Type 2 diabetes is a hard disease to understand. There is no one thing that makes it happen, and there is also no easy way to fix it.
But we do know for sure that diabetes and what you eat are closely linked. Even if it’s just a little bit, everything we eat changes our blood sugar.
But if you have diabetes, what you eat can make a big difference in how much sugar is in your blood. This can make it hard and stressful to figure out what to eat. Let’s cut through the noise by learning what the nutrition goals are for diabetics and what the best foods are.
Diabetes is a long-term illness that changes the way your body turns food into energy.
Most of the food you eat is turned into sugar (glucose) by your body, which then goes into your bloodstream. When your blood sugar level goes up, your pancreas sends out insulin. Insulin works like a key to let the sugar in your blood into the cells of your body so it can be used as energy.
With diabetes, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use it as well as it should. Too much blood sugar stays in your bloodstream when there isn’t enough insulin or when your cells stop responding to insulin. Over time, this can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.
Diabetes doesn’t have a cure yet, but losing weight, eating healthy food, and being active can help a lot. You can also do the following:
- Do what the doctor tells you.
- Get information and help on how to manage your diabetes on your own.
- Make and keep appointments for health care.
Why does the amount of carbs a person with diabetes eat matter?
Your body gets its energy from macronutrients, which are carbs, protein, and fat.
By far, carbs are the ones that affect your blood sugar the most. This is because they are broken down into sugar, or glucose, and absorbed into your bloodstream.
Starches, sugar, and fiber are all types of carbs. But your body doesn’t digest fiber. Instead, it takes it in the same way it takes in other carbs, so it doesn’t raise your blood sugar.
If you take out the fiber from the total carbs in a food, you can find out how many carbs are digestible, or “net.” For example, a cup of mixed vegetables with 10 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber has a net carb count of 6 grams.
People with diabetes can get dangerously high blood sugar levels when they eat too many carbs at once.
High levels can cause nerve and blood vessel damage over time, which can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, and other serious health problems.
Keeping your carb intake low can help keep your blood sugar from going up and lower your risk of diabetes complications by a lot.
What are the best foods to take care of diabetes?
Beaver says that the best foods to eat regularly to control blood sugar are ones that are high in fiber and protein, as well as some fruit and a lot of colorful vegetables.
When planning meals for someone with diabetes, some healthy options to think about are:
Spinach, collard greens, spring mix, and cabbage are all leafy greens.
Carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Chickpeas, peas, red lentils, oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice are all beans and whole grains.
Tuna, salmon, chicken (both white and dark meat), and Greek yogurt are all good sources of protein (look for brands that have less than 10 grams of added sugar)
Nuts and seeds, such as cashews, peanuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts
Beaver says, “Overall, the best way to keep your blood sugar in check is to eat well-balanced meals.” “This means that you should have a good source of protein at every meal, even breakfast and that lunch and dinner should both include some kind of vegetable. It also means picking healthy snacks to eat between meals. Nuts are a great choice because they are full of nutrients and have very few carbs.”
What foods to avoid with diabetes
1. Sugar-sweetened beverages
People with diabetes shouldn’t drink drinks that are high in sugar.
First, they have a lot of carbs. A 12-ounce (354-mL) can of cola has 38.5 grams of carbs (3Trusted Source).
Both sweetened iced tea and lemonade have almost 45 grams of carbs in the same amount, all of which come from sugar (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
Also, these drinks have a lot of fructose, which is a sugar that is strongly linked to insulin resistance and diabetes. Studies show that drinking sugary drinks may make you more likely to get diabetes-related diseases like fatty liver disease (6Trusted Source, 7, 8).
Also, the high levels of fructose in sugary drinks may cause changes in the body’s metabolism that can lead to belly fat and levels of cholesterol and triglycerides that could be harmful.
In different studies, adults who were overweight or obese and ate 25% of their calories from high fructose drinks gained insulin resistance and belly fat, slowed their metabolism, and had worse heart health markers (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).
Instead of sugary drinks, drink water, club soda, or unsweetened iced tea to help control your blood sugar and lower your risk of getting sick.
