It may be as easy as moving for 5 minutes after eating
As seen in Metro Style, August 4, 2023
If you’re missing it, hacking your blood sugar is super trendy at the moment. Managing your blood sugar is crucial if you live with diabetes or prediabetes, but I also recommend it to healthy people for overall health and wellbeing. Yes, it can help to prevent health issues down the line, but you can also see better energy, mood, and even hormone balance and fewer cravings. Who doesn’t want that?
Carbs are the main foods in focus here, as their digestion is what turns into blood sugar, the fuel for our cells. Yes, we do need carbs to fuel our bodies, but in the right amounts so our bodies can process them well. So let’s stop saying carbs are bad because they actually keep us alive.
I know that diets emphasize rigid rules and restrictions, often leading to feelings of guilt and punishment when we inevitably “cheat,” “treat,” or fail a diet and give up. So instead, I believe in empowering people to care for their bodies through a nourishing approach. Here are my best ways to manage blood sugar levels and how I suggest you add them into your life. Don’t forget to focus on self-care and enjoyment instead of deprivation and punishment. Because no one needs any more of that in their lives, especially with food.
1. Focus on adding instead of subtracting
Instead of focusing on what to avoid, focus on what to add to your plate instead, especially fiber-rich complex carbs that are high in fiber and digest slower, so your sugar rises slower too. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are packed with fiber and other nutrients that fuel our bodies and support blood sugar stability. So no, you don't need to skip rice, just swap it for brown, red, or black rice, or add in more veggies to add fiber.
2. Pair your carbs with protein and fat
Eating carbs alone means faster digestion and absorption, so a quicker spike in blood sugar, which also leads to a crash. Adding protein and fat slows your digestion so you don’t get as big of a spike. Some good examples of this are the classic fruit and nut combo, toast with nut butter or avocado, or cheese and crackers. Pick some favorites of yours and have easy go-to snacks to keep you fueled throughout the afternoon. And again, you don’t need to skip rice, just eat it with a balanced meal with protein, fat, and veggies.
3. Eat veggies first
Speaking of veggies, there are some studies in people with type 2 diabetes showing that eating the same meal just in a different order helps to lower the blood sugar spike. You can try eating your veggies first, protein next, and carbs last. You might even find you eat more veggies which is an extra plus! The big BUT here is if it makes your meal unenjoyable, or if you stress over eating in the right order, you might be doing the opposite of lowering your blood sugar. Especially if you are healthy, you do not need to do this every time you eat.
Photo by Travis Yewell on Unsplash
4. Move after meals
Moving and using your muscles for even just 5 minutes after a meal can significantly lower your blood sugar response. This is because the sugar moves into your muscles and out of your bloodstream. Focus on how good it feels to get up and stretch your legs, go for a quick stroll outside the restaurant, or even clean up and get organized around the house. Regular exercise can also significantly improve insulin sensitivity and contribute to stable blood sugar levels. Exercise also helps to reduce stress, which can mean lower cortisol levels, which also equals better blood sugar control.
5. Include fun foods mindfully
We already hear a lot about what not to eat, especially sugary drinks and sweet snacks. But depriving yourself of these fun foods can lead to feelings of restriction and rebellion, which often turns into overdoing it when you “allow” yourself. Instead, allow yourself occasional sweets that you fully enjoy. Bonus points for incorporating these other tips with them!
There are many more ways to manage your blood sugar, and the key is to find what fits into your life instead of forcing your life into something you can’t sustain. And you don’t need to make these changes overnight, change takes time and that’s okay. Focus on your own progress. If you’re struggling with your blood sugar, it is also worth checking in with a healthcare professional who will listen to your concerns and give you the support to help you find the best solutions for your individual health and lifestyle.