November 3rd, 2020
How to Stabilize Blood Sugar with Your Meals and Snacks
Stabilizing blood sugar is important for those with blood sugar concerns such as those with prediabetes, PCOS, type 1 diabetes, or type 2 diabetes. However it’s also very important for the day to day life of all individuals because stabilizing blood sugar means that you will have more constant energy without any energy crashes and it can help prevent any long term damage to blood sugar control in individuals as well.
When it comes to controlling your blood sugar with your food, there are several things to consider. The first thing to consider is that all carbohydrates, regardless of fiber amount or nutrient amount will spike blood sugar in every individual. Carbohydrates include things like grains, fruit, beans, dessert items, sugary beverages, crackers, chips, sweeteners, starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes, and dairy products. Whenever anyone eats any of these foods, the carbohydrate amount in the food breaks down and causes a release of insulin in our body. Within these foods though, some contain higher amounts of nutrients and fiber that can help slow that digestion and release of insulin and can stabilize blood sugar instead of causing a large spike. These high fiber foods include whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and 100% whole wheat products. The fiber in these foods slows down the digestion process and can make them a healthier carbohydrate source.
The second thing to consider with blood sugar control is what else is in the food product or meal that can help slow carbohydrate digestion and therefore help stabilize blood sugar. Typically when just consuming a carbohydrate item like a piece of fruit by itself, your blood sugar can go up in a “spike”. However when you add a protein or fat with that food item, the “spike” becomes more of a “hill” shape that more slowly increases and more gradually decreases. This “hill” shape for blood sugar is more desirable because it puts less strain on your pancreas with a more steady insulin release. Dairy products like greek yogurt and milk can have slower digestion because of their added protein that is also in the food product. Protein and fat can help slow digestion of carbohydrates when consumed at the same time and create more of the “hill” effect of blood sugar levels that we want.
How to Combine Foods to Control Blood Sugar
Because protein and fat slow digestion of carbohydrates and therefore can act to stabilize blood sugar, it’s important to ensure that every time you eat a carbohydrate food you are pairing that food item with either a protein food or a healthy fat food to get the stabilization. Try combining carbohydrate options such as popcorn, crackers, chips, grains, or bread with protein or healthy fat foods like a piece of grilled chicken, hummus, a cheese stick, guacamole, nuts or nut butter, or a hard boiled egg. This kind of combining of your food can really help stabilize the blood sugar levels after consuming those foods. This combining principle for controlling blood sugar can be utilized at both meal times and with snacks you eat throughout the day. Using this technique can help lower blood sugar levels overtime and prevent complications.
Other Ways to Control Blood Sugar
It’s also important to consider the health of the food that you eat in order to promote a healthy body from the inside out as well. Whenever we consume more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and high quality protein it helps stabilize all lab values internally and promotes overall health. Prioritizing these healthy food items over packaged and processed food items can also help bring lab values within normal range and/or prevent any long term irregularities.