20 Worst Foods to Avoid in Type 2 Diabetes

Updated and reviewed by Dr. Sharon Baisil MD on 23 January 2023

As a doctor, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects that type 2 diabetes can have on individuals and their loved ones. One of the most important things that patients can do to manage their diabetes and prevent complications is to pay close attention to their diet.

Unfortunately, many popular foods are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats, which can be detrimental to diabetes management. These foods have been scientifically proven to negatively impact blood sugar levels and contribute to the development and progression of the disease.

In this article, I will be discussing 20 of the worst foods that should be avoided by those with type 2 diabetes

20 Worst foods to be avoided in Type 2 Diabetes

#1 Sweets and desserts (cakes, cookies, ice cream)

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Research has shown that consuming sweets and desserts can have a detrimental impact on individuals with diabetes. Studies have found that high sugar intake can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels, which can worsen the symptoms of diabetes and increase the risk of complications.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming a diet high in added sugars is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Another study published in the British Medical Journal found that individuals who consumed a high amount of sugar-sweetened beverages had an increased risk of developing diabetes compared to those who consumed less.

Consuming sweets and desserts can also contribute to weight gain, which is a major risk factor for diabetes. In order to manage blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of complications, it is important for individuals with diabetes to limit their intake of sweets and desserts and opt for healthier, lower-sugar alternatives.

#2 Sugary drinks (soda, juice, sports drinks)

According to a study published in the journal “Diabetes Care,” consuming sugary drinks regularly can significantly increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The research, which followed over 300,000 individuals for an average of 12 years, found that those who consumed at least one sugar-sweetened beverage per day had an 18% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who did not consume sugary drinks.

Another study, published in the “British Medical Journal,” found that consuming one or more sugary drinks per day was associated with a 26% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Drinking water, coffee, and tea without sugar are excellent alternatives.

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#3 Packaged Foods (frozen dinners, packaged snacks, deli meats)

Research has shown that consuming processed foods such as frozen dinners, packaged snacks, and deli meats can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels, which can worsen diabetes symptoms and increase the risk of complications.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that consuming a diet high in processed foods is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Another study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that individuals who consumed a high amount of processed foods had an increased risk of developing diabetes compared to those who consumed less. Additionally, consuming processed foods can contribute to weight gain, which is a major risk factor for diabetes.

4. Avoid Sugary Coffee and tea

Sounds pretty impossible? Well yeah honestly the first few days will be a real torture to someone who is used to loads of sugar in his drinks but then it will all okay with time and well we really want to be off the diabetes target list don’t we?  Well, you can try sugar-free too in place of cane sugar if you really must.

5. Say No to Honey

 If you were thinking about substituting sugar with honey when I said you can’t have sugar in your tea or coffee then no you got the wrong hope. Honey just like sugar has high carb content and is advised to be avoided in diabetics.

6. Less Dried fruits and more fresh ones

Dried foods are just fruits devoid of water content. Hence they can make you eat more. So substitute dry fruits with fresh ones immediately.

7. No Syrups and Jellies

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 Seriously stop pouring that maple syrup on your waffles. They do nothing but just make your blood sugar level shoot up even more.

Regarding jellies and jams well those two just like sweets are loaded with added sugars and additives & preservatives. We all love bread and jam as a quick breakfast option but if you are struggling with a high blood glucose level then it is time to cut these out too.

8. Avoid fruits with the high glycemic index

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 If you want to go that extra mile in managing diabetes then you should avoid certain fruits like dates, bananas, watermelons, and pineapple which have a relatively high glycemic index, i.e., they raise your blood sugar more than others with a low glycemic index.

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Eating fruits is always good because it provides you with fibers that ease your daily bowel movement but it’s also important to watch the fruits you eat in diabetes. Eat more fruits with a low glycemic index like grapes and blackberries.

9. No jaggery

 A fan of jaggery and the items made with jaggery like traditional sweets? Well, then bad news for you. Jaggery has a very high sugar content and is an absolute NO for diabetics.

10. Cut on Fried foods

 Who doesn’t love fries? Fries do make our mouth water but they have stuff like potatoes, flour and loads of oil and it’s high time we start counting the carbs and cutting them out. Try buying an air fryer if you want to continue to indulge in those crispy fries. They are just perfect to cut out on the oil.

