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8 Foods and Drinks to Avoid If You Have Type 2 Diabetes

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The key to managing their condition and preventing complications is choosing appropriate healthy foods while at the same time avoiding others.
foods to avoid for type 2 diabetes
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Knowing what you need to eat and drink can be confusing. Certain foods can raise your blood sugar and insulin levels and promote inflammation, which may increase your risk of disease. Uncontrolled diabetes has many serious risks and consequences, including heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and other complications. It is therefore important to know the foods and drinks that people with diabetes or prediabetes should avoid. So here are the 8 foods and drinks to avoid if you have type 2 diabetes.

1. White bread, rice, and pasta

White sandwich bread is a refined grain, not a whole grain. It has a high glycemic index and can directly lead to elevated blood sugar levels.

Refined grains like white bread, pasta, and rice are high in carbs which can increase blood sugar levels more quickly than their whole-grain counterparts. Refined carbs also increase blood triglyceride levels. This is a risk factor for both heart disease and type 2 diabetes. High consumption of refined carbs is linked with insulin resistance and high blood sugar levels.

2. Sugar-sweetened drinks

Drinking as little as one can of sugary soda per day has been consistently linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies combining 310,819 participants showed 15,043 cases of type 2 diabetes, individuals in the highest quantile of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages or SSB intake like 1-2 servings/day had a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those in the lowest quantile intake which was none or <1 serving/month.[1]

Evidence indicates that added sugar consumption from sugar-sweetened beverages are harmful to type 2 diabetics. Drinks that have a lot of sugar, like energy drinks, fruit juices, some coffees, and shakes, can disrupt a person’s insulin levels, leading to an imbalance. Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, sweet tea, and energy drinks have no important nutrients but contain a concentrated amount of sugar in each serving, which can cause blood sugar levels to spike.

3. Salty foods

Salty foods can raise blood pressure. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends limiting the sodium intake to under 2,300 milligrams per day, regardless of a person’s diabetes status.[2]

Potato chips which are soaked in fat, and loaded with salt are dangerous for diabetics because they are a carb that will quickly spike your blood sugar. French fries, are another example that is high in simple carbs and fat, which is a tough combination for diabetics. It will raise blood sugar quickly and keep it high for a long time.

4. Fruit-flavored yogurt

The flavored, fruit, organic, and children’s yogurt categories all have minimum sugar contents between 10.8 and 13.1 grams per 100 grams of yogurt just like 100 grams is about 3.5 ounces, and a standard yogurt cup in the U.S. is 5 or 5.3 ounces.[3] That is about half of the daily recommended sugar for many people.

Most fruit-flavored yogurts on the market have a small amount of precious fruit and are sweetened with sugar instead. Flavored yogurts are not healthy options because they usually contain too much-added sugar or other additives that should not be included in a healthy diet.

5. Trans fats

Diabetics should watch their consumption of fats and oils because heart disease is a common comorbidity. Trans fats are discovered in two forms which are natural and artificial. Natural which occurs in some animal products and is not considered harmful while artificial are usually hydrogenated vegetable oils may be dangerous and cause some serious health consequences.

Hydrogenation is a way that makes a liquid oil into a solid fat that will result in a trans-fat, which is unhealthier than saturated fat. Unhealthful fats like saturated and trans fats can make a person with diabetes feel worse. Fried and processed foods like fries, chips, and baked goods, contain these types of fats. It is, therefore, the best advice to avoid any foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, as well as foods with liquid oils. It is worth checking the food packaging ingredients to see if the food has a lesser than 0.5g trans fats or 0g of trans fats.

6. Alcohol

Alcohol can increase the risk of low blood sugar when consumed on an empty stomach. Therefore, people with diabetes are advised to limit their alcohol intake. Low blood sugar or what we call hypoglycemia, happens when your blood sugar (glucose) drops below a healthy level. If your blood sugar drops too low, it can be a dangerous condition.

Alcoholic drinks are commonly loaded with sugar and carbs. Diabetics should take caution and limit their consumption of alcoholic beverages like beer, dessert wines, drinks with a sweet mixer, and drinks that contain fruit.

7. Carb-heavy foods

Carbohydrates are a very important source of energy and they also have the most influence on a person’s blood sugar, or blood glucose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people with diabetes must get about half of their daily calories from carbohydrates. Having the same amount of carbohydrates in each meal can help keep blood sugar levels steady. People with diabetes should have a target to get about half of their calories from carbs. This means that if you normally eat about 1,800 calories a day to maintain a healthy weight, about 800 to 900 calories can come from carbs.[4] At 4 calories per gram, that’s 200–225 carb grams a day.

Carbs are among the macronutrients that provide your body with energy and have the greatest effect on your blood sugar by far. This is because they are broken down into sugar, or glucose, and absorbed into your bloodstream.

When people with diabetes consume a lot of carbs at a time, their blood sugar levels can rise to dangerously high levels. High levels can damage your body’s nerves and blood vessels, which may set the stage for heart disease, kidney disease, and other serious health conditions. Maintaining a low carb intake can help prevent blood sugar spikes and greatly reduce the risk of diabetes complications.

8. High glycemic index fruits

During the 1980s, researchers discovered a method of testing individual foods to see how much they raised blood glucose, resulting in a scale called the glycemic index or GI.[5] The glycemic index (GI) reveals how much a particular food can raise a person’s blood sugar after they have eaten it. It is high in sugar if a food has a GI score of between 70 and 100 like watermelons and overly ripe bananas. Many fruits and vegetables contain a low to moderate amount of carbohydrates and therefore have a low GI, but some fruits and starchy vegetables are remarkably high. Usually, fruits are low on the GI scale, but melons and pineapple rank high. The highest GI among raw fruits is watermelon, with an average GI of 72 and with some samples testing as high as 80. In some cases, well-ripened cantaloupes can also have a GI of 70.

However, these fruits are still safe for a person with diabetes to eat but they should do so in moderation. Indeed, having larger portions of fruits that have lower GI scores may be more advisable for a person with diabetes.


If diabetes is not well monitored and managed, your risk of several serious diseases increases. But choosing a diet that helps keep blood sugar, insulin, and inflammation in check can dramatically reduce your risk of complications. The food choices mentioned above can help guide people with diabetes and at the same time help manage their condition and prevent some complications. With this knowledge of the food and drinks which need to be avoided if you have type 2 diabetes, you can control your blood sugar levels, increase antioxidant activity, reduce the risk of kidney disease, lower inflammation, and reduce the risk of heart diseases. Always remember that even though these foods may help manage blood sugar, the most important factor in healthy blood sugar management is following an overall nutritious, balanced diet.


  1. Sugar-sweetened Beverages and Risk of Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes: A Meta-analysis – PubMed. (2010, November 1). PubMed. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20693348/.
  2. Association, A. D. (2019, January 1). 5. Lifestyle Management: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes—2019 | Diabetes Care | American Diabetes Association. American Diabetes Association. https://diabetesjournals.org/care/article/42/Supplement_1/S46/31274/5-Lifestyle-Management-Standards-of-Medical-Care.
  3. Chodosh, S. (2019, March 18). You Should Check How Much Sugar Your ‘healthy’ Yogurt Really Has. Popular Science. https://www.popsci.com/healthy-yogurt-sugar/.
  4. C. (2019, September 19). Diabetes And Carbs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/eat-well/diabetes-and-carbohydrates.html.
  5. Diabetes Nutrition Guide. (n.d.). Diabetes Nutrition Guide: Fruits & Vegetables. https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes/fruits-vegetables.

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