Here are some smart and simple tips on how you can stabilize your blood sugar through small and simple tips in your everyday life such as what you eat, how you eat, when you eat, how you combine different foods and in what order you eat your food. You get to take part in several tips that can make a big difference to your blood sugar and mood.
The important link between your blood sugar and your menstrual cycle
It is common that the first association when talking about blood sugar is diabetes and maybe for us women also PCOS, but blood sugar has a crucial function for all of us and an important connection to fertility, hormones and the menstrual cycle. An unbalanced blood sugar is not always visible on the outside, you can be fit and slim but still have problems with blood sugar. If you recognize yourself in symptoms such as fatigue, sweet tooth, energy dips, acne, migraines, irregular or absent ovulation or difficulty losing weight, it may be that you have unbalanced blood sugar.
To understand what we refer to when we write glucose, carbohydrates and sugar, you can start by reading the following post Stabilize your blood sugar to optimize ovulation and fertility. The tips in the post below are based on the book Glucose Revolution . If you want to delve deeper into blood sugar and how it affects your well-being, we highly recommend reading it. In the book, you get to take part in research that shows in black and white how various tricks in everyday life can make a big difference to blood sugar.
Simple tips for stable blood sugar
Before we go into how you can positively influence your blood sugar, we want to highlight an important reminder that we can all react differently to the same type of food. Some of us tolerate carbohydrates and sugar better than others. It also records how your lifestyle looks, such as whether you move, sleep enough and how stressed you are. Stress is a factor that can cause higher blood sugar. As our lifestyle influences, something you eat today can, for example, give a different reaction if you eat the same thing a year from now. Nothing is black or white when it comes to health, therefore it is important to become aware of what your body is signaling and which symptoms you are experiencing in order to be able to optimize from there if you feel like it, based on your body in particular.
Eat the food in the right order
The order in which you eat the foods in your meal matters a lot. Often we focus on what we eat, we rarely think about how we eat. How we eat has been shown to have a major impact on our blood sugar. A study done in 2015, Food Order Has a Significant Impact on Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Levels , showed that if you eat fat, protein, fiber, starch and sugar in a specific order, you can reduce your glucose spike by 73%. This means that we can eat exactly the same thing, but by adjusting the order in which we eat it, where starch, sugar and carbohydrates are consumed last, gives a different outcome on blood sugar.
So what exactly is the correct order?
Well, the optimal order is to start with fibres, i.e. the vegetables, first and then eat protein and fat as number two and last but not least starch and sugar. How does this happen? It's about our digestion. Everything we eat first ends up in the stomach and then goes on to the small intestine where it is broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. If it is the case that you eat starch and sugar first, they will quickly pass to your small intestine, where it is broken down into glucose, leading to a glucose crash. The more carbohydrates you eat and the faster you eat them, the bigger the peak will be. If you instead start by eating vegetables such as broccoli before the carbohydrates in the form of pasta or rice, the body will take care of the fibers first. The fiber-rich vegetables slow down how quickly glucose gets into the blood and thus evens out the glucose peak and blood sugar level.
All the starch and sugar we eat after fiber will have a lower impact on blood sugar. So we can eat exactly the same things as before, but by changing the order of how we eat them, we can reduce the impact on blood sugar, how magical?
1. Start with vegetables (fibres) such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, carrot, pepper, tomato, asparagus, artichoke and eggplant. You can mix the vegetables into a "regular" salad with vinaigrette, make a pizza salad (then you also add vinegar, which gives a double profit), fried broccoli with sesame seeds and spices, tomato, red onion and feta cheese salad, grated carrots or whatever you like.
2. Continue with protein and fat . If you want inspiration on protein and fat sources, see below.
3. End with carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, root vegetables, fruit and white sugar as dessert, ice cream or candy.
Start the day with a proper meal with fat and protein
Starting the day with a proper meal will affect how your body reacts to glucose for the rest of the day. When we wake up in the morning, we are in a fasting state and more sensitive to glucose. What we eat will be digested and absorbed quickly in the body, which in turn affects how high a glucose peak we get.
Focus on getting enough fat and protein in your first goal, as neither fat nor protein raise your blood sugar significantly. You can find protein, for example, in eggs, fish, shellfish, meat, chicken, Greek/Turkish/Russian yogurt, Parmesan, hard cheese, fish, protein powder, nuts and seeds. You can find fat, for example, in eggs, avocados, full-fat yoghurt, nuts, ghee, dairy products and fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon.
