Managing blood sugar is important for everyone, whether you have diabetes or not. “When blood sugar is high, you can feel hyped up; When it’s low, you can feel lethargic,” Jessica Cording, MS, RD, author of The Little Book of Game-Changers: 50 Healthy Habits For Managing Stress & Anxiety, tells Yahoo Life. “You can also experience a headache in either case.”
Ultimately, it’s important to keep your blood sugar under control. And, in the case of diabetes, managing your blood sugar can mean the difference between being healthy and facing serious complications like vision problems, nerve damage and foot problems.
“Eating the right foods in the right combinations can make a huge difference and not only help you to manage your blood sugars, but it will simultaneously boost your energy, boost your immune system and leave you feeling and looking amazing,” Joy Bauer, author of the new book, Joy Bauer’s Super Food!, tells Yahoo Life.
There are a few ways to go about this, according to Bauer.
Cut back on sweets and sugary beverages
“You know — the cakes, cookies, donuts, candy and sweet iced teas,” she says.
Choose high-quality carbohydrates
These are naturally filled with fiber and nutrients, Bauer explains. “Vegetables totally top the list — the more the better. Fruit is in second place, and I would say two to three servings a day is a good reference.”
Eat plenty of whole grains
Whole grains are high quality starchy carbohydrates like oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice and whole grain pasta — they’re more dense in carbohydrates than vegetables, Bauer says. “You’ll want to be mindful about eating smaller portions, even when it comes to whole grains,” she adds. “When you eat these carbs, it’s super important to pair them with some sort of protein or fat as this is going to help to balance out your blood sugars and to prevent any spikes.”
Good snack options that achieve this: apple slices with peanut butter, carrots with hummus or yogurt with chopped nuts or sunflower seeds. “For meals, you want to enjoy roast fish or baked chicken with loads of vegetables and a fist-size baked or sweet potato or a small portion of brown rice or whole grain pasta,” says Bauer.
Bauer recommends having few select foods in your home to help keep your blood sugar in check.
“Frozen vegetables or fruit are just as nutritious as the fresh stuff,” Bauer says. “They’re typically less expensive. They last for a long time in the freezer — hopefully not too long in your freezer — and they’re packed with vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and fiber and they’re very versatile and there was no waste.” Bauer puts frozen vegetables into stews, casseroles, soups and marinara sauce, while she adds frozen fruit into smoothies and on top of oatmeal and yogurt.
“Eggs are a terrific source of protein and obviously they’re great for omelets,” Bauer says. She recommends eating them hard-boiled as a snack, or using eggs to whip up a frittata.
Nut and seeds
Whether they’re in their whole form or as butters, Bauer points out that nuts and seeds are “naturally low in carbs and they’re a great combination of plant-based protein, fiber and heart-healthy fat.” She suggests using them to make sandwiches out of them or eating them as a standalone snack.
Dried and canned beans and lentils
“They are made of high quality carbs, protein and fiber, and all these things together really help to stabilize and steady your blood sugars,” Bauer says. “They also have a long shelf life. They’re totally budget-friendly and you can work them into so many things.”
Fresh fish is a great source of protein, but frozen or canned fish can work, too, Bauer says. She recommends opting for wild salmon, sardines, and canned tuna, which are also rich in heart-healthy fats.
If you feel like your blood sugar might be off, or if you have questions about whether you’re managing it well, talk to your doctor. They should be able to offer up specific guidance to help.