On my journey of becoming intuitive with my body and enhancing my health, I’ve been paying more attention to how my daily habits make me feel. As someone who gets hangry easily and experiences dramatic dips in mood and energy when I’m hungry, I was encouraged to think more about what I eat (and how I eat it). In learning about the importance of blood sugar, I took a deep dive into my body's glucose response and how to achieve greater glucose stability.
Why do we want to improve glucose stability?
Glucose levels fluctuate throughout the day but when levels increase sharply (a glucose spike), the crash that follows can cause cravings, fatigue, and irritability. High glucose levels also cause inflammation and increase your risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic conditions.
I read the book Glucose Revolution and experimented by using Levels, which provides a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and app with real-time data to understand my body’s glucose response to my daily habits and the foods I eat. I highly recommend reading the book if you want a more in-depth understanding of the tips.
Below are 6 Simple Ways to Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check. These tips are mentioned in the book and in other research, and I personally saw their impact.
1st Fiber (veggies)
2nd Protein and Fat
3rd Carbs (starches and sugars)
For example, for breakfast, I had an arugula and tomato salad followed by an omlette and finished with toast.
Why does order matter?
Fiber when it arrives first in the digestive system deploys itself on the wall of the upper intestine and creates a protective mesh that stays there for a few hours that prevents your body from absorbing too much glucose too quickly from any of the food coming after. Focusing on the order that you eat your foods can help reduce the glucose spike of the meal leading to fewer cravings and less inflammation.
Try intentionally eating in this order the next time you sit down to a meal.
Studies show that even 10 minutes of walking within 70 minutes of eating can improve glucose stability as blood sugar levels rise and fall more gradually and insulin levels are more stable than either standing or sitting. This is because when you exercise after eating, some of the glucose from your meal will be used to power your muscles. So instead of accumulating in your bloodstream, the glucose is immediately used as fuel for exercise.
You can do 10 minutes of any body movement: strength training, yoga, or whatever you like doing.
Walking is my go-to after a meal because it also aids overall digestion and helps clear my mind. Channel the Mediterranean lifestyle with me and take a stroll after dinner.
Add a tablespoon of vinegar to a tall glass of water 20 minutes before, during, or up to 20 minutes after your meal.
Simply put, vinegar slows down the breakdown of starches into glucose, and it tells our muscles to soak up glucose as it arrives in our bloodstream. This is how it reduces the glucose spike from something we just ate.
What’s the science here…
Studies show that acetic acid in vinegar temporarily inactivates alpha-amylase and as a result, sugar and starch are transformed into glucose more slowly and the glucose hits our system more softly. Once acetic acid gets into our bloodstream, it penetrates our muscles and encourages them to make glycogen faster than they normally would. This leads to a more efficient uptake of glucose. These two factors – the glucose being released into the body slower and our muscles absorbing it faster – mean less free-flowing glucose around, so less of a glucose spike from something we just ate.
Any kind of vinegar works. I especially try to add vinegar to my water before a meal if I know I’ll be eating something sugary or starchy like pasta, rice, cake, etc.
Pro tip: Mix a tablespoon of vinegar into a tall glass of water and drink it with a straw (to protect your teeth) before your meals.
4. Go savory for breakfast and with snacks
I know waffles and a chocolate croissant sound like a delicious way to start the day, but in learning about glucose stability, a savory, protein-focused breakfast is essential to set yourself up for success.
Why are you taking my chocolate croissant from me?
Eating a savory breakfast can help keep your glucose levels steady for the whole day while reducing cravings. Your blood sugar is lowest in a fasting state, like after you’ve slept overnight so eating a carb-heavy breakfast not only causes a glucose spike but also triggers insulin production that leads to carbs being stored as fat.
Just like in other meals, for breakfast, prioritize protein, fiber, and fat, with optional starch or sugar last.
- Eggs with avocado and veggies
- Toast with smoked salmon and cucumber
- Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with berries and almond butter
The same reasoning to prioritize savory over sweet goes for snacks as well.
- Greek yogurt and berries
- Cut veggies and hummus
- Turkey and cheese roll up
- Mixed nuts
If you are having something sweet, have it after something savory (ideally veggies).
5. Enjoy your dessert
In exciting news, dessert is a YES! In terms of achieving greater glucose stability, eating dessert after a meal is the best time to have your sweet treat. Rather than have a piece of cake as a mid-afternoon snack, eat it after a full meal.
We want to maximize the amount of time our body is in a ‘postprandial state’, the time it’s metabolizing what we’ve eaten. So, eating a sweet treat at the end of a meal will minimize the glucose spike and can even bring down your levels.
6. Put some clothes on your carbs
As a general rule, add nutrients like fiber, fat, and/or protein when eating carbs. For example, if you are having toast, add almond butter, avocado, or turkey. If you're eating ice cream, have it with some nuts and as dessert after your meal.
How does this work
When you eat carbs alone, they go straight to your bloodstream, spiking your glucose levels.
If you’re in the mood for something starchy or sweet—rice, bread, pasta, cereal—dress them up with fat, protein, and/or fiber to slow the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.
Hopefully, you’ve learned something new and are inspired to experiment with channeling your inner Glucose Goddess. Stay tuned for more tips on my Instagram!
I'm happy to answer any questions and discuss further. Leave your comments below, DM, or email me.