Why Regulate Blood Sugar
Regulating our blood sugar is important for all of us. Blood glucose levels reflect our diet and the way we treat our bodies, and impact our mood, mental health, physical capabilities, and are found to correlate with a large number of diseases.
Here are the foods to avoid, and the top 7 ways to regulate your blood sugar and protect your health.
Artificial sweeteners and other forms of sugar, refined carbohydrates (such as breads, pastas, flour-based products, chips), and pop. While more natural forms of sugar such as maple syrup, molasses and raw honey are better choices, sugar is still sugar. Treat it with care and try to consume less than the equivalent of a couple Tablespoons per day.
Some people who may be especially sensitive to fluctuations in blood sugar may need to reduce or avoid caffeine and alcohol, as both can cause rapid increases in glucose levels in some individuals.
Top 8 Ways to Regulate Blood Sugar
1. Plan Ahead
While there doesn’t need to be a strict plan in place, having a general idea as to what you will be eating for meals for the week can be helpful. This allows you the opportunity to check out a new recipe or two, include lots of vegetables in your meals, prepare at the grocery store accordingly to save both time and money, and having some ideas can make you much less likely to grab a doughnut for breakfast on the way to work. Additionally if you normally eat out or aren’t going to be cooking your own meals, check out which restaurants or stores you will be grabbing prepared food to decide what your best options might be.
2. Include Protein and Fibre with Every Meal
Protein is the key ingredient to stabilizing hormones, which is why it is so important to include with every meal. It also converts to blood sugar more slowly and has a regulating effect.
As for fibre, not only does it promote good digestive health and keep your bowels moving, but also prevents spikes in blood sugar. Fibre behaves a little differently in the body because unlike refined carbohydrates, it does not require insulin to be broken down and digested. It will also leave you feeling satiated for longer. Some great sources are chia and ground flax seeds, apples, beans, lentils, oats, and vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage.
3. Healthy Fats
The consumption of healthy fats with meals slows digestion much as protein does, and does not significantly impact blood sugar levels the same way carbohydrates do. Healthy fats are also key for a variety of other health reasons including our hormones and thyroid, among many other areas. Some examples include avocados, fish such as wild salmon, high quality olive oil, and nuts and seeds as long as your system is able to digest them well.
An #IntentionalEdible is a very small indulgence consumed regularly that is incredibly satisfying and keeps you from feeling deprived. This might looks a little different for everyone, for me it’s dark chocolate almonds ;). Some other examples could be a sprinkle of cheese, a glass of wine, a Medjool date smeared with a little nut butter or a little bacon in a salad.
This may sound counter-intuitive when it comes to maintaining blood sugar levels, and for some individuals with particular health issues it might not be the number one option in the short term. However, I do strongly believe in moderation in the longer term and finding ways to make it work. Consuming a small treat regularly if it prevents you from overeating sugary foods or refined carbohydrates later is a win, as far as I’m concerned. A so-called perfect diet is not sustainable in the long term. Check out more about this here.
5. Healthy Snacks Available
Eating smaller meals or snacks more often can initially help to balance blood sugar levels. Long term this may not be the best solution and I prefer that clients transition to regular meals without snacking, but in the shorter term it can make an enormous difference for many people. If you are already having issues with regulating your blood sugar, rather than spiking your levels with fewer, larger meals which can also be more difficult to digest, smaller meals at more regular intervals can help to regulate the glucose levels.
Keep some healthy snacks on hand so that you’re less tempted to pay a visit to the vending machine around mid afternoon when cravings hit, and your body will thank you.
Cinnamon is a powerful little herb that can help to regulate blood sugar levels. No need to overdo this though, just a very small sprinkle (less than 1 tsp throughout the day) can make a difference. Try it in smoothies, on oatmeal, in Moroccan-style meals with things like chickpeas, or mixed into a rub for some grilled chicken.
7. Regular Exercise
Exercise on a regular basis gets those endorphins pumping throughout your body, and boosts your mood. Not only that, but exercise is shown to improve insulin resistance in blood cells, helping to stabilize blood sugar.
In the short term, during exercise more glucose is used from the muscles, lowering your overall blood sugar levels. Over the longer term if exercise is continued consistently, it can actually make your blood cells more receptive to insulin regulation.
Regular, quality sleep helps to maintain healthy hormones, contributes to your disposition and lowers cortisol, which reduces cravings for the types of foods that can throw your mood out of whack. Even if you had a strict healthy diet, lack of quality sleep can impair blood glucose levels and potentially raise the risk for diabetes. Moreover, without lots of rest you won’t have the energy to exercise that can also boost your mood and improve your insulin resistance.
Do you have issues regulating blood sugar? Want to chat about it? Book a free consultation with me here and we can talk about it!