Balancing Blood Sugar to Feel Your Best

It’s a common story: “I wake up early for work feeling tired so I have a cup (or three) of coffee with milk and sugar to wake up, and a bagel or a donut for breakfast. Work is busy so I don’t stop for a break until 1pm, and then I have some chinese takeout or a piece of pizza for lunch. At 3pm I’m falling asleep at my desk so I have a diet soda and grab a couple pieces of candy out of the jar at work. I go home and make something quick for dinner and watch some TV, then go to bed. By 2am I wake up and can’t fall back to sleep until 4am so I wake up exhausted the next day and start over…”
For many of us, this cycle of stress, fatigue, and compensation for the two with marginal food choices becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. When we’re tired, we often go for caffeine, sugar, and refined carbohydrates (like those in bagels, pizza, and noodles) to boost our blood sugar for a temporary feeling of increased energy. The down side is that when we spike our blood sugar quickly, it will not be maintained and will crash again a few hours later, resulting in greater fatigue. Also, when we eat infrequently the blood sugar will crash and again we will feel exhausted. Additionally, when we eat early in the evening, by the middle of the night many people will wake because they are hungry and not be aware of it, which can keep us up for a couple of hours and make us more fatigued the next day.
The simplest way to combat this cycle and improve energy throughout the day and stay asleep at night are to follow a few easy rules:
1. Eat protein and fiber with every meal. This slows the rate at which food enters the bloodstream which prevents the blood sugar from getting too high or too low.
2. Eat Frequently, preferably every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day. You do not need to increase overall caloric consumption, sometimes breaking up a meal in to two separate snacks works great.
3. Limit sugars and refined carbohydrates, stick to complex carbohydrate sources such as whole grains and beans and high fiber fruits such as apples and pears.
4. Eat a protein snack at bedtime. Easy to digest proteins such as yogurt, hummus, or peanut butter are best.
Good luck and happy eating!