How To Get Off The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster
How To Get Off The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster

How To Get Off The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster

Blood sugar management is a trending topic in the wellness world, with new studies showing blood glucose spikes – triggered by too many carbs, not enough protein, and even stress and a lack of sleep – are directly tied to inflammation, ageing, weight gain and hormonal imbalance. Here’s what four nutritionists recommend to bring your levels back into balance…
By Tor West

Know The Signs

“Blood sugar may be something you associate with diabetes, but everyone benefits from having stable blood sugar – it’s crucial for overall health and wellbeing. Imbalanced blood sugar worsens hormonal conditions like endometriosis, can amplify menopause symptoms and accelerate the ageing process. It’s also a driver for skin conditions like acne, eczema and rosacea. Imbalanced blood sugar is also linked to an irregular cycle and PCOS, and in the long-term, can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and chronic fatigue. Signs your blood sugar could do with some TLC are constantly craving sugary foods, especially an hour or so after mealtimes; feeling tired even when you’ve slept well; relying on caffeine for energy; and feeling the need to constantly snack. Less obvious signs include feeling irritable, brain fog, feeling ‘hangry’ most days before meals, and feeling lightheaded or shaky before a meal.” – Jess Shand, naturopathic nutritionist

Prioritise Breakfast

“It’s all too easy to get the day off to a bad start nutritionally, but what you eat for breakfast will set your blood sugar response for the next 24 hours. An easy formula to bear in mind is complex carbohydrates plus protein and healthy fats. This will guarantee a slow, steady release of energy. If you’re a toast fan, switch to a wholemeal variety and have it with eggs, smoked salmon, avocado or nut butter. Add nuts, seeds or nut butter to porridge and cereal to slow the release of glucose and ideally choose soy or cow’s milk, which are far higher in protein than plant-based alternatives to keep blood sugar stable. Swap flavoured yoghurt for plain, Greek yoghurt, which is packed with protein; and choose granola or muesli made without added sugar. Or try making your own overnight oats with grated carrot, a few raisins, walnuts and cinnamon.” – Jodie Relf, registered dietitian and spokesperson for MyOva

Load Up On Fibre

“One of the most important first steps towards more balanced blood sugar levels is to reduce reliance on ultra-processed food products and focus on whole plant foods instead – foods like vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, beans, nuts and seeds. Ultra-processed food is often high in refined sugar and low in fibre. Fibre slows the digestion of sugar from carbohydrates, which means you experience a more gradual rise in your blood sugar after meals and more sustained energy levels through the day. Lunch could be a brown rice salad with crunchy vegetables, tofu and avocado, or a wholemeal sandwich with hummus, cucumber and rocket, as well as a piece of fruit and nuts. Dinner could be a lentil Bolognese with wholewheat pasta and olive oil, or a chickpea curry with veggies, brown rice or quinoa.” – Rosie Martin, registered dietitian 

Signs your blood sugar COULD DO WITH SOME TLC are FEELING TIRED even when you’ve slept well and FEELING THE NEED TO CONSTANTLY SNACK.

Eat At Regular Intervals

“The body likes consistency. Leaving too much time between meals can cause a drop in blood sugar and have you reaching for a sugary fix. Aim to have breakfast within an hour of waking (your blood sugar is at its lowest in the morning after a night of fasting) and then eat nutrient-dense, balanced meals every five hours without snacking. If you’re hungry within these windows, check you’re eating enough protein and healthy fats at mealtimes. If you must snack, make it something high in protein with a source of fats otherwise you’ll spike blood sugar again and the cycle will continue. Get to know your body and what it needs in terms of timings. At the same time, don’t overburden your system by overeating – if you struggle with imbalanced blood sugar, you need to preserve as much energy as possible.” – Jess

Start With A Salad

“The order in which you eat your food can significantly impact your blood sugar, especially if it’s a meal rich in carbohydrates. When you eat carbs first – like a bread basket at a restaurant – they go straight into your bloodstream, spiking your glucose levels. Instead, start carb-rich meals with a salad or a dish high in protein and/or fat and follow with carbs later in the meal.” – Catherine Sharman, functional nutritionist & owner of Après Food

Go Off Menu

“If you’re going out for a meal, don’t be afraid to ask for exactly what you want even if it’s not on the menu – if you don’t ask, you don’t get. For a blood sugar-balancing meal, order a piece of fish, meat or plant-based protein, along with a side of vegetables or salad and some form of wholegrain fibre. Also ask for a plate of sliced avocado or olive oil to drizzle on your meal to increase its healthy fat content to control your blood sugar response and keep you fuller for longer. It’s not about eating less or being boring – it’s about nourishing your body and eating to feel better.” – Jess

Don’t Ditch Fruit

“Like many fad diets that promote low-carb eating, fruit wrongfully gets roped into the same category as foods whose carb content comes from added sugar. However, not all carbs are created equal. The added sugar found in a fizzy drink, for example, has zero nutritional benefits. The sugar in a peach or pear, meanwhile, comes with many health benefits found in the fruit’s flesh and skin, including vitamins, minerals and fibre. Fruit also contains a good mix of both soluble of insoluble fibre and plays an important role in reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and certain cancers. Most fruits don’t cause a sugar spike large enough to cause concern.” – Jodie

ADD PROTEIN POWDER to your breakfast smoothie, or add HEALTHY FATS in the form of avocado or nut butter to your snacks MAKE THEM BLOOD SUGAR FRIENDLY.

Find Your Exercise Sweet Spot

“So many of us still believe that for exercise to be effective it must be an hour-long, gruelling routine. However, vigorous exercise puts stress on the body and can change the way the body responds to sugar. An intense workout can temporarily raise blood sugar, so if you have poor blood sugar control, start slowly and work your way up. On the other hand, being sedentary can make managing blood sugar levels more challenging. Exercise makes the body more efficient at using glucose, but don’t overdo it – a 15-minute HIIT workout or brisk walk is plenty. Ultimately, your muscles need sugar for fuel, and when you exercise, you’re helping move sugar from the blood into the muscles. Over time, this can help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level and make your body more efficient at using glucose.” – Jodie 

Get An Early Night

“Both sleep deprivation and stress can cause elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which raises blood sugar. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and adopt stress-busting habits like exercise, meditation and yoga. At the same time, if you wake up feeling tired, this is a key sign your blood sugar levels are out balance. Eating sugar – or an imbalanced meal – late in the evening raises cortisol levels, spikes blood sugar and means your body has to use up valuable energy to metabolise the sugar. You will get a much more restorative night’s sleep if you cut sugar after dinner and allow your body to be in ‘rest and digest’ mode.” – Jess  

If You Do One Thing, Combine Foods

“Eating for blood sugar balance isn’t about cutting sugar from your diet. Instead, it’s about combining foods to support how your body metabolises sugar to control spikes. This could be adding protein powder to your breakfast smoothie, or adding healthy fats in the form of avocado, peanut butter or a handful of nuts to snacks to make them more nutritionally complete. You don’t need to cut out carbs entirely but try to make a more nutritious swap – instead of white carbs, try quinoa, lentils, brown rice, or root vegetables like sweet potato and squash, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, avocado, or crushed seeds for a dose of healthy fats. Protein, too, should make up around a quarter of your plate – this will control insulin secretion and lead to a more gradual rise in blood sugar after a meal. Even simple tweaks like this will make a difference to fatigue, your weight and sugar cravings.” – Jess 

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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