Jenilee Matz has a master’s degree in public health and worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a health communications specialist. She writes for several health publications including Everyday Health, HealthDay, and Diabetic Connect.
It’s best to build your diet around whole, nutritious foods—whether you have diabetes or not.
Still, life happens and all of us eat processed foods from time-to-time. People with diabetes need to watch their sugar intake—and possibly count carbs—so most know to steer clear of processed sweets like cakes, donuts, and cookies. But other foods that are high in fat, calories, sodium and preservatives can also wreak havoc on blood sugar levels.
Next time you go grocery shopping, leave these items off your list:
Deep fried chicken and fish. Fried chicken and fish—either from restaurants or the frozen variety—is made with breading that’s high in fat, salt, and preservatives. Opt for grilled, skinless chicken or fresh fish instead.
Pizza. Take-out and frozen pizza tends to be high in calories and sodium. In addition, many people with diabetes say their blood sugar skyrockets after eating pizza. If you can't resist this American diet staple, order thin crust, ask for light cheese and sauce, and top your pizza with veggies only.
French fries. Greasy fries are high in calories and salt, which can make managing your weight and blood pressure tricky. Not all fries are nutritional zeroes though. Bake your own “fries” by chopping up a sweet potato and coating it with olive oil and spices.
Processed meats. Lunch meats, bacon, hot dogs, and sausage may seem like safe choices since they don't contain sugar, but they're loaded with salt and preservatives. Plus, studies show that eating these meats is linked with type 2 diabetes. Make a sandwich using leftover fresh meat instead.
Chips. Potato, tortilla, and corn chips all pack a lot of calories, salt, and fat without any nutrients. One serving of the baked type usually isn't a diet-breaker, but most of us can’t stop at just one serving. When you crave something crunchy, reach for raw vegetables—like carrots, celery, and pepper strips—and pair with a low-fat, low-sugar dip.
Canned fruits. Just because it’s fruit doesn't mean it’s a good choice. Canned fruits are often swimming in sugary syrup. Read nutrition labels closely and choose fruits canned in their own juice or buy fresh fruit.
Juice. Juice may seem like a healthier alternative to soda, but it’s not. Many juices contain just as much, if not more, sugar than soda. If you can't resist the beverage, select 100 percent fruit or vegetable juice, pour a half serving, and dilute it with water.
Condiments and sauces. Ketchup, barbeque sauce, teriyaki sauce, jam, and other dressings and sauces are usually laden with high fructose corn syrup. Some research says that high fructose corn syrup is worse for your waistline and blood sugar levels than table sugar. Read ingredient lists and avoid any condiments or sauces made with this offender.