If you eat a breakfast that is rich in fast carbohydrates without fat and protein, you will get a peak in your glucose at the same time as you will get hungrier faster and probably get a sweet tooth in the post office during the afternoon.
A tip is also that your breakfast leans more towards the salty side than the sweet side. Examples of breakfasts are:
- Omelet with various accessories (various vegetables, sweet potatoes, feta cheese, chicken, shrimps).
- Scrambled eggs with cream and parmesan together with fried kale.
- Boostbread with toppings such as: egg, mackerel, salmon and avocado.
- A "regular meal" that you eat for lunch and dinner as breakfast is also a real ten-pointer for your blood sugar.
If you want a breakfast that's more on the sweet side but still doesn't fall under the "sweet" category that's good for your blood sugar is:
- Banana pancakes preferably with the banana on the greener side (as it contains resistant starch) with 2-3 eggs topped with berries, Turkish yogurt and nuts.
- Natural full-fat yogurt (at least 10% fat) if you can tolerate milk mixed with collagen with nuts, seeds, cocoa nibs and berries.
- Smoothie bowl with a base made of, for example, avocado, coconut oil/ghee, berries/banana on the greener side, protein in some form such as cracking an egg in or eating on the side and adding protein powder and collagen .
- Chia pudding mixed with collagen topped with seeds, nuts, berries and possibly an egg on the side.
If you don't want to give up the sweet things you love for breakfast, the tip is to go back to tip 1 " eat things in the right order" where we describe how you can eat the things you love without them having the same effect on blood sugar. Simply eat the sweet things last.
A large part of the breakfasts many of us grew up with as "healthy" can have a negative impact on blood sugar if we eat them on an empty stomach. This includes, for example, fruit smoothies/acaibowls, white bread, cereal and milk, granola, sweetened fat-free yogurt, juice and dried fruit.
Eat your carbohydrates along with fat, protein and fiber
By adding fat, protein or fiber to your meals, you avoid your blood sugar from spiking as much. If you eat bread, it is perfect to, for example, top with avocado and egg, eat your rice with beans and avocado, put an egg in your porridge and top with coconut milk and nuts or have an egg/protein in your smoothie.
If you enjoy baking, a tip is to add more fat, protein and fiber to your baked goods or to your sweets. If you bake with dates, for example, add nuts, seeds and real butter/coconut oil/ghee to the baked goods. Add cream to the cake, nuts to your chocolate or Russian yogurt to your banana. In addition to reducing how much and how quickly glucose is absorbed into the blood, it will also be tastier, more nutritious and you will feel more satisfied. A winning concept in our opinion!
If you have problems with PCOS, our tip is to have fewer fresh dates/sweetening in the baked goods, it will still be as good as it gets and you will feel satisfied faster.
Start your meal with an appetizer
Another tip is to eat vegetables as a starter before a meal rich in fast carbohydrates such as pasta, white bread or white rice. For example, it could be about ordering a starter with vegetables at a restaurant, edamame beans before sushi, tabbouleh at your favorite Lebanese restaurant, carrots with hummus dip as a starter before a pasta. The vegetables contain fibre, which means that the blood sugar peak will not be as high. An extra plus is to add some vinaigrette (without sugar) to the salad, such as apple cider vinegar, which evens out the blood sugar even more.
Eat your carbs cold
Another tip is to cool down starches such as sweet potatoes, potatoes and root vegetables before you eat them as it is converted into resistant starch (=fibres) which leads to a lower glucose spike. For example, you can cool them down for at least 20 minutes in the fridge before eating or eat them the next day. It's great to reheat them as the process of creating resistant starch has already taken place.
For you with diabetes, insulin sensitivity and PCOS, it usually works well to eat a home-made cold potato salad as it is rich in resistant starch instead of sugar.
Drink vinegar before your meal
Taking vinegar before a meal has been shown to be very effective in balancing out blood sugar. This is made possible as vinegar causes glucose to be released into the body more slowly and our muscles to absorb the glucose (sugar) faster, magical right? Mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar in water and drink 1-10 minutes before a meal, alternatively have the vinegar as a dressing on an appetizer before your meal. Here you can dive deep into the connection between vinegar and blood sugar.
