People who have diabetes have to monitor what they eat to maintain healthy blood glucose (sugar) levels and keep their risk of diabetes-related complications low. To stay healthy, try to avoid these foods as much as possible:

1. Foods High in Fats and Sugar

Ingredients such as saturated and trans fats and sugar can wreak havoc with your health:

  • Saturated fats increase diabetes patients' already higher-than-average risk of heart disease by raising blood cholesterol levels. You should get less than 10 percent of your daily calories (about 20 grams per day) from saturated fats, according to the American Diabetes Association. Saturated fats are found in foods such as lard, high-fat meats and dairy products including butter and cream. Rich sauces, palm and palm kernel oils, and poultry skin are also high in saturated fats.
  • Trans fats (which may be listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated oils) are even worse than saturated fats, and you should avoid foods that contain them. Processed foods, stick margarine, shortening, and many fast food items, such as some French fries, usually have trans fats.
  • Sugary drinks, which include soda, fruit punch, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sweet teas are also among the worst foods for people with diabetes. They quickly raise blood sugar and are loaded with calories.


2. Processed and Restaurant Foods

Many pre-packaged foods and some restaurant offerings are also not good choices for people with diabetes, since they're often loaded with empty calories, saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, and sugar. That's the bad news. The good news is that it's possible to make healthy versions of many of these favorites, so you don't have to feel deprived.

Here are some of the worst offenders when it comes to processed foods and restaurant fare:

  • Candy
  • Nachos
  • Drinks, including coffee drinks, most smoothies, fruit juice beverages, and milk
  • Baked goods, including cookies, crackers, cakes, pies, doughnuts, snack cakes, cinnamon rolls and other pastries
  • Pretzels
  • Fried foods, such as chicken or fried Chinese entrees
  • Processed lunch meats
  • Pancakes and syrup
  • Bacon, restaurant hamburgers, and pizza
  • Frozen meals


What to Eat

There's plenty of evidence that a primarily plant-based diet with lean protein sources and small amounts of healthy fats lowers the risk of diabetes and can help diabetes patients control their blood sugar. Some medical professionals, such as Mark Hyman, MD, a functional medicine physician, believe that, in some cases, diabetes can even be put in remission with appropriate lifestyle intervention, nutritional support, and, occasionally, medications.

Alison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, reviewed this article.


  1. Bauer, Joy. "10 Dangerous Foods for Diabetes." accessed March 17, 2014.
  2. "Fats." American Diabetes Association. December 19, 2013, accessed March 17, 2014. "What Can I Drink?" American Diabetes Association. February 18, 2014.
  3. Brookhart-Schervish, Lori, and Marilyn Kruse, RD. "22 Foods to Avoid with Diabetes." Accessed March 17, 2014.
  4. Tucker, Miriam E. "Plant-Based Food Component May Reduce Diabetes Risk," Medscape Medical News. February 24, 2014.