Ok, so you’re interested in having better blood sugar control. That is FANTASTIC! We are big believers in the power of blood sugar balance for weight loss, metabolic health, and (not to be dramatic) but your long-term health all the way into your 80s and 90s. Yes, blood sugar is really that awesome.
Blood sugar can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. You can dive all in by wearing a continuous glucose monitor and watching your trends to see how what you eat affects it every day.
You can also ease into things. And to be honest, I’d rather you start here anyway. Just like any other healthy habit, it’s far better to start slow and build new habits one by one. The last thing I want you to do is to overwhelm yourself and give up. You can absolutely achieve good blood sugar balance!
I want you to start ASAP and in the easiest ways possible. Here are my top 5 pieces of advice to do so:
#1 Stop eating your carbs naked
Ok, no. I don’t mean only eat bread with your pants on. I mean, you do you…but what I really mean is to stop eating carb sources without pairing them with a protein, fat, or fiber source also.
Carb: apple – pair with peanut butter
Carb: crackers or pretzels – pair with cheese slices
Carb: baked potato – pair with shredded chicken and veggies
Carb: granola bar – pair with Greek yogurt
I’m not asking you to change the carbs you’re eating, I’m simply having you ADD something to it that will help to buffer the blood sugar response. This does a few things:
Buffers the potential blood sugar spike.
Prevents the potential sudden drop in blood sugar (this would leave you feeling hungry again and craving more carbs).
Keeps you more satisfied for longer! You won’t have to find another snack in 2 hours and graze all day.
Your body will be able to stay in a fat-burning mode better because you’re not riding such a dramatic blood sugar roller coaster.
Yes, all of this just by pairing your carbs with protein, fat, or fiber. Ideally, I want you to eat all three with your carbs, but if you’re having a snack, just having some protein or fat is also great.
You can read more about this balancing method here.
#2 Get off your butt
I’m not trying to be your drill sergeant, but, yes, moving more throughout the day can have a significant impact on your blood sugar levels.
Moving more can mean many things! It doesn’t just mean cranking out more steps, although getting in more steps IS a fantastic goal.
You can fit in more movement by:
Taking a 20-30 minute walk on your lunch break
Going to the furthest away bathroom at work
Taking the stairs
Parking farther away at stores
Use a standing desk for some chunks of time while working
Take some phone calls while walking on a walking pad
Ride a stationary bike while watching your favorite show
Go grocery shopping in the store vs. delivery
Family activities outside! Nature walks, gardening, sports, etc.
Why does moving more help with blood sugar? It helps in a few ways actually. One is that regular movement requires more glucose from the foods we eat for fuel. We use the glucose in our blood for energy and it doesn’t have to stay as elevated in the blood.
Second, regular exercise improves our insulin sensitivity. This means our body responds better to the hormone insulin that our body uses to allow extra glucose into the cells for either immediate energy or storage. Overall, glucose doesn’t sit as elevated in the blood and this is a huge win for our long-term health.
Taking a short walk, specifically after eating a meal is most notably helpful for better blood sugars. If you were wearing a continuous glucose monitor, you would notice a much steadier trend in blood sugar after a post-meal walk vs. not walking at all. It’s honestly such a great hack!
#3 Eat fiber first
Turns out, eating high-fiber food sources (especially non-starchy vegetables) first at your meals has an amazing effect on your blood sugar.
Putting fiber first down the digestion system acts as a nice buffer for starchy carbs later on in the meal. The fibrous content from vegetables especially creates a mesh in our stomach that will slow down the glucose absorption from starchy carb sources like bread, pasta, rice, etc. and therefore slow down the blood sugar rise after eating.
I personally love this tip because it doesn’t change anything about the way you’re currently eating, it’s just changing up the order! So simple.
And we often do this anyway. For example, we might start lunch or dinner with a side salad. It feels natural to us and it’s actually really helpful for blood sugar goals.
Some meals, it’s not going to feel as natural to do this. For example, I don’t want you picking off the lettuce or spinach from your sandwich just so you can eat that first. But again, you do you. Same for things like soup or casseroles, it just doesn’t really work to eat the fiber first.
But if you’re having a meal where things are more separate, eat the roasted broccoli first! Snack on some carrots or baby peppers while making your lunch. If you’re wearing a continuous glucose monitor, you will see the effect on your blood sugar trend!
#4 Eat dessert with your meal
Yes, you can eat dessert! But, to keep blood sugar happier, just eat it with your meal. Don’t wait a few hours and have it by itself. When you pair the dessert with your meal containing lots of good protein, fat, and fiber, you’re helping to buffer that blood sugar rise.
The bonus part of this tip is that it’s going to be a lot harder to overeat your sweet treats when you do this. When you’re having a cookie or leftover dessert, for example, after your balanced meal, you’re already physically satisfied. The chances of you overeating it are far lessened.
Also, remember that you CAN have dessert, even if you have blood sugar goals. Trying to completely avoid all sweets is not realistic and could lead you to really overeat sweet foods at some point, causing some crazy blood sugars.
#5 Go to bed
My last tip has nothing to do with eating or moving! I want you to get enough sleep!
This might sound unrelated, but sleep actually has a huge role in our blood sugar levels day to day. Getting inadequate sleep can reduce our insulin sensitivity, leading to more elevated blood sugars. Poor sleep will also increase our cortisol levels (our stress hormone), which naturally increases our blood sugar levels because the body thinks it needs fuel in response to the stress.
And this effect isn’t just something that happens over time. It can have these effects after one night of not enough sleep. Yikes.
Controlling blood sugars is an amazing goal to have and I hope these tips empower and inspire you that it doesn’t have to be complicated!
If you want a complete deep dive into the role blood sugar has on our metabolism, you would be a great fit for Metabolism Makeover. Our 30-day program gives you all the information you need to know to ROCK happy blood sugars forever!
We also offer continuous glucose monitor usage exclusively in our VIP program. If you’re interested in wearing one with the personalized feedback of a dietitian coach, this could be a game-changer for your goals. Learn more about VIP here.