A Balanced Plate for Balanced Blood Sugar

Your blood sugar levels affect how you feel in a big way - from energy levels, to mood, to hunger. For diabetics, keeping a balanced blood sugar has always been important, but recent scientific studies now show the importance as well for people who suffer from a range of symptoms like sugar cravings, low energy, anxiety, brain fog, and that horrible “hangry” feeling. And now we’ve realized, that includes almost all of us!

When it comes to your plate, you have the power to make some significant changes to your health. Your goal is to make sure many of your meals have all three major macronutrients present: protein, fat, and carbohydrates for total nutritional synergy within your body.

No time to read? Skip to the bottom for quick tips!


Our six best nutrition tips for balancing your blood sugar:

 

- Eat at regular intervals: Get off the blood sugar roller coaster by eating three consistent meals per day. This isn’t an excuse to snack constantly - which can also have a negative effect on your blood sugar - but rather, try not to go more than five hours without eating something healthy and blood sugar stabilizing.

 

- Protein and healthy fats are great choices: High quality proteins like chicken, fish and eggs are great for blood sugar. Pair them with an omega-3 fat source like walnuts, chia seeds or olive oil to stay full and keep your blood sugar levels in ideal range for energy levels and mental clarity.

Protein is needed to support healthy hormones, immune health and aid in blood sugar control. The goal here is to find the right amount that you need based on your age, gender and activity level. Too little protein can lead to malnutrition while too much can actually be converted into glucose or sugar in the body by a process called gluconeogenesis. I refer to it as the goldilocks macronutrient. 

Fat can be used to flavor your meals and make your vegetables delicious. It can also help with unlocking the nutrition—specifically the antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins found in vegetables. So, what are we saying? You get more bang for your buck when you drizzle olive oil on your veggies. The goal here when it comes to your blood sugar is to lower your inflammatory levels by choosing fats that support your cells. These look like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olives, olive oil, avocados, fish, nuts and seeds.

 

- Simple carbohydrates are not a friend of your blood sugar: Breads, pastas and cereal can spike blood sugar and cause it to crash shortly after eating them. When you do eat carbohydrates, focus on complex carbohydrates instead such as oats, sweet potatoes, and whole grains. The fiber content in these carbohydrates is also helpful for blood sugar levels as it slows absorption of sugar and avoids the dreaded sugar crash after eating.

When the diet is full of refined carbs, white sugar and an overconsumption of breads, this can lead to issues with your metabolism and ability to regulate blood sugar. The goal for optimal health is to focus on the fiber content. This can help with slowing the release of sugar into your system. Aim for the more complex carbs, low starchy vegetables and low sugar fruits. 

These carbs can shift with the seasons, hormone needs, current health and exercise. When focusing on blood sugar choose a quality protein source with low starchy vegetables tossed in fat at the majority of your meals to support a healthy weight and give your endocrine system a little boost. Bring in complex carbs like whole grains, root vegetables and fruit around your exercise and you will be supporting your body in a significant way.

 

- Be especially wary of sugary drinks: Yes, sweet tea is delicious! But drinking sugar is harder on your blood sugar levels because there is no additional fiber, protein, or other components to slow its release into the bloodstream. Sodas are no-nos as well, even those sweetened artificially. Try making your own flavored waters with fruits and vegetables like cucumber, mint and lemon. It will take a little while to get used to, but this one healthy swap will get so much easier when your body stops craving sugar.

 

- Exercise daily: Getting in a good walk every day or strengthening exercises like lifting weights helps our body control blood sugar by sending sugar out of the bloodstream and into our tissue and muscles to be used as fuel. Adding exercise to your lifestyle is beneficial beyond just blood sugar control as it improves mood, agility and cardiac function. Even a few minutes of exercise per day shows benefits, so start small and you may just feel so good you continue!

Consider supplements to help: Sometimes we need an extra boost! There are many natural ingredients to support your body’s blood sugar regulation, including cinnamon, magnesium, fish oil and alpha-lipoic acid. These ingredients can complement a healthy diet and exercise routine to help your blood sugar stay balanced and keep you feeling your best.

 

Quick Tips


Check your vitamin D levels

Since we are moving into the colder months, I like to encourage my clients to up their vitamin D intake, especially if they are not in the sun on a regular basis. Vitamin D is so important for a variety of reasons beyond your bone health, including hormone regulation, supporting immune function and mood among many others. Checking vitamin D at your doctor's office can be a quick addition to your yearly check up to understand the amount you need. Personally, I like to take around 2,000IU for a few months in the winter. 

 

Ditch sugary beverages

Drinking something with sugar is one of the quickest ways to raise your blood sugar levels. This can be a major problem for those struggling with keeping these ranges in check. Even your daily diet soda can put you at risk for irregular releases of insulin causing high blood sugar over time. This is primarily due to their effect on your gut microbiome which as many know has a profound effect on your metabolism. Not to mention the potential for weight gain when consumed on a daily basis.