Balancing Blood Sugar with Nutritional Therapy
Lili Hanft, NTP
Do you experience symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, headaches, cravings for sugar and caffeine, and feeling irritable, shaky, and “hangry” between meals? These can all be signs of blood sugar dysregulation, which is epidemic in the American population due to our highly processed, sugar-laden diets and high stress levels.
In an optimally balanced state, blood glucose rises moderately after a meal. Insulin, produced by the pancreas, stores extra glucose in cells for later use. When blood sugar levels start to dip between meals, the hormone glucagon releases this stored glucose into the bloodstream to be used for energy.
However, when we eat a processed, high carbohydrate meal without healthy fats, protein, and fiber, blood sugar levels rise rapidly to high levels, requiring the pancreas to secrete a lot of insulin. This big surge of insulin can drop blood sugar levels too low, resulting in low energy, shakiness, and sugar cravings. This blood sugar roller-coaster ride translates to unstable energy and mood.
Blood sugar balancing strategies:
● Have healthy protein, fat, and fiber-rich whole-foods carbohydrate at every meal and snack. For example: Breakfast: free-range, local eggs fried in butter or coconut oil with sauteed spinach and mushrooms, or yogurt with nuts, seeds, and berries Snack: hummus with vegetable sticks, or apple with almond butter Lunch: mixed greens, canned salmon, avocado, leftover baked sweet potato Dinner: grass-fed beef meatballs, tomato sauce, spaghetti squash, steamed broccoli
● Avoid processed foods containing sugar, white flour, artificial sweeteners, and vegetable oils (such as corn, canola, cottonseed, and soybean oils)
● Take a short walk after meals or a yoga or dance class (exercise lowers blood sugar)
● Practice stress management through mindfulness or a bodywork or acupuncture session
● Have a healthy treat (such as Sweet Potato Chocolate Truffles) when sugar cravings hit
If you would like some personalized guidance, consider working with me one-on-one or joining the Balancing Blood Sugar group class series I will be offering this fall.