Keeping blood sugar stable is not only important for someone diagnosed with diabetes, it is critical for everyone to maintain stable energy, balanced hormones, healthy weight and metabolism.
During a busy day you might put off eating, thinking, “I just don’t have time to eat right now.” Eventually you become so hungry and desperate the only foods that you can consider eating are simple carbs and sugar. In that situation, your blood sugar has dropped so low that things like cake, cookies, crackers, and sweets are the only bits of sustenance that can get your blood sugar back into a safe zone.
These foods will certainly raise your blood sugar, but it will also drop back to an unsafe level quickly thereafter—and then the vicious cycle continues.
I like to explain balancing blood sugar and metabolism by using a campfire as an example.
To start a campfire you use kindling: small pieces of wood that burn easily and quickly. Once you have a small fire, you add larger logs so that you have a sustainable fire that will continue to burn. Something that will keep you warm or that you can roast a marshmallow over.
The kindling in the example above are simple carbs: rice, pasta, bread, cookies, cakes, and muffins for example. These foods burn hot and fast in your body, just like kindling.
The bigger logs on the fire are protein, healthy fats and fiber-rich foods. Proteins and healthy fats are found in foods like beans, wild caught fish, grass fed meats, pastured eggs, nuts and seeds. Fiber rich foods include leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, fruits and whole grains.
Many people start their day with a breakfast comprised of “kindling food.” Cereal, bagels, muffins, and even coffee all burn hot and fast in our bodies leaving you wanting more shortly thereafter. Then, hunger hits at 10 a.m. and you’re making a b-line for the office candy bowl or vending machine. Sound familiar?
That’s what happens when you try make a big campfire (or fuel your body) with kindling alone. You keep reaching for those fast burning foods all day long. Cravings for sweets and carbs have nothing to do with willpower but are a physiological response by your body. It knows what it needs, but we just have trouble listening.
If you struggle with low energy and managing a healthy weight, think about what foods are fueling your campfire. Start your day with a protein-rich breakfast and don’t put off eating. Instead, keep snacks on hand like raw nuts, hummus and veggies or hardboiled eggs.