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30 Foods to Avoid With Diabetes

Red Meat

Red meat is high in saturated fats, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. For someone who already has diabetes, it can be especially bad for you. This is due to the nitrates and nitrites in the meat that increases insulin resistance and impairs the function of the pancreas.


Pretzels have a healthy image, but they’re bad for you. A quick look at the ingredients reveals white flour, fats, and salt. Not only is it devoid of nutrition, but it’s also refined carbs that cause blood sugar spikes.

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Coffee with Cream and Sugar

Coffee shops are notorious for adding tons of sugar to their drinks. People with diabetes should opt to make their own coffee instead. Not only is it easy, but it’s also less expensive than a $5 latte.


Naturally, candy needs to be avoided at all costs. Candy is just pure sugar and can cause blood sugar spikes that are dangerous for those with diabetes.


Fruit can’t be bad for you, right? It can be if they’re made into a smoothie. They sound nutritious but can be filled with sugar—especially if they’re oversized and sweetened with sugary syrups and yogurt. Eating the fruit whole gets beneficial fiber and helps your body process the sugar more slowly. 

Flavored Water

Flavored water used to be disguised as a healthy option until companies were told to do otherwise. For example, VitaminWater sounds like an excellent choice. It has vitamins! Wrong. These drinks can have 32 grams sugar in the whole bottle. Opt for flavored waters without added sugar.

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Mayo is usually made with bad fats instead of better alternatives, like olive oil. They also contain a lot of carbs and sodium, which can be bad for those with diabetes. Stick to mayo made with olive oil, or pick a different condiment altogether.

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Whole Milk

For someone with diabetes, a diet that’s high in saturated fat can make insulin resistance worse. Whole milk has a lot of saturated fat. Thankfully, 1% and skim milk are still on the table due to their low-fat content.

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Canned Vegetables

Those with diabetes should avoid sodium as much as they can, which is why canned vegetables can be a bad option. Some have a ton of sodium, although many brands make canned vegetables that don’t have added salt.

Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and gravy is a breakfast staple for some, but it can be very unhealthy. Biscuits are created from refined flour, which can cause a spike in glucose levels. Gravy is often made with sausage, which is mostly saturated fats. At home, you can make it with whole wheat flours and opt for healthy ingredients.

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White Bread

White bread is high in starches and refined grains. Refined grains are digested by the body quickly and are processed like sugar. Despite having no sugar in the food, white bread can cause blood glucose spikes that can be dangerous for people with diabetes. White bread is low in some nutrients, particularly fiber. Fiber impacts blood glucose in more measured amounts, more consistently, over a longer period of time.

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Processed Lunch Meat

Processed lunch meat may not seem that bad, but it’s loaded with sodium. Some lunch meats have as much as 650 milligrams of sodium in one serving. Sure, it’s fat-free, but it can easily exacerbate blood pressure issues and harm your body.

Regular Soft Drinks

Regular soft drinks are horrible for those with diabetes. One 12-ounce can of soda has as much as 39 grams of sugar. Mountain Dew has 46 grams of sugar for a 12-ounce can! Thankfully, diet sodas are still alright to drink.

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Everyone loves a glass of wine now and then, but alcohol is known for significantly altering the body’s response to insulin. On top of this, many drinks can be extremely sugar. Cocktails are often made with sugar syrups like grenadine.


Everyone loves a good plate of nachos, but it can be bad for someone with diabetes. Nachos are usually made with red meat, refried beans, cheese, and tons of other things that can be dangerous to eat. Together, these ingredients create a plate full of fat and calories.

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Ice Cream

Ice cream is high in fats and sugars. Some brands can have as much as 7 grams of fat and 14 grams of sugar for half a cup. Many brands make ice cream without additional sugars, which can be a lifesaver for someone with diabetes. Just be sure to read the label!

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Fruit Juice

Fruit juice may seem healthy, but it’s actually loaded with sugar just like soft drinks. If you drink a 15.2-ounce bottle of Minute Maid Apple Juice, you’re also consuming 49 grams of sugar. Orange juice has around 33g for a 12-ounce cup. That’s about as much as a can of Coca-Cola.

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White Rice

White rice is high in starch and can cause spikes in blood sugar. In general, refined carbohydrates should be avoided since they’re processed like sugar when your body starts to digest them. Instead, opt for brown rice. It has more fiber than its white rice counterpart and isn't associated with spikes in blood sugar. The rice bran oil found in the grains also has been shown to lower LDL levels.

Canned Fruit

Rather than sodium, canned fruit or fruit packed in syrup can be high in sugar. For example, fruit cups have 15 grams sugar. Some fruit cups have a “No Sugar Added” label because they’re sweetened with Stevia. However, these can still have 5g sugar.

