November is Diabetes Awareness Month! Did you know that nutrition is fundamental in managing blood sugar levels? This is true whether your concerns are hypoglycemia, prediabetes or diabetes. Symptoms of blood sugar imbalances or diabetes arise when our levels are too low or too high. It is important to remain balanced and support our system with proper nutrition.
Below are helpful tips for managing blood sugar levels through the foods that we eat:
1. Balance your plate: all meals and snacks should be “balanced” meaning they should contain a serving each of fibre, healthy fat and protein.
You want fibre to make up approximately ¼ of your plate or equivalent to ½ - 1 cup. Fibre is mostly found in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans/legumes and nuts/seeds.
Protein should make up approximately ¼ of your plate; the serving size is equal to the palm of your hand or 5 oz. Protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, soy, beans and lentils.
And last but not least, you should include a healthy fat with your meal. Add a handful of nuts/seeds, ½ avocado or 1 tbsp of healthy oil to your meal. Healthy fats are found in nuts/seeds, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and oily fish.
2. Eat regularly and enjoy smaller meals: eating smaller meals and snacks will allow the sugar from foods to be released slowly into your bloodstream. Eating balanced meals and snacks (please see above) will help to ensure blood sugar levels are stable throughout the day.
3. Low sugar and moderate carbohydrates: reducing sugar intake (chocolate, candy, pop, juice, etc.), as well as refined carbohydrates (chips, bread, rice, etc.) will help with managing your blood sugar levels. Even healthy carbohydrates like starchy vegetables (beets, sweet potatoes) and whole grains (brown rice, quinoa) should not make up the base of your meals, but instead roughly 1/4 of your plate. Caffeine can have a similar effect to sugar, so it is best to enjoy coffee with full-fat cream or with a meal.
4. Cinnamon: various studies have suggested that including cinnamon in your drinks/meals can help to regulate and lower blood sugar. Include 1 tsp of cinnamon a day, on top of porridge or sprinkled on an apple with nut butter.
5. Proper Supplementation: adding chromium to your supplement routine can help you manage your blood glucose levels. Studies have shown that chromium is necessary for the optimal functioning of insulin which is vital in keeping your blood sugar level from getting too high. Speak to your health care provider about the proper dose for you.
These are some of the steps that you can take with your daily food intake to help manage your blood sugar levels. As always, consult with a health care professional if you have any questions or experience discomfort. Share with us your favourite healthy eating tips on Twitter @Srs_for_Srs
Sarah Goldstein CNP is the lead Nutritionist and owner of Sarah Goldstein Nutrition, a general nutrition practice focusing on educating both individuals and groups through consultations, group coaching, workshops and online resources.