Optimal blood sugar levels are necessary for several aspects of our biochemistry to function smoothly. Ideal blood sugar levels allow for greater energy, diminished sweet cravings, improved body weight, sharper memory, brighter mood and balanced hormones. In addition, by learning to balance blood sugar, we minimize our risk of blood sugar-related diseases, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease. Blood sugar levels can become unbalanced quite easily when we eat foods that release energy very quickly. Processed foods, high in refined sugars and flours, release their glucose in a sudden rush which results in a spike of blood sugar. It is just a matter of time before this sharp rise is followed by a sudden crash and we are left in a fat-storing state- feeling fatigued, hungry and irritable.
During episodes of blood sugar spikes, important hormone called insulin comes to our rescue. Insulin is essential for the body absorb metabolize sugar effectively, but when we have too much of it floating through our bodies, we get stuck in fat storage mode, become inflamed and experience even greater fatigue! When this cycle happens over and over again, our cells become tired and stop listening to insulin, which leads to insulin resistance, an early warning sign of diabetes.
Proper nutrition is one of the tools we can use to encourage optimal blood sugar. Below are a few tips for success!
- Make sure the diet is rich in LOW glycemic foods: These foods release energy slowly into the bloodstream. Low glycemic foods include lean proteins, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables, legumes, modest amounts of whole grains, nuts and seeds.
- Include a light snack in between main meals: Protein, produce and water every 3-4 hours is key. A light snack, such as an apple and nut butter or hummus and celery sticks, in between meals will encourage our blood sugar to be more stable throughout the day.
- Eat protein with each meal: Protein is very satiating. It releases energy slowly, which signals to the brain that we are full and should feel satisfied. Lean chicken breast or ground beef make for a great meal when accompanied by fresh vegetables.
- Eat breakfast: Starting the day out with a healthy breakfast, low in carbohydrates and focused around health proteins protein and fats, sets your blood sugar biochemistry up for greater success throughout the remainder of the day. A healthy breakfast also boosts your metabolism into a hardy burn.
- Limit sugars and starches: These foods are responsible for blood sugar spikes which result in fatigue, irritability, hunger and loss of will power. These foods are common triggers that often result in a pattern of cravings and weight gain.
- Avoid sodas and sweet drinks: Filled with sugars, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, soda has no place in a healthy diet. Even juices, because of their sugar content, should be limited or diluted.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners: Even though artificial sweeteners contain no glucose, they can have the same effect on cravings and are accompanied by a higher risk of insulin resistance.
- Reduce stimulants: Caffeine and nicotine cause our blood sugar to rise due to a spike in adrenaline. This spike contributes to weight gain and is often followed by a worsening of fatigue.