Balance your blood sugar levels by eating some protein (and/or essential fats) with each meal or snack.
First, including some protein with each meal or snack will ensure you are meeting your daily protein needs. Proteins/amino acids are the building blocks of your body and vital for health. Your body cannot store protein, so it needs a regular supply. It does not need to be lots and you do not have to eat meat for protein. I personally prefer to get my protein from plant-based sources (such as tofu, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, and pulses), fish and eggs (which you will notice from the recipes). I find meat sources leave me tired and lacking energy and are quite a strain on my digestive system at times.
Balancing your blood sugar levels has been proven to improve health, mood, hormone balance and generally promote wellbeing. It is also helpful in weight maintenance and even weight loss as you want to avoid high surges in the hormone insulin (insulin is your fat storing hormone, see Understanding the Importance of Insulinin the Wellbeing Section of Nurture for more information). Eating foods as close to nature as possible (whole, unprocessed, skins on and fibre included), generally have a lower impact on blood sugars, but you can slow down the release of insulin further by adding protein and healthy fats to your meals.
Eating protein also helps to make you feel full and stay fuller for longer and stops you wanting to snack or feeling peckish between mealtimes. This is because protein takes longer to digest and requires a lot of stomach acid. Your stomach is a very acid environment and thus it is in your stomach where protein is broken down into absorbable amino acids. Therefore, protein foods must stay in your stomach until they are digested and ready to move into the small intestine for absorption. When our stomach gets empty, it will send a signal to your brain to start to release the hunger hormone to tell you that you are hungry and need to eat. Some protein sources, such as red meat, pork and lamb are a lot harder for our bodies to digest and take a lot longer to digest, and require a lot of energy too, which is why we often feel tired after a large meal or large amount of animal protein. Our bodies must work hard to digest that food and blood is diverted away from our brain and muscles to digest the meal.
Science has also shown that it requires your body to expend energy to break down protein and therefore the net calories from a protein-based meal are less than say a processed carbohydrate meal, for example white rice, cereal, potatoes, or crumpets.
Here are some tips for balancing your blood sugar levels:
- Sprinkle some seeds or nuts on your porridge.
- Eat fruit with some natural yoghurt, nut butter or some nuts and seeds.
- Add beans, such as edamame beans or black beans to rice or noodles.
- If you love chocolate, make your own trail mix by having some chunks of dark chocolate with seeds, nuts, raisins or sultanas and some homemade granola.
- Do not drink fruit juices, eat the whole fruit instead.
- If you have a sweet tooth, have something sweet at the end of your meal, rather than on an empty stomach where your blood sugar levels will spike.
Here are some recipes to try: