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America’s addiction to sugar is spiraling out of control. Walk along supermarket isles and you will find that processed cereals, ready meals, yogurts, candy bars, and soda are crammed full of sugar! And with the rise of convenience food over the last 30 years, cases of adult diabetes have nearly tripled.
So our sugar levels are definitely something we should watch. I became more mindful of my blood sugar when I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. As PCOS is a health problem that is worsened by high blood sugar levels, I started making changes in my diet to prevent early diabetes and to reduce the chance of developing symptoms of high blood sugar levels, such as tiredness, thirst, problems trying to conceive, preventing weight gain and, surprisingly, unwanted body hair.
Your insulin levels are key. As well as controlling fat cell metabolism, in a healthy body, insulin tells your body to absorb glucose from our blood stream. We eat, our body monitors what has been digested, and insulin is released to ensure that glucose is released to cells. By not keeping your blood sugar levels in check, insulin resistance may occur. And this will lead to insulin resistance – meaning excess glucose will land in the blood stream, and, then, uh oh, Type 2 Diabetes! But, it is all preventable. By implementing these strategies into my diet, my weight, pancreas and insulin levels are now in good shape!
1. Eat Regularly
Instead of eating a large lunch at midday and not eating until 8 pm, try eating every 2-3 hours – that way your blood sugar levels will be maintained, and will be less likely to ‘spike’ and then ‘crash’. I have found that preventing a sugar crash will stop you from craving sugar and stodgy carbohydrates!
2. Swap Refined Sugar for Slow-Releasing Plant-Based Sweeteners
I have found that consuming refined sugars is one of the WORST things you can do for your blood sugar levels. It is quickly broken down and quickly heightens your blood sugar. Start using slow releasing plant-based sweeteners such as, stevia, agave nectar, coconut sugar, or maple syrup, and read this guide to sweetening your foods the natural way!
3. Learn that Fiber is Your Friend
Fiber swells during digestion, which slows down the absorption of glucose and prevents spikes in your blood sugar levels. You will only find fiber in plant-based foods, and aim to eat at least 30 grams of fiber per day. Munch on these fiber-filled Pomegranate Quinoa Porridge, Tempeh and Turnip Green Soup, or Low Fat Yammus.
3. Snack on Berries and Nut Butters
Anyone that knows me knows that I am incredibly addicted to nut butters – peanut and almond to be specific. If I’m hungry, I take a spoonful. And, in the afternoon I will eat nut butter mixed in with a bowl of berries. This snack is filling as well as awesome for blood sugar control. Studies have shown that blueberry consumption plays a role in significantly decreasing blood sugar levels in those who are diabetic or insulin resistant!
4. Replace Dairy for Nut Milks and Nutty Cheeses
Dairy contains the sugar lactose. Lactose breaks down into glucose. So, cutting dairy from your diet will prevent your blood sugar from spiking. I have also found that restricting my dairy intake has helped me lose excess weight, result! Swap dairy milk for almond milk, and replace cheeses with homemade nut cheeses. I particularly love cashew cheese – not only is it quick to make, it tastes so good, too!
5. Fall in Love with Complex Carbohydrates
Complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, quinoa and, broccoli will slowly release glucose into your blood steam. Eating carbohydrates in candy bars, cake and white bread has left me feel completely whipped out after eating them – have you noticed that? That is because their structures are quickly broken down and, therefore, quickly increases your blood sugar – resulting in a heightened blood sugar level, which requires a surge of insulin to break it down again.
6. Eat Protein at Every Meal and Snack Time
Protein fills you up and takes a while to get broken down. If you’re fuller for longer, you will be less likely to crave high carbohydrate foods, which will affect your blood sugar. Eat high protein foods such as tofu, nuts, hemp seeds and, chia seeds!
Plant-based foods has helped me wonders to say goodbye to afternoon sugar crashes, weight gain and exhaustion! If you want to learn a little bit more, read how to Reap the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for Your Blood Sugar.
Image source: Tempeh and Turnip Green Soup