Crash? What crash?
By Edie Horstman
The secret to better sleep, sustained energy, balanced hormones, and fewer mood swings? Stable blood sugar. Blood what? Also known as blood glucose, blood sugar comes from the food you eat. It’s your body’s main source of energy. Unfortunately, most of us walk around with little (if any) understanding of how it impacts our overall health. One moment, you’re feeling fine—the next, you’re starving or lightheaded. That’s blood sugar. You scarf down a plate of French toast, buzzing with energy for a hot second—the next, you’re in a sleepy food coma. Blood sugar, folks.
That said, blood sugar impacts our health in other not-so-subtle ways. Today, we’re diving into the basics: what is blood sugar, why it’s important, as well as a 7-day meal plan to balance blood sugar.
Feature image by Teal Thomsen
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Edie is the founder of nutrition coaching business, Wellness with Edie. With her background and expertise, she specializes in women’s health, including fertility, hormone balance, and postpartum wellness.
Without knowing exactly what it means, you’ve probably heard of the term. Balancing blood sugar is key—it plays a role in energy, feelings, cognitive function, and more. In fact, you may already be familiar with spikes and dips in blood sugar. Hello, hanger! That said, few recognize its affects on a daily basis.
High level, blood sugar is the amount of sugar (or glucose) in your blood at any given time. As mentioned, it’s the body’s main source of energy. Sugar is produced when we break down any form of carbohydrate. Be it fruit, a slice of cake, or piece of toast, that carb is absorbed into our bloodstream. Immediately or eventually, carbohydrates are used as a source of energy.
Here’s the best way to visualize and think about blood sugar:
Let’s assume you ate a balanced combination of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Your digestion breaks down your food. Carbs get broken down into glucose. This your body and your brain’s primary source of preferred energy.
Glucose enters your bloodstream and blood sugar levels naturally increase. How much they increase is dependent largely on the macronutrient breakdown of the meal. More carbs = higher blood sugar. More protein + fat = lower blood sugar spike.
As soon as your body senses the rise in blood sugar, your pancreas releases insulin. Insulin is an important hormone involved in managing blood sugar levels. We want not too much, but also not too little.
Insulin acts as the key to open your cells and transport glucose from the bloodstream inside cells. Glucose is either used immediately for energy or stored for later use. Insulin is what keeps blood sugar from getting too high.
Just like cortisol and inflammation aren’t inherently bad (in fact, they’re vital for keeping us alive), the same goes for blood sugar. Glucose also isn’t the enemy, and neither is insulin. Ultimately, it’s a matter of eating in way that keeps glucose and insulin at a happy medium. It’s not about avoiding carbs and sugar, altogether. Rather, it’s about maintaining a healthy balance and honoring the foods that make us feel our best—most of the time!
The goal is to have a gradual rise in blood sugar levels after we eat, and a slow and steady decline in the hours after. We want to avoid large increases in our blood sugar. Why? Because they lead to a very drastic and significant decrease. In other words, it’s not just about high blood sugar levels. We want to minimize low blood sugar levels and crashes, too.
This will vary from person to person, but generally speaking, steady blood sugar comes from adequate nourishment and balanced meals. You also want to try avoiding these habits that tend to cause blood sugar to spike. So, why is blood sugar balance important? You want to keep your blood sugar levels in your target range, as often as possible. This helps prevent or delay long-term, serious health problems. On a day-to-day basis, staying in your target range is also equally important. It can improve your energy, balance hormones, and stabilize your mood. Research shows it helps with fertility, too. Speaking of hormones, if you struggle with intense PMS symptoms, this could be a result of mismanaged blood sugar.
Truth be told, more than you realize! But armed with an understanding of how blood sugar remains balanced, you can minimize imbalance.
Luckily, you can keep your blood sugar in check with these simple guidelines!
While there are many foods that help lower and regulate blood sugar, these are some of the best! They cause minimal blood sugar spike (for most people), support sustained energy, and aid in fullness.
Protein is essential for blood sugar control. It helps slow digestion and prevents post-meal blood sugar spikes, as well as increases feelings of fullness. A high intake of fatty fish, like salmon and sardines, has been shown to help improve blood sugar regulation. That said, organic chicken, pasture-raised eggs, and grass-fed beef are wonderful for blood sugar as well.
Creamy, delicious, and versatile, avocados have a low-carb, high-fiber ratio, which is great for blood sugar stability. Plus, the healthy fats in avocado can help you use your insulin more effectively.
Nuts and nut butter are ideal for stable blood sugar as healthy fats don’t cause a blood sugar spike. Interestingly, in a study of people with type 2 diabetes, consuming both peanuts and almonds throughout the day (as part of a low-carb diet) reduced both fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels.
Brightly colored and full of fiber and antioxidants, pumpkin seeds are packed with healthy fats and protein, making them an excellent choice for blood sugar control.
Both chia and flax seeds (specifically, ground flax seeds) are rich in fiber and healthy fats. In turn, they can help reduce blood sugar levels. Adding chia and flax to your smoothies, oatmeal, and yogurt bowls is an easy way to increase fiber and help stabilize blood sugar.
Beans and lentils are rich in nutrients, such as magnesium, fiber, and protein. All of these help lower blood sugar. They’re particularly high in soluble fiber and resistant starch, which help slow digestion and may improve blood sugar response after meals
Fermented foods, like kimchi and sauerkraut, are packed with probiotics, minerals, and antioxidants. Eating them is associated with improved blood sugar and insulin sensitivity.
Ready for delicious, nutrient-dense meals to help balance blood sugar, boost energy, support hormones, improve digestion, and fuel your busy lifestyle? Click here to get my 7-Day Blood Sugar Reset Guide!
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