Sugar has been the latest in a whole host of food enemies from fat to carbohydrates. Many of the foods we consume daily– even those deemed ‘healthy’ and created for the healthier target market are packed with sugar, and though efforts are being made to reduce sugar in products, it is still something that is hard to escape. Good health is all about balance, and this is especially vital when it comes to blood sugar. If you have symptoms like uncontrollable hunger, irritability if you miss a meal, sugar cravings, difficulty losing weight, poor concentration and poor sleep you may have issues with your blood sugar balance. Don’t worry though there are many things you can do to manage your blood sugar levels.
Blood Sugar 101
Our blood sugar levels naturally rise and fall throughout the day, though we tend to function best within a narrow range. We can regulate our blood sugar levels through exercise and a balanced diet to reduce the risk of later health issues. When we eat, carbohydrates break down into sugar and enter the bloodstream as glucose, insulin acts as a regulator to help move this into the cells to supply us with energy or storage for later. Consistently high levels of blood glucose often leads to insulin resistance which can result in type 2 diabetes and further complications. Trying to keep blood sugar stable and inflammation in check should help to reduce your risk of a wide range of diseases.
Blood Sugar Management Tips:
- Avoid foods that spike blood sugar. Anything refined and heavily processed like sugar, white bread and white pasta will be high on the glycaemic index scale and raise blood sugar levels very quickly setting you up for a later crash.
- Meal plan. Be prepared so you aren’t left hangry and having to grab a less than ideal option on the run. Batch cook on the weekends, take leftovers with you to work, and know the local healthy spots if you do get caught out.
- Focus on whole foods. Use fresh whole foods, plenty of colourful vegetables and fruits. The less processed the better, these foods rich in fibre and nutrients will help to manage blood sugar levels.
- Balance your meals. Ensure each meal contains a good balance of protein, healthy fat and fibre which will help to slow the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Protein rich foods like wild fish, free range eggs and grass fed meats as well as collagen powder are great sources of protein to help mange your appetite and slow sugar absorption into the blood stream
- Have a protein rich breakfast. Having breakfast within an hour of waking will help provide fuel to slow down glucose release in the system. A smoothie, or yoghurt bowl with a scoop of collagen powder would be ideal.
- Exercise. Exercise helps muscle cells to take up more glucose in order to use it for energy and tissue repair and thus lowers blood sugar. Cells also become more responsive to insulin with regular exercise. Try to do some form of exercise at least 3 times a week for 30-60 minutes
- Good Sleep and Stress Less. A lack of sleep can raise stress hormones and appetite hormones like cortisol and ghrelin which can interfere with how insulin is used and make us feel hungry, increasing cravings for comfort foods. Getting enough sleep and reducing stress is vital for blood sugar control.
Small changes in your diet and lifestyle can make a big difference in terms of blood sugar management and help you to feel and function better on a daily basis as well as supporting your long term health.