Is your blood sugar kinda wonky? Blood sugar control is sort of like driving on a highway.
When you have healthy blood sugar and insulin levels, those blood sugar “cars” drive on your traffic-free highways (a.k.a. your arteries). Those cars pick up insulin “passengers” along their way, giving them the key needed to unlock the door “home” (into the cells) so those blood sugars get where they need to go and get off the highway. Road trip success!
When you have diabetes, you’ve got too many blood sugar “cars” crowding up your arteries, causing a serious traffic jam. Worse, all of that traffic means not all of the cars will be able to get an insulin passenger. The result? Those cars get stuck on the highway (in your arteries), keeping traffic at a standstill and causing a host of other problems (i.e., damage to nerves, blood vessels, and internal organs).
If you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, it’s as if you’re listening to the traffic report on the radio and have the power to make some adjustments so that you don’t get stuck in gridlock.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, you’re in the midst of a traffic jam. That doesn’t mean the traffic won’t ease up, but there are a few steps you’ll need to take.
This article will show you how better blood sugar nutrition can help you get it all under control and put you on the road to success!
What Is Better Nutrition
1. Quality. If you give your body what it recognizes most easily (whole, organic foods) and avoid the things it doesn’t recognize (packaged foods, additives, and chemicals), you’ll help keep your digestive system working well, helping to deliver nutrients and eliminate unwanteds. Eating high-quality foods is especially important if you have diabetes, as it can help you avoid consuming irritants, like endocrine disruptors, which can further challenge your body’s hormones, like insulin.
Quick tip! Consider what foods are staples in your diet, and try to consume better-quality versions of them more often. Here are a few examples:
* If you eat chips, look for ones made from potatoes (vs their parts)
* If they have flavor, choose ingredients you would use to create that flavor in your kitchen, no artificial colors or flavors
* If you eat broccoli and berries often, try frozen organic. They cost less, and they reduce your exposure to pesticide residues.
2. Quantity. Enjoy as many foods as possible, but enjoy better amounts for your body at one time, particularly when it comes to carbohydrates. Feel like that’s a skimpy portion that won’t fill you up? That’s where the next pillar, nutrient balance, helps out.
Quick tip! 1 serving of carbohydrate = about 15 g carbohydrate on a label, or the size of your fist for fruit, grains, beans, and starchy vegetables.
3. Nutrient balance. In addition to that one serving of carbohydrates, I’d like you to have one serving each of protein and healthy fat, and unlimited non-starchy veggies. So, to make that small bowl of oatmeal a bit more satisfying, you might add peanut butter and hemp seeds (which both qualify as protein and healthy fat). Or, you might have eggs with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and fruit instead of toast.
4. Frequency. Rest assured—you’re not going to go hungry on this plan! The idea is that if you hit the right quality, quantity, and nutrient balance every time you eat, you’ll be hungry every 3 hours or so. And that’s OK! I want you to eat every 3 hours or so. So, forget about how many meals and snacks you’re supposed to have, and think about “pit-stopping” every 3 hours. One caveat: I want you to stop eating at 7 or 8 p.m., especially if you’re not active at that time. Your body isn’t demanding more energy when you’re winding down, or watching TV, which means you don’t need food.
A Few More Extra Tips
1. Whole Grains vs. Flour. It’s OK to eat carbohydrates when you have diabetes—but I prefer you have those carbs in their whole food form. That means eating the actual whole grain (i.e., corn, rice, oats) rather than the flour form of those whole grains (i.e., tortilla chips, rice noodles, or cereal from flour).
2. Fruit vs. Fruit Juice and Dried Fruits. Whole fruit is OK, as long as you only have one serving. (Remember, fruit is a carbohydrate!) Steer clear of fruit juice and dried fruits, as they flood your artery “highways” with blood sugar “cars,” which can cause serious gridlock and contribute to high blood sugar.
3. Get More Good Fats in Your Diet! These are some of my faves that provide essential fatty acids (some add protein and fiber, too!), which help promote healthy inflammatory response: Hemp seeds, wild salmon, walnuts, avocado, and olive oil.
4. Spice It Up! Spices allow you to add flavor (which can inspire you to use less high-sugar sauces and other artificial ingredients!) and help promote a healthy immune response. Consider sprinkling these on your eats or cooking with them:
- Cinnamon. Research shows this savory and sweet spice actually mimics insulin, so it can be a great aid when you have diabetes. Add a dash to your coffee or smoothie in the a.m. to set yourself up for better digestion all day.
- Ginger. This spice adds a kick to everything from your green smoothie to veggie stir-fry, and it works wonders when it comes to promoting a healthy inflammatory response.
- Turmeric. Praised for its anti-aging benefits, this quintessential Indian spice can be used in much more than just curry and dahl. Like ginger, it’s also an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Add a teaspoon or two to your next batch of scrambled eggs or roasted veggies.
3 Betters Of Better Blood Sugar Nutrition
This is the secret to preventing a traffic jam inside your arteries and helping all of those blood sugar “cars” pick up passengers who have the insulin “key”:
1. Better blood sugar management. The secret here is balance. Too many, too few, or “unprotected” (solo carbs, especially as liquids) can drive your blood sugar too high or too low. You need to evaluate and go over your better amounts of carbs (it’s different for everyone, and even on different days depending on exercise and hormones). A registered dietitian can help you plan meals and snacks that provide better nutrient balance – adding protein, fats, and non-starchy vegetables – for better blood sugar
2. Better digestive function. This is my motto: You are not what you eat; you are what you digest and absorb. That means anything that passes your mouth—even if it’s the healthiest food—will only be effective if your digestive system works well.
3. Better, healthier inflammatory response. Inflammation is a GREAT thing. It fights infection and keeps us healthy. However, many of us live lifestyles (hello stress, processed foods, not enough exercise, the list of no-nos goes on) that cause the immune system to go into turbo drive. When that happens, you’re at a higher risk for all kinds of health woes. Doing what you can to promote a healthy inflammatory response— like getting plenty of exercise, rest, and whole foods—will go a long way towards helping reverse your diabetes and prevent other chronic diseases as well.
In conclusion, managing blood sugar levels is important for overall health and well-being. To improve blood sugar nutrition, it’s important to focus on quantity, quality, and frequency when it comes to eating. Eating carbs in their whole form, incorporating good fats into your diet, and using spices when cooking can all make a positive impact.
By making small changes to your eating habits, you can support healthy blood sugar levels and feel your best. Remember to be kind to yourself and enjoy the foods you eat, as every small step can make a big difference in your overall health.
If you’re interested in more personalized recommendations. I’d love to work with you to develop your very own better nutrition plan. Find out more about how to work with me here.
***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***