Soda and other sugary drinks have a lot of carbs, which raise blood sugar. Also, their high fructose content has been linked to insulin resistance and a higher risk of obesity, fatty liver, and other diseases.
2. Trans fats
Trans fats made in a lab are very bad for your health.
They are made by making unsaturated fatty acids more stable by adding hydrogen to them.
Margarine, peanut butter, spreads, creamers, and frozen dinners all have trans fats. Also, crackers, muffins, and other baked goods like cookies and cakes often have them added to them to make them last longer.
Even though trans fats don’t directly raise blood sugar, they have been linked to increased inflammation, insulin resistance, and belly fat, as well as lower levels of HDL (good) cholesterol and poor arterial function (11Trusted Source, 12, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
Even though more research is needed to learn more about the link between trans fats and insulin resistance, the links above are especially concerning for people with diabetes, who are more likely to get heart disease.
Most countries have banned artificial trans fats, and in 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stopped most processed foods from using partially hydrogenated oil, the main source of artificial trans fat in the food supply (17Trusted Source).
This doesn’t mean that there are no more artificial trans fats in any food in the United States. If a product has less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving, manufacturers don’t have to list it on the nutrition facts label (18Trusted Source).
If “partially hydrogenated” is on the list of ingredients for a product, it’s best to stay away from it.
Unsaturated fats that have been changed chemically to make them more stable are called trans fats. They have been linked to inflammation, insulin resistance, more belly fat, and heart disease.
3. White bread, rice, and pasta
White bread, rice, and pasta are all processed foods that are high in carbs.
People with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar levels when they eat bread, bagels, and other foods made with refined flour (19, 20).
This answer isn’t just for things made with white flour that have been refined. In one study, it was shown that gluten-free pastas also raise blood sugar. Rice-based pastas had the biggest effect (21Trusted Source).
Another study found that high-carb foods not only made people’s blood sugar go up, but they also made their brains work less well (22).
There isn’t much fiber in these processed foods. Fiber makes it take longer for sugar to get into the blood.
In other research, it was shown that when people with diabetes switched from these low-fiber foods to high-fiber foods, their blood sugar levels dropped by a lot. Also, cholesterol levels went down in people with diabetes.
Gut microbiota also got better when people ate more fiber, which may have led to less insulin resistance (23Trusted Source).
White bread, pasta, and rice have a lot of carbohydrates but not a lot of fiber. This can cause your blood sugar to be too high. On the other hand, choosing whole foods that are high in fiber may help lower the blood sugar response.
4. Fruit-flavored yogurt
People with diabetes may find plain yogurt to be a good choice. But the ones with fruit flavors are a very different story.
Most flavored yogurts are made from nonfat or low-fat milk and have a lot of sugar and carbs in them.
In fact, a 1-cup (245-gram) serving of fruit-flavored yogurt may have almost 31 grams of sugar, which means that sugar makes up almost 61% of its calories (24Trusted Source).
Many people think that frozen yogurt is better for you than ice cream. But it can have the same amount of sugar or even more than ice cream (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
Instead of choosing yogurts with a lot of sugar that can cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to rise, choose plain, whole milk yogurt that has no sugar and may help you control your appetite, lose weight, and keep your gut healthy (27, 28Trusted Source).
Most yogurts with fruit flavors are low in fat but high in sugar, which can cause your blood sugar and insulin levels to go up. Plain yogurt made with whole milk is a better choice for keeping diabetes in check and for your overall health.
5. Breakfast cereals with sugar
If you have diabetes, cereal can be one of the worst ways to start your day.
Even though most cereal boxes say they are healthy, most cereals are highly processed and have a lot more carbs than most people think.
Also, they don’t have much protein, which can help you feel full and satisfied and keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day (29Trusted Source).
People with diabetes shouldn’t eat even some so-called “healthy” breakfast cereals.
For example, a 1/2-cup serving of granola (about 56 grams) has 44 grams of carbs, while a serving of Grape Nuts has 47 grams. Also, each serving of each has no more than 7 grams of protein (30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).
Don’t eat most cereals for breakfast if you want to keep your blood sugar and hunger in check. Instead, eat a low-carb breakfast that is high in protein.
Breakfast cereals often have a lot of carbs but not much protein. The best breakfast for diabetes and controlling hunger is one that is high in protein and low in carbs.
