Focusing on building healthy habits will help you manage your blood sugar—for life! Here are best eating habits, say Dietitians.
1. Emphasize protein at breakfast
Spending a little extra time focusing on balance in the morning can go a long way. Starting your day with a high-protein meal has been shown to balance blood sugars for the rest of the day!
Sarah Glinski, RD, tells us to “pair carbohydrates with a source of protein. This will slow down how quickly glucose enters your bloodstream, which can help keep your blood sugars in target range.”
2. Stick to regular meal times
Justine Chan, MHSc, RD, CDE, states that “eating at regular intervals every 4 hours will help manage blood sugars. Waiting until you’re tired and hungry may result in making impulse choices with your food.”
Chan suggests, “Make it a habit to eat before you get too hungry to help manage portions and ultimately, your blood sugars.”
3. Learn the plate method
A plate-method approach to meals includes a protein, a carbohydrate, and non-starchy vegetables.
To implement the plate method, focus on keeping half your plate of non-starchy vegetables. Use the palm of your hand to estimate your protein portion and the size of your fist to estimate your carb portion.
Kathryn Piper, RDN LD NBC-HWC, explains how the plate method can improve blood sugar if you choose to eat your carbohydrates last after balancing them with protein and vegetables.
She recommends, “start by eating the protein first. Follow your protein with non-starchy vegetables. Save your carbohydrates for last. The protein and the fiber in the vegetables can slow the rate in which carbohydrates raise your glucose.”
4. Find balance instead of extremes
You don’t have to cut out all carbohydrates to have better blood sugars. Basheerah Enahora, PhD, MBA, RDN, LDN, explains that a moderate approach to nutrition can improve blood sugar without resorting to extremes.
Enahora suggests, “choosing high-fiber unrefined carbohydrates, such as beans, lentils, oats, or berries in moderate amounts per meal will slow down digestion and minimize blood sugar spikes.”
5. Take a 10-minute post-meal walk
With movement after meals, a little goes a long way to help reduce blood sugar. Our muscles use glucose to move, so walking right after a carb-heavy meal with carbohydrates can improve blood glucose responses right away.
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, explains, “Taking a 10 to 15-minute walk after meals helps lower post-meal blood sugar and may aid in weight management.”
6. Best foods for diabetics
“Beans provide a notable combination of plant protein and soluble fiber that can help boost feelings of fullness and manage blood sugar levels,” Jackie Newgent, RDN, culinary nutritionist, and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook explains. “Replacing some meat with beans can play a helpful role in heart health,” which is particularly important for diabetics as heart disease is one of the most common complications of diabetes. Consider adding kidney beans to soups and black beans to your casseroles to boost your intake of the legumes.
Lentils are rich in something called resistant starch: a type of carb that has a very minimal impact on your blood sugar levels because it passes through the body undigested and ultimately ends up feeding the healthy bacteria at the bottom of your digestive tract. So, not only will lentils help keep your blood sugar levels more even-keeled, they’ll also help to improve your gut health.
“Salmon is a smart addition to anyone’s eating plan, but for individuals with diabetes, it’s especially beneficial,” Lori Zanini, RD, CDE tells us. Here’s why: “It’s a healthy protein source that will not raise blood sugar levels and will help to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke—a major concern for diabetics.” Salmon’s heart-healthy qualities come from its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. This particular fat reduces levels of triglycerides, a risk factor for coronary heart disease, according to a review in the journal Endocrine Practice.
Looking for a protein-packed way to fuel your morning? Greek yogurt is the answer. “It naturally contains both carbohydrates and protein, which is a perfect combination to help control hunger levels and blood sugars,” says Sarah Koszyk, MA, RDN. “Plus, choosing Greek yogurt will give you more protein and fewer carbohydrates than regular yogurt, which can help better control blood-sugar levels. Enjoy yogurt in a smoothie or as a snack paired with some berries and chia seeds.”
“Leafy greens, like spinach, are great non-starchy vegetable options because they contain lutein, an important nutrient for eye health. This nutrient is essential for people with diabetes since they have a higher risk for blindness than those without diabetes,” explains Newgent. That’s not all spinach has going for it. A study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine found that adults who consumed 4,069 milligrams of potassium per day had a 37 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to those who consumed only 1,793 milligrams. Just one cup of cooked spinach contains 839 milligrams of potassium (which is equivalent to what’s in 2 medium bananas) or 20 percent of that target intake.
Craving a treat? Consider berries your go-to when your sweet tooth strikes. “Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are all low on the glycemic index and are considered to be superfoods for diabetics,” Koszyk explains. The combination of being low in sugar and high in fiber contributes to their diabetes-friendly ability to gradually raise blood sugars. An added bonus: according to two recent animal studies, consuming a diet rich in polyphenols—a naturally occurring chemical found abundantly in berries—can decrease the formation of fat cells by up to 73 percent!
7. Worst foods for spiking blood sugar
Candy tends to be a food that is low in protein, fiber, and healthy fats. It’s often quickly digested and absorbed right away—both raising blood sugar and potentially increasing hunger later.
Work toward choosing options that take longer to digest and help keep you full instead. Then, consider having a piece of candy or two after you’ve had a balanced snack if you still want it. You’ll feel more energized and stable throughout the rest of the day without a huge change in blood sugar.
Chips are often a quick snack from the vending machine that are easy to grab. However, sometimes a more convenient choice at the moment can lead to high blood sugar later. Chips are often low in protein and fiber, making them a blood sugar-spiking food.
Luckily, you don’t have to remove this crunchy snack from your diet completely to manage blood sugar. There are new brands out now making more blood sugar-friendly options. Brands like Quest Protein Chips, Wilde Chicken Chips, and even bean-based chips like Beanitos are all high in either protein or fiber for better blood sugar control.
Pair these options with a high-fiber dip like hummus, veggie sticks, or yogurt, and you have a blood sugar-balancing snack.
You can have bread, but just not the white kind, says Lori Zanini, RD, CDE, author of Eat What You Love Diabetes Cookbook. “White sandwich bread is a refined grain, not a whole grain. When eaten as is, it has a high glycemic index and can directly lead to elevated blood-sugar levels.” Swap white bread for whole grain or Ezekiel bread.
Read more at: What are the worst foods for spiking blood sugar?