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Notes on Nutrition: Top 5 tips to manage blood sugar
Stephanie Vande Brake
May. 12, 2023 5:45 am
Did you know there is a scientific cause for cravings? Cravings often appear after you experience a big spike in blood sugar followed by a dramatic drop in blood sugar or a “crash.” You may feel frequent hunger pains, low energy or like you’re relying on caffeine to make it through the day. But did you know there is a way of eating to help you feel more balanced?
It’s true. There is a style of eating that can help with more stable energy, reduced inflammation, fewer cravings and better blood sugar control for anyone. It can be especially helpful for those with elevated glucose or insulin resistance who are working to improve their blood sugar control.
Life is about learning and improving. Whether you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, a family history of diabetes or just want to take a pro-active approach with your eating, there are small actions you can take today to get started right away. Don’t wait another day to feel your best.
Research has found there are several highly effective ways to balance blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance. Here are the top five dietitian tips to manage your blood sugar.
- Start your day with a protein-rich breakfast rather than something sweet. Make your first meal of the day balanced with a good source of protein such as eggs, nuts, Greek yogurt or protein powder. Research shows if you balance the beginning of your day, your body will be better at regulating blood sugar the rest of the day.
- Eat your meals in a specific order. Research has found that eating your meal in a specific order can help decrease a blood sugar spike by almost 75 percent. This can be nearly as effective as some diabetes medications.
Vegetables first: Start your meals with non-starchy vegetables. Think of these vegetables as a magic pill that uses fiber to slow down digestion and effectively allows glucose to hit the bloodstream much more gently. Try carrots or broccoli and dip, a salad full of leafy greens, tomatoes and cucumbers, or cooked vegetables such as roasted Brussels sprouts drizzled with Chosen avocado oil. All forms of non-starchy vegetables count. When you commit to eating vegetables first at meals, you’ll be amazed to see how much you increase your vegetable intake.
Proteins and fats next: Then enjoy a source of protein and fat such as meat, fish, tofu, beans, cheese, nuts, avocado, or blood sugar-friendly Good Measure bars. Protein and fat also help slow down digestion for better blood sugar control and provide satiety.
Starches and sweets last: Save anything starchy or sweet such as bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, corn, peas, fruit and dessert for the end of a balanced meal. Timing the carbohydrates at the end of the meal after eating vegetables, protein and fat will not affect your blood sugar nearly as much as eating carbohydrates on an empty stomach.
- Save sweets for dessert after a balanced meal rather than on an empty stomach. Once again, save anything sweet for the end of a balanced meal when you already have fiber, protein and fat in your stomach to help blunt a blood sugar spike. Plus, since cravings usually occur due to a crash in blood sugar following a spike, many people notice less cravings for sweets once they have balanced their blood sugar. They report feeling satisfied with just a few bites of something sweet and feel powerful having control over their cravings rather than being controlled by cravings.
- Move for a few minutes after meals. Timing some form of movement after meals is an excellent way to help reduce a blood sugar spike. Even just a few minutes of movement such as walking or performing household chores helps by allowing muscles to use some of the sugar in the blood. Research has shown even two minutes of walking can help.
- Stay consistent with support. Do you know even just writing down a goal makes you more likely to achieve it? So does having someone to hold you accountable. One of the best parts of this style of eating is it is not all or nothing. There are no off-limit foods. There is no guilt associated with enjoying favorite foods. It truly is an approach to eating most people feel like they can continue with for the long-term. When it comes to making progress, consistent action is key. Set yourself up for success with support from a Hy-Vee dietitian. It is also crucial to communicate with your doctor about any changes to your diet and continue taking medications as directed while monitoring changes in blood sugar.
Almost half of U.S. adults now have elevated blood sugars. More than one in three have prediabetes and roughly 80 percent are not even aware their levels are high. If you do not know where you stand in terms of blood sugar control or are looking to improve, connect with your Hy-Vee dietitian about our Balancing Your Blood Sugar program for the support to help you succeed.
Stephanie Vande Brake is a Hy-Vee dietitian.