While the total amount of carbohydrates in a food or meal is likely to be the best predictor of how your blood sugar will respond, balancing carbohydrates with other food components that slow sugar absorption from the digestive tract into the blood stream may help with glucose regulation and lower your likelihood of experiencing extreme blood sugar highs and lows.
These three things can help slow sugar absorption:
- Protein. Try having a handful of dried soy nuts, tree nuts or seeds, yogurt, or a hard-boiled egg.
- Fat. Focus on good fats, such as nuts and nut butters, fatty fish, and olive oil when preparing snacks and meals.
- Fiber. Eat whole, unprocessed, fiber-rich foods as your first choice. High-fiber foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, and whole grains.
If you struggle with mindless snacking or emotional eating, consider seeking the help of a nutrition expert or counselor. If weight management is a priority, consulting a dietitian or other nutrition-oriented health practitioner can help you develop a sensible eating plan and stay on track over time. Self-directed support tools involving websites, cell phone apps, and text messaging have also shown promising results in helping people lose weight.
Make movement a priority
Engaging your muscles is one of the best ways to keep blood sugar in a healthy range. The large muscle groups of the body—for example, the legs, back, and abdominals—use blood sugar for energy. Engaging them not only takes glucose out of the blood, it also improves glucose metabolism overall, increases weight loss, and decreases the risk of heart disease.
Even if you do exercise, sitting at the computer for hours on end can be detrimental for blood sugar control, so set a reminder to stand up, stretch, and move around every half-hour.
(Diabetes Care 2017;40:S8–S55)