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These Healthy Foods Aren’t So Great For Diabetics!

food in a heart-shaped bowl with a stethoscope and a clip board next to itThe Diabetic Diet

A diabetic diet is basically a nutritious meal that leans more toward healthy fats, fiber, and lean meat rather than processed sugar and carbohydrate. The goal is to keep blood sugar levels within range and maintain a healthy weight. In real life, however, it’s easier said than done. Making choices can become frustrating. For a person with diabetes, there are some significant decisions to be made regarding food. When reviewing information about how to maintain a diabetic diet, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.

To make things just a tad more complicated, a few food items that may be healthy and nutritious for others can be problematic for a person with diabetes. The following are some food items that may be healthy and nutritious for others, but surprisingly bad for people with diabetes. 

Whole Milk

Whole milk sounds like it should be healthy, right? But it really isn’t. It’s actually not fit for non-diabetics, either. Whole milk contains a large amount of fat, which is what gives it that thicker consistency. Drinking whole milk can lead to weight gain and compromise a diabetic’s goal of maintaining a healthy weight. When drinking milk, it’s best to drink 2 percent milk or lower. 

Keep in mind that milk, and milk substitutes like almond, coconut, or rice milk, still contain carbohydrates. One cup of skim milk can have as much as 12 grams of carbohydrates. Sometimes, milk substitutes may contain flavoring. That added flavor is usually sugar, and can also be a source of carbohydrates. Stick to sugar-free or no added sugar varieties. 

Veggie Burgers

Veggie burgers sound healthy, after all, they’re supposedly made of vegetables, but they may not be fit for diabetics. Many veggie burgers contain fillers, sugar, and or carbohydrates. It’s best to read the ingredients. Veggie burgers made up of whole grains, green vegetables, and beans are diabetic friendly. The rest? Not so much. 

Energy Bars or Granola Bars

Energy and granola bars seem healthy, but it really depends on the ingredients. These bars can consist of a lot of sugar and dried fruit and can cause blood sugar to spike. Energy and granola bars, because they’re meant to provide a large amount of energy in a pocket-sized bar, are chock full of calories. Some bars can have as much as 450 calories in a bar. 

Trail Mix

Speaking of hikes, store-bought trail mixes can be a pitfall for diabetics. These packaged mixes look healthy at first glance —nuts, dried fruit, granola clusters—but may have additions that are not diabetic-friendly. Many have milk chocolate bits to add sweetness and filler. The portion sizes can also be substantial, leading to weight gain. 

Dried Fruit

Dried fruit may sound like a healthy snack, but it is chock full of concentrated sugar. Fresh fruit contains water and sugar. Dried fruit is basically fruit with most of the water removed, leaving only sugar behind. Also, because water is removed, the fruit shrinks when it is dried. Meaning a cup of dried fruit may contain up to 2 to 3 times the amount of sugar that a bowl of fresh fruit might. All that sugar can cause blood glucose to rise. 

Yogurt

Yogurt can be a toss-up. It depends on what kind of yogurt it is. The fruit-at-the-bottom type of yogurt can have as much as 45 grams of sugar in one serving. Yogurt that doesn’t have fruit, but does have flavoring like chocolate or vanilla, can also have added sugar. 

Not all yogurt is created equal, however. Plain Greek yogurt is diabetic friendly. If a little texture or sweetness is necessary, a small amount of fresh fruit or fiber can be added in. 

Natural Sugar

Even natural sugar is still sugar. Agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, and raw sugar are all just other sources of sugar. They can all cause blood sugar to rise very quickly. 

In fact, some natural sugars may have a larger carbohydrate content than regular table sugar. For example, a teaspoon of table sugar contains approximately 4 grams of carbohydrates. A teaspoon or packet of honey may contain 6 grams or more. A better alternative is to use sugar-free options like Stevia. 

Smoothies

Smoothies are thought of as snacks, but some smoothies have as many calories as a full meal. Fruit smoothies, especially, can contain up to 500 calories and 90 grams of carbohydrates. Smoothies made at drink chains, or grocery stores may have even more calories and come in larger sizes. These smoothies are like eating a candy bar.

A better option is to create smoothies at home. Being able to see what goes into a smoothie allows someone with diabetes to do their own portion control and decide the correct amount of sugar. 

Fruit Juices

Fruits are known to be full of vitamins and minerals, so their reputation as healthy food is well earned. Whole fruits may have high sugar content but are healthy for people with diabetes if consumed in reasonable amounts. The fiber contained within whole grains helps to balance out the high sugar content. 

Fruits juices, however, are not recommended for diabetics. Fruits juice is all the sugar contained in fruits, without the beneficial fiber. Guaranteed to raise blood sugar, someone with diabetes should avoid fruit juice.

Knowledge is Power

It’s a good idea for everyone, especially diabetics, to read a product’s ingredient list. Food makers often include unexpected ingredients to preserve food or improve taste, and those additions may not be healthy for a person with a health condition. 

Being informed about foods that may or may not be healthy is part of every diabetic’s responsibility. Understanding what to consume and not to consume will eventually become second nature if done often enough. The key is to start.

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