what foods to avoid with diabetes

Top 10 Foods To Avoid With Diabetes in 2023

In our quest for optimal diabetes management, understanding the impact of various foods on blood sugar is paramount. While having a balanced and healthy diet is essential to feel your best, it is equally important to limit foods that can spike your blood sugar. 

Since most people pay attention to diabetes-friendly foods, they ignore the other half of the equation:  what foods to avoid with diabetes. The ideal meal plan for diabetes is balancing what to eat and what not to.  

In this article, we will explore the top 10 foods to avoid with diabetes. After reading this article, you will have enough knowledge to make informed choices for a vibrant and fulfilling life. 

What Foods to Avoid with Diabetes: 10 Dietary Choices Linked to High Blood Sugar

foods to avoid with diabetes

While no single food directly causes diabetes, certain dietary choices can increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes over time. It's important to approach these foods with moderation and awareness:

Sugar-sweetened beverages

Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks has been linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These beverages, such as sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened teas, are loaded with added sugars and provide little to no nutritional value. The rapid absorption of the high sugar content leads to sharp spikes in blood sugar levels, placing a strain on the body's insulin response over time.

Processed meats 

Frequent consumption of processed meats like hot dogs, bacon, and sausages has been associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These meats often contain additives, preservatives, and high levels of sodium. 

Furthermore, cooking methods can generate harmful compounds that increase insulin resistance and inflammation, putting one at greater risk for diabetes.

Red Meat

While lean cuts of red meat can be part of a healthy diet, excessive consumption has been linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Red meat, such as beef, lamb, and pork, contains saturated fats that, when consumed in large amounts, can contribute to insulin resistance and inflammation.

Additionally, certain cooking methods like grilling or charring red meat can produce harmful compounds called advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which may also impair insulin sensitivity.

Refined Grains

Refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, and refined pasta, have undergone processing that removes the fiber-rich outer layers, leaving behind mostly starch. These refined grains have a higher glycemic index, meaning they are digested and absorbed more quickly, leading to a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. 

Regularly consuming these refined carbohydrates can contribute to insulin resistance and increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Instead, opt for whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and whole wheat bread, which retain their fiber content and have a gentler impact on blood sugar levels. Intake of low carb diet is recommended for type 2 diabetes.  

Sweets and Desserts

Indulging in sweets and desserts, especially those high in added sugars, can contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and an increased risk of developing diabetes. 

Foods like cakes, cookies, pastries, and ice cream are often packed with refined flour, added sugars, and unhealthy fats. Their high-calorie content and limited nutritional value can lead to weight gain and disrupt blood sugar control. 

Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with healthier alternatives like fresh fruits, homemade treats using natural sweeteners like stevia or dates, or dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.

Trans Fats

Foods that contain trans fats, such as some packaged snacks, fried foods, and commercially baked goods, are associated with an increased risk of diabetes. 

Trans fats are artificially created by partially hydrogenated oils, which prolong the shelf life of food products but also contribute to inflammation, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular problems. 

These unhealthy fats can raise bad cholesterol levels and decrease good cholesterol levels. Opt for healthier fat sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil to support heart health and diabetes management.

High-Sodium Foods

A diet high in sodium can have detrimental effects on blood pressure and increase the risk of developing diabetes and its complications. Processed foods, canned soups, salty snacks, and fast food often contain excessive amounts of sodium.

Excessive sodium intake can disrupt the balance of electrolytes in the body, impair insulin sensitivity, and contribute to the development of diabetes and cardiovascular issues. Be mindful of sodium content and opt for whole, minimally processed foods seasoned with herbs and spices for flavor.

Sweetened Breakfast Cereals

Many breakfast cereals marketed to children are loaded with added sugars. Starting the day with a bowl of these sugary cereals can lead to a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Continuous consumption of high-sugar breakfast cereals may contribute to insulin resistance and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Choose cereals with whole grains, minimal added sugars, and higher fiber content to provide sustained energy and promote stable blood sugar levels. Pair them with protein-rich foods like Greek yogurt or nuts for a balanced meal.

Fruit Juices

While natural, fruit juices lack the fiber found in whole fruits and are often concentrated sources of sugar. Without the fiber to slow down the absorption of sugar, fruit juices can cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. 

It's generally advisable to consume whole fruits instead, as they provide more fiber, nutrients, and a lower glycemic impact. If you prefer juices, consider making fresh juices at home using whole fruits and diluting them with water to reduce the overall sugar content.


Excessive alcohol consumption can interfere with blood sugar control and increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Alcoholic beverages, especially those with high sugar content, can cause spikes and drops in blood glucose levels, affecting overall diabetes management. 

Moderate alcohol consumption is recommended, which typically means up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare provider to understand the potential impact of alcohol on blood sugar control, especially if you have diabetes or are taking medications that may interact with alcohol.

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Food choices can be powerful allies in the fight against diabetes when we understand their effects. Understanding what foods to avoid with diabetes, enjoying fruits in moderation, approaching certain vegetables cautiously, and embracing the best foods for diabetes control can empower us to control our health.

Remember, this journey is about balance, awareness, and savoring the vibrant flavors that nature offers us. Together, we can conquer diabetes and enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life by leveraging our knowledge and culinary creativity.

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