Nutrition to Balance Blood Sugar

by Dr. Masina Wright

Low blood sugar is stressful to your body. By eating irregularly over a period of time, you can develop hypoglycemia – a constellation of symptoms including irritability, headaches, dizziness, and weakness that signals your body requires more blood sugar for energy. When these signals are chronically ignored, or are followed with high sugar foods like pop, candy and pastries, blood sugar irregularities like Type 2 Diabetes can result as your body is no longer able to produce enough insulin after a lifetime of high and low blood sugar surges. Making nutritious food choices and changing your eating patterns to regular small meals with healthy snacks between will help regulate blood sugar; here are some foundational suggestions.

FOODS TO ENJOY

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  • Vegetables: Most veggies are great, and can be eaten in unlimited amounts. Emphasize fresh leafy greens in salads or steamed greens. Sweet and starchy vegetables are best eaten 1-2 times a week (for the whole group): this includes beets, sweet potatoes, corn, parsnips, squash, and potatoes.
  • Fruits: Sour apples, crisp pears, and berries are the best choices as they are low in sugar. Eliminate juices (including tomato), or have occasionally as a treat. Choose Ultima hydration drinks in place of juice.
  • Dairy products: Use full fat organic yogurt and butter, and goat and sheep cheeses.
  • Meat, fish, fowl, eggs, seafood: Purchase organic and free range products whenever possible. Tuna may only be eaten once every 2 weeks due to high mercury content. Small fish like anchovies and sardines are good sources of omega fats without the heavy metal content. Eliminate luncheon meats as they are high in sugar and salt.
  • Soy products: Tofu, tempeh, soybeans are good sources of vegetarian protein. Organic non-GMO soymilks are ok if unsweetened. Use soy meat substitutes only occasionally (hot dogs, veggie meats, ground round, veggie burgers.)
  • Lentils and beans, such as chickpeas (or hummus) and black beans: These are excellent sources of fiber and protein. Studies have shown beans used in breakfast meals have the best blood sugar stabilising effect. Legumes are also high in carbohydrates ~ one serving is up to 4 tbsp of beans.
  • Nuts and seeds: Choose raw unsalted nuts and seeds and their nut butters except peanuts. Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts are great snacks and add protein to salads.
  • Whole grains: buckwheat, quinoa, rolled oats (‘old-fashioned’), amaranth, brown rice, whole rye and spelt, and millet can be eaten 1-2 times per week.
  • Foods high in chromium: brewers yeast, whole grains, root veggies
  • Foods high in FOS: soybeans, onions, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes
  • Foods high in Dchiro-inositol: vegetables, legumes, beef liver, eggs, buckwheat
  • Foods to increase sex-hormone-binding globulins (to bind testosterone for PCOS) ground flax seeds, green tea, soy isoflavones, nettle tea.

IMPORTANT CHANGES

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  • Eliminate sweets and sweeteners: candies, syrups, desserts and pastries, foods ending in -ol or -ose (glucose, dextrose, lactose, mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol etc.) This includes “diet” and “sugar free” foods.
  • Avoid processed grains: Avoid pasta, crackers, breads, chips, wheat and white flour, white rice, and all processed flour products/baked goods. Potatoes are also mostly eliminated as their starch is converted to sugar very quickly in the body (although sweet potatoes are fine).
  • Reduce unhealthy fats: Avoid packaged baked goods, deep fried foods, cream and sour cream, and margarine.
  • Increase healthy fats: from cold-pressed organic oils like sesame, olive oil, hemp and flax oil, and from nuts, seeds, avocado, olives and fish.
  • Switch from balsamic vinegar to rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, umeboshi vinegar, or use lemon/lime juice instead of vinegars. Have balsamic vinegar only occasionally as it is very high in sugar.
  • Don’t go hungry: Eat every 2-4 hours, paying attention to internal hunger signals. Getting over-hungry leads to poor food choices and wreaks havoc with insulin control. Eating when not hungry is also problematic. Learn to identify hunger when it starts and eat before you become starving. Start with breakfast.

MENU SUGGESTIONS

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BREAKAST: Eat daily, within 2 hours of rising.

