What happens when you eat sugar…
The body naturally aims to keep blood sugar at a healthy level. When you eat or drink your blood sugar levels go up and insulin is released. Insulin helps to carry the sugar in your bloodstream into the cells to be used for energy. Once the insulin has done its job, blood sugar levels will drop. Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are caused by eating refined foods such as white flour, cakes, biscuits, sugar and caffeinated drinks. The sugars in refined foods hit your bloodstream quickly. More insulin is released to deal with the sudden rise in blood sugar, so levels of insulin rise and fall rapidly and dramatically, and you will experience feelings of hunger quickly.
Low blood sugar is called hypoglycemia and makes you crave sugar and refined carbohydrates to get the blood sugar levels up again. Symptoms include irritability, aggression, palpitations, dizziness, anxiety, forgetfulness, confusion, fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps and more.
Balancing your blood sugar levels helps to maintain energy levels and eliminates food craving which can aid weight loss.
Some dietary advice to help you balance blood sugar
• Eat little and often (three meals and two snacks), and try to eat something every 3 hours. This helps to give your body a steady flow of sugars. When you miss a meal your body goes into starvation mode and actually holds onto fat. Some meal and snack ideas can be found below.
• Eat protein with every meal. Protein slows the release of sugars into the bloodstream and helps to create a more constant level of blood sugar.
• Limit refined foods, sugars and caffeine, and concentrate on whole foods such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, lentils, nuts and wholemeal bread (see table below).
• Mixed grain porridge with berries and a tablespoon of ground seed mix
• Berry smoothie with soy or rice milk and nuts or seeds
• Poached or scrambled eggs with grilled tomatoes and baked beans
• Buckwheat pancakes with blueberries
• Vegetable omelette with onions, tomatoes, sweetcorn & broccoli
• Quinoa with roasted sweet potatoes, peppers, avocado and herbs
• Salad with avocado, kidney beans, spring onion, peppers and tomato
• Brown rice with tuna, peppers, basil and olive oil
• Mackerel with salad and brown rice
• Wholemeal sandwich with houmous, avocado and grated carrot
• Corn pasta salad with homemade tomato sauce, herbs, cherry tomato and bean salad
• Quinoa stuffed peppers served with salad or steamed broccoli
• Lentil chilli with brown rice
• Buckwheat burgers with salad or steamed broccoli
• Grilled salmon with spinach, cherry tomatoes, corn, olive oil and lemon
• Tofu stir fry with broccoli, spinach & ginger and brown rice or noodles
• Cucumber, carrot sticks or rice cakes with hummus, mashed avocado or nut / seed butter
• Tinned mackerel or sardines in oil on a rice cake
• Fruit and nuts, including dried fruit
• Apple sticks dipped in nut butter
• Nut and fruit bars such as Trek and nakd bars (watch out for added sugar or glucose syrup in some bars)
• Apple and cottage cheese on rye crackers
As well as controlling your blood sugar levels through diet, supplements can be helpful:
• Biocare Sucroguard contains chromium, B vitamins and magnesium which are required for blood glucose metabolism and helps to balance blood sugar levels.
• Chromium helps by increasing the sensitivity of cell receptors to insulin thus increasing blood glucose metabolism.
• Zinc and B6 are important for the formation, secretion and utilisation of insulin. B6 also helps reduce the side effects of excess sugar especially those seen in diabetes.
• Magnesium is required for glucose metabolism and helps to modulate the action of insulin in relation to blood sugar.
• Pukka Natural Balance is an Ayurvedic formula which helps to balance blood sugar levels and reduces sugar cravings.
• Natures Plus Ultra Sugar Control contains chromium, herbs and amino acids that help to control blood sugar levels.