Fried Food

Fried foods are some of the worst things a person with diabetes can eat. This type of food can lead to weight gain and wreak havoc on your blood sugar. This includes French fries, potato chips, and doughnuts. These are all carb-heavy and cause your blood sugar levels to spike.

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Deep-Fried Chinese Food

Nothing is easier than ordering some Chinese food when you’re tired, but some Asian dishes can be bad for you. Breaded chicken that’s swimming in sauce can be high in calories and fat. Plus, these foods are served with white rice—also bad for you.

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Frozen Meals

Frozen meals are the epitome of convenience, but they’re high in sodium and fat. This can make them an unhealthy choice for anyone, but especially for people with diabetes.

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Pizza is just white dough with full-fat cheese. Most pizzas are loaded with salt, fat, and calories. If you have to order pizza, you can choose a thin-crust with veggies and lean meats, but it’s best to avoid it altogether.

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Sugary Cereals

Some favorite cereals that seem healthy are full of sugar. For example, Raisin Bran Crunch has 20 grams of sugar per serving. That’s more than Froot Loops, which has 10 grams per serving. The healthiest cereals are ones that have whole grains, like Fiber One and whole-grain Cheerios.

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Most pastries are loaded with sugar, whether they’re homemade, café-prepared, or pre-packaged. To add to this, these sweets use the worst types of fats to add moisture and richness. All in all, these spike your blood sugar and can increase your cholesterol levels.

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Dried Fruit

Dried fruit is another food that pretends to be healthy. During the dehydration process, the natural sugars in fruit become concentrated and can easily cause spikes in blood sugar. Fresh fruit is the best option.

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Butter and margarine are alright to use with reservation. Fats like these can slow down digestion and make it harder for insulin to work. This can lead to a high blood glucose level hours after your meal. 

Regular Jams

Jams, preserves, and jelly are fruits that have been packed with sugar. Now and then, it’s alright to eat a tiny portion of regular jelly. However, many brands make sugar-free jams that people with diabetes can use. 

Trans Fat

Anything with trans fats or anything labeled “partially hydrogenated” can be dangerous for those with diabetes. In some cases, foods may be labeled 0g trans fat but have partially hydrogenated ingredients.

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Pickles are packed with salt and can take a significant portion of your sodium for the day. Eating too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure. According to the U.S. nutritional guidelines, those with diabetes should have less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

Energy Drinks

Energy drinks may not taste sweet, but they have a ton of sugar. Your average energy drink can have 27g to 40g of sugar per serving. Considering most energy drinks have more than one serving, you’re consuming a lot of sugar for a drink.

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Iceberg Lettuce

Iceberg lettuce isn’t bad for you; it just doesn't offer much nutritional value. There are much better things you could be eating in your salad instead instead. Kale, cabbage, and spinach are all healthier—and tastier—options. They go great in salads, mixed in with other dishes, or on for wraps, and provide much more nutritional value.

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Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas are high in carbs—we’re talking about 18g of carbs in each tortilla. It’s much better to eat corn tortillas, which have a lot more protein and way less carbs.

Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes are actually a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, so they’re not off the table for diabetics. Mashed potatoes, on the other hand, usually have things like butter, salt, sour cream, and cheese added to them. All these additives spell out danger for those with diabetes.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is tasty, but it doesn’t contain much fiber. Fiber helps you feel fuller longer while making it easier to maintain blood sugar and cholesterol. Try higher-fiber options like quinoa or cauliflower rice.


Pasta is a yummy food that can be used in many different ways. Unfortunately, this tasty food is also loaded with carbs, which can elevate your blood sugar levels. Luckily, there are many options for you if you’re ready to cut out pasta but don't want to sacrifice flavor—like noodles made from veggies!

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Bread Crumbs

You already know how bad white bread is for you, but it's easy to ignore it when you think you're not consuming very much. The crunchy coating on your crab cakes can actually be making your blood sugar spike. Avoid this high-carb mistake in favor of something more healthy.

Processed Cheese

The amount of processing that American cheese goes through should be enough to put anyone off eating it, but it’s still a popular choice. To make matters worse, a single slice of American cheese contains 300 mg of sodium, which can drastically increase your blood pressure.

Mixed Nuts

Mixed nuts are a popular snack that’s super easy to grab when you’re hungry. However, the nuts inside can be high in fats and extremely high in salt. This can raise your blood pressure and make the other symptoms of diabetes worse.

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Peanut Butter

Peanut butter might seem like a good choice, but it’s really high in sugar and fats. When you consider that peanut butter is usually paired with jelly or honey full of sugar, it gets even worse for your health. Try low-fat options to keep your blood sugar in check.

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