Avoid: Milk Chocolate
Instead, Eat: Dark Chocolate
Try dark chocolate! Dark chocolate is healthy for you, believe it or not. Studies have shown dark chocolate can improve health and lower your risk of heart disease. This is probably because it gives your body lots of Vitamin K for bone strength, selenium to help prevent coronary heart disease, and antioxidants to keep free radicals out of your body and help prevent cancer. However, moderation is still vital. Dark chocolate can still increase your waistline if you eat too much.
Avoid: Bread Crumbs
Instead, Eat: Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are crunchy, buttery, and slightly sweet, making them a delicious alternative to bread crumbs. They’re packed with heart-healthy fats that help keep you fuller longer without affecting your blood sugar. Just crush them up and use them instead of breadcrumbs to coat your fish filets, chicken, or veggies.
Avoid: White Bread
Instead, Eat: Whole Grain Bread
Instead, replace it with whole grain bread -- just make sure to look at the ingredients list. Whole grain bread should start with “whole grain” over anything else. White bread usually begins with enriched flour, which isn’t good for you. Whole grain bread is packed with folate for your body’s cells, B6 for proper brain development and serotonin, zinc to boost the immune system, and magnesium, which is crucial for nerve transmission and your metabolism.
Avoid: Mashed Potatoes
Everyone loves good mashed potatoes, but they can quickly get out of hand. Butter, salt, and cream can make the food bad. Potatoes can be healthy on their own as long as you eat them plain, but those with diabetes should stay away from mashed potatoes. The food can be high in carbs and fat that contribute to weight gain, and fats that can increase your risk of heart disease.
Instead, Eat: Pureed Cauliflower
Pureed cauliflower can give you the same texture and almost the same taste. Plus, you get vitamins and minerals from the vegetable. In fact, cauliflower contains 77% of your daily value of vitamin C, which is necessary for energy, maintaining connective tissue, and strong blood vessels and bones. It also has vitamin K to help prevent bone loss, and riboflavin that boosts energy, maintains a healthy metabolism, and repairs the body.
Instead, Eat: Steel-Cut Oats
Swapping cereal with steel-cut oats is simple and delicious. You can add fresh fruit, nuts, and other ingredients to make it any flavor you want. You can also mix in extracts to add a splash of vanilla or cinnamon. Steel-cut oats are an excellent source of manganese and molybdenum. Manganese is essential for the absorption of calcium and necessary for the thyroid to work properly. Molybdenum can help improve circulation, regulate cell growth, and protect blood vessels from injury.
Avoid: Iceberg Lettuce
Instead, Eat: Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are a much better option that could also jazz up the flavor or your salad or sandwich. Picking greens like spinach, romaine, and kale can give you extra nutrients and more bang for your buck. Spinach, for example, has tons of vitamin K for bone strength, vitamin A to boost the immune system, iron to promote healthy, oxygenated blood, and tons of fiber that can help keep you regular and absorb every vitamin and mineral in the food.
Instead, Eat: Low-Fat Greek Yogurt
Low-fat Greek yogurt is a great mayo replacement. It’s packed with nutrients that can make your sandwich or dip even healthier than before. It’s full of calcium for healthy and strong bones, potassium for your metabolism and muscles, protein to help repair your tissues, and B6 and B12 for a healthy nervous system and extra energy. Plus, it has good bacteria that can help your body digest foods.
Avoid: Mixed Nuts
Instead, Eat: Walnuts
Unsalted or lightly salted walnuts are a much better choice if you want a quick snack. These nuts are full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts also contain melatonin, which can help regulate your sleep cycle, vitamin E as an antioxidant to prevent nerve damage, and folate to promote tissue growth and DNA repair.
Avoid: Flour Tortillas
Instead, Eat: Corn Tortillas
Instead, Eat: Plain Popcorn
Popcorn is a fantastic example of a guilt-free snack, but you have to be careful. The bagged, microwave popcorn can be just as bad as some chips. Instead, get the unpopped kernels and make your own on the stove top. Try not to add salt, but if you have to, use a light sprinkle. The fiber in popcorn can help keep you regular and assist your body in absorbing nutrients from other foods. It also has trace amounts of thiamin to provide more energy and maintain proper heart functions, niacin to lower cardiovascular risk, and magnesium, which is crucial for nerve transmission and muscle contraction.