11. Replace those white carbs with whole grains

 By white carbs I mean white rice, white flour, white bread, and pasta. They just act so similar to sugar on being digested. So from today try and substitute those with brown rice, brown or whole-grain bread, and other healthier options that are more temperate with your blood sugar. 

12. Avoid full-fat milk and cheese

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 Type 2 Diabetes occurs when your body does not respond properly to the insulin available and guess what? According to studies full-fat milk and cheese just worsen this condition. So, switch to safer alternatives like toned milk and healthier cheese options today.

13. Say no to red meat or fatty meat

 Insulin resistance might be leveled up by the iron found in red meats according to some studies. Though this is still not confirmed but we want to stay clear of all the risk factors, right? Moreover, you cannot deny the high-fat content in the meat which has a greater chance of leading to a heart attack in diabetic individuals.

So my advice is to switch to safer alternatives like chicken and come on the chicken is good enough for the taste buds too without all the problems that red meat brings. Indulging in tasty fish preparations is another option.

14. Avoid ghee and butter

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 Yeah, we Indians all love to add that extra ghee in all the foods we eat. Foods fried or cooked in ghee are instantly tastier. But since we want to manage diabetes here we all have to sacrifice that extra fat intake. Say NO to that extra ghee today.

The same goes for butter too. A butter toast might be a perfect way to start the day but switch to healthier breakfast options like oats.

15. Avoid alcohol

 Alcohol can interfere with your blood sugar levels to consult with your doctor before you indulge in even a simple glass of cocktail. This is because alcohols are rich in carbs and are really bad for blood sugar. But, you can occasionally indulge in a glass of alcohol when your blood sugar level is well within limits and under control. It is always best to avoid though.

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16. Avoid packaged foods

 In addition to sugar packaged foods contain preservatives and trans fat which increases bad cholesterol LDL and increases the risk of a heart attack in diabetic persons.

So it’s time to cut on the packet of chips that you might be having even while reading this article and substitute it with healthy nuts.

17. Avoid pickles containing sugar

 Yes, we all that habit of a slight pickle in our meals from our grandmother. But it is better for diabetics to avoid pickles containing sugar to avoid the blood glucose levels from shooting up. Plenty of pickles are also available which do not have sugar in them much. Try and go for those.

18. Avoid cakes, muffins, and pastries

 Birthday? CAKES

Anniversary? CAKES

Celebrations? CAKES

Yeah, it is almost impossible to get cakes out of our lives truly. But we can surely deal with the cravings we have for them even without parties right? Or say muffins for a quick snack and pastries whenever we see them because they all look so yummy, but, we do have to cut them off for our well-being. Cakes, pastries, and muffins are loaded with sugar and so we really have to try our best to avoid them. It is no use sacrificing so much and still ending up on square one due to these beautiful and yummy little bags of sugar.

19. Avoid chocolates and candy bars

 Chocolates are everyone’s favorites. Most of you are quite irritated to know that chocolates are also on the ban list but wait and cool down. While most of the chocolates do have a very high sugar content but you can totally substitute them for dark chocolates. Dark chocolates are also better for diabetics as they are heart-friendly and studies show that they can also help to check your blood sugar level.  But the mantra lies in having everything in moderation. You can also try out milk chocolates that have less sugar content.

Candy bars, on the other hand, are best to be avoided. One candy bar alone has over 25g of carbs and so you can understand what you need to do. Cut these out from your life today!

20. Avoid too sugary biscuits

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 It is really in the best interest of a diabetic to avoid cookies and biscuits which are too sweet. Instead, it is better to try other healthier options like sugar-free biscuits or digestive biscuits.

References

  1. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/103/3/e26.short
  2. https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/58/6/163/1838374?login=true
  3. https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/ijspp/4/3/article-p367.xml
  4. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/14/2/95.short
  5. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1550-2783-8-15
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1751991814001272
Dr Sharon Baisil MD
4 Best Diets

2 thoughts on “20 Worst Foods to Avoid in Type 2 Diabetes”

  1. PLEASE HELP ME TO CONTROL DIABETESE
    MY SUGAR LEVEL FASING IS 210
    AND PP 350

    Reply
    • Hi Sangeeta, you can get excellent control by following a low glycemic diet and frequent meal plan. If you want to know about the diet in detail, you can get my ebook on Indian Diet for Diabetes, from this link

      Reply

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