6. Coffee drinks with tastes
Several health benefits, like a lower chance of getting diabetes, have been linked to coffee (32).
But you shouldn’t think of flavored coffee drinks as healthy drinks. Instead, you should think of them as liquid desserts.
Studies have shown that your brain doesn’t react the same way to liquids and solids. When you drink calories, you don’t make up for it by eating less, which could cause you to gain weight (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source).
Carbs are also found in coffee drinks with flavors.
For example, a 16-ounce (473 mL) Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks has 57 grams of carbs, while a Blonde Vanilla Latte of the same size has 30 grams of carbs (35, 36).
Choose plain coffee or espresso with a tablespoon of heavy cream or half-and-half to keep your blood sugar under control and keep from gaining weight.
Flavored coffee drinks have a lot of liquid carbohydrates, which can raise your blood sugar and leave you still hungry.
7. Honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar
People with diabetes try to limit how much white table sugar and sweets like candy, cookies, and pie they eat.
But blood sugar can also rise when other kinds of sugar are eaten. These include “natural” sugars like honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup, as well as brown sugar.
Even though they aren’t highly processed, these sweeteners have at least as many carbs as white sugar. Most of them have even more.
Here are how many carbs are in a teaspoon of popular sweeteners:
- 12.6 grams of white sugar (37Trusted Source)
- 17.3 grams of honey (38Trusted Source)
- agave nectar: 16 grams (39Trusted Source)
- maple syrup: 13.4 grams (40Trusted Source)
In one study, people with prediabetes who ate 1.7 ounces (50 grams) of white sugar or honey had the same rises in blood sugar, insulin, and inflammatory markers (41Trusted Source).
Your best bet is to stay away from all kinds of sugar and use natural sweeteners that are low in carbs instead.
Honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup aren’t as processed as white table sugar, but they may have the same effects on blood sugar, insulin, and inflammatory markers.
8. Dried fruit
Fruit is a great source of many important vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C and potassium.
When fruit is dried, it loses some of its water. This makes the nutrients in the fruit even more concentrated.
Unfortunately, as it gets older, so does the amount of sugar in it.
Grapes have 27.3 grams of carbs and 1.4 grams of fiber in one cup (151 grams). One cup (145 grams) of raisins, on the other hand, has 115 grams of carbs, of which 5.4 grams are fiber (42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source).
So, raisins have more than four times the amount of carbs that grapes do. Other kinds of dried fruit also have more carbs than their fresh versions.
You don’t have to give up all fruit if you have diabetes. Choosing low-sugar fruits like fresh berries or a small apple can be good for your health and help keep your blood sugar in the target range.
Dried fruits have a lot more sugar than fresh fruits and may have more than four times as many carbs. For the best control of blood sugar, don’t eat dried fruit and choose fruits that are low in sugar.
9. Snacks that come in boxes
Pretzels, crackers, and other packaged foods are not good choices for snacks.
Most of the time, they are made with refined flour and don’t have many nutrients. However, they do have a lot of carbs that digest quickly and can quickly raise blood sugar.
Here are the carb counts of some popular snacks for a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving:
- Saltine crackers have 20.7 grams of carbs, 0.78 grams of which are fiber (44Trusted Source)
- There are 22.5 grams of carbs and 0.95 grams of fiber in a pretzel (45Trusted Source)
- Graham crackers have 21.7 grams of carbs, 0.95 grams of which are fiber (46Trusted Source)
- Some of these foods may even have more carbs than what is listed on the nutrition label. One study found that snack foods have an average of 7.7% more carbs than what the label says (47Trusted Source).
If you get hungry between meals, it’s better to eat nuts or a few low-carb vegetables with an ounce of cheese.
Most packaged snacks are made with refined flour, which can quickly raise your blood sugar levels.
10. Fruit juice
Fruit juice is often thought of as a healthy drink, but it has the same effect on blood sugar as soda and other sugary drinks.
This is true for 100% fruit juice with no added sugar as well as juice with added sugar. Fruit juice sometimes has even more sugar and carbs than soda.