Instead, Eat: Flavored Water or Tea
Instead, grab flavored water. You can flavor your own water with fresh fruits like lemon, strawberries, and blueberries for a healthy drink with nutrients. You can also drink tea without sugar. Both of these drinks are much healthier than soda and won’t cause sugar spikes. Most teas are full of antioxidants which can help prevent various cancers. Some even have vitamin C for an immune boost and vitamin A for healthy heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Instead, Eat: Fruit
Fresh fruit can be a great snack when you have a sweet tooth. Nearly every choice is filled with nutrients that can help your body, and the fiber will help digest the natural sugars to prevent a blood sugar spike. Each fruit has different vitamins and minerals, but most have vitamin C, which can improve energy levels and your immune system. They’re also high in folate for cell growth, and potassium to help maintain healthy blood pressure.
Butter is a cooking staple for most people, but it can be a bad option for someone with diabetes. The fats in butter can increase your waistline and make symptoms of diabetes worse, especially for those that are already overweight. Even though it has trace amounts of protein, butter is made up of 80% fats.
Instead, Eat: Avocado
Almost every recipe that calls for butter can be replaced with avocado. One avocado has tons of healthy fats that may decrease your pant size and improve your heart. Naturally, avocado also tastes great spread on toast. Avocado is exceptionally high in vitamin E, which can help prevent cell damage. It also provides 11% of your daily fiber, tons of folate for cell growth, potassium to maintain healthy blood pressures, and lutein which can help prevent macular degeneration.
Avoid: Full Fat Dairy
Instead, Eat: Reduced Fat Dairy
On the other hand, studies have shown that reduced-fat dairy can help lower the risk of diabetes and even improve the condition. Low-fat cheeses and 1% milk can be just as good and work as a replacement for any full-fat dairy product. Even though it’s low-fat, 1% milk still has tons of vitamin D and calcium for strong bones, folate for cell growth, and vitamin B12 for extra energy.
Sadly enough, beef can be bad for you. Many cuts are marbled and have a high content of fat that can clog arteries and make you feel worse over time. While you could choose leaner cuts, there are better options on the chopping block. Overall, beef is known for having lower amounts of vitamins compared to other meats like turkey and chicken.
Instead, Eat: Fish or Chicken
Fish provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. It’s best to stay away from white fish like tilapia and cod, and instead purchase salmon and trout. One filet of salmon can contain 40g of protein for healthy muscles, potassium for nerve impulses and heart regulation, and selenium to help prevent coronary heart disease. Chicken, on the other hand, is much cheaper and can provide 38g of protein per serving.
Avoid: Fried Foods
Instead, Eat: Baked Foods
Anything can be fried can also be baked. Chicken, vegetables, and coconut shrimp are just a few of the things you can throw in the oven instead of hot grease. Baked foods lack the trans-fat that can cause heart disease and other health issues. They can also help decrease the amount of fat, which can help you lose weight. Finally, baked foods almost always have lower calories.
Avoid: Fruit Juice
Fruit juice may seem like an easy way to get your daily nutritional value, but it can actually have the opposite effect. Fruit juice is mostly absorbed as sugar, which can increase your blood sugar quite quickly. Thanks to the sugar content, it’s also high in carbohydrates, which can rapidly increase your pant size. It’s also extremely low in fiber since the good stuff has been removed.
Instead, Eat: Whole Fruits
If you want some fruit, just eat the whole fruit. The fiber helps digest the nutrients, which are otherwise barely absorbed as the juice is digested so quickly through your body. Depending on the fruit, you’re sure to get tons of vitamins and minerals. Fruits are full of vitamin C for energy, folate for cell growth, and fiber that helps keep you regular.
