Think in three
If you do indulge from time to time, how you eat these foods still matters. Anything that slows the absorption of sugar from the digestive tract into the blood stream helps. The slower your body absorbs sugar, the less likely you are to experience unhealthy blood sugar highs and lows.
These three things slow sugar absorption in the body:
- Protein. For a healthy, balanced snack, add a handful of dried soy nuts or seeds, some high-protein Greek yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, or some nut butter to fruit or dried fruit.
- Fat. Focus on healthy fats, such as nuts and nut butters, fatty fish, and olive oil when preparing snacks and meals.
- Fiber. Eat whole, unprocessed, fiber-rich foods as your first choice, such as an apple or an orange instead of fruit juice, steel cut or plain oatmeal instead of cereal, and lentils and beans instead of crackers or chips.
When tempted by a treat now and then, ask yourself: "Can I imagine life without __________?" If a food doesn't fit into this question for you, pass it up.
To minimize the effects of the occasional indulgence, try enjoying your treat foods with healthier fare. For example, having dessert after a balanced dinner won't impact blood sugar levels nearly as much as having a soda and a bag of chips on an empty stomach for an afternoon snack.
Address underlying issues
If you struggle with mindless snacking or emotional eating, consider seeking the help of a dietitian or therapist. If weight management is a priority, a dietitian or supportive community program can help you develop a sensible eating plan. These strategies are proven to increase the odds of nutritional success (and loss of excess weight).
Make movement a priority
Engaging your muscles is one of the best ways to keep blood sugar in a healthy range. The large muscle groups of the body--think legs, back, and abdominals--use blood sugar for energy. The more you engage them, the more energy they use, which helps keep blood sugar levels stable.
If you aren't already active, simply walking for 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times a day will improve blood sugar levels. Sitting at the computer for hours on end is the worst thing you can do for blood sugar, so even if you can't fit in exercise that day, set a reminder to stand up, stretch, and move around every half-hour.