We all know the feeling — you had a sugary snack hoping it would tie you over until dinner when only an hour later you find yourself irritable, shaky, and ravenous. That is your blood sugar taking a deep dive and crashing, and it’s never a good feeling. But luckily this roller coaster blood sugar ride can easily be prevented with some balanced eating and a little planning.
What Does Blood Sugar Balance Mean?
Your blood sugar is exactly what it sounds like – the level of sugar that is found circulating in your blood. This sugar is called glucose and it is carried through the bloodstream to all the cells of the body to supply energy needed for daily body functions. Balanced blood sugar however, refers to an ideal level of glucose that is typically found over the course of the day in a person’s blood stream that represents optimal blood glucose levels.
How Does Blood Sugar Work?
When an increase in blood sugar (glucose) is recognized after drinking a carbohydrate rich beverage, or eating a meal or snack, the pancreas is signaled to produce insulin, which then acts as a communicator to tell the cells throughout the body to take up glucose from the bloodstream. This intake of sugar from the bloodstream to all the cells in the body is what improves energy almost immediately. Ideally, we want blood glucose levels to be within a certain range to help promote even energy, a balanced mood, longer satiety, reduced inflammation, and a healthy heart.
Why Is Blood Sugar Balance Important For Our Health?
Blood sugar balance is so important because it is the primary source of energy for our bodies, and without good blood sugar balance we are just not capable of functioning at our absolute best. Poor blood sugar balance over a long period of time can also put a person at risk for developing diabetes or heart disease, as well as other hormonal imbalances that can impact a person’s fertility, mood, and increase inflammation.
5 Dietitian Approved Steps To Better Blood Sugar Balance With A Plant Focused Diet
Luckily it is actually a lot easier than you may think to balance your blood sugar. However, because every person is unique each individual will have different nutrition and exercise needs that can impact their blood sugar balance. This is why it is so important that you tune into your own body each day, and adjust your diet and lifestyle to meet your daily needs.
With that in mind, the following five simple steps will also be helpful for managing your blood sugar balance and will give you a good place to begin when focusing on improving your energy levels and blood sugar throughout the day.
Eat Every 3-4 Hours
Most people are not eating frequently enough with meal skipping, and long breaks between lunch and dinner. If you feel as though your blood sugar is always on an up and down roller-coaster then you may want to take a look at how frequently you are eating. Often all you need is a small, balanced snack every few hours to keep your blood sugar steady and energy feeling good.
Create Balanced Meals And Snacks
So now that you know that you should be eating a balanced meal or snack every 3-4 hours, it’s time to talk about how you actually go about creating a balanced meal or snack. This really is the key to maintaining optimal blood sugar balance, and will also help keep you feeling fuller longer.
When creating balanced meals and snacks there are a few things you want to include:
- Complex Carbohydrates
Ideally, when planning out your meals and snacks they will have at least three of the nutrient components above. Fat, protein, and fiber all help to slow the transition of glucose into the bloodstream, while carbohydrates provide energy. When combined together they all work to keep energy levels and satiety even over longer periods of time.
Some examples of balanced meals and snacks are:
- Two Hard Boiled Eggs With Sliced Veggies And Hummus
- Whole Grain Toast With Almond Butter
- Jackfruit Stuffed Avocados
Avoid Sugary Snacks And Juices
While those sugary snacks at the office or the juice bar across the street may look appetizing, they really aren’t ideal choices for balancing blood sugar. This isn’t to say that you can’t ever enjoy a sugary food, but ideally you want to try and pair it with an additional source of fiber, protein, or fat to balance out all the carbohydrates you will be consuming.
Even better, skip the juice entirely and choose a smoothie with whole fruit, nut butter, plant-based protein, and added fiber from jackfruit. This is a much more satisfying option to a sugary juice that will only spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry moments later.
Add More Plant Based Fiber
Most people are not getting nearly enough fiber in their daily diets and it is absolutely impacting overall blood sugar balance. While fiber isn’t technically a nutrient, it is a nutritious substance found in plant-based foods that is incredible at helping to balance blood sugar levels. Ideally, all adults should be aiming for a minimum of 25g of plant-based fiber everyday and at every meal.
Luckily, jackfruit is an incredible source of dietary fiber that packs roughly 1/3 of your total dietary fiber daily needs into one serving.
So whip up a morning smoothie, try making homemade jackfruit hummus for a fiber rich snack, or make some jackfruit tacos for a delicious plant-based dinner that will leave you feeling satisfied and your blood sugar perfectly balanced.
Swap Simple Carbohydrates For Whole Grains
There is absolutely nothing wrong with consuming carbohydrates, and in fact, they are a key nutrient that will help provide the fuel your body needs and the nutrients women especially need for hormonal balance. However, because of our processed food industry, most people are not eating enough complex carbohydrates and instead are relying on simple carbohydrates in the form of white bread, chips, and crackers that almost immediately turn into sugar when consumed.
So if you want to support your blood sugar, a great place to begin is by switching some simple carbohydrates to complex carbohydrates in your daily diet.
Some great examples of complex carbohydrates are:
- whole grains
- brown rice
- sweet potato
With these five simple tips in mind, I hope that you feel more confident supporting your blood sugar on a daily basis and confident in how some simple meal planning, and adding more plant-based foods, can help significantly improve the way you feel on a daily basis.