For instance, 8 ounces (250 mL) of soda and apple juice both have 22 grams of sugar. 35 grams of sugar are in the same amount of grape juice (48Trusted Source, 49Trusted Source, 50Trusted Source).
Fruit juice is full of fructose, just like drinks with added sugar. Insulin resistance, obesity, and heart disease are all caused by fructose (51Trusted Source).
Water with a wedge of lemon is a much better alternative. It has less than 1 gram of carbs and almost no calories (52Trusted Source).
At least as much sugar is in fruit juice as is in soda. Their high level of fructose can make insulin resistance worse, make people gain weight, and raise the risk of heart disease.
11. Fried potatoes
Especially if you have diabetes, you might want to stay away from French fries.
Potatoes have a lot of carbs on their own. A medium-sized potato has 34.8 grams of carbs, of which 2.4 grams are fiber (53Trusted Source).
But peeled potatoes that are fried in vegetable oil may do more than just raise your blood sugar.
It has been shown that deep-frying foods make a lot of dangerous chemicals, like advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and aldehydes. These chemicals may cause inflammation and make people more likely to get sick (54Trusted Source, 55Trusted Source).
In fact, heart disease and cancer have been linked to eating french fries and other fried foods often (56Trusted Source, 57Trusted Source, 58Trusted Source, 59Trusted Source).
If you don’t want to give up potatoes completely, the best thing to do is eat a small number of sweet potatoes.
French fries are fried in unhealthy oils that may cause inflammation and raise the risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also high in carbs, which raise blood sugar levels.
FAQs (Related Question)
Can a diabetic have turkey gravy?
Turkey Gravy for Diabetics
You can’t go wrong with this easy recipe! Requiring just four ingredients and some time being stirred on the stove, this low-calorie, low-carb sauce is the perfect complement to your meal.
What sauces can a diabetic have?
The following are some tasty options that people with diabetes can choose from:
- olive oil.
- any spice or herb.
- any variety of extracts.
- hot sauces.
What should a diabetic eat for breakfast?
10 Best Breakfast Foods for People with Diabetes
- Eggs. Eggs are delicious, versatile, and a great breakfast choice for people with diabetes.
- Greek yogurt with berries.
- Overnight chia seed pudding.
- Multigrain avocado toast.
- Low carb smoothies.
- Wheat bran cereal.
- Cottage cheese, fruit, and nut bowl.
What can diabetics eat for dessert?
Examples of some diabetes-friendly desserts include:
- granola (with no sugar added) and fresh fruit.
- trail mix with nuts, seeds, roasted pepitas, and dried cranberries.
- graham crackers with nut butter.
- angel food cake.
- chia seed pudding.
- low sugar avocado mousse.
- frozen yogurt bites made with plain Greek yogurt and berries.
How do diabetics thicken gravy?
Most gravy recipes use flour to thicken the sauce, which includes unnecessary carbs. So the trick to making a keto and low-carb gravy is to simply swap out the flour for another thickening agent.
What can diabetics use to thicken sauces?
Cassava or tapioca flour
Cassava may be an especially good cornstarch substitute for people with diabetes or prediabetes because it has a lower glycemic index score than wheat flour. In fact, cassava flour has significantly fewer carbohydrates than cornstarch.
Is stuffing good for diabetics?
For diabetes-friendly stuffing:
Substitute fat-free chicken or veggie broth for some or most of the butter. 5. Use whole-grain bread. Add generous amounts of chopped vegetables (such as celery, carrots, onion, and cauliflower), nuts, and pumpkin, chia, or sunflower seeds.
What kind of gravy can a diabetic have?
Creamy, pepper-seasoned gravy is a staple in southern comfort foods like biscuits and gravy and chicken fried steak. This diabetes-friendly version uses a vegetable oil-based margarine to reduce the saturated fat that’s usually found in traditional gravy.
Should a diabetic drink milk?
People with diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, can drink milk! (Unless of course you have an allergy or direct medical reason given by your doctor not to consume milk.) In fact, past research has shown that intake of high-fat dairy products may lower a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Does turkey gravy have carbs?
