130 Foods To Stay Away from to Avoid Diabetes + Printable Diabetes Food List

Do you want to know what foods to avoid if you’re at risk of developing diabetes or striving for optimal health?

Eating the wrong kinds of foods can inadvertently increase your chances of getting diabetes, but it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed with diabetes or are looking for ways to manage pre-diabetes, here is a definitive list of 130+ foods that should definitely avoided and some helpful hints on how to include healthier items in their place.

When it comes to managing and avoiding diabetes, one of the most important aspects is maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. Making mindful food choices can help regulate blood sugar levels, prevent complications, and promote overall well-being. While there is no one-size-fits-all diet for diabetes, it’s crucial to be aware of foods that can negatively impact blood glucose control. In this article, we’ll explore the top foods that individuals with diabetes should avoid to better manage their condition and support a healthier lifestyle.

So get ready as we tackle this comprehensive list of no-go’s – and feel free to print out our easy-to-use checklist/diet diary too!



1. Sugary Drinks and Sweets:

Sugar-sweetened beverages and desserts are a significant source of empty calories and rapidly digestible carbohydrates. Regular consumption can cause a sharp increase in blood sugar levels, increasing the risk of complications. Avoid soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks, flavored coffees, candy, cookies, cakes, and other sugary treats. Instead, opt for water, unsweetened teas, or beverages sweetened with non-nutritive sweeteners in moderation.

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For Example:

    1. Regular soda
    2. Fruit punch
    3. Sweetened iced tea
    4. Energy drinks
    5. Flavored coffees with syrup
    6. Fruit juices with added sugar
    7. Milkshakes
    8. Candy bars
    9. Cookies
    10. Ice cream
    11. Pudding cups
    12. Donuts
    13. Pastries
    14. Sweetened yogurt
    15. Sweetened cereal bars
    16. Sugary cereals
    17. Chocolate bars
    18. Jams and jellies with added sugar
    19. Syrups (maple, chocolate, etc.)
    20. Sweetened condensed milk
    21. Marshmallows
    22. Fruit snacks with added sugar
    23. Cakes
    24. Pie
    25. Muffins
    26. Chocolates

2. Refined Grains and White Flour Products:

Refined grains, such as white bread, white rice, pasta, and pastries, undergo processing that removes the bran and germ, stripping away most of their beneficial nutrients and fiber. These products are quickly broken down into sugar, leading to spikes in blood glucose levels. Choose whole grains like whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, and oats that provide more fiber and nutrients, promoting better blood sugar control and long-lasting energy.

For Example:

    1. White bread
    2. Bagels
    3. Croissants
    4. White rice
    5. Instant rice
    6. Regular pasta
    7. Instant noodles
    8. Pancakes
    9. Waffles
    10. Cornflakes
    11. Rice cakes
    12. Pretzels
    13. Saltine crackers
    14. White flour tortillas
    15. Pizza dough
    16. White sandwich buns
    17. Scones
    18. Biscuits
    19. Cornbread
    20. Cereal bars with refined grains
    21. Graham crackers
    22. Croutons
    23. Stuffing mix
    24. Donuts
    25. Danish pastries
    26. Puff pastry

3. Trans Fats and Saturated Fats:

Foods high in trans fats and saturated fats can contribute to insulin resistance and raise LDL cholesterol levels, increasing the risk of heart disease, which is already elevated for those with diabetes. Avoid fried foods, commercially baked goods, processed snacks, fatty cuts of meat, and high-fat dairy products. Instead, opt for healthier fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can support heart health and improve insulin sensitivity.

For Example:

    1. Deep-fried foods
    2. French fries
    3. Potato chips
    4. Onion rings
    5. Fried chicken
    6. Fried fish
    7. Fried dumplings
    8. Fried spring rolls
    9. Store-bought cookies and pastries with hydrogenated oils
    10. Margarine
    11. Shortening
    12. Fast food burgers
    13. Fatty cuts of beef (e.g., ribeye steak)
    14. Bacon
    15. Sausages
    16. Processed deli meats (salami, bologna, etc.)
    17. Full-fat dairy products (whole milk, cream, cheese)
    18. Butter
    19. Lard
    20. Cream cheese
    21. Ice cream made with high levels of cream and saturated fat
    22. Heavy cream
    23. Gravy made with fatty drippings
    24. Coconut oil
    25. Palm oil
    26. Fried doughnuts
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4. High-Sodium Foods:

Excessive sodium intake can elevate blood pressure and increase the risk of cardiovascular complications. Processed foods like canned soups, deli meats, fast food, and pre-packaged snacks are often loaded with sodium. Opt for fresh, whole foods and prepare meals at home using herbs, spices, and low-sodium alternatives. Be mindful of hidden sources of sodium in condiments, sauces, and dressings.

For Example:

    1. Canned soups (especially cream-based soups)
    2. Processed meats (hot dogs, sausages, bacon)
    3. Canned vegetables with added salt
    4. Frozen meals and dinners
    5. Salted nuts
    6. Potato chips
    7. Pretzels
    8. Instant noodles
    9. Soy sauce
    10. Ketchup
    11. Barbecue sauce
    12. Pickles
    13. Olives
    14. Salted popcorn
    15. Cheese spreads and dips
    16. Cured meats (ham, salami, etc.)
    17. Store-bought salad dressings
    18. Processed cheese
    19. Salted crackers
    20. Bouillon cubes
    21. Worcestershire sauce
    22. Sauerkraut
    23. Processed snacks (cheese puffs, pretzel sticks)
    24. Fast food meals
    25. Store-bought salsa
    26. Ramen noodles

5. Sweetened Breakfast Cereals and Instant Oatmeal:

Many breakfast cereals marketed as healthy options are often high in added sugars. These can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels and leave you feeling hungry soon after. Choose whole-grain, low-sugar cereals or oatmeal made from rolled or steel-cut oats, which are higher in fiber and provide a slower release of glucose into the bloodstream. Add fresh fruits, nuts, or seeds for added nutrients and flavor.

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For Example:

1. Frosted flakes
2. Fruit loops
3. Honey Nut Cheerios
4. Cocoa Puffs
5. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
6. Rice Krispies
7. Fruit Loops
8. Lucky Charms
9. Cap’n Crunch
10. Granola with added sugar
11. Instant oatmeal packets with added sugar
12. Instant oatmeal with flavorings like maple and brown sugar
13. Honey Bunches of Oats
14. Corn Pops
15. Apple Jacks
16. Pop-Tarts
17. Quaker Instant Oatmeal Fruit & Cream flavors
18. Raisin Bran with added sugar
19. Bran flakes with added sugar
20. Chocolate-flavored cereals
21. Reese’s Puffs
22. Caramel-flavored instant oatmeal
23. Almond-flavored instant oatmeal
24. Multi-grain cereals with added sugar
25. Cereal bars with added sugar
26. Sweetened instant grits


Maintaining a balanced diet is crucial for individuals with diabetes to achieve optimal blood sugar control and reduce the risk of complications. By avoiding or limiting the consumption of sugary drinks, refined grains, trans fats, high-sodium foods, and sweetened breakfast cereals, you can make significant strides in managing your diabetes effectively.

Remember, everyone’s dietary needs may vary, so it’s important to work with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional to develop a personalized meal plan. Focus on incorporating whole, unprocessed foods, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your diet. By making thoughtful food choices and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can take control of your diabetes and improve your overall well-being.


Further Reading…



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