Blood Sugar. You’ve probably heard this term more than a handful of times. Whether it was used by a doctor to describe diabetes medications, or by your roommate to explain why they fly off the handle whenever you “let your dishes soak” (by the way, your roommate is right. Nobody needs to soak their dishes for 5 days. We all need to live here, so clean up your dishes – Karen!)
Blood sugar comes up in almost all nutrition discussions simply because it has a massive effect on so many parts of our bodies. Our hormones, insulin, weight loss, and cortisol levels. It even has links to some types of cancers.
Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles. The goal is to be level – not too low, not too high.
The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot.
When you eat food with sugars or starches ("carbs"), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy.
WHY KEEP MY BLOOD SUGAR STABLE?
Your body wants your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It should be high enough, so you're not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. It should be low enough that your body isn't scrambling to remove excess from the blood.
When it’s too low, we yell at Karen for being a shitty roommate. When it is too high the muscles can’t use all that energy so insulin turns the sugar into fat. Best case scenario – packing on the weight. Worst case scenario – leading to insulin resistance and diabetes.
So let’s look at how you can optimize your food and lifestyle to keep your blood sugar stable.
FOOD FOR STABLE BLOOD SUGAR
The simplest thing to do to balance your blood sugar is to reduce the number of refined sugars and starches you eat. Start small. You can start by dumping sweet drinks (yes that includes flavored lattes) and having smaller portions of dessert. Focus on added sugars. Sometimes people get so crazy about reducing their blood sugar they remove all carbs which can be harmful to your thyroid. Remember to keep your “roots and fruits” and you will be okay.
Eating more fiber is helpful too. Fiber helps to slow down the amount of sugar absorbed from your meal; it reduces the "spike" in your blood sugar level. Fiber is found in plant-based foods (as long as they are eaten in their natural state, processing foods removed fiber). Eating nuts, seeds, and whole fruits and veggies (not juiced) is a great way to increase your fiber intake.
Grab this Five Day Sugar Free Challenge for the greatest blood sugar stabilizing meal plan!
FUN FACT: Cinnamon has been shown to help cells increase insulin sensitivity. Not to mention it’s a delicious spice that can be used in place of sugar. (HINT: It’s in the recipe below)
LIFESTYLE FOR STABLE BLOOD SUGAR
Exercise. Exercise. Exercise. It helps to improve your insulin sensitivity; this is a fancy way of saying that your cells don't ignore your body’s call to get excess sugar out of the blood. Not to mention, when you exercise, your muscles are using up that sugar as energy.
Would you believe that stress affects your blood sugar levels? Yup! Stress hormones increase your blood sugar levels. If you think about the "fight or flight" stress response, what fuel does your brain and muscles need to "fight" or "flee"? Sugar! When you are stressed signals are sent to release stored forms of sugar back into the bloodstream, increasing blood sugar levels. So, try to reduce the stress you're under and manage it more effectively. Check out this blog post for PRACTICAL ways to bring down your cortisol levels. Cause ain’t nobody got time to meditate for 20 minutes a day!
Sleep goes hand-in-hand with stress. When you don't get enough quality sleep, you tend to release stress hormones, have a higher appetite, and even get sugar cravings. Sleep is crucial, often overlooked, factor when it comes to keeping your blood sugar stable. Make sleep more of a priority - it will do your blood sugar (and the rest of your physical and mental health) good.
Your body is on a constant 24-hour quest to keep your blood sugar stable. The body has mechanisms in place to do this, but those mechanisms can get tired (resistant). Long-term blood sugar issues can spell trouble.
There are many nutrition and lifestyle approaches you can take to help keep your blood sugar stable. Minimizing excessive carbs, and eating more fiber, exercising, reducing stress, and improving sleep are all key to having stable blood sugar (and overall good health).
Remember to grab your FREE 5 Day Sugar Free Meal Plan, right here! https://thrivefromtheinside.lpages.co/5-day-sugar-free-challenge
2 apples, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Place chopped apples into a small saucepan with 2 tbsp water. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After about 5 minutes the apples will become slightly soft, and water will be absorbed.
Add 1 tbsp coconut oil. Stir apples and oil together.
Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
Add cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Stir well.
Cook for another few minutes, stirring until the apples reach your desired softness!
Serve and enjoy!
Tip: Keeping the peel on increases the fiber, which is even better for stabilizing your blood sugar.