Balancing your blood sugar throughout the day can do everything from ensure your mood is optimal to helping you lose weight and even preventing blood sugar-related illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes or hypoglycemia (chronically low blood sugar). It’s also important for keeping your digestion working properly since blood sugar spikes and drops can also affect your hormones and may cause some digestional upset. But we all know that balancing our blood sugar is easier said than done; busy schedules, food cravings, letting too much time go by in between meals, or perhaps drinking too much coffee instead of actually eating are all things that can disrupt our blood sugar levels without us meaning for them to. Luckily, if you make a point to eat three meals a day, you’re well on your way to keeping your blood sugar stable, however, it’s key that you know what to eat at each meal so you can be sure to give your body (and thus your blood sugar) what it needs to stay on an even keel all day.
How to Make Your Blood Sugar Work For You, Not Against You
To prevent your blood sugar levels from looking like a rollercoaster all day long, you need to focus on getting a balance of plant-based protein, a good bit of fiber, and a little bit of healthy fats which all slow down the rise of insulin into the bloodstream when you eat. Your body produces insulin every time you eat your meals, which is a good thing since it helps provide your body with energy by delivering glucose to your cells. The key, however, is to make sure that insulin doesn’t surge through your bloodstream like it’s trying to win a race, but instead works gracefully and steady to simply do its job.
Take a look at these simple, healthy plant-based meal ideas you can try that give your body a nice balance of everything you need; they’ll help you see what a blood-sugar friendly meal combination looks like so you can design your own at home!
1. Quinoa, Greens, and Seeds
Quinoa is technically a seed, but because it’s low in fat and cooks up like a grain, it’s a great grain replacement. It’s also a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and has a blood sugar balancing effect due to its high levels of protein and magnesium. Most people also tolerate it well since it’s gluten-free and rather easy to digest. Greens are a staple food to include in your meals since they’re a great source of magnesium, amino acids, and chlorophyll which all balance blood sugar levels naturally. Use greens such as kale, spinach, romaine, Swiss chard, or even broccoli and bok choy. Seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, and chia seeds all make excellent seed choices to add to this meal idea because they’re rich in healthy fats but also a great source of fiber, iron, magnesium, and amino acids; your body needs all of these to maintain healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day. Try this Veggie Grain Goodness Bowl that also has added tofu, herbs, spices, and a few other healthy fats that can help keep you full and your blood sugar levels stable.
2. Black Beans, Tomatoes, Greens and Avocado
This is a stellar meal idea for your blood sugar on all accounts, and one of the easiest to eat in a variety of ways. You can combine this in the form of burgers by blending some beans with tomatoes and either chia or flax seeds to aid as a binder for your burgers, or you can add these ingredients to bowl and eat it as a cobb salad. Or, put everything in either whole grain or gluten-free wraps or taco shells and enjoy them that way. The possibilities are endless. Black beans are very high in protein and lower in starch than many other beans, tomatoes are excellent sources of natural sugars and B vitamins plus potassium to lower your blood pressure and blood sugar, and avocados are amazing sources of plant-based fats and B vitamins. Greens, avocados and beans are also excellent sources of magnesium and protein to help balance blood sugar levels even more. Try this Hearty Vegan Cobb Salad, Mexican Black Bean Soup, or Healthy Vegan Chili as great recipes that use this combination. Feel free to add more greens or change up the type of greens, use lentils in place of black beans since they’re also a great source of protein, and always feel free to add more veggies to the mix for additional fiber and nutrients.
3. Berries, Greens, and Nuts or Seeds
This amazing blend for your blood sugar is perfect when you want to enjoy a smoothie. You can either use whole seeds (pumpkin, hemp, chia, flax, etc.) or use seed-based protein powders such as hemp protein, pumpkin seed protein, chia flour or sprouted flax seed protein. You can also use nuts, though keep in mind seeds are higher in protein and amino acids than nuts per serving. Spinach and kale are your best bets for high protein greens, and any type of berries you choose to use in your smoothies will work perfectly. Berries are excellent sources of fiber to slow down your blood sugar levels, yet still provide necessary carbohydrates it needs. Cranberries, blackberries and raspberries are all the highest options for fiber and low sugar content. Acai berry has no sugar and is higher in protein and omega-3 fat, so feel free to also use that as well. Check out The Antaomy of a Filling Green Smoothie: What to Use, What to Skip to see more blood sugar tips to use when blending up your daily smoothies!
4. Tofu or Tempeh, Greens, and Sweet Potatoes
Talk about a powerful punch of nutrients! This combination combines lean protein from tempeh or tofu, leafy greens (or you can use green vegetables), and healthy complex carbs and B vitamins plus magnesium from sweet potatoes. It’s a perfect dinner to eat in place of similar meat-based dishes. Tempeh is a fermented form of soy protein that’s much easier to digest and a bit more natural than soy-based veggie burgers found at the store (not to mention tastier too!). Tofu is also a great option, especially if you season it up the right way (just like you have to do with meat) using a yummy marinade. Give this combo a try in Big ‘Ol Texas Bowl With Nut-Free Nacho ‘Cheese’ or check out more of our tempeh and tofu recipes for other ideas.
5. Oats, Coconut Flour, Berries and Seeds
This is one amazing breakfast combo you can use either in the form of a cereal, a smoothie, or even baked muffins. Oats are the perfect source of protein, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, and potassium. They’re also a healthy source of beta-glucan fibers that stabilize blood sugar levels and assist with a healthy weight. Coconut flour is an amazing source of protein with 3.5 grams in just 2 tablespoons! It’s also a fantastic source of fiber with over 6 grams per 2 tablespoons and contains absolutely no sugar or starch. Try it as a grain-free replacement to wheat bran or other fibers you might be using that you’re not too fond of, or you can even use 1/4 cup of coconut flour to stand in for another source of protein powder. Berries provide antioxidants and fiber, and seeds will add a bit of healthy fats, protein, and additional vitamins and minerals. Try this combo in a smoothie to get a delicious thick shake that will keep you full for hours. Or, use oats and coconut flour in equal parts to replace the refined flour in a muffin recipe, and just add 1/4 cup each of berries and seeds into the mix with a tsp. baking soda to help them rise. Then add water or non-dairy milk to thicken into a batter, and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. For a breakfast and snack option, mix 1/4 cup each of oats, coconut flour, berries, and seeds of your choice in a bowl. Thicken with non-dairy milk, add some stevia to sweeten without sugar, and enjoy this mixture as an instant cereal. See more tips for using coconut flour here for other no-fuss and nutrient-dense meal ideas!
These ideas obviously aren’t the only meal ideas to use to balance your blood sugar, but are perhaps some that you may not have tried yet, and they’re just great to keep in mind when you get tired of your regular dishes. Remember, the worst things you can do for your blood sugar are eat processed foods, fast foods, refined sugar, and base your diet off animal proteins. Sodas, energy drinks and too much caffeine, along with a sedentary lifestyle and consistent lack of sleep will also upset blood sugar levels as well. If you’d like additional tips on blood sugar and your diet, see more tips here: Important Nutrients for Healthy Blood Sugar Levels.
What’s your favorite meal that helps balance your blood sugar levels?
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