Have you ever found yourself racing out the door in the morning as you head to work or school, grabbing a quick coffee & sugary muffin from a nearby coffee shop on your way – then feel a quick energy surge as a result (thanks caffeine & sugar!), only to find yourself exhausted and drained an hour or two later? Or perhaps the opposite in that you feel incredibly anxious and jittery?
This is a prime example of the blood sugar roller coaster many people are on most days. Truth be told – it’s not a great way to live, and can actually result in more harm than good in the long run for your health!
In this blog post we’re diving into the ever so important topic of blood sugars – and what you can do to keep yours balanced all day long in order to help manage anxiety levels and support vibrant health!
What Does it Mean to Have ‘Balanced Blood Sugars’?
Before we get into it, we should explain what ‘blood sugar’ is in the first place! In its most simplest terms, blood sugar refers to the concentration of glucose in the blood.
When our blood sugars are balanced, blood glucose levels won’t have extremely large variations. The normal blood glucose range for the majority of healthy individuals is typically between 70 and 125 mg/dl (1).
Of course there can be variations outside of this range, for example, one’s blood sugar might be lower after prolonged exercise or higher after a very carbohydrate rich meal. However, the goal should be to support the body in keeping blood sugars in this optimally healthy range!
One way in which we can support balanced blood sugar levels, is to consume nourishing meals with a specific balance of macronutrients (more on this below) along with eating them in fairly frequent increments throughout the day.
Another important factor that impacts ones blood sugar balance is gut health! In fact, a recent study has found that the microbiome (among additional personalized variables) was a better predictor of one’s blood sugar levels (aka glycemic response) than dietary approaches that only focus only on the calorie or carbohydrate content of foods (3).
What are Symptoms of Blood Sugar Imbalance?
There are all sorts of potential signs and symptoms of imbalanced blood sugars.
Some of the many might include:
- Moodiness/ irritation
- Fatigue/ exhaustion
- Brain fog
- Headaches/ dizziness
- Poor sleep patterns
- Intense sugar/ carb cravings
- Poor concentration
- Feeling tired after eating
- Loss of sex drive
- Difficulty loosing weight/ belly fat
Why Is Blood Sugar Balance Important?
Keeping blood sugars balanced is important for numerous reasons!
Below are a few of the many reasons blood sugar balance is important:
- Can help keep anxiety at bay: helps us avoid getting h-anxious or experiencing cortisol spikes/ crashes – plays a VERY important role in anxiety management
- Supports hormone balance/ healthy menstrual cycles
- Keeps our energy up and mood stabilized
- Helps to avoid cravings for sugars, caffeines, and processed foods which may further impact blood sugar imbalances
- Helps to minimize risk of Type II Diabetes
So How to Keep Your Blood Sugar Balanced?
Below are 5 ways you can help keep your blood sugars stabilized throughout the day! The above photo is a great example of a blood sugar balancing meal!
1) Eat consistent meals throughout the day:
This looks different for everyone; however, for the majority of people it involves eating a balanced breakfast, lunch, and dinner at fairly equal increments throughout the day.
2) Ensure your meals contain veggies, a nourishing protein, a complex carb, and healthy fats:
Ensuring that the majority of your meals contain the 4 elements listed above is a pretty sure fire way to help keep your blood sugars balanced!
Below are a few examples from each category to include in your meals:
- Veggies (approx. ½ your plate): ex. kale, carrots, romaine, beets, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, cabbage, etc.
- A nourishing protein source: ex. tempeh, chickpeas, wild fish, pasture raised eggs, etc.
- A complex carbohydrate source: ex. brown rice, quinoa, piece of sourdough bread, a whole grain tortilla wrap, etc.
- Healthy fats: ex. olive oil for cooking, avocado, nuts/seeds, or a healthy dressing
3) Avoid refined sugars, refined grains, & excess caffeine
Refined sugars and refined grains can quickly spike blood sugars as these substances are stripped of their nutrients and fibres. It’s best to keep sugar intake in moderation – and when you are opting for it, have less refined versions like maple syrup or honey. It’s also a good idea to consume sweets that contain healthy fats, fiber, and/ or proteins to further support blood sugar balance. For example, chocolate chip cookies made with hazelnut and oat flour like these ones.
When it comes to grain, opting for whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, millet, or whole wheat is a much better option than white grains (rice, pastas, bread, etc.) when optimizing blood sugar balance.
Lastly, avoiding excessive caffeine intake is important for keeping blood sugars balanced. For the majority of people, between 200-400mg of caffeine should not cause a spike in blood sugars – but anything over that certainly can (2)!
It’s also important to note that many caffeinated beverages also contain sugars such as pop or vanilla/ sweetened lattes/ coffees. This combination of caffeine and sugar can send one’s blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.
4) Eat nourishing snacks between meals (if and when you’re hungry):
If you find yourself hungry, enjoy whole food snacks between your meals!
It’s a good idea to ensure they contain a protein or healthy fat (not just a carb). For example, an apple with almond butter or carrot sticks with hummus.
Most people find when they eat more balanced meals (like the type described above) there’s less of a desire to want to snack in between. However, that being said it’s important to listen to your body and eat when hungry.
5) Focus on Improving Gut Health!
As mentioned above – the gut microbiome is a very strong predictor of one’s glycemic response. There are all sorts of ways to help improve your gut health – one of them being including more fermented foods in your diet!
Check out this blog post for all sorts of other ways on how you can also work to improve your gut health!
Other Considerations for Supporting Blood Sugar Levels Include:
- Getting a good night’s sleep – consistently!
- Exercising regularly – finding activities you love!
- Stay hydrated with filtered water throughout the day and in between meal times
- Add additional spices to your diet such as: cinnamon (ensure it’s Ceylon cinnamon), ginger, turmeric, and cardamom
Alright there we have it – a complete overview of why keeping your blood sugars balanced is SO important in order to help ease anxiety levels and support vibrant health – and how you can do it with simple swaps!
If you’re curious about other ways you can support your body in easing your anxiety levels through your nutrition – reach out to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