The diabetes epidemic continues to grow at an alarming rate. Every 17 seconds, someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes. The disease is the historic scourge of the African American community. More and more Blacks are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, the kind that typically appears later on in life and is oftentimes linked to diet and lifestyle choices. A diagnosis can lead to a a number of serious health consequences such as a greater risk of heart and kidney disease, loss of sight, amputations of body parts like arms and legs, which is why diabetics should know which foods they should avoid like the plague.
Carbohydrates: We all need carbs (breads, some fruits, starchy veggies, pasta, cereals, beer, sweetened yogurt, juices, chips, crackers, milk). Diabetic patients, however, have to be careful about the carbs they consume because these primary sources of food break down into sugars or glucose by the body. Carbs can raise blood sugar and if diabetics go overboard with their consumption there could be serious health complications like damage to your nerves, blood vessels, kidneys or heart.
Trans Fats. Trans fats are a form of unsaturated fat associated with a number of negative health effects. They raise cholesterol levels and the risk of stroke and diabetes. You will find trans fats in margarine, creamer, and in a lot of baked goods like muffins, cakes, and donuts. While trans fats won’t cause a direct spike in your blood sugar levels, they can make it harder for your body to process the hormone that regulates glucose in the blood, a serious problem for anyone with diabetes.
White rice. If you’re a rice lover and diabetic, white rice is a food enemy because it is highly processed and so much so that most of the fiber originally found in it is removed. White rice quickly breaks down into glucose and this raises blood sugar. Switch to brown instead of white because it is high in fiber and less processed.
Milk. This white liquid that packs a whopping amount of protein and calcium can help to build strong bones, true that, but it also contains quite a bit of sugar. If you’re diabetic steer clear of especially flavored milk which is sure to push your glucose levels up, up, up!
Dried fruits. Trail mix seems healthy enough with its mix of nuts and dried fruits but wait, not so fast! Dried fruits appear healthy but are too sweet because they are typically sweetened with extra sugar. Even sans the added sugar, the natural sugars within dried fruits can negatively shake your system up quite a bit.
Alcohol. Here’s to cutting down on booze especially, if you’re diabetic! Alcohol contains loads of sugar so drinking can raise blood sugar. If you must indulge, opt for wine, champagne or distilled alcohol with sugar-free mixers like club soda. Steer clear of alcohol that is super high in sugar like mixed drinks made with juice mixers, added syrups or added sugar. Just say “NO” to drinks like margaritas, daiquiris, spiked cider and hard lemonade which are high in added sugar. Word to the wise…whether or not you have diabetes, alcohol should be consumed in moderation. Because alcohol can cause hypoglycemia (low level of blood sugar–glucose), if you’re on diabetes medication, it’s especially important to talk to your doctor about your drinking habits and potential risk.
For people who have diabetes and those who do not, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.
Coffee. Not many folks drink this beverage black. many tend to add creamers, sugar, or syrups to jazz up their cup of Joe! Loading coffee with added sugars will raise blood sugar levels so if you’re diabetic, be mindful of this before you sip.
Red meat. Processed meats like deli cold cuts amd bacon can also make blood sugar levels go up. There are some studies that claim eating too much protein which is found in red meats can cause blood sugar levels to rise high enough to cause concern for diabetics. According to medical experts, eating red meat in moderation should not cause any major concerns in folks who have diabetes.
Fruits. These yummy eats are good for some but not for all. Folks who have diabetes should watch out for fruit that contain high levels of natural sugar which raises blood sugar levels. Bananas are sweet and not very diabetes-friendly. Grapes, mangoes, cherries, dates, watermelons will cause spikes in blood sugar levels as well. The National Institute of Diabetic and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) recommends that people with diabetes should avoid fruit juices or canned fruits with added sugar. Fruit blends like smoothies also have high sugar content and are more rapidly absorbed leading to higher spikes in blood sugar. Diabetes-friendly fruits are apples, grapefruits, oranges, peaches, strawberries, berries, kiwi, and avocados (yes, they are fruits!).
Fried foods. Greasy eats like French fries, fried chicken, and potato chips, can initially spike blood sugar, and leave it high over a long period of time. Fat takes longer to digest, so it keeps blood sugar elevated. Even worse, foods that are deep-fried in hydrogenated oils are laden with trans fats. The smart way to go is to find new ways to prepare fried foods you love like grilling, baking or roasting. Air frying is also all the rage, give it a-go!
Starchy Veggies. Although many vegetables are low in carbs, a few are quite high which can raise blood sugar. It’s best to choose mostly non-starchy, high-fiber vegetables when limiting your carb intake. The American Diabetes Association recommends eating a minimum of 3–5 servings of non-starchy vegetables each day. So try to limit your consumption of the following veggies–corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, green peas, pumpkin, carrots, acorn and butternut squash, and beets.