Tricks for Maintaining Stable Blood Sugar

Tricks for Maintaining Stable Blood Sugar

The carbohydrates you eat are converted into blood sugar, or blood glucose, and become your body's main source of fuel. While it might seem like more fuel is better, high blood sugar levels can contribute to problems such as unwanted weight gain and diabetes. For this reason, maintaining stable blood sugar with good food choices is an important part of staying healthy.

High Blood Sugar and Weight Gain

Ironically, high blood sugar can lead to increased appetite. This creates a cycle of overeating resulting in excess glucose storage and weight gain. But how do you eat to avoid excess increases in blood sugar? First, learn about the impact that different foods have on blood sugar, which is typically described in two ways: glycemic index and glycemic load.

Glycemic Index vs. Glycemic Load

Glycemic index refers to how quickly the carbohydrate content of your food converts to blood sugar. For example, carrots have a high glycemic index because their carbohydrate portion converts quickly to blood glucose, causing a blood sugar spike. Glycemic index (GI) is measured on a scale from 1 to 100:

  • Low GI: 0-55
  • Medium GI: 56-70
  • High GI: 71-100

Glycemic load, on the other hand, incorporates how much carbohydrate the food has. That same carrot has a low glycemic load because there aren't a lot of carbohydrates to begin with, so the blood sugar spike, although fast, is relatively small. Glycemic load (GL) is measured on a scale from 1 to 20 and up:

  • Low GL: 1-10
  • Medium GL: 11-19
  • High GL: 20 and higher

Choosing and Combining the Right Foods

Simple carbohydrates, highly refined foods, and foods that are cooked longer tend to have a higher glycemic index. However, when they are paired with other ingredients that slow down the entrance of sugar into the bloodstream, the effect is not as damaging. Examples of these ingredients include fiber, protein, acidic food and fat. Reduce the overall glycemic index of your meal by including low GI items with your carbohydrates, such as adding vegetables to your rice, and by planning portions for each meal:

  • Half of your meal should be vegetables
  • One quarter can be grains and starches
  • One quarter can be meat or a meat alternative
  • Complete your meal with a glass of milk and a piece of fruit

An alternative to combining low and high GI foods is to replace the high GI items with ones that don't raise blood sugar as much:

  • Nuts instead of pretzels
  • Whole long grain rice instead of instant white rice
  • Porridge instead of puffed wheat
  • Apple instead of watermelon
  • Sourdough wheat bread instead of white bread

Research the glycemic index of your favorite foods and include additional low GI items so that you have a diverse selection to plan balanced meals. Eat at regular intervals and keep mealtimes consistent. Meal planning will help keep your blood sugar stable and improve your quality of life.