Mary Ellen Phipps, MPH, RDN, LD
Founder, milkandhoneynutrition.com; Author, “The Easy Diabetes Cookbook”
Blood sugar balance may seem like a difficult thing to achieve, but there are actually three things you can eat daily to make balancing your blood sugars a lot easier than you’d think.
But before we dive into those three things, let’s look at why we should be concerned about balancing our blood sugars.
Find a balance
Your body’s blood sugar level changes quite frequently throughout the day in response to a number of different things:
- What you eat
- How you move your body
- What your stress levels are
- Your body’s hormone levels
And it can change pretty quickly, too. Blood sugars that are too high or too low can lead to low energy levels, reduced sex drive, brain fog, sugar cravings, and many other unwanted side effects.
So, it’s safe to say that it’s worth the time to make sure we’re eating in a way that promotes blood sugar balance.
The three food groups
To balance blood sugars, you should focus on adding fat, fiber, and protein to your plate every time you eat.
All food is made up of some combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. And there are three main types of carbohydrates we eat: sugar, fiber, and starch. Sugar is considered a simple carbohydrate, while fiber and starch are considered complex carbohydrates.
Our bodies process simple carbohydrates (sugar) the quickest. Simple carbohydrates are great for a quick energy boost, but if you are not eating anything else with them, you may see a rapid rise in blood sugar level and then a rapid fall (a sugar crash). You also will most likely not be as satisfied and get hungry again sooner because the food is digested pretty quickly. For example, an apple with peanut butter will most likely keep you more satisfied than an apple by itself.
It takes our bodies longer to digest fat, fiber, and protein than it does sugar. So if you are eating fat, fiber, and protein at each meal or snack, your body takes a bit longer to digest your food. This means you will have a more steady supply of nutrients to your bloodstream, and your food will stay in your stomach longer. In other words, you will feel satisfied for longer and have more stable energy levels.
Making a plate
So how do you put this into practice? Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to enjoy a piece of toast or a bagel. By themselves, these things likely don’t have a lot of fat, fiber, and protein. They’re all easy-to-digest simple carbs.
But if you took that piece of toast or bagel and added some avocado (for fat and fiber) and an egg (for fat and protein), you’d have a much more blood sugar-friendly meal in front of you.
So the next time you sit down to eat, think about adding those three things: fat, fiber, and protein. Both your blood sugar levels and your energy levels will thank you.