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What Are the Best Ways to Balance Blood Sugar?

Expert Advice from Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD
What Are the Best Ways to Balance Blood Sugar?: Main Image
Focus on healthy fats, such as nuts and nut butters, fatty fish, and olive oil when preparing snacks and meals
Many health experts now believe a highly refined, processed food diet can cause blood sugar fluctuations. Everyone knows regulating blood sugar is important for people with or at risk for diabetes, but blood sugar highs and lows may also increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and cancer. To balance blood sugar naturally, make smart nutrition and lifestyle choices that support normal metabolism function.

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.

Indulge smartly

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.

Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.
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