Blood Sugar: Things that affect it and why it matters
Blood glucose stability pretty much steers the ship when it comes to our ability to juggle "life" as moms. Unfortunately, blood sugar is significantly more complex than simply eating frequently throughout the day or abstaining from carbs as we are sold. It is definitely more complex than taking a single pill or supplement to keep it stable.
Here are some fundamental considerations when it comes to blood sugar stability:
What does your mineral status look like?
Do you have sufficient magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium?
Are you consuming sufficient fiber?
Are you able to digest the protein that you are consuming and absorb the amino acids?
How frequently do you exercise?
Do you carry a significant amount of muscle mass?
What does your energy OUTPUT look like?
Are you in a highly stressful season of life?
Do you get sufficient sleep?
This post is not so much about answering the above questions. We will do that on a later post. Here I want to share with you some suggestions about food and best practices to keep your blood sugar in a stable range.
Motherhood is a sport that demands blood sugar stability or we will suffer the consequences of blood sugar instability.
When our blood sugar becomes unstable here are some things that can come up that you may not immediately correlate:
SUPER SNAPPY: low tolerance for any nonsense and hypersensitivity to noise.
POOR FOCUS: leading to inefficiency, making every task take longer and seem more arduous
INAPPROPRIATE STRESS RESPONSE: a really strong stress reaction to a small event or thing that leaves you hung up for a while
LOSS OF APPETITE: zero appetite at all/total absence of hunger
DESIRE FOR HYPERPALATABLE FOODS: when we crash our blood sugar low, we will typically always have a reciprocal high, leading to a craving to continue that high with hyper palatable foods
POOR SLEEP/NIGHT TIME WAKEFULNESS: waking startled between 12-3AM, thanks to a surge in cortisol to prop glucose from the liver
LACK OF RECOVERY FROM EXERCISE: tender and dehydrated tissue, stiff muscles and lack of recovery all has to do with the amount of nutrients being received by your cells
These things all affect how we interact with the world around us as humans but also as mothers.
Here are some strategies to keep your blood sugar stable:
Many aspects of our diet impact our metabolic response including the amount of carbohydrate in a food, whether carbs are paired with fat, protein or fiber, the body's micronutrient status, composition of the microbiome and exposure to metabolism disrupting environmental chemicals that can be present in our food/drink.
There are many different diets that can support metabolically healthy eating, each person reacts differently to different foods.
But, I contend with take away some of the nuance to support an easy transition to managing blood sugar:
Leafy green or colorful vegetables
Protein breaks down into amino acids which have little to no effect on blood sugar balance.
Fat breaks down into fatty acids which again has little to no effect on blood sugar balance.
Fiber and leafy greens are plant-based foods that have wrapped up the sugar and starch in a fiber-based cell so that you have to not only chew through that food, but also digest through that food with enzymes and hydrocholric acid. And then...your microbes ferment those foods. Finally, sugars and starches are released and create a little bit of a spike.
When we pair these fibers with some protein and fat we have slowed down digestion and allow our body to absorb more of the micronutrients available in the fibrous food. A super simple hack I use for the kids is to take a basic gluten free pancake recipe and add chia/flax seeds or add Brazil nuts or cashews to their strawberry smoothie. Kids need these hacks as well!
Your BEST strategy when approaching your quest for stable blood sugar to give you consistent energy, lower chronic inflammation, improve focus and attention help improve body composition...
Approach each meal by looking at your plate and asking: Do I have a protein, fibrous plant and a whole food fat?
Why we should care A LOT about our blood sugar management.
Many of the common ailments that occur in motherhood can be attributed to blood sugar dysregulation and we should care because the solution is fully within our control.
If I could free you from the ball and chain of food stress and give you food freedom and tell you it is OK. In fact, it's not just OK--I want you tell you it is imperative to feed yourself. Start your day with a protein rich meal that sets the stage for your blood sugar through the whole day.
The ultimate goal is for that first meal to set the stage for the whole day and make it so satisfying that it elongates the blood sugar curve and you are not thinking about food for 4-6 hours.
Our culture centers around restriction and eat as little as possible, but this is NOT SUSTAINABLE. Moms especially use multiple biological faculties daily that demand a large amount of energy. Wellness culture has become toxic leading many of us to think, "if I have a bite of food before my 8 hour feeding window, I have blow my day"; or, "if I have not had my fast and them my coffee with adaptogens and been exposed to light and practiced meditation and had, XYZ..." BLESS! Who can sustain all of these protocols. The stress alone can drive up blood sugar.
Blood sugar matters because it steers the ship for every body system and we can make tremendous headway by building solid eating behaviors that NOURISH our brain and body. When you begin to achieve food freedom, you will never look back!