Perfect for a big holiday meal.Nutrition Information.
|Dietary Fiber||0 g|
|Total Sugars||0 g|
Can diabetics eat turkey?
lean pork, such as fresh, canned, cured, or boiled ham, Canadian bacon, and tenderloin. veal, except for veal cutlets. poultry, including chicken, turkey, and Cornish hen (without skin) wild game, such as venison and rabbit, and including pheasant, duck, and goose without skin.
Are green beans good for diabetics?
They are also low in glycemic index and glycemic load and considered a great food for both preventing and managing diabetes.
Can diabetics eat bagels?
Foods that contain processed white flour and sugar — such as white bread, cinnamon rolls, English muffins, and bagels — are low in nutrients but high in carbohydrates. They offer little nutritional benefit and can trigger a blood glucose spike. However, not all bread is bad for people with diabetes.
Is bacon and eggs OK for diabetics?
Based on these and similar studies, dietitians at Diabetic Living recommend avoiding the typical eggs, pancakes, bacon, and hash browns combination breakfast. Instead, choose the omelet with veggies with lean bacon and a side of fresh fruit for a better balance of protein and sugar.
What time should diabetics stop eating?
For most people with diabetes, mealtimes should space out through the day like this: Have breakfast within an hour and half of waking up. Eat a meal every 4 to 5 hours after that. Have a snack between meals if you get hungry.
Is Cheesecake OK for diabetics?
With a few changes, and the addition of fiber-rich berries, cheesecake can fit in a type 2 diabetes diet. Cake is the quintessential celebratory dessert — a staple at weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries alike.
Is ice cream OK for diabetics?
Despite what many naysayers will tell you, people with diabetes CAN (and do) eat ice cream. Sure, ice cream can’t compete with, say, a salad when it comes to nutrition. That’s OK — there’s room in your eating plan to eat ice cream and other frozen treats if you so choose.
How can I satisfy my diabetic sweet tooth?
Try these tips from diabetes nutrition experts to include sweet treats in your healthy eating plan.
- Allow yourself the occasional treat.
- Plan ahead.
- Be mindful of sugar-free foods.
- Pay attention to what you drink.
- Swap out ingredients.
- Designate a sweet treat day.
- Focus on fruit.
- Pick something you really like.
Can I use Carbquik to thicken gravy?
–Sprinkle Carbquik® over sausage in skillet, stir to blend, add half & half to pan all at once. Cook, stirring constantly over medium-high heat until thickened and bubbly. -Season to taste with salt and pepper.
How do you thicken sauce without flour and Keto?
Top 5 keto thickener substitutes
- Xanthan gum. Used for baking or thickening soups or sauces, xanthan gum has zero net carbs.
- Guar gum. A plant fiber from the seed of the guar plant, guar gum has zero net carbs.
- Glucomannan (konjac):
- Agar agar.
How do you thicken gravy with almond flour?
Can you use almond or coconut flour to thicken gravy? In short, No. Unfortunately neither almond or coconut flour will work for thickening gravy. Both will remain gritty and won’t absorb enough liquid to work for gravy.
What can diabetics use to thicken soup?
How to thicken keto recipes without flour or cornstarch
Can diabetics use cornstarch?
May increase blood sugar levels
For this reason, cornstarch is digested very quickly in your body, which may lead to spikes in your blood sugar levels ( 4 ). Therefore, cornstarch may not be a great addition to your diet if you have type 2 diabetes or are hoping to better manage your blood sugar levels.
Is cornbread stuffing OK for diabetics?
This delectable stuffing is appropriate for a diabetic diet and it will be a healthy alternative without sacrificing the flavor. Make cornbread by combining all ingredients together in a large bowl.
Can a diabetic have tater tots?
Eating too many potatoes can present problems for blood sugar control in people with diabetes. However, potatoes are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, and people with diabetes can enjoy them as part of a healthful diet.
What is a good Thanksgiving meal for a diabetic?
6 Diabetes-Friendly Versions of Classic Thanksgiving Dishes
- Low-Carb Pumpkin Bread, Sausage, and Feta Stuffing.
- Spicy Sausage and Cheddar Stuffing.
- Low-Carb Green Bean Casserole.
- Pumpkin Spice Cake with Brown Butter Frosting.
- Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash.
- Flourless Pumpkin Spice Cookies.