What Diabetics Should Look For On Food Labels and What Ingredients Diabetics Should Avoid

It is extremely important for diabetics to get in a habit of reading food labels and learning how to decipher them.

With all the pre-packaged highly processed food we now consume, it is getting increasingly difficult to determine what we are really eating.

Here is a a list of ingredients diabetics should be aware of and try to avoid:

Trans Fat

Trans fat was introduced into the food supply in the 1920’s in order to produce solid food products, margarine and shortening, from cheap oils. In other words, it was because of money, NOT for health reasons or taste or any other reason. Before this time, type 2 diabetes did NOT exist. This is a rather profound fact that the mass media has refused to cover.

Trans fat is one of the very worst things a diabetic can eat. Trans fat gets incorporated into all your cell membranes and makes them very unhealthy. It is substituted in place of where healthy omega-3’s. The result is a “stiffer” membrane that is resistant to insulin and can not transport glucose adequately. The result in pre-diabetes, then type 2 diabetes, and then the progression of type 2 diabetes into type 1 diabetes.

If you stop eating trans fat, ALL trans fat, and you eat the right other foods to get what you actually need in your cell membranes, you CAN reverse this and regain healthy cell membranes that are not resistant to insulin and allow normal transport of glucose.

Ok, food labels almost never come right out and list “trans fat” in the ingredients so you have to learn the code words that mean trans fat. If it says “hydrogenated oil” or “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients, you can be sure that it contains trans fat. Please note that even if the packaging says “zero trans fat” or “no trans fat” and it still lists “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients, the food definitely contains trans fat. This is because of a loop hole in the food industry that allows them to claim “zero trans fat” if there is less than 0.5 grams PER SERVING of trans fat.

So, if there is 0.49 grams of trans fat in a single serving, they can say “zero trans fat” on the packaging. However, they are still required by law to list the “partially hydrogenated oil.” Now, you may be thinking that 0.49 grams of trans fat per serving is no big deal. However, you need to understand how toxic trans fat is. This is not like table sugar where a little bit won’t hurt you. You should aim for NO TRANS FAT. Also, the many food companies will simply lower the serving size to a ridiculously small amount so they can state “zero trans fat” but in actuality you end up eat several servings in one sitting.

Hidden High Carb Content

Most processed foods contain cheap fillers and these fillers are usually made of carbs. As a diabetic, your goal should be to lower your carb intake and you should certainly avoid all carbs that serve no purpose other than filler. What I mean by this is if the filler doesn’t add taste or nutrients, then why eat it? For example, many “meats” in frozen food dinners contain a very high amount of filler. You can figure this out by reading the food label and looking at the total carbs. If it is supposed to be a “meat product” like salisbury steak and it has a high carb content, you know it contains cheap fillers. You can usually figure out which filler by reading the ingredients.

Hidden Sugars

Processed food is often quite tasteless so they add “flavor” in the form of sugar. Over the last few decades, food manufacturers have been adding an increasing amount of sugar. It is almost impossible to find processed food that does not contain some type of sugar but you should really try to avoid it. Natural grocers are beginning to sell “processed foods” or rather convenient healthy food that contains less sugar and when it does contain sugar it is a moderate amount of organic cane sugar or organic honey. You pick these organic cane sugar and organic honey over all artificial sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and agave because it can be processed by the body in a way that doesn’t lead to fat build-up if used in moderation.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

High fructose corn syrup was added to the American diet in the 1970’s because it is much cheaper than cane sugar and 20% sweeter in taste. Corn growers also have a very powerful lobby that affects the decisions made by government officials and governmental agencies which allows more HFCS in food. Note, high fructose corn syrup may be labeled as HFCS or simply corn syrup.

There has been a corresponding SURGE in diabetes with the introduction of high fructose corn syrup. This is another profound fact that has been largely ignored by the mass media. Unlike ordinary table sugar (cane sugar), 100% of all high fructose corn syrup has to processed by the liver and gets stored as fat in the body and cause insulin resistance in the liver, i.e. type 2 diabetes. The research is quite convincing on this point (if you ignore the research funded by the corn growers).

ALL HFCS is made from genetically modified corn. Genetically modified food is known to cause serious health issues but it is not yet fully understood. It is very important to avoid all genetically modified food. Please note that if a food is labeled as “organic” it CAN NOT BE genetically modified. So, organic cane sugar can NOT be genetically modified.

Unfortunately, high fructose corn syrup is not just found in soda but in many foods you may not be aware of. It is found in many salad dressings, condiments, sauces, frozen foods, and even foods that you may think of as really healthy like yogurt and fruit juices.

The best course of action is to read all food labels and just refuse to buy/eat products that contain it. Sometimes this can be hard to do as old habits are hard to break. I have loved Heinz ketchup most of my life. However, when I found out it contain HFCS, I forced myself to switch to an organic ketchup. To my surprise, it tastes even better than Heinz!!

I’ve convinced most of my friends and family to read food labels too. I hope I’ve convinced you as well because it is one of the most important things you can do for your health and the health of those you love and purchase food for.