When you’ve got a long day ahead of you, the last thing you want to worry about is that 3 o’clock slump that saps your energy – and one of the biggest causes of this phenomenon is unstable blood sugars. Eating a sugary meal for brekkie or lunch can send our blood sugars through the roof, leaving us feeling tired and sluggish afterwards – but luckily, there are a number of ways to combat these symptoms. Here’s how to do it.
High-sugar meals and fast-release carbs like white bread and rice are digested too quickly, so if we eat too much of this stuff, we’re likely to throw our blood sugars out of whack. You might notice a number of symptoms if you’re experiencing a blood sugar spike:
- Increased urge to urinate
- Increased thirst
- Numbness in hands or feet
- Mood changes
Here are 6 tried-and-true methods to keeping your blood sugars under control.
Don't lie down after eating
After a big meal – especially one rich in fast-release carbs – it can be tempting to curl up on the couch and sleep it off. But to combat high blood sugars, it’s actually best to avoid lying down or sitting right after eating. This is because it prevents your muscles from working off excess glucose in the blood. To make matters worse, lying down can trigger acid reflux in those who are prone to it.
Start your day off right
A wholesome, balanced breakfast is one of the best ways to set yourself up for a day of regulated blood sugar levels. If you’re a serial brekkie skipper, you might find yourself with high blood sugar levels after your other meals later in the day. Starting your day with a dose of healthy fats is a good way to keep your hunger in check until your next meal, and studies have found monounsaturated fats help balance blood-sugar levels and keep us fuller for longer. Plus, we all know about the benefits of omega 3s for brain health, but did you know these fats also play a role in keeping our hormones regulated? This is essential for maintaining hunger, sleep function and – you guessed it – blood sugar levels. Foods rich in these nutrients are the ideal brekkie additions to reduce your chances of fighting those afternoon slumps. Try including some of the following foods in your next breakfast cook-up:
- Nuts and seeds
- Ghee and yoghurt
- Olive oil
Protein is another ideal brekkie nutrient, as it has been found not only to promote stable blood sugars, but it also improves muscle health, weight loss and regulates our satiety hormones. Here are a few high-protein foods to include:
- Whole grains
- Legumes like lentils and chickpeas
- Dark leafy greens
- Pumpkin seeds
Dysregulated blood sugars are one of the major reasons for those afternoon slumps and fatigue. Slow-release carbs are your answer – these are digested slower, meaning we won’t get those blood-sugar spikes. It also means we’ll feel fuller for longer and won’t have the constant urge to snack. Plus, their prebiotic content promotes gut health, which is a massive part of regulating healthy blood sugars and energy levels. Here are the foods to add to your breakfast:
- Buckwheat and amaranth
- Wholemeal bread
- Whole fruits and veggies
- Seeds and nuts
A few quick, easy brekkies to start your day off right could include a spinach omelette, egg and avocado toast or a warming bowl of oatmeal with peanut butter and chia seeds.
Sleep plays a major role in the health of our whole bodies – including our blood sugar levels. In fact, skipping out on adequate sleep can cause the release of stress hormones, thereby shooting our blood sugar levels up. It’s generally recommended that we get around 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night – that means with few interruptions in a quiet, cool and dark environment – so make sure you’re hitting those targets.
Exercising straight after eating
Getting up and moving within 10 minutes after your meal is a good way to combat those rising blood sugars – just a simple, light walk is enough to bring things down to a healthier state. This is because it encourages your muscles to burn off that glucose for fuel, instead of letting it take up residence in your bloodstream.
Eating the bulk of your daily intake early
Many of us enjoy making a big dinner and some of us even continue to snack afterwards too – but we may have it flipped. Research shows that it’s better to eat more calories in your earlier meals, like brekkie and lunch. It all comes down to our circadian rhythm and the release of hormones that it triggers – this is why our bodies find it easier to process our meals in the earlier hours of daylight. Eating a big meal at night can leave you with unstable blood sugars and digestive issues right before you’re about to lie down – that’s not a good combo. Plus, it’s research-backed – studies have found that not only is eating earlier better for our metabolic health, but that eating the bulk of your calories later could be detrimental, with this research associating late eaters had a higher risk for heart disease and high blood pressure, along with leaving people feeling less satiated and hungrier during the day.
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