The natural foods approach to maintaining normal blood sugar is about learning how to nourish ourselves in a way that creates balance and harmony, so that we can go through the day feeling calm and steady. This differs from weight loss diets that restrict calories or create nutrient deficiencies. Keep in mind that each person is unique, has individual needs, and should consult with their doctor when making any changes to their diet or lifestyle. Some people may have advanced stages of disease that require medication and monitoring while undergoing diet changes.[pullquote]A balanced plate should be about 1⁄2 non-starchy vegetables, 1⁄4 starchy vegetables and/or grain, and 1⁄4 plant-based or animal protein[/pullquote]
Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar condition) and diabetes (high blood sugar condition) are different examples of blood sugar instability. Experiencing unstable blood sugar is kind of like being on a giant roller coaster. Refined carbs (like flour products, fruit juice, and sugars) create a spike our blood sugar, which often is followed by a sharp decrease in blood sugar (below the original normal level), which forces us to eat another blood-sugar-spiking food or chemical that will bring it back up. And so it goes, like a roller coaster, all day long, for days on end, until we find a better way. Some of the symptoms that may arise from unstable blood sugar may include: dizziness or shaking an hour or two after eating, mood swings, hunger in between meals, food cravings, being over-scheduled and overly busy, being too tired to exercise, and/or having low insulin levels.
Read on for tips on what to eat, how to eat, and when to eat in order to maintain normal blood sugar.
NOURISH YOURSELF! GENERAL GUIDELINES ABOUT WHAT TO EAT:
- For each meal, include high fiber, plant-based foods including whole grains or polished grains (not bread and other flour products), beans or lentils, and vegetables as your principal foods. Try one new whole food per week to slowly incorporate a larger variety of whole, natural foods into your diet.
- Visually speaking, a balanced plate should be about 1⁄2 non-starchy vegetables, 1⁄4 starchy vegetables and/or grain, and 1⁄4 plant-based or animal protein. Most people don’t get enough vegetables.
- Be sure to include a variety of vegetables throughout the day, including leafy greens, root vegetables, winter and summer squashes, and cruciferous vegetables. Keep the skins on vegetables whenever possible.
- Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers) are contraindicated and should be avoided, as they are acid-forming and inflammatory.
- Soups and stews are the best kind of meal, because they are easy to digest, contain lots of minerals, are nourishing to the spleen, pancreas, and stomach, and are very satifsying. When reheating leftover soup, be sure to add some leafy greens and/or fresh herbs for added nutrition. Puréed sweet vegetable soups like carrot, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, or butternut squash soup are great for stabilizing blood sugar and curbing sugar cravings when eaten regularly. Hearty bean and vegetable soups keep you feeling full in between meals because they are packed with protein and fiber.
- Stir fry dishes that include lots of vegetables, ginger, garlic, and small strips of protein, served over rice, make great meals.
[pullquote]Practice eating while sitting down in a calm, unhurried environment, not distracted by technology[/pullquote]
- Use only high quality, unrefined cooking oils such as extra virgin olive oil, unrefined virgin coconut oil, or unrefined, untoasted sesame oil. Avoid processed oils and those high in polyunsaturated fats such as canola, safflower, soybean, and sunflower.
- Small servings of lean animal protein can be included in meals as a compliment to vegetables, but avoid greasy, fried, and barbecued meats which are very acid-forming, often contain sugar, and can contain carcinogens (from frying or blackening).
- Avoid processed junk food (laden with added sugars, salt, flour, oils), milk, ice cream, and other dairy products, oily foods, fruit juices, and sweetened beverages like soft drinks which create inflammation and acid in the body.
- Choose cooking methods that are more strengthening, such as pressure- cooking, steaming, stewing, stir-frying, sautéing, and braising, rather than eating foods raw (like salads and smoothies).
- Check out Dr. Josh Axe’s web site for great tips for maintaining normal blood sugar.
IT’S NOT JUST WHAT YOU EAT, BUT HOW YOU EAT!
- Practice eating while sitting down in a calm, unhurried environment, not distracted by technology, loud noises, or anything stressful.
- Express gratitude to everyone and everything that made it possible for you to have your meal, and be thankful that you are healing.
- Chew each bite well (30-50 times minimum) in order to take the burden off of your digestive tract, alkalinize your food, and prevent overeating.
- After eating, take a short walk to aid digestion and allow for energy to flow through the body.
WHEN YOU EAT IS ALSO IMPORTANT!
- Be consistent with your meal times, such as breakfast 7-8 am, lunch 12-1 pm, and dinner 5-6 pm. Varying slightly from these times is fine, but routinely skipping meals or eating at different times every day can destabilize blood sugar.
- Eating too early in the morning or too late at night will throw off your digestion and sleep patterns, causing you to consume unhealthful food and drinks in an attempt to boost your energy (such as caffeine, sugar, chocolate, and bread products).
- Eating in between meals may be necessary at first to maintain a steady blood sugar, but the goal is to go longer and longer between meals without eating in order to give your digestion a rest. So choose healthy snacks that will not spike your blood sugar, such as smaller portions of leftover meals with vegetables, grains, and beans rather than processed snack bars and other sweets.
SOME WHOLE, NATURAL FOOD RECIPES TO HELP STABILIZE BLOOD SUGAR:
- Creamy Butternut Squash Soup
- Roasted Carrot and Fennel Soup
- Macrobiotic Nishime Style Vegetables with Crispy Tempeh
- Rainbow Veggie Platter with Parsley-Tahini Sauce
- Quinoa Kitchadi (healing one-pot meal)
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT PLANT-BASED COOKING FOR RADIANT HEALTH, CHECK OUT MORE RECIPES HERE OR TAKE A CLASS WITH CHEF RACHEL. HER CURRENT SCHEDULE IS LISTED AT chefrachelz.com/book-a-class AND SHE IS AVAILABLE FOR PRIVATE COOKING LESSONS AS WELL (EMAIL: email@example.com).