Most processed foods contain refined carbohydrates or added sugars that can quickly spike your blood sugar.
Maintaining a healthy diet is key to managing blood sugar. This holds true for both if you have type 2 diabetes or simply thing that you could be eating too much sugar or refined food. Here are five steps you can take to get back in control.
Processed foods out, whole foods in: Most processed foods contain refined carbohydrates or added sugars that can quickly spike your blood sugar. Switch away from white breads, pastries and sugary breakfast cereals and move towards whole grains, pulses, vegetables and whole fruit. Aim to prepare meals with fresh ingredients wherever you can.
Say no to sugary snacks and drinks: Go for whole fruits, nuts or seeds, natural yogurt with berries, carrot sticks with hummus, or some nut butter or cream cheese on an oatcake. All of these will help to balance blood sugar by breaking down and releasing their sugars slowly into the blood. Fruit juices are counted as 'sugary drinks' too and should only be an occasional treat.
Ramp up the vegetables and protein: Aim for low-starch vegetables such as green veg or salad vegetables to make up half your plate at each meal. Their fibre helps to keep you fuller for longer and will balance out your blood sugar. They are also low in calories – bonus. (This doesn't include potatoes however, as they're higher in starch.)
A good source of protein with every meal is super-important, too. Protein helps to keep you feeling full and slows down the release of carbohydrates and sugars in the meal. Good sources include lean meats, fish, eggs, natural dairy products such as feta cheese, nuts and seeds – one of these should make up around a quarter of your meal.
Then, the remaining quarter can be a good source of slow-releasing carbohydrates such as brown rice, sweet potato, wholegrain pasta or oatcakes.
Be a label detective: If you are buying pre-packaged foods, watch out for hidden sugars. They can be in everything from cereals, to breads, to sauces, to ready meals, to tinned foods. And they can be under numerous names: glucose, dextrose, honey, syrups and malt are just some of them. Generally, over five grams per hundred grams (five percent) of sugar is considered a high sugar product, so check the levels on the label.
Go easy on the booze: Alcohol can play havoc with your blood sugar too. Long-term drinking can encourage both weight gain and insulin resistance, both of which increase your risk of diabetes. And if you're concerned about sugar sabotaging your sex life, alcohol will only make things worse! Stick to the recommended maximum 14 units a week… or cut it out altogether.
In addition… exercise and a good night's sleep are vital to managing blood sugar and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.