Junk Food and Diabetes

In order to tackle the Corona Virus, Mexico banned junk food for children.  This virus is bad news for diabetics.  Should diabetics eat junk food?

This article will focus on junk food and diabetes so that we can conclude if diabetics should be indulging, and in the event they do, how often and possible choices if junk food is our only option.

Junk Food Advertisements

It is sometimes difficult to escape junk food as we can see them everywhere we go – movie theaters, gas stations, stadiums, vending machines, airports, hotels, schools, churches, to name but a few.

Junk foods are highly processed foods, which many times come in the form of snacks with ingredients difficult for most people to pronounce.

Coupled with the above is the fact that we are constantly bombarded by advertisements, enticing us to indulge.  Those videos and images of junk food leave us salivating and rushing to get some.

We see the advertisements on the television, on billboards, in magazines, and on the computer.  Again, these are just some of the obvious places we see these ads creeping before our faces.

Some Facts About Junk Food

Junk foods are nutritionally deficient.  Yes, they are low in nutrition.  Junk foods are far from nutrition-dense.  This means that they may make us feel full for a while but offer little or no minerals, vitamins, and all the other good stuff our body needs to become and remain healthy.

If you are counting calories, then you definitely want to stay away from junk foods as they are many times super high in calories.  Counting calories for some people is a good way to keep the weight off.

Remember that for diabetics, sometimes just losing a few pounds will drop the blood sugar numbers.

Go ahead and read this article about diabetes and weight.

Junk foods are “tasty” because of the high sugar and fat content.  The result is weight gain and the possibility of a life with diabetes and other lifestyle illnesses.

Yes, this means that if we avoid junk food, we can help to control diabetes.

The Insulin Drama in the Life of a Diabetic

Being overweight can result in diabetes.  Many people argue that this is top on the list for becoming diabetic.  Too much fatty tissue around our midsection, causes our cells to resist insulin.  Insulin is a hormone with the task of moving sugar from our blood and into our cells.

There comes a time when our cells are not able to properly use insulin.  The pancreas is then fooled into thinking that we need more insulin.  Yep, it sends out more insulin.  Do you see the drama unfolding?

Doctors love to say “wear and tear.”  A similar thing happens with the pancreas.  It ceases to produce all the insulin we need to control our blood sugar.  The result is high sugar levels in the blood called DIABETES.

In addition to being highly processed, being high in calories, having too much sugar and fats, junk foods are also low in fiber.  All of this means that they (junk foods) are easily digested and will result in a spike in our blood sugar levels.  The horrible bonus can also be an increase in what we call bad cholesterol levels.

Please read (click the blue link) to understand the rise and fall in blood sugar levels and the reason for preventing that spike in our blood sugars.

While you are at it, just take a little time to read about the connection between diabetes and cholesterol.

Carbohydrates in Junk Food

In the above paragraphs, a lot was said about carbohydrates in junk food.  The next time you pick up some junk food in the supermarket, or wherever you shop, stop and take a look at the carbohydrate content.

What if I were to tell you that a regular french fries could give you between 40 to 65 grams of carbohydrate?  Would you feel the same way about supersizing your fries, or eating a regular fries every day?

What if I told you that eating a regular wrap could be 42 grams of ingested carbohydrate?  Would you eat a wrap every day?

Here are a few junk foods, that eaten over time, especially where moderation is thrown through the door, could result in serious harm in the near and distant future:

  • Cakes
  • Candy
  • Cookies
  • Store-bought, sweetened smoothies
  • Ice cream
  • Doughnuts
  • Spiced buns
  • Drinks and juices

The choice is ours.

  1. A few seconds of eating tasty, carbohydrate-filled food, and the possibility of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
  2. A lifetime of whole foods and an active lifestyle and to be free of diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.

Tips for Healthier Fast Food Choices

I know you are thinking that sometimes you are out and you must eat something.  I agree and here are some tips to help you to choose what to eat.

If fruits are available, then I eat some fruits.  In a lot of places we go now, we can get a fruit bowl to purchase or just some single fruits at a reasonable price.

I prefer to stop at a supermarket and pick up some nuts and seeds to relieve my hunger.  This with some fruits and a bottle or two of water makes my gut happy and when I snack like this, I am healthier in the long run.

If I stop for a burger, I just ask for a small sandwich, no mayonnaise, and I skip the fries and definitely the drink.   I also sometimes order a sandwich free of cheese and bacon.  I rarely do this, however.  Yes, that is my new normal. If I feel like I should have fries, I go for the regular.

I love pizza.  Yes, I do.  Now, I ask for a thin crust and I go with vegetable pizza sometimes.  Hey, I still eat my Hawaiian and Meat Lover option, but, that is no longer my norm.

I still eat the occasional Jamaican patty when I am on the road some days.  Here goes the transformation.  I eat one (1) patty.  Yes, I use to have two (2) patties before.

