It’s World Diabetes Day, Grazers!
Here are the 2 most important things you need to know about Diabetes:
1) There is no cure; BUT
2) It is totally preventable.
At this point you’re rolling your eyes, sure I’m going to tell you to exercise, cut back on sugar, and maintain a healthy weight. But rest assured, I’m not….although that is definitely good advice for anyone hoping to keep Diabetes at bay.
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Instead, here are 5 additional strategies for healthy blood sugar levels – they’re simple, easy to implement, and..well..they can help to prevent Diabetes, so need I say more?
Go for Combo Meals
No, not like McDonald’s combos (got you excited for a minute, didn’t I?). Combo (or combination) meals simply means meals that have a mix of nutrients. Specifically, you should try to mix your carbohydrates (rice, noodles, bread, etc) with sources of protein and healthy fat. This will ensure that the carbohydrate part of your meal digests more slowly. Slower digestion = slower release of sugar into your bloodstream, which makes it easier for your body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
In practice: Don’t just eat plain crackers as a snack! Spread some light tuna or some natural nut butter on them. This amps up the flavour while keeping your blood sugar in check.
Image source: A Cook and Her Books
Don’t Forget the Fibre
Fibre is technically a kind of carbohydrate – but it can’t be digested or absorbed by the body. Instead, it slows down the digestion of the other carbohydrates in your meal, thus also keeping your blood sugar levels in check (see point above). Because fibre can’t be digested, it keeps you full for longer, which is helpful in maintaining a healthy weight. This in turn is important in preventing Diabetes!
In practice: Eat whole grains when you can (they come with built-in fibre!), or make sure you add vegetables and fruits to your main meals to boost their fibre content!
Image source: Weight Loss Resources
Move It to Use It
After a meal, blood sugar levels rise steadily before your body systems kick in to clear the sugar away. The sugar is cleared from your blood into your cells, where it is used as a source of energy. Moving your body after a meal (i.e. using up energy) means that sugar is transferred more efficiently from your blood to the cells where energy is needed (your muscles). This helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
In practice: Go for a short walk or make it a point to move around after your meals. There’s no need for intensive exercise – even a slow stroll can help!
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Give Your Meals Space
Are you a grazer? Not a Grazer with a capital G – that’s a term of endearment over here at Amazin’ Graze. A grazer is a person who nibbles constantly throughout the day, never fully satisfying their hunger. This constant input of food into the body can result in a constantly elevated blood sugar – or at least a body that is constantly working to keep blood sugar levels down. A better approach is to leave at least a 3-4 hour gap between meals and snacks, to give your body some time to digest and deal with the sugar from one meal before introducing another.
In practice: Make it a point to eat enough at main meals so you’re not constantly hungry throughout the day. When you do snack, make sure the snacks are nutritionally balanced to keep you going till your next meal!
Go Beyond Taste
Carbohydrates may or may not taste sweet – but in the end, they all end up as sugar in the blood stream. This is not a bad thing – we all need sugar as fuel to function. We just can’t always assume that just because a food doesn’t taste sweet, it’s safe for our blood sugar levels. I see this happening most often with sweet drinks – “I added water to my cordial, now it’s not sweet so I don’t have to worry!” All you’re doing here is diluting the taste – the sugar content of the drink is still the same as before. So look beyond the taste of a food when planning your meals – portions matter!
In practice: Learn about carbohydrate-containing food and how to portion them out. Remember that combining too many carbohydrate foods in one meal (e.g. rice with potatoes, corn, and a glass of milk) and in excessive portions can cause your blood sugar to rise high – even if none of those foods are sweet-tasting!
Image source: P2Life Swimmer's Blog
So there you have it – 5 easy peasy strategies for healthy blood sugar levels. Of course, these are not the end all and be all of Diabetes prevention – it is an undeniably complex disease. But, it’s a start! As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure – so what are you waiting for?
Besides, if you’re good, Santa and the Amazin’ Elves might have a treat (or six) in store for you this year…stay tuned to find out more!