Do you spend the day feeling like you’re riding an erratic energy rollercoaster? Bursting with vitality after you eat something carby, sugary, or caffeinated only to crash an hour later feeling more lethargic than you did before you ate? If so, you can join the millions of Americans who need to address inconsistent blood sugar levels, a major contributor to type II diabetes.
Fortunately, the formula for keeping your energy stable throughout the day can be adopted quickly and easily by following a few key rules:
Forget simple and go for complex. We’re talking about carbohydrates here. Simple carbs such as those found in refined and sugary foods (cookies, chocolate, cakes, soda, white pasta/rice/bread are the regular culprits) break down quickly and cause an abnormally quick spike in your blood sugar. This spike is followed by a dramatic drop in blood sugar that can make you feel depleted, spacey, and moody.
>>Try this instead: Incorporate a variety of complex carbohydrates into your diet. Choose fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains over simple carb counterparts.
Don’t skip meals. Running too late to prepare breakfast? Have meetings that run through lunch? These lifestyle factors take a toll on your health. Waiting too long to eat can cause your blood sugar levels to dip uncomfortably.
>>Try this instead: Throughout the day, eat balanced snacks and meals, spaced no more than 2-3 hours apart. Preparing these in advance goes a LONG way toward keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Pay attention to protein. A snack or meal that’s heavy with carbs and lacking adequate protein can send your blood sugar soaring. Protein (from vegetable or animal sources) helps slow the release of glucose into your blood.
>>Try this instead: Use a 2:1 ratio of complex carbs to protein each time you eat. In addition, make sure each meal includes some form of fiber (found in fruit and vegetables) and heart-healthy fats (found in flaxseed, olive oil, avocado, and nuts).
Put a moratorium on packaged foods. No matter what kind of health claims you’ll find on the box, almost ALL contribute to the blood sugar havoc.
>>Try this instead: Have healthy alternatives like almonds, hummus, avocado, and walnuts on hand for snacks, and replace boxed rice on your dinner and lunch plates with quinoa, millet, and lentils.
Once you get in the habit of eating regularly, balancing your meals, and incorporating more slow-burning carbohydrates into your menu rotation, you’ll see your energy and mood level out and the blood sugar wild ride will quickly become a thing of the past.