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Regulating Blood Sugar

If you have diabetes in your family, or just feel like you have swings in your blood sugar, it is a good idea to try to moderate it.  In fact, everyone would do well to eat a diet that moderates blood sugar.  When we don’t feel hungry between meals, we are less likely to overeat.  Lindsay and I are going to walk you through some of her tasty meals, that should help regulate your blood sugar and keep you feeling full for longer.

Blood sugar is the amount of glucose that is found in the blood at a given time.  Glucose is the form of energy that all of the cells in our body use.  Ideally, our blood glucose levels stay fairly constant throughout the day, and glucose is moved from the blood to other parts of the body where it can be used for energy.  

High Blood Sugar Levels

Having high levels of blood glucose can make you feel tired, cause frequent urination, cause weakness, and make us prone to infections.  In the long term, such as in someone with long term diabetes, high blood sugar can cause long-term damage to organs, vision problems, kidney problems, and can contribute to heart disease.  

Low Blood Sugar Levels

Low blood sugar levels or hypoglycemia can cause us to feel nauseous, sweaty, nervous or irritable.  In more severe cases of hypoglycemia, we may have blurred vision or feel dizzy.  

Our blood sugar levels rise and fall depending on what we eat.  Ideally, we maintain a fairly constant level of blood sugar over the day providing us with usable energy for our cells.  

Maintaining Blood Sugar with Diet

Luckily, when you eat the right diet, it’s not too hard to maintain a somewhat constant blood sugar to provide our body with the sustained energy we need throughout the day.  We talked about the foods to give us energy a couple of months ago, and these same foods are the carbohydrates that will help us maintain a constant blood sugar level throughout the day, mixed with healthy fats and proteins.  We also talked about the health benefits of dietary fiber, and again one of the great things about fiber is that it helps slow digestion and helps us maintain a constant blood sugar level.  

In order to maintain a fairly constant level of blood sugar, it’s ideal to find carbohydrates that are slowly digested.  This means eating whole grains, fruit, vegetables (contain low levels of carbohydrate, but plenty of fiber), and beans.  

Eat Breakfast

Eating breakfast, is also important in helping maintain constant blood sugar levels.  Studies have shown that people who don’t eat breakfast may be putting themselves at risk to become insulin resistant (their blood sugar levels don’t respond to insulin making it hard for the body to move glucose to cells where it is needed, which can lead to chronic high blood sugar).  Choose breakfasts with complex carbohydrates, fruit, protein and healthy fats.  For instance, have a bowl of oatmeal with soy milk, strawberries, and walnuts.  

Cinnamon

In preliminary studies, cinnamon appears to help moderate blood sugar levels.  In a study, patients who took supplements of cinnamon had a 10% reduction in fasting blood sugar levels as opposed to 3% in the group who took a placebo.  So add some cinnamon to your food where you can!

Glycemic Index

Wondering how much a certain food affects your blood sugar?  Look up it’s glycemic index.  The glycemic index is a scale that measures how food will affect your blood sugar.  Foods with a higher glycemic index will have a higher affect on blood sugar.  For more information and a database see:  http://www.glycemicindex.com/

Skip the Processed Foods

Processed foods typically contain lots of sugar and refined grains, and are usually low in fiber.  This is obviously the opposite of the type of food you want to eat to maintain your blood sugar.  Pastries, breads, cookies, and cakes made from white flour are particularly bad, and many gluten-free baked goods have a reputation for raising blood sugar even more than regular products do.  If you have celiac disease or eat gluten-free, remember just because something says it is gluten-free does not mean it is healthy!

Potatoes  

America’s most consumed vegetables are notorious for raising blood sugar levels quickly, but there are things you can do to help digest potatoes slower and lower their effects on our blood sugar.  Russet potatoes (which are the normal potato we eat baked) are particularly bad on our blood sugar.  To eat potatoes without raising blood sugar so rapidly, cook them, refrigerate them overnight, and then reheat them – this changes the structure of the carbohydrate and allows it to be digested much more slowly than when fresh.  Choose other varieties of potatoes (nearly all are better on blood sugar than Russets), try small new potatoes.  Eat your potatoes with a healthy oil like olive oil and other vegetables or protein to help slow digestion further.  Eat the skins with the potatoes to add extra fiber.

Lindsay’s Recipes

Head over to http://thetravelingzipperhead.com to see how to make the following recipes:

Buckwheat Groats with Strawberries and Banana

I have some buckwheat groats in my cabinet, that have been there for months, but I have not known what to do with them!  I bought them because they are a healthy whole grain that people with celiac can eat.  I am really excited to try this recipe out for breakfast this week!  You can find it here:  http://thetravelingzipperhead.com

 Strawberry Banana Buckwheat

NutritionLabel - Buckwheat with Strawberries and Bananas

 Morrocan Chicken over Asian Noodles and Spinach

Rice, especially white rice, has a high glycemic index, even brown rice has a higher glycemic index than most grains.  And rice tends to be the go to carbohydrate for many people with celiac disease.  Here Lindsay pairs a Morrocan chicken salad (with cinnamon of course), over brown rice Asian noodles.  Surprisingly, Asian rice noodles, have a lower glycemic index than normal rice because it takes our body longer to digest them, or you could use mung bean noodles as well.  For a list of low glycemic gluten free carbohydrates, so the Q&A section on the glycemic index website, there are some great tips there, including using Asian noodles in place of rice!  Pairing the noodles with a low saturated fat protein like chicken, and spinach which is high in fiber slows digestion even further.  Find the recipe here:   http://thetravelingzipperhead.com

 Morrocan Chicken and Noodles

NutritionLabel - Chicken with Noodles

 Cold Potato Salad with Grilled Chicken

Here Lindsay paired a cold potato salad with grilled chicken.  Chilling the potatoes, and using new potatoes lowers the glycemic index, and pairing it with grilled chicken slows digestion even further.  Find the recipe here:   http://thetravelingzipperhead.com

 Chicken and Cold Potato Salad

 Potato Salad Nutrition Facts / Grilled Chicken Nutrition Facts

NutritionLabel - Cold Potato SaladNutritionLabel - Grilled Chicken

 Strawberry Granita

This recipe is just strawberry and lime with now sweeteners!  Looks delicious.  Find the recipe here:  http://thetravelingzipperhead.com

 StrawberryGranita

NutritionLabel - StrawberryGranita (2)

References:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/DiabetesOverview/story?id=3843485#.UcR4fPnrxyU

http://answers.webmd.com/answers/1177721/what-is-hyperglycemia

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16873779

http://diabetes.webmd.com/news/20130616/skipping-breakfast-may-raise-diabetes-risk

http://www.glycemicindex.com/foodSearch.php?num=1889&ak=detail

http://www.glycemicindex.com

 

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  1. […] read all about how potatoes can drastically change how they affect your blood sugar over on Stephanie’s page, so you are going to think ahead and made a potato salad for tomorrow, or later today, […]

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