3 Easy Ways to Balance Your Blood Sugar
November is National Diabetes Month! There are a variety of lifestyle habits that can impact blood sugar levels, including nutrition.
It’s easy for blood sugar to become uncontrolled with a busy schedule and confusion around on-the-go options. Here are 3 easy ways that you can start this week to help balance out your blood sugar.
Pair with Protein
When choosing your meals and snacks, aim to pair a healthy carbohydrate source with a protein source. Often times diabetics are told to simply ‘cut carbs’ which creates a weird guilty feeling around carbohydrates. This food guilt ends up manifesting as an all-or-nothing approach when a person avoids carbs completely and then eventually binges on the kinds of carbohydrates that don’t have a lot of other nutritional benefits (i.e. doughnuts, candy, pizza, soda).
The truth is, those foods are totally fine to have on occasion. If healthy carbs are consumed in moderation paired with protein, then those binges will likely decrease. Our bodies require carbohydrates for many important processes so when we restrict them too much, our bodies send us physiological signals to GET SOME MORE, hence the binge. Instead of focusing on avoiding carbs, focus on pairing them with a protein source. Doing this will allow your body to feel more satisfied and your blood sugar to be more balanced as opposed to those highs and lows.
Pro Tip: Healthy carb snacks like fruit, greek yogurt, and whole grain crackers can be paired with proteins like nuts, nut butters, string cheese or a hard-boiled egg.
Portions of food are important for overall health but for diabetics, portions of carbohydrates are of prime importance when balancing blood sugar. To view this as a basic analogy, think of these carbs you are ingesting as people who want to get into a concert venue. The concert venue has a limited number of seats. If more people show up to the venue than there are seats to offer, these people might crowd the aisles, or damage the venue or wreak havoc elsewhere. All these extra people causing problems are like that double portion of pasta you just ate. TOO MANY CARBS in one sitting. Instead, give the venue a chance to clear out and get ready for the next event.
Pasta isn’t the enemy, it’s just important to consume a portion that isn’t going to be a carbohydrate overload. Consider 1 cup of cooked pasta per sitting. Obviously 1 cup of food is not adequate for an entire meal so it’s a great opportunity to pair with protein such as turkey meatballs or shrimp and round out your meal with a salad on the side or toss some steamed or roasted vegetables right into the pasta dish.
Pro Tip: Check out the back of packages for the nutrition facts label and find the line for carbohydrates. If you have more than one carb-containing food in your snack or meal, be sure to consider the serving size and add the carbohydrate grams accordingly. Snacks should contain 0-20 total grams of carbohydrate. Meals should typically contain less than 50 total grams of carbohydrate per meal. These levels may be too high or too low for some but it’s best to work with a registered dietitian nutritionist to figure out the best level for you.
Drink Up Buttercup
Believe it or not, drinking water is beneficial to balancing blood sugar. Pure H2O helps with dilution and aids kidneys in removing any excess blood sugar. Often times an urge to snack is actually a sign from the body that it is slightly dehydrated. When a carb-containing snack is chosen instead of water, it will cause blood sugar levels to rise. Try drinking a glass of water when the craving for a sweet snack strikes. Wait 20 minutes and the craving may pass. If instead the craving has turned to slight hunger, then aim for a balanced snack that contains a healthy carb paired with a protein source.
The recommended amount of water is not the same for everyone but 8 cups per day is a good aim to start with. Many people actually need more but get much less! Getting adequate water throughout the day can also help with the afternoon fatigue that often comes with dropping blood sugar levels. Try keeping a reusable water bottle on the desk or kitchen counter as a reminder to drink up. The ideal amount of water will be reflected in urine color that is close to clear or light lemonade. A person who is dehydrated may produce urine that is near the color of apple juice.
Pro Tip: Make water the first priority in the morning. After all, so many human cells, body parts and internal reactions need this pure fuel to be efficient! Water will help everything move more smoothly.
Are you looking for additional guidance on managing your blood sugar or diabetes? Schedule your FREE nutrition consultation with one of our dietitians!