Use Mixed Meals to Better Manage Your Blood Sugar
With the other things in your life that require your time, energy, and focus, there are certain strategies you can implement to help make managing your diabetes low-stress. Take a moment to consider which foods cause your blood glucose to shoot up. Juice, dessert, white rice, and potatoes may come to mind. However, even foods such as a handful of dried fruit may also contribute to that blood sugar spike. Luckily, you can prevent these drastic spikes in your blood glucose by making simple substitutions, or by adding (yes, I said adding!) another food or two to your meal or snack. Read on to learn how!
Eating your morning toast with jam or snacking on a piece of fresh fruit may seem harmless. However, it is not only your food choices, but also your food combinations (or lack of food combinations) that can lead to blood sugar fluctuations. Eating meals or snacks that contain only carbohydrates are more likely to spike your blood sugar levels. Blood sugars can spike even when you make healthy carbohydrate choices (think whole grains, fruits, and starchy vegetables), if you are eating those healthy carbs by themselves! While it is important to focus on more healthful options, it is also imperative to consider your food pairings.
One solution to getting your blood sugar under control is to pair your carbohydrate foods with foods that contain lean protein and healthy fats. This will blunt the effect on your blood sugar and help you maintain a lower, more stable level throughout the day. Let’s see how this can play out in a meal:
For breakfast, you have white toast paired with a glass of orange juice.
The result: your blood sugar shoots straight up…like a rocket taking off!!! This is a result of the fact that your meal consisted only of carbohydrate-containing foods.
You opt for whole grain toast with an orange on the side.
The result: Good idea! This is a better option because whole grains and whole fruits both contain fiber. Fiber helps blunt the effects of carbohydrates. You’ll notice that even though your blood sugar increases, it doesn’t go up as much as it did before. Now the rocket has some restraints holding it back…it can’t go up as high!
Can you make any more improvements? Yes, you can! Here’s how:
You’ve just remembered that you have an avocado that is just getting ripe. You are curious about this “avocado toast” craze, so you decide to add some slices of avocado to your toast. Now you’ve added some healthy fat to your meal.
The result: You’re on a roll! When carbohydrates are paired with fats, the rate that those sugars enter your bloodstream decreases, so they get absorbed over a longer period of time. This results in a lower, more sustained rise in your blood glucose, and more energy to last you until your next meal. Say goodbye to those hunger pangs!
Now, I know what you’re thinking – this is it, it just can’t get any better than this. What if I told you that it CAN?
Just when you thought you couldn’t make any further improvements, you remember those turkey slices in the refrigerator. Seems like another good addition to your toast…why not?!
The result: Well, you’ve just improved your blood glucose response to this meal that much more! Adding protein to your meal helps reduce the increase in your blood sugar even more, and you’ll stay fuller for that much longer!
While your blood sugar response from eating mixed meals will vary based on the types and amounts of carbohydrates you select, building a balanced plate is a sure way to help stay on track. Combine foods from each of these three categories and you’ll be on the path to success:
- Fiber Containing Carbohydrates: These include whole grains, whole fruits, some vegetables, and legumes
- Protein: Select lean meat or poultry, eggs, fish, tofu, Greek yogurt
- Healthy fat: Opt for nuts, nut-butters, seeds, olive oil or other plant oils that are liquid at room temperature, and avocados
By making these changes, you’ll help your body minimize blood sugar spikes and stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the day. Make this a practice for all meals and snacks, and see how much better you feel!