I grew up addicted to candy. At the time I didn’t think there was anything unusual about my under-the-bed treasure box filled with cherry lick-a-sticks, pez, and dinosaur-shaped gummies, hoarded collected from family and friends.
No one raised an eyebrow when my summer camp duffle was overflowing with crisp shiny treat packages, weighed down by my free reign of the bulk foods aisle.
Halloween was my religion. As strangers threw rees cups into my greedy princess-outfitted paws, my mouth would water devising my plan of attack on all of those sugary treats. (If my towering height wasn’t such an embarrassing giveaway I’m sure I would have trick-or-treated at 18.)
My lust for chewy red Bigfoots and sour watermelon slices had a stronghold on me until my teen years.
Not without consequence though.
A decade of high fructose corn syrup, red and blue food dyes, and other unpronounceables had made quite the impression on my system.
Without knowing what was happening inside me I started calling myself ‘Half Diabetic’. It was the easiest way to defend the mood swings, hyperactive behavior, and energy slumps experienced in-between square meals. Dizzy, shaky, headachy- all symptoms that I brushed under the rug by eating more and more frequently for temporary relief.
Why am I telling you this cheerful, yet irrelevant bedtime story?
Because I was experiencing symptoms of blood sugar dysregulation and there is a chance you could be too.
Fast forward 8 years and Nutrition School had a pleasant way of slapping me upside the cheek to say-
‘GIRL, YOU’VE BEEN DOING IT ALL WRONG’
With a hope to stop these symptoms in their tracks I have treated my body like a high school science fair project; testing my learnings through trial and error, writing food journals, and tracking moods (diary of a nutrition nerd)
So let’s dig right in shall we? Maintaining stable blood sugar levels is vital not just for recovering gummy bear addicts like myself.
We can ALL benefit from a clear head, consistent energy, and a handful fewer emergency trips down the frozen dessert aisle.
Suffice to say we HEART our oatmeal. It’s customizable, the cheapest thing on our grocery list, and delicious at almost any temperature. Everyone’s favorite breakfast comfort is also an amazing way to manage your blood glucose as you kick-start your day.
High insoluble fiber, complex carbohydrates like oats and brown rice are gently broken down in the bloodstream; hence that impressive feeling of fullness that keeps you going strong through lunch.
You probably won’t get that from a Cinnabon.
Time Saving Tip: Soaking your oats in plant milk overnight naturally makes them more digestible while saving you time standing over a pot. If your like me and prefer warm oats, the next morning throw them over medium-high heat in a pot for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Top with some warm berries and bananas and VOILA.
2) NON STARCHY VEG
Befriend broccoli. Call out to Cauliflower. Spend time with Spinach.
These are your best mates when injecting more fiber and fewer carbohydrates into your diet; the sky is the limit on the consumption of these bad boys.
Fries please? Don’t worry, I have you covered. The all-mighty sweet potatoes have a much more gracious impact on blood sugar levels than most, and we mustn’t forget the added benefit of cancer-fighting beta-carotene.
Try this: Roasting a sliced sweet potato (skins on) at 425 F for 30-40 minutes. Stir pan throughout to allow even cooking. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and salt as desired.
Berries are the well-behaved, talented, and popular older sister of the fruit family, always overachieving and showing up to its lesser-graced acquaintances. Well, this is no exception.
Not only do they sing the tune of a number of powerful antioxidants, but their fibrous nature can also help lower your blood sugar by slowing down the digestive process. More fiber= slower rate of glucose absorption.
Studies are even showing that Anthocyanin found in blueberries can have an immediate effect on digestion by giving certain digestive enzymes the red light, thus preventing roller-coaster blood sugar after a starch-heavy meal.
4) NUT’S N BOLTS
Not that you need another reason to enjoy almond butter by the ice cream scoop…
Low in carbs, but high in beauty fats, antioxidants and protein, Nuts and seeds are your 911 for helping eliminate a spike in blood sugar after a meal. The brain-loving walnut is a great source of monounsaturated fat, which some researchers suspect even makes cells more sensitive to insulin, preventing diabetes-related diseases in the long run.
Don’t fughhhet about BEANS! Black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and lentils are a couple of low glycemic celebrities; winning us over with their hearty soluble fiber content.
Energy Boosting Tip: Try a bean salad for lunch, it will keep you satiated through the afternoon- without the 2 pm allure of the office vending machine.
5) LEAN GREEN (PLANT) PROTEIN
Okay, okay, any sort of lean protein works here too.
Adding a hefty splash of plain greek/soy yogurt or almond butter with your fruit will do a solid job at delaying the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream.
YEEES, fruit is a ‘good kinda sugar’ but that doesn’t mean it won’t skyrocket our glucose levels if devoured on its own. I found this out the hard way many a school day, proudly touting my gallon-sized dish of fresh watermelon.
Energy-boosting tip: Follow up a fruity feast with a handful of almonds. Blend your frozen banana with a scoop of plant-based protein powder and some homemade almond milk. Your body will love you.
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