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Eating Sugar Causes Type 2 Diabetes – True Or False

I am sure many of you have wondered if eating sugar or sweets causes type 2 diabetes. The straight answer is no, but eating excessive amounts of sweets can lead to obesity which can lead to diabetes. This post will look at the connection between sugar and type 2 diabetes and what steps you can take to avoid getting this disease.

As stated in a previous post, diabetes occurs when your pancreas, the organ that makes insulin, either doesn’t make enough or doesn’t make any.  This is known as insulin resistance. When you eat carbs (which includes sugar) they are broken down into glucose which gives the body energy. If your body is not managing insulin well, the excess sugar ends up in your bloodstream and your blood sugar rises. This is known as hyperglycemia.

What you can do

To avoid getting type 2 diabetes— or managing it if you already have it— the best thing you can do is to avoid eating excess carbohydrates. The American Diabetes Association recommends you substitute starchy foods with the following:

Nonstarchy Vegetables — The best choices are fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and vegetable juices without added salt (sodium), fat or sugar such as: • Asparagus • Green beans • Carrots • Cabbage • Eggplant • Cauliflower • Broccoli • Mushrooms • Tomatoes • Spinach • Onion • Peppers. If using canned veggies, drain and rinse them with water to wash away about 40% of the sodium.

You can also substitute starchy foods with whole grain foods, beans, peas and lentils and starchy vegetables without added fats, sugars or sodium. Whole grain foods can consist of Whole wheat flour •Whole oats/oatmeal •Whole-grain corn/corn meal •Popcorn •Brown rice •Whole-grain rye •Whole-grain barley •Wild rice •Buckwheat/buckwheat flour •Triticale •Bulgur (cracked wheat) •Millet •Quinoa •Sorghum

Instead of sweets and sugary foods they recommend you avoid regular soda, fruit punch, sports drinks, sweet tea, and other sugary drinks. Choose water and calorie free drinks instead. Cut back on high calorie snack foods and desserts such as chips, cookies, cakes and ice cream.

You can also choose from a variety of fresh, frozen and canned fruits without added sugars such as: •Apple •Blueberries •Orange •Grapefruit •Grapes •Peaches •Pear •Plums •Cherries. If you use canned fruit in syrup, drain and rinse the fruit with water to wash away the extra syrup.

In trying to solve your dilemma as to what you should eat to manage your diabetes, you can see that you have very many options when it comes to making healthy choices. It’s up to you to exercise some self-control and cut back (not eliminate them altogether) on those foods that will spike your blood sugar. Then when you combine these healthy choices with regular physical activity, you will be well on your way to managing your diabetes and getting off medications.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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Should People With Type 2 Diabetes Eat Potatoes?

Potatoes are a staple food in the United States. Most people cannot conceive of eating their heaviest meal without potatoes or some type of carbohydrate. But for diabetics struggling to keep their numbers within normal range, deciding on whether to eat potatoes or not can be a major source of worry.

According to the American Diabetes Association, your body needs carbohydrates, since they play an important role in providing the fuel that keeps you going throughout the day. However, the amount and type of carbohydrates you consume should depend on your individual needs determined by your size and activity level. So before you begin meal planning, let us look at potatoes, a food rich in carbohydrates and see whether they are good for people with type 2 diabetics.

Image by Holger Langmaier from Pixabay

Nutritional value of potatoes

There are many varieties of potatoes — russet, red, sweet, yellow, and purple — all of which are easy to digest and prepare. Since potatoes digest so quickly, converting carbohydrates into glucose, they can spike your blood sugar pretty quickly. For this reason, the amount of potatoes you consume should depend on your size and activity level. A medium white potato with skin contains about 30 grams of carbohydrates.

Glycemic index

The other factor to consider when deciding if you should eat potatoes is the glycemic index (GI). This is the measure of how much the level of blood glucose rises after eating a specific carbohydrate — in this case potatoes —as compared with eating the same amount of sugar or white bread. The glycemic index of a boiled potato is 78 and for an instant -cooked one it is 87. Any GI score above 70 is considered high, so now you can see why potatoes, despite their nutritional value are considered a bad food for people with diabetes.

Should people with type 2 diabetes eat potatoes?

Experts believe that the key to deciding whether to include potatoes in your diet or not is to eat a balanced diet, taking your nutritional needs into account. Therefore, the verdict for people with type 2 diabetes is that they can eat potatoes in moderation. There are also strategies you can employ to keep potatoes from raising your glucose levels too much, as you will see later on in this article.

Can you lower the glycemic index of a food?

According to the National Library of Medicine (NIH), there are 3 ways this can be done:

  1. By increasing dietary fiber intake — adding fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds — and decreasing their overall carbohydrate consumption. The higher fiber content can help to lower the GI of a food.
  2. Adding fat — Some studies show that adding fat to your carbs can help stabilize glucose levels and reduce the glycemic response (GR) — the effect that food has on glucose levels. For example, adding cheddar cheese to potatoes showed a reduction in the GR.
  3. Increasing protein in the diet of healthy people as well as those with diabetes showed a reduction in the GR of carbohydrate-rich foods. For example, a high-protein breakfast lowers glucose levels 180 min after eating and even throughout the day.
  4. Adding vinegar — In a study with people with T2 diabetes, it was observed that adding vinegar to foods with a high GI resulted in a lower glucose response. It was also observed that the vinegar combined with olive oil and water in the form of a vinaigrette dressing resulted in a reduction in the GI.