Instead, Eat: Bagels
Bagels have almost 75% less saturated fat than muffins, making them a good swap. By ordering a bagel with your morning coffee instead of a muffin, you’re starting your day off on the right track. You’ll be eating less saturated fat and more heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which will keep you healthy.
Avoid: Flavored Instant Oats
Instant oats will never be the healthiest option. You should always go for regular oats if you can, but if you’re insistent on keeping your instant oats you should at least avoid the flavored variety. The flavored packs can contain as much as 300 mg of sodium and have tons of added sugars that spike blood glucose levels.
Instead, Eat: Plain Instant Oats
Avoid: Brown Rice
Instead, Eat: Quinoa
Avoid: White Potatoes
Instead, Eat: Jicama
Who doesn’t love pasta? It's a popular comfort food that can be used in many different ways. Unfortunately, this tasty food is also loaded with carbs, which can cause inflammation and 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.
Instead, Eat: Spaghetti Squash
Whole grain pasta and cauliflower are great options for replacing white pasta, but you should also try spaghetti squash. It’s easy to cook and can be used for many things, making it a great ingredient for a cook of any skill level. It’s especially good for spaghetti because it shreds in a way that looks like long, thin noodles.
Avoid: Processed Cheese
Instead, Eat: Swiss Cheese
Swiss cheese is a much healthier alternative to American cheese. With only 25 mg of sodium, it’s easy to see how! Something as simple as using a different cheese can make a big difference when it comes to blood pressure. Just opt for Swiss cheese on your sandwich at the deli or buy it pre-sliced for use at home.
Smoothies are super high in sugar, fruit juices, fats, and dairy. All of those ingredients are bad for diabetics for various reasons. Sugar and the fruit juices go hand in hand and cause a sharp spike in blood sugar while being chock full of calories. Saturated fats in milk can also worsen insulin resistance, so best to avoid dairy in smoothies too.
Instead, Eat: Whole Fruit
Whole fruit is full of healthy sugars, fiber, and tons of vitamins and nutrients that can help keep your blood sugar at a healthy level. Fruits like apples are fat-free, sodium-free, and chock full of fiber and vitamins. There are hundreds of different fruits out there to be tried, surely you can find something to enjoy.
Avoid: Full Sugar Ice Cream
Creamy, cold, and sweet, who doesn’t love some ice cream on a hot summer day? Or just whenever you’re craving something super sweet. Well, full-sugar ice cream is, of course, not good for diabetics. Like many sugary treats, ice cream is loaded with hundreds of calories, carbs, sugar, and fat. It’s ultimately just best to avoid it altogether.
Instead, Eat: Sugar-Free Sorbet or Sherbet
Avoid: Processed Lunch Meat
Processed lunch meats like salami and bologna are super bad for diabetics. Lunch and deli meats may not have a lot of sugars, but they are definitely full of sodium, calories, and fat. Even if you don’t have diabetes, processed lunch meats have been linked to heightening your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
Instead, Eat: Fresh Meat
Rather than reaching for the bologna, reach for a much leaner fresh meat like turkey. Fresh, lean meats have way less sugar, calories, and salt while offering super high amounts of vitamins and nutrients like fiber, vitamin b-12, iron, and protein. Tearing up freshly cooked meat may seem like more of a hassle, but it's much healthier.
Avoid: Hamburger Buns
Instead, Eat: Lettuce Leaves
Avoid: Dried Fruit
Dried fruit isn’t as bad as some of the other ‘avoid’ foods on this list, it’s still at least a little bit healthy. However, it is to be avoided for a reason. Dried fruits are super high in calories, sugar, and salt. There are also way fewer vitamins and nutrients in dried fruit than in fresh fruit.
Instead, Eat: Fresh Fruit
Nothing compares to the original, and that applies to fruit too. Thanks to the fact that fresh fruit hasn’t been dehydrated like the dried fruit, the sugar content is lower, and there are very few calories. There are, however, a ton of vitamins, fiber, and folic acid. So if you’re craving something sweet, reach for some delicious fresh fruit.