In my previous blog post about blood sugar, I wrote about why we need to be mindful of our blood sugar and its impact on our health. You can catch up on that here.
But knowledge isn’t enough if we don’t put it into practice, right?
In this post, I’ve highlighted five easy but effective ways to manage blood sugar all day. Incorporating these things into your day will help to avoid energy crashes and keep you feeling stable.
1. Notice How You Feel
Nutritional health is deeply personal. We all react differently to the foods we eat. That’s why it’s so important to get into the habit of paying attention to how we feel after we eat certain foods.
If you feel lethargic after a cheese and ham sandwich or giant bowel of pasta for lunch, you may have taken in more carbs than your body needs. Notice how that feels.
Maybe next time, try a chicken salad with some nuts and seeds and see how that feels. Do you notice how the mid-afternoon slump relates to what you eat for lunch?
There are a lot of fad diets out there and the world of nutrition is a minefield with a lot of conflicting information. The one thing you can rely on, however, is how you feel. I encourage writing it down if you can.
One thing I’ve found helpful (and fascinating!) is to log my food intake into an app.
I use myfitnesspal, which is free, and I can honestly say it’s changed the way I eat. I don’t use it all the time, but being able to see how many calories, carbs, fats and protein you eat in a day is a great educational tool. There are many apps available like this which give you a breakdown of your nutrient intake, so you can make changes where you need to.
2. Eat Protein for Breakfast
Breakfast is vitally important for managing blood sugar, which affects the whole day.
While there is a lot of conflicting information in the world of nutrition on the best time to eat breakfast, there is no right or wrong time.
Some people like to eat immediately upon waking, others prefer to fast for a few hours.
Studies have shown many benefits to fasting (more on this in subsequent posts), but the most important thing is to listen to your body and eat breakfast when it feels right for you.
What you eat for breakfast, however, is important for blood sugar management. A high-protein, high fibre, moderate fat but low carb meal seems to be the ideal breakfast for most people.
Unless you eat a specific paleo or grain-free cereal, most cereals contain too many carbohydrates and not enough protein to stabilise blood sugar. The same goes for bread-based products and pastries at breakfast.
If you do feel you need bread at breakfast, opt for high-fibre bread like wholewheat or rye, and make sure to pair with something such as eggs and avocado.
You want to aim for around 20-30g of protein for breakfast, ideally. Examples of this are;
- Eggs with haricot or cannellini beans, with veggies such as spinach, mushrooms and avocado
- Greek yoghurt with nuts, seeds and berries
- Eggs and bacon or any other cooked meat with veggies or beans
- My Green Protein Smoothie
- My Protein Pancakes
These examples will help balance your blood sugar for the day and can keep you full for up to four hours.
3. Add Cinnamon
Studies have shown that cinnamon can help lower blood sugar by managing the amount of glucose that enters the bloodstream. It also imitates the effects of insulin and increases glucose transport into cells.
As well as helping level out your blood sugar levels, cinnamon is high in antioxidants, coming second when compared with 26 other herbs and spices (after cloves).
Antioxidants help the body reduce oxidative stress. This is a natural process in the body but it can cause disease if it gets out of control.
Cinnamon is great when sprinkled in coffee and tea or incorporated into breakfast foods.
4. Increase Fibre
Fibre is the structural part of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Fibre is essential for a healthy gut and a healthy body. Because the body doesn’t absorb and break down fibre (that’s the job of the amazing bacteria in our guts), it doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar.
Carbs that contain fibre (e.g. wholewheat bread instead of white) help to slow the rate of sugar entering the bloodstream.
Fibre also helps to keep us full and satisfied, reducing the desire to reach for sugary foods.
Examples of high-fibre foods are vegetables, fruits such as apples, berries, pears and citrus fruits, brown rice, nuts, lentils, beans, oats, barley, quinoa and other whole grains.
5. Balance Carbs
When you eat carbs with protein and fat, you’re reducing the time the sugar is released into the bloodstream. If you look at your plate and you can tick all the macronutrients (protein, carbs and fat), along with fibre, it should work well to keep your blood sugar balanced.
- Roast chicken with sweet potato, salad and olive oil
- Lentil curry with brown rice
- Fish with quinoa and steamed veg
- Even pizza night can be balanced with some added protein and a side salad!
For snacks try:
- Oat or whole-grain crackers with hummus
- Apple with almond butter
- Berries and mixed nuts
Once you get into the habit of noticing how you feel after you eat and balancing your meals, the mid-afternoon slump should become a thing of the past. You should feel more energised throughout the day and reduce cravings for sweet foods.
If you feel you need some help knowing what to eat to manage your blood sugar, you might like to check out my free three-day meal plan, designed specifically to balance your blood sugar.
Any questions on carbs, protein or ways to increase energy throughout the day? Ask or comment below!