Your body strives for balance, and keeping your blood sugar in balance is essential to helping you feel healthy and start the process of training your body to curb midlife weight gain and keep off the pounds in the long term.
In addition to maintaining a healthy weight, a stable blood sugar level can help you achieve the following:
– More energy
– Fewer cravings
– Stable weight
– Better concentration
– Better mood
– Balanced hormones
– Better heart health
– Lower chance of diabetes.
Balancing your blood sugar can impact every aspect of your life, whether or not you’re at risk for diabetes. Your bloodstream is the pipeline that carries the fuel – glucose – your body needs to run smoothly every day. For many people, a bumpy ride comes from poor nutrition, lack of exercise and unstable glucose (blood sugar) levels.
Our cells depend on glucose for most of their energy needs. That’s why the body has intricate mechanisms in place to make sure glucose levels in the bloodstream don’t go too low or soar too high.
When you eat, most carbohydrates are converted into glucose and rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Any rise in blood sugar signals the pancreas to make and release insulin. This hormone instructs cells to sponge up glucose. Without it, glucose floats around the bloodstream, unable to slip inside the cells that need it, and is eventually stored as fat. When this cycle repeats, our cells become tired and stop listening to insulin, which leads to insulin resistance, an early warning sign of type-2 diabetes.
Not having enough glucose can cause problems, too. Low blood sugar can put your body in “starvation mode,” and instead of burning glucose stored in your fat cells your body starts burning muscle.
So, how do you keep a good balance? Make these habits part of your daily life to help keep your blood sugar in a well-balanced range to keep you healthy and feeling good:
- 1. Read the food labels. Pay close attention to carbohydrates, sugars, fats and sodium. Look for healthy fats, fiber and remember to factor in sugar alcohols – sugar-free doesn’t mean it’s calorie- or carbohydrate-free.
- 2. Focus on total carbohydrates and portion size. “Total carbohydrates” on the label includes sugar, complex carbohydrate and fiber. All carbohydrates raise blood sugar, so look at total carbs per serving size – and not just sugars. To help you with portions, start by looking at the serving size on the label. If you’re eating more than the serving size, you’re exceeding the calories and carbohydrates.
- 3. Keep your food intake consistent from day to day. Change your relationship with food so that you’re not “dieting,” but rather consistently eating well.
- 4. Choose whole fruits and vegetables over breads and baked foods. Whole fruits (as opposed to fruit juice) and vegetables are rich in fiber, and they’re loaded with vitamins and minerals. They also have a high water content and help you feel full.
- 5. Eat “mixed” meals. This means meals containing proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Divide your plate into three parts. Fill the largest third with non-starchy vegetables. The two smaller spaces can be whole grain and protein.
- 6. Choose water over juices and sports drinks. Drinking water is the best way to quench your thirst. And it doesn’t come with all the sugar found in juices, soft drinks, energy drinks and flavored water.
If you have diabetes:
7. Know the signs of low blood sugar. Remember it is normal to be hungry and maybe even a little cranky before a meal; however, this does not mean your blood sugar is necessarily low. When in doubt, always check your blood sugar. Especially before driving.
8. Keep a form of glucose with you at all times. Examples are crackers with peanut butter, hard candy or glucose tablets.
Whether or not you’re at risk of diabetes, your body will thank you for keeping an eye on your blood sugar levels. You’ll find that you have more energy, and it will become easier to maintain a healthy weight over the long term.