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Foods To Avoid If You Have Type 2 Diabetes

Foods To Avoid If You Have Type 2 Diabetes

You’re eager to take care of yourself and live a full and happy life after being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Eating the right foods - and avoiding the wrong ones - is important. In this article, we’ll look at foods to avoid if you have been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. But it’s not all doom, gloom and restrictions. You’ll also find some great alternatives to replace the foods you love, but shouldn’t eat. Let’s dive right in.

Type 2 Diabetes Foods to Avoid: a Focus on “White” Foods

You may have been told to avoid “white” foods, but not all of them are bad for you. To get a hint as to which are good and which are bad, the key factors are the degree of processing and the way in which the foods are prepared. You certainly want to avoid foods containing white flour, white rice, or white sugar. 

Unfortunately, these ingredients, especially sugar, lurk in surprising places. Always read product labels to check for sugar and refined grains. Whole grain products like 100 percent wholegrain bread, brown rice, low-carb pasta, or wholewheat flour could be safe for you to eat, but do so in moderation and keep checking your sugar levels in line with your doctor’s instructions. 

Although sugar isn’t always white, you should nevertheless avoid it. High fructose sweetening isn’t a good choice either. But that doesn’t mean you have to say “goodbye” to sweetness. Natural sweeteners like Stevia, and artificial, non-nutritive sweeteners should be perfectly safe. 

Potatoes are a good choice as long as you stick to baked potatoes and don’t overdo it. And kidney beans, mushrooms, cauliflower, and other white vegetables may even help you to manage your diabetes better.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) provided the following ranges as guidelines for recommended blood glucose levels for people with type 2 diabetes. Please note that these are only meant as a guide and your individual target range should be agreed upon by your doctor or diabetic consultant.

Before meals: 4 to 7 mmol/L
After meals: under 8.5 mmol/L

Ready Meals: Yes or No?

When it comes to foods to avoid, people with Type 2 Diabetes in the UK may have a hard time weaning themselves off ready meals. 86 percent of UK adults eat ready, or ready-to-cook, meals several times a week. The good news is that not all these meals will be bad for you. Once again, it depends on the ingredients and mode of preparation. 

Deep-fried items are obviously out, so there go your chips and batter, and you should probably avoid most sauces since they usually contain quite a lot of sugar. However, if they don’t contain the “white” items we’ve already mentioned, you can still enjoy the convenience of easy meals. 

Many supermarkets offer “ready-to-cook” meals that are nearly as healthy as anything you can prepare at home. Finding out whether they’re good for you is a matter of looking at the ingredients, nutritional information, and whether they’re baked (good) or fried (bad.)

At the same time, a lot of easy meals aren’t particularly healthy. A microwave chicken tikka, for example, is high on calories and low on veg. Making your own at home is likely to be a better bet. 

Can You Still Eat Meat?

Yes, you can still eat meat, but the type of meat will be important to you. It’s best not to eat much red meat. You should also avoid fatty meats like pork and lamb, and salty, processed meats like bacon and sandwich meats are off the menu. A plant-based diet can be very helpful in managing Type 2 Diabetes, so consider using meat as an occasional treat rather than a staple. 

Drink for Your Health

Chances are, you’ve already red-flagged sugary, fizzy drinks. But fruit juices can be as bad, even when they don’t have any added sugar. Choose zero-calorie drinks, or stick to water, carbonated water, tea or coffee without sugar, or herbal teas. You can drink low-fat milk in moderation, and vegetable smoothies are great as long as you remember the carbohydrates they contain when calculating your daily intake. 

As for alcoholic beverages, it may be best to avoid them altogether, but you can get away with a glass of dry red wine now and then. It may even be quite good for you. One unit of beer or distilled spirits shouldn’t do any harm, but avoid sugary mixers. 

Snack Safely

You’re rightly avoiding sugary snacks and fried or baked snacks containing refined products, but you can still snack safely between meals. While you should eat it in moderation, fruit is a safe bet, and small amounts of dried fruit without sugar will be fine too. Just be aware of portion sizes when eating fruit and avoid very sugary fruits like watermelons and very ripe bananas. 

Your snacks aren’t limited to fruits. You can enjoy air-popped popcorn, wholegrain crackers (check the ingredients,) roasted pumpkin seeds, greek yoghurt, and more. Just be sure to check that they’re free from sugar, low on salt, and low on fats and calories. 

Add Years to Your Life With Good Diabetes Management

You’ve probably read the depressing statistic that says you’ll shorten your life by up to 10 years owing to Type 2 Diabetes. Before you get into the doldrums, think about that statistic. It’s based on averages. The better you manage your diabetes, the less that statistic applies to you. In fact, there’s every reason to suspect that you may live as long, or almost as long, as someone who doesn’t have diabetes if you manage your condition well and keep it under control. 

Unfortunately, mainstream insurers don’t take that into account when you’re looking for life cover. Some will offer you insurance at higher premiums. Some may even turn down your application. They’re not looking at you as an individual. They’re looking at you as a statistic. What you want is an insurer who understands you: your needs, your challenges, and your individual circumstances. It’s time you looked at specialised life insurance for people living with type 2 diabetes. It’s time you talked to Bluezone. 

Posted by
Dr. Kingshuk Pal
Clinical Lead
Kingshuk is an academic GP. He is interested in the development of internet tools for managing chronic illness, with a PhD from University College London titled Development of an online self-management intervention for adults with type 2 diabetes. This was translated into HeLP-Diabetes and is being scaled across the NHS.
The advice we are providing is as accurate and as comprehensive as possible, but it is only general advice and should not be used as a substitute for the individual advice you might receive from consulting your qualified medical practitioner. Please ensure you consult a qualified medical professional before making any changes to your healthcare.