HOW TO BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR AND LOSE WEIGHT
For ease of reference after reading this article, specific advice is highlighted in green (what to eat) and red (what to avoid). There’s advice at the end of the article on where to shop for some of the recommended foods.
What is blood sugar and why is it important to balance it?
Blood sugar or glucose is the body’s main source of energy and is produced when carbohydrates such as grains and fruits are broken down by the body and released into the blood. Our food choices will determine how quickly or slowly glucose is released into the bloodstream and this will have an impact on how hungry or energetic we feel.
When foods release glucose into the blood slowly we’ll feel less hungry and our energy levels will be more balanced through the day. If we eat foods that release glucose quickly, energy levels will drop soon after and we’ll crave carbohydrates and sugar again to replenish energy levels. When there’s a surplus of glucose in the blood, the body will remove the excess glucose and store it as fat in the liver and ultimately weight gain takes place.
So which foods should we avoid and why?
One of the best ways to lose weight is to regain control over balancing your blood glucose levels. Unfortunately our modern western diet, full of white flour, sugar, hydrogenated fats and refined and processed foods is not the key to balancing blood sugar. All these types of foods lead to a dramatic rise in blood glucose levels which is not what we want.
Here are a few nutritional guidelines that you can follow which will reduce unnecessary hunger, cravings and overeating. In following these principles weight
loss becomes inevitable, your overall health will improve and more energy is freed up for creativity, exercise and motivation to achieve your goals and dreams.
1. Consume a diet rich in whole foods
Eating a diet that is rich in wholegrain foods (wild rice, short grain brown rice, quinoa, millet), pulses, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds provide a high assortment of minerals, vitamins, healthy fats and fibre …. all necessary in balancing metabolism and hormones, providing sustained energy levels and reducing hunger and cravings which, in turn, drives weight loss. The foods listed above all fall under what is termed a ‘wholefoods diet’.
2. Avoid bad fats, eat healthy fats
Foods rich in Omega 3 & 6 fats are essential to burning fat, reducing inflammation in the body and supporting immunity. Foods like avocados, nuts, olive oil, oily fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines), seeds, flaxseed oil and nut butters, will leave you with healthy skin and hair, reduce your risk of heart disease, ensure proper functioning of your nervous system and contribute to weight loss.
If you feel inspired, add 1 teaspoon of pumpkin seeds and 1 teaspoon of flaxseeds to your morning breakfast cereal or try adding 2 teaspoons of Higher Nature Omega 3:6:9 oil to salad dressings. You can buy Higher Nature omega oil online at: https://www.highernature.co.uk/Products/omega-balance-oil
* TIP * When buying flaxseeds, it is best to buy the whole seeds and blend them in small food processor, blender or a coffee grinder. Grinding a large amount of seeds and storing the freshly ground flaxseeds in a glass jar in the fridge ready for use will prevent the flaxseeds from going rancid and allow the nutrients and fats to be more absorbed by the body.
Avoid foods high in trans fats such as fast foods, some breads, potato and corn crisps, biscuits, chocolate bars, margarine (spreads) and mayonnaise. When essential fats have undergone food processing (hydrogenation) to increase their shelf life they become trans fats which damage the body’s cells, increase cholesterol and interfere with fertility and blood sugar. Check the labels of foods to avoid ‘partially hydrogenated vegetable oils’ or ‘shortening’
3. Choose low glycemic (GL) foods
A diet rich in whole foods, fruits and vegetables will generally fall into foods low on the GL scale. The GL is a system that helps us understand how much carbohydrate is contained within a serving of food and its effect on blood sugar. Ultimately if we are eating foods that fall into the low range of GL foods, we’re balancing our blood sugar levels as these foods will be released into the blood slowly.
Low GL foods are an important component in weight loss, maintaining good cardiovascular health and preventing diabetes. Some examples include oats, berries, apples, avocado, lentils, beans, almonds, most fresh fruits, plain yoghurt, muesli (sugar free), millet and quinoa. A more lengthy list of Low GL foods will be identified via the ‘Get Slim Stay Slim’ facebook page soon!
4. Combine proteins and carbohydrates
Ensure you eat 2 main meals every day (and any snacks) that include a protein and a low GL carbohydrate.
Combining a protein (eg: fish, eggs, tofu or pulses) which takes longer for the body to digest and low GL carbohydrates (eg: wild rice, fruit, vegetables, rye toast) allow you to feel fuller for longer and provide you with the energy you need while still keeping a stable blood sugar level. Try snacking on an apple with a few nuts or seeds between meals.
*A few tips and where to shop*
You’ll find quinoa, wild rice and a majority of nuts and seeds in the major supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco’s, Marks & Spencers and Waitrose.
A well known brand of nut butter (Meridian) available in Sainsbury’s, provides a few choices (almond, cashew, peanut). Alternatively if you have a Holland and Barrett nearby they stock quinoa, short grain brown rice, millet and all nuts and seeds including pumpkin and flaxseeds.
Rye bread can be found in Sainsburys (Mestermacher Organic sunflower seed bread) in the isle where most other breads are found. Alternatively Health food shops stock a lovely brand of Rye breads called Biona.
All of the above foods will be found in your local health food store, however, if you cannot find something feel free to get in touch for further guidance.
Lisa-Marie Cresswell BSc Naturopath www.innerbalance.me.uk