Folks with type 2 diabetes already know the importance of making healthy mealtime choices. But just as important is staying away from the wrong foods—those that can make your blood sugar spike. That’s because simple carbohydrates like white bread and sugary soda are broken down by the body into sugar, which then enters the bloodstream. Even if you don’t have diabetes yet, these foods can lead to insulin resistance, which means your body’s cells don’t respond normally to the insulin produced by the pancreas. Here are seven foods to avoid to better control sugar spikes.
- White rice. If you have type 2 diabetes, scratch white rice from your menus. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who ate five or more servings of white rice a week increased their risk for developing type 2 diabetes, while people who replaced at least a third of their white rice servings with brown rice lowered their risk by as much as 16 percent. The reason is that white rice has little fiber, especially compared with brown rice, and fiber can help keep blood sugar levels stable.
- White bread. Who would think this everyday staple could add to diabetes risk? The problem is that your body quickly digests products made with refined flour such as white bread, and this quick digestion can cause your blood sugar to rise. Researchers have also found that people who eat more whole grains and fewer refined grains (including white bread) have less of the type of body fat that can trigger heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
- Soda and other sweet drinks. To keep your blood sugar within normal range, you want to avoid soda and other sugar-filled drinks. Researchers found that people who drank one or two sugary drinks a day were at a 26 percent higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than those who drank less than one 12-ounce glass a month. Replacing regular soda or sugary drinks with water, seltzer, or diet sodas can help with weight loss as well.
- Red meat. Hold the bacon! You don’t have to cut red meat from your diet entirely, but studies show that eating lots of red meat and processed meats such as bacon and cold cuts, all high in saturated fat, could contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes. A large study found that people who ate processed meat—a hot dog or sausage or two slices of bacon—once a day more than doubled their risk for diabetes. You can easily lower your risk by substituting one serving of red and processed meats with healthier sources of protein such as nuts and low-fat dairy products.
- Fast food. Fast food is tempting, especially when you’re hungry and in a hurry. But most fast food is high in fat, calories, and salt, all of which can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, reduce your chances of weight-loss success—and send your blood sugar soaring. In fact, a Canadian study found that eating a fatty fast-food meal spiked blood sugar levels by 32 percent in healthy people who didn’t have diabetes. Also, salty fast-food fare can increase your blood pressure—this is especially dangerous for people with diabetes, who are two to four times more likely to have heart disease than those without diabetes.
- Packaged foods. Snack foods and commercially-prepared baked goods also should go on your foods-to-avoid list if you have type 2 diabetes or want to avoid developing it. First, these foods make it harder for you to achieve your weight-loss goals. Second, they tend to be high in trans fats, and trans fats raise the bad cholesterol and lower the good cholesterol in your blood and can cause inflammation, which may lead to diabetes. Even small amounts of trans fats can have harmful health effects. Choose wholesome snacks like a handful of almonds or make your own treats with healthy ingredients, like cookies baked with applesauce rather than butter.
- Whole milk. When you think about saturated fat, red meat and butter probably come to mind first, but whole-milk dairy products are also loaded with saturated fats, the prime suspects in life-threatening conditions like heart disease. In several studies, a diet high in saturated fats has also been linked to insulin resistance. Switch to no-fat or 1-percent dairy products to get all the benefits of calcium without the drawbacks and reduce calories to help with weight loss.
Timing matters, too, when it comes to controlling sugar spikes.Depending on factors such as age and body weight, skipping a meal can have as negative of an impact on your blood sugar as eating food with high glycemic indexes. Diabetics and individuals with hyperglycemia are advised to sustain their blood sugar levels by consuming food at regular intervals during the day. If you have to wait four or more hours between meals, bring a snack for the midmorning and post-lunch intervals that are susceptible to drops in blood sugar.