Before my new normal, if you saw me eating one (1) patty, please know that it was nicely sandwiched between a soft, buttery coco bread.

Now, I rarely have an appetite for junk food.  Potato chips, burgers, and cakes are no longer tempting for me when I have to go on the road.  Yes, my taste bud is adjusting and I love seeing my blood sugar inching to the normal range and just relaxing at a level that protects my entire body.

Mexico Bans Junk Food

Mexico decided to place a ban on junk foods for minors as part of their fight against COVID-19.  For me, this was happy news and I am waiting for other leaders to step up to the plate.

COVID-19 is more severe and ends in fatalities in people who are known to have diabetes, heart disease and are overweight (obesity).  The more weight a person carries and contracts COVID-19, the risk of death increases.

It was reported that at least 68% of the Mexicans who died from the Corona Virus, were people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular problems, and obesity.

The idea of the ban is to ensure that the younger generation stays clear of these comorbidities.  Overall, this is promising news for Mexico.  This means that a few years down the line, they will have adults who are fans of a whole food diet and their children will not have an appetite for junk/fast foods.

Yes, Mexico will spend less on healthcare for her citizens and Mexicans will live longer, healthier lives.

How to Avoid Junk Food

I think about my meals from the day before.  Yes, this means I plan.  I ensure that my pantry and refrigerator are free of junk foods.  This for me is the best place to start.  If I don’t see it, then I won’t be tempted.

I mentioned that I plan my meals.  I usually plan two meals for each mealtime, with just slight variations.  Dependent on my blood sugar readings that morning or evening, then I draw for the appropriate plan which will help me to keep the numbers as close as possible to the normal range.

I try to always have certain foods in my refrigerator.  See some of my options below:

  • Pumpkin
  • Cho Cho
  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Pak Choy
  • Bananas (Green and ripe.  When my blood sugar is bordering on being too low, ripe bananas are an excellent option)
  • Plantains (Green and ripe)
  • Yam (I eat this before 1 pm)
  • Dasheen (I eat this before 1 pm)
  • Bammy (I eat this before 1 pm)
  • Hominy corn (I eat this before 1 pm)
  • Callaloo
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Red kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Cowpeas
  • Blackeye peas
  • Lentils
  • Oranges
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Avocado
  • A variety of nuts (small packets to help with portion control and to provide quick access to healthier snacks)
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Escallions
  • Scotch bonnet pepper
  • Jalapeno pepper
  • Thyme

In my freezer I keep a little of the following:

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Cow liver

I also always have salted fish (codfish).

I keep junk foods out of my body by prepping/cooking meals ahead of time and refrigerating.  I do this, especially for my beans and peas.  I always have some cooked beans in a container in the freezer.

I love adding little cooked beans to most of my meals.  These are high in fiber, gets digested slowly and so they avoid the horrible spike possible/experienced when we consume food such as junk foods.

I also make patties and burgher buns with beans and peas as these keep well in the refrigerator and are a great addition to some of my meals.  The patties and buns can be frozen, which makes them good options for close to the end of the week when my job is draining my energy.

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I also try to always have some cooked starch (yam, green bananas, dasheen) in the refrigerator for easy access and lunch preparation for work.  I almost always have some boiled/steamed pumpkin, cho cho, carrots in the refrigerator as well.

Another junk food-free dish in my refrigerator is my steamed/sauteed cabbage, callaloo, pak choy, cauliflower, broccoli, and spinach).

I do make some hominy porridge at times, but not regularly.  The reason being is that I love condensed milk and sugar in my porridge, so I avoid having it every week.

I boil some of my meats and place them in the freezer proportioned in 6 oz. (two servings for me) and place them into separate containers.  This makes it easy for me to defrost, add seasoning and herbs which are also prepped.

I can then saute these in a few minutes and there you go, I have a wide variety of possibilities to help me to turn a blind eye to junk foods.

I accomplish this by purchasing a variety of lunch bags to carry different size food containers I have at home.  Yes, I always take food, nuts, water, and fruits with me when I leave my home.

It’s really easy to do and become a welcomed habit when you experience:

  • Weight loss
  • Normal blood sugar
  • Normal blood pressure
  • Normal cholesterol
  • Beefed up energy
  • Clean skin, free of blemishes
  • Healthy hair and teeth
  • Less if any pain from an inflamed body

Conclusion

All the research and data points to one single fact:  Junk foods will affect the quality of our life.  There is no questioning that people who have a constant diet of junk food runs the risk of having diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular issues, general inflammation, obesity, and a poorer quality of life due to illness and restricted movements.

The high carbohydrate content, excess sugars, and fats, coupled with the low fiber content of junk foods will, over time make us diabetic, which could result in death.

For me, living and not being able to be active, moving sluggishly, and always being in my bed is worse than death and so it is a personal choice of mine to avoid junk foods and to choose WHOLE FOOD.

Medical Disclaimer

Please take a look at the book below.

Delicious – Diabetic-Friendly Recipes

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