It was also interesting to note that even consuming vinegar (15-20 ml/day) before or in combination with high GI foods showed an improvement in GR and insulin sensitivity. Using pickles also showed a similar result.

The best way to cook potatoes

The NIH recommends shorter cooking times and less water to produce a lower GR. The best cooking methods are boiling and steaming, with microwaving being the best form of cooking.

In addition to cooking methods, researchers have also found that the order in which you eat your food can have an impact on GR. They found that consuming protein, fat, and fiber from vegetables before eating starchy foods reduced postprandial (after your meal) numbers by as much as 73%. In other words, eat your potatoes last.

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.

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5 Worst Foods For Type 2 Diabetics and What They Should Eat Instead

As stated in previous posts, the dilemma that most people with type 2 diabetes face is what can they eat. Judging from most of the information you see on the internet it would appear that food choices for type 2 diabetics are very limited. While some foods will spike your A1C, there are still many healthy foods to choose from.

Some of the worst foods for type 2 diabetics are:

  1. Refined carbohydrates — white rice, white flour, white potatoes, white pasta. Carbohydrates are important in your diet. When we eat carbohydrates, enzymes break them down into glucose, which supplies our bodies with energy. Your pancreas then releases insulin so that your cells can absorb the glucose. There are three main types of carbohydrates – starches, sugar, and fiber.
Image by Harald Dona from Pixabay

What can you eat instead?

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends we “choose carbs that are nutrient-dense, which means they are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, and low in added sugars, sodium, and unhealthy fats.”

2. Sugary foods and drinks — cakes, candy, ice-cream, sweetened juices, energy bars. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Any food that has sugar added to it can come under this heading. Sugar is a form of carbohydrate and it too is broken down into glucose to be used by your cells for energy. When you consume more sugar than your body needs for energy, the excess is stored in the body as fat, which can lead to obesity, which can lead to diabetes.

What can you eat instead?

The ADA recommends that you eat less of these sugary foods and drinks and more fresh fruits. Other sources list oranges, apples, cherries, strawberries, watermelon, and kiwi, which are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They not only satisfy your sweet tooth but keep you feeling full longer, which can help with weight loss.

3. Processed foods encompass almost all the foods you eat which have been altered in some way. So almost every food you can think of, even the ones you prepare yourself, has been processed. The danger lies in whether chemicals and other preservatives have been added, which in most cases they have to give them a longer shelf life. Processed foods also contain a lot of fat, sugar, and/ or salt to enhance the flavor. Because of this they can add unwanted calories which lead to obesity.

What can you eat instead?

Shop for fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish. Try to stay away from packaged foods of any kind. Use whole grain cereals and flour as much as possible.

4. Fried foods and those containing trans fats and saturated fats. The obvious reason is that fried foods contain excess fat, which adds calories you don’t need and can lead to cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and diabetes, the same way that saturated fats do.

What can you eat instead?

Eat foods that have been prepared by steaming, baking, or cooking in an air fryer. This eliminates the addition of fat and ensures that you are not putting unwanted calories and chemicals into your body.

4. Artificial sweeteners. A study posted in Medscape magazine states that people who consume a higher than median amount of artificial sweeteners — especially aspartame — had a 13% higher than average risk of overall cancer over 8 years than those who did not consume those sweeteners.

The problem is that a lot of people, in their attempt to avoid excessive sugar intake, turn to artificial sweeteners thinking they are the better choice, when in fact, they are exposing themselves to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals, which also cause weight gain leading to Type 2 diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners are not just limited to the kind you buy in those little packets; one investigation found they are hidden in diet soda, whole-wheat bread (even 100% whole wheat), and salad dressings. Other foods that may contain artificial sweeteners are English muffins, canned peaches, and iced tea. If you read labels you would see that many of them that say no sugar added do, in fact, contain artificial sweeteners, so be sure to read your labels.

What can you use instead?

Opt for plain water over flavored waters and drinks. Choose fresh-baked 100% whole-grain breads and make your own dressing with olive oil, lemon/vinegar, a touch of herbs, garlic and/or Dijon.

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Orzo Pasta Salad with Tomatoes and Capers

This quick and easy chilled pasta salad is a great way to keep cool on a hot day. This delicious side dish tastes even better after the flavors have a chance to mingle, so make it a day or two in advance to take to your next backyard party or casual gathering.

orzo pasta salad

Orzo is high in carbohydrates but loaded with other nutrients that promote heart health and support digestion. It is usually made from white flour but can be made from whole-grain flour as well.

Tip: The capers and liquid add saltiness to this dish. Taste before adding additional salt.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes (includes time to cook orzo)
Serves: 4


  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large (or 2 medium) tomato, seeded and chopped
  • 1½ c. orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 T. capers
  • 1 T. caper liquid
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. fresh thyme leaves
    1 T. fresh parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

  1. Add olive oil and minced garlic to a skillet set over medium heat. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic starts to develop some color.
  2. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or just until tomatoes become soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cooked orzo, capers and liquid, lemon juice, thyme, and parsley with the warm tomato and garlic mixture. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and stir to combine.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Stir and serve chilled with grilled chicken breasts or your favorite entrée of choice. Enjoy!

A diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can send your life into a tailspin. It can leave you feeling alone and overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to. Join my type 2 diabetes network group and get the help and support you need.