Why is having a shopping list important?
Having healthy foods at home and planning your meals helps to avoid unhealthy last-minute decisions and fewer spikes in your blood glucose. Having a stock of healthy foods on hand can also keep your meals interesting, inspiring you to mix and match them in a new glucose-friendly way. You can use a variety of frozen, canned, or fresh foods, making the meal-making process and cooking easier.
Which types of foods should you always have in your pantry?
Proteins, Fats, and Carbs: to mix and match
Not only are proteins, fats, and carbs easy food types to incorporate into your meals, like a side of brown rice with some tofu, but they are also vital in keeping your blood glucose balanced. This is because your body digests certain food types faster than others and some food types will raise your glucose more than others. This is why the order in which you eat your food has a big effect on your blood sugar. One of our favorite glucose hacks is veggies and protein first, then carbs.
Carbs are absorbed by the body at a much faster rate and will increase your glucose in a more intense way but if you eat other items like proteins and fats before carbs they can slow down the breakdown of carbs and help keep your glucose stable.
Most of us know fiber to be helpful in keeping our bathroom visits regular but fiber is also a great way to control your blood sugar. So, how does fiber help your blood sugar?
Our bodies are unable to break down and absorb fiber (the complete opposite of what happens when we eat carbs). This means it doesn’t cause our blood sugar to spike and when added to meals it can help keep glucose at ideal levels (1).
Fiber can be found in many foods such as your favorite fresh vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, or seeds. Add these as a side to your meal or keep a bag of your favorite nuts handy for a quick on-the-go snack.
Your next glucose-friendly shopping list should definitely include some dairy products! Not only do they provide calcium to help build strong bones and teeth but they are also packed with a good level of fat and protein to help balance your glucose (2).
When choosing what dairy products to buy we recommend reading the labels and picking items that are low in fat or salt. Some good options are skyr, greek yogurt, and feta cheese. Find more dairy options on our own shopping list!
When cravings or hunger hit they probably have you running to grab your favorite sweet or salty snack or just the most convenient thing you can find. But before you reach for anything highly processed or with tons of sugar be sure to buy some healthy alternatives next time you go to the store.
One of our recommended favorites is dark chocolate! A few pieces of it can satisfy your cravings and can help you avoid a glucose spike.
Drinking water is always the best beverage option to promote healthy glucose levels but it can get very boring, very fast. Some tasty alternatives to add to your next shopping list are things like sparkling water, a variety of teas (which you can also enjoy with ice on a hot summer day), or sugar-free lemonade.
It’s important to stay properly hydrated not only to feel at your best but also to help lower your glucose levels. Drinking water or sugar-free alternatives helps raise your blood volume which in turn lowers the amount of glucose in your bloodstream. Being properly hydrated also helps your body get rid of any excess sugar when you go to the bathroom (3).
Frozen and Canned Foods
Work smarter, not harder, right? Frozen and canned foods can be a great way to add variability to your meals if fresh versions are not available or you simply don’t have the time to prepare them from scratch. Even though these items are not fresh they are still a great source of vitamins for your diet.
It is important when buying these foods to try and avoid highly processed foods or anything with extra added sugars as they may be full of additives that won’t be good for your blood sugar. When buying canned fruit for example buy fruit in their natural juice and not sugar juices. For frozen foods, check to see if they are “non-processed”, this is the better choice.
4 tips on how to combine foods for a better blood glucose response
1. Coat your carbs
Carbohydrates are known to raise blood sugar levels sharply in a short amount of time as they are digested much more quickly than other food types. Eat carbs last and incorporate other food types into your meal to lessen this effect.
2. Remember the food order
Follow the golden glucose rule: veggies and protein first, then carbs. Eating vegetables and proteins 15 minutes before carbs can reduce your glucose response by up to 73% (4). What are you waiting for? Give it a try!
3. Make your meals rich in fiber
Fun fact: your body doesn’t break down fiber, it just passes through your system without getting digested. This means that when eating a meal rich in fiber, your glucose curves don’t rise and fall so intensely, creating flatter curves and a more stable pattern.
4. Incorporate apple cider vinegar
There are two ways we recommend consuming apple cider vinegar (ACV):
- Drink 1 tablespoon of ACV with a glass of water 20 minutes before your meal.
- Instead of a pre-made salad dressing, make your own and add ACV.
ACV has been popular for many health reasons in the past but recent studies have found that it can also help decrease post-glucose levels (5).
Find all the science behind why these tips can help you stabilize your blood sugar in our glucose hacks article. Which of these hacks will you try?