energy drinks
Flavored water and energy drinks can be very convenient and misleading at the same time. These beverages have hidden sugars and are also high in sodium. So unless you are doing highly intensive workouts you don’t need so much sodium to replenish yourself. Too much sodium may lead to hypertension and other heart problems. It can also lead to water retention that whenever you do your exercises the first thing you perspire will just be the water you gained without really burning off the excess fats, but double the effort. You can opt for water or unflavored sparkling water instead. Unsweetened tea added with a slice of lemon is also a good choice.

Keep in mind though, if the food falls under the “worst” foods, it doesn’t mean you should never eat it. If you find one of the food items in the list as something you really like, take it as an occasional treat. But in general, managing your diabetes would be easier by eating more from the “best” food items. You can learn more about proper meal planning and wise food choices from a registered dietitian. Ask your doctor for a referral. In addition, you can check out the websites of most restaurants and fast food chains for their nutrition facts. This will at least give you an overview of what their food items contain and help you make better food choices.

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