  •  1 cup organic unsweetened yogurt with vanilla stevia, organic berries, and 1 tbsp of chopped pecans.
  • Protein shake: 1 cup soy, coconut, rice or almond milk (unsweetened), 1 cup fresh or frozen berries, plant based protein powder, 1/2 cup water, 1 tbsp flax seed oil, plus superfoods of your choice: cacao, spirulina, gogi berry, maca.
  • Oatmeal cooked with 1/2 apple and cinnamon and 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Poached or scrambled eggs (2) with salad greens.
  • Unsweetended whole grain cereal of your choice (ie. ancient grains) with alternative milk, 1 tbsp nuts or seeds and fresh berries 1-2 times per week.
  • Leftover beans, an organic egg, and sautéed peppers, onion, and tomato.
  • 1 piece wheat free toast with nut butter

SNACKS:

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  • Raw veggies (radish, broccoli, celery, peppers, cauliflower etc) with guacamole, hummus, baba ganoush, or any other high protein dip.
  • Organic yogurt (if you did not have it for breakfast.)
  • Handful of raw nuts (about 20) or ¼ cup seeds
  • Celery with almond butter
  • Rice cake with avocado and red salsa
  • Fresh vegetable juice (such as carrot, beet, kale, ginger, apple)
  • Sliced apple with goats cheddar
  • RyeVita crackers (high in fiber and whole grain) with protein-rich dip or goat cheese.

 

LUNCH AND DINNERS

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HINT: The best (easiest) lunch is a serving from last night’s dinner. We always cook a little bit extra and package it the night before to take to work for lunch.

 The meal possibilities are endless. Here are a few general suggestions:

  • Chicken breast, feta cheese, and/or nuts and seeds on a large green salad, with 3 different colored vegetables. Use fresh herbs, sea salt, garlic, olive oil/flax oil and lemon juice for a dressing.
  • Miso soup with tofu cubes, brown rice, and steamed vegetables with tamari- baked white fish.
  • Organic meat, 1/2 sweet potato, steamed vegetables.
  • Black bean soup with feta cheese, fresh green salad.
  • Mixed Bean salad – lentils, chickpeas, black beans etc marinated with chopped onion, peppers and sun-dried tomato in red wine vinegar and olive oil/flax oil, add fresh herbs such as parsley, thyme, and sea salt – on a bed of arugula.
  • Combine equal amounts of organic canned beans (chickpeas, black beans, etc) with cooked brown rice. Top with olive oil, fresh herbs and sea salt. Serve 3/4 cup rice mix with 1 cup steamed broccoli and side green salad with olives, sun dried tomatoes and feta.
  • Poached salmon with dill, quinoa, and steamed broccoli.
  • Fresh sushi, sashimi, seaweed salad and miso soup.
  • Frittata with goat cheddar and asparagus with a large green salad with apple, celery and almonds.
  • Arugula salad with sheep feta, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, grated carrots, chopped cilantro, topped with lemon juice, flax seed oil and sea salt.

TROUBLESHOOTING

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Moving away from pastas can be tough – but anything can be a vehicle for sauce! Broccoli and tomato sauce, organic brown rice and cream sauce, quinoa primavera…. Use your old pasta recipes, but substitute hearty vegetables  or up to 1 cup whole grains to carry sauces.

Make half of your dinner plate vegetables, aiming for 3 different kinds of veggies. Add a protein (nuts/seeds, fish, legumes, meat, eggs) and alternate a little whole grain or starchy vegetable.

Have a protein based mid-afternoon snack if you always arrive home starving. This period between work and dinner is a very popular high-carb snacking zone.

EVENING SNACK

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Have a glass of unsweetened soymilk or a handful of raw almonds. This last snack helps the body to maintain blood sugar balance overnight, without burdening the digestive system with heavy foods that it must then metabolize overnight (thus interfering with its natural rest and rejuvenation time.)

About the Author

Dr. Masina Wright

Masina Wright is a Maine-based Integrative Medicine doctor specializing in hormonal wellness, fertility and Trans* health. She sees patients at Age Management Center. Connect with her on Twitter @thewrightdoctor

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