When you uncover a problem, it’s vital to generate a multi-step plan for healthy blood sugar levels. The most important aspects to look at are: sleep, stress, exercise, movement, and nutrition, to create an effective long-term strategy. Many individual's goals are different, and can depend on whether you want to lower blood sugar, raise blood sugar, increase insulin sensitivity, or something different altogether. If you focus on a specific goal, and put the necessary effort towards that, you can easily accomplish your desired result.
The first major step in any healthy blood sugar goal is to balance carbohydrates with protein and fat. Carbohydrates (carbs) have a major impact on blood sugar, and protein and fat slow down the rate at which those carbohydrates are broken down, thus giving you more blood sugar stability. So rather than restricting carbs right off the bat, it is more advantageous to focus on creating meals and snacks that include carbs, protein, and fat.
Often just this small change can make a big difference in helping to achieve healthy blood sugar levels. By changing someone’s breakfast to something that’s much more balanced, it encourages your body and mind to feel stable, calm, and clear-headed. It is vital to focus on the quantity and quality of carbs. For people who are showing signs of insulin resistance or other blood sugar problems, it is also recommended to pay attention to the quality and quantity of carbohydrates.
A highly recommended choice would be whole foods, because they give us fiber, which helps to slow down blood sugar release. For example you could choose sweet potatoes over gluten-free bread. By choosing carbohydrates based on the glycemic load, you'll have a measure of how much impact they’ll have on blood sugar. In terms of quantity, portion size recommendations should be individualized, but changing up portion sizes is something to consider if even high-quality carbohydrates are causing blood sugar fluctuations.
It is vitally important to determine the right foods and portions based on how your body responds. A part of blood sugar regulation is really about thinking more intuitively about meals and eating. How we feel after we eat, or how eating certain things specifically makes us feel, this dictates our personal behavior and attitude towards others. Whether we’re taking the time to eat slowly or rushing through our meals at a desk, all of these key areas provide us with really valuable data on how the process of eating impacts our bodies.
It is important to understand that everyone is different. What works for an individual and their blood sugar balance is very unique. Some people tolerate certain types of carbohydrates really well, and others don’t. For one person, a bowl of oatmeal might keep them stable for four hours. For another person, it might totally drop them two hours later. All in all this takes lots of self-experimentation, and really asking yourself those questions about how you feel from one meal to the next to figure out what works for you.
The takeaway: Your blood sugar levels can have a big impact on how you feel day-to-day, so learning to balance them through your diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits can help you feel your best and avoid future health issues. Not everyone’s blood sugar levels will react the same to changes though, so working with a holistic health coach can be valuable for determining what’s best for your body.
Sources: SingleCare Team | Updated on May. 11, et al. “What Should My Blood Sugar Level Be?” The Checkup, 11 May 2021, https://www.singlecare.com/blog/normal-blood-glucose-levels/.
“Manage Blood Sugar.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Apr. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/managing/manage-blood-sugar.html.