Eat sweets as a dessert instead of as a snack
Another hack we love is to eat sweets as a dessert instead of eating them as a snack or on an empty stomach (as this will affect your blood sugar the most). When we eat sweets, pastries, ice cream or fruit as a dessert after a meal containing fat, protein and fiber, it will not have as great an impact on blood sugar (it works in the same way as when we eat carbohydrates at the end of a meal, point 3 ). By eating sweets for dessert, you can enjoy what you love without having as much of an effect on your blood sugar. Test!
If you can't keep yourself from eating sugar on an empty stomach or you can't bear to wait for "dessert" but want something tasty and fast NOW, a tip is to take vinegar before you eat it, alternatively combine the treat with protein or fat.
Eat fruit rather than juice or dried fruit
Many of us think that dried fruit is something super healthy and certainly contains vitamins and minerals unlike, for example, sweets that contain white refined sugar with a lot of other artificial substances, but from a blood sugar perspective, dried fruit contains a lot of fast carbohydrates = sugar. This means that it will have a negative impact on blood sugar. Therefore, it is better to choose fresh fruit , which contains much more fiber and not as much sugar in the same concentration as in dried fruit. Eat in season and locally produced and you will get a lot of vitamins and minerals and feel free to combine with some source of fat or protein.
The tip is therefore to see dried fruit as "candy" and use the above tips, for example combine it with nuts or eat it as a dessert so that it does not have the same effect on blood sugar.
Tips for snacks that don't affect your blood sugar:
- Greek/Turkish/Russian yogurt with walnuts, cocoa nibs, Ceylon cinnamon and cardamom
- Chia pudding with coconut milk, chia seeds, Ceylon cinnamon, cardamom and berries
- Scallops with mashed avocado and herb salt/boiled egg/mackerel/hard cheese
- Boostbread with the above topping
- Boiled eggs and carrots
- A handful of nuts and an apple
- Nut butter with sliced apple
- Carrots and hummus
Remember that we don't have to exclude sugar and that we don't have to be afraid of eating fast carbohydrates. What it's about is what we do over time but also timing such as when we eat it, how we eat it, in what order we eat things and how we combine them. If you do not experience any symptoms linked to blood sugar, your blood sugar is probably balanced and of course you can use the tips to optimize your health and feel better. Something we want to avoid is excluding or banning any type of food, as it often does more harm than good. Today's post is for you to be able to eat what you love in a smart way and at the same time have less of a negative effect on your blood sugar. A birthday isn't as much fun if you serve broccoli instead of cake or raw food brownies. If you are fit and healthy, your body can easily cope with fluctuations in blood sugar, it is what we do overtime that will affect our health in the long run.
If you have PCOS or problems with insulin sensitivity, however, it may be important to be more careful to reduce your symptoms. We have hundreds of women in the community who had PCOS and through lifestyle changes were able to reduce or completely get rid of their symptoms. The result of this is regular ovulation, pregnancies and balanced hormones.
If you like this post, we can also recommend the following posts:
Stabilize your blood sugar to optimize ovulation and fertility - in this post we go over the basics of blood sugar, what it means, how it works and the link to hormones, menstrual cycle and fertility.
How You Can Use Vinegar to Balance Your Blood Sugar - In this post we take a deep dive into vinegar and how it can be used as a powerful tool to balance your blood sugar.
Note: This blog post is for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure. If you have health problems, it is important to discuss them with an expert. We work closely with the Livakliniken , which is run by one of Womensync's external experts, Maria Särén, where you can turn if you are looking for advice. Please state "Womensync" when booking.
Alpana P Shukla et al., Food Order Has a Significant Impact on Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Levels . Diabetes Care , no.7 (2015): e98-e99. Available at: < https://doi.org/10.2337/dc15-0429 >
James E. Gangtors et al ., High glycemic index and glycemic load diets as risk factors for insomnia: analyzes from the Women's Health Initiative. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 111, no.2 (2020): 429-39. Available at: < https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqz275 >
Kimiko Nishino et al., Consuming Carbohydrates after Meat or Vegetables Lowers Postprandial Excursions of Glucose and Insulin in Nondiabetic Subjects . Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology , 64. no. 5 (2018): 316-320. Available at: < https://doi.org/10.3177/jnsv.64.316 >
Inchauspé, J., 2022. Glucose revolution . Melbourne, VIC: Penguin Life.