And Why Should You Care?

It is normal for our blood sugar levels to have some ups and downs throughout the day.

These fluctuations can also be different from day to day. Food, exercise, mood, stress, and sleep can cause blood sugar levels to rise and fall.

Variability

We call this up and down of blood glucose levels during the day variability.

They are a normal part of our body’s responses to our lives. High variability is when your blood sugar rises and falls sharply, very high and very low. – The classic sugar crash.

Perhaps you ate a large portion of pasta for lunch. Your blood sugar rises sharply, and for about half an hour, you feel great, full of energy and in a good mood. But soon, that energy is used up. You can not concentrate anymore, and you NEED something to eat. And you do it now.

If you experience something like this several times a day, your blood sugar fluctuates a lot, which means high variability. You are on a blood sugar roller coaster. This constant roller coaster ride of highs and lows can leave you exhausted, cranky and hungry.

Adaptability

In addition to the variability (how much the levels go up and down), it’s also about the adaptability (how long the levels stay elevated before returning to the starting levels)

If your body quickly counteracts a rise in blood glucose and manages to keep levels stable, you have great adaptability. A blood glucose level that doesn’t drop again within 2.5 hours after eating is a sign of a bad adaptability.

The Good News: 

You can stabilize your blood sugar levels with a few simple lifestyle changes, making it easier to stay in the optimal range of 80 – 110mg/dl (140mg/dl after eating).

Ways to Improve Your Variability and Adaptability: 

  • Pair your carbs with fat, protein and fiber.
  • Eat more fiber.
  • Eat your fiber first. 
  • Avoid processed foods, and added sugar.
  • Move regularly.
  • Reduce stress. 

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

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You may have noticed that your blood glucose levels never increase the same way. What’s the story behind it? 

As a general statement, one should avoid sharp increases.
Unless you have to run from a tiger or catch a train because there won’t be a train until tomorrow morning.
Then it would be best if you had your energy fast. In these cases, sharp cases are a good thing.

In all other moments, when you’re not running from a tiger, you should stay as low as possible and have a smooth, steady curve with no sharp edges or spikes.

Your Food Matters

Depending on what you eat, your blood sugar will go up higher and faster. For example, sugary drinks will make your blood glucose rise sharply, whereas foods that contain fiber, fat, and protein (like an avo toast) will more likely result in a more stable blood glucose curve. 

To clarify, at Hello Inside, we refer to a sharp rise (spike) when your blood sugar rises above 140mg/dl AND 60mg/dl within 60 minutes.

So if you eat something, and let’s say you start at 95mg/dl and after 60 minutes your blood peaks at 127mg/dl, that’s nothing to worry about. It’s an increase, but not a sharp increase.

Ideally, your blood sugar shouldn’t rise higher than 30 mg/dl after a perfect meal.
But we know that’s just how life is, and some meals can cause blood sugar to rise more than 30 mg/dl.

Learn More

You’re here to learn more about your body and improve your meals. Looking at your data can help you get closer to ideal scenarios, so you can stay within this 30mg/dl range. Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and the Hello Inside app help you see how foods affect your blood sugar and metabolism in real-time.

Over time, you can spot trends and use them to make impactful changes to your diet and lifestyle. We help you figure out what healthy eating means to you, so you can eat mindfully and stop following a one-size-fits-all regimen.

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

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Over the past years, intermittent fasting (IF) has slowly become a mainstream diet. One that many are surprised to find feels more liveable and much less restrictive than traditional diets such as keto, calorie-counting, and many others.
Because of IF’s wellness benefits, which improve overall health, reduce disease risks, and increase metabolic health, IF is also appealing to those who are not necessarily looking to lose weight.
For us at Hello Inside Intermittent fasting is particularly interesting because there’s substantial research available suggesting that IF can improve  glucose management and insulin sensitivity.

Whatever the approach, IF involves restricting the window of time when you eat. The most popular approaches are 16:8, 20:4 and 5:2. The numbers refer to “fasting to eating” hours in a day (16 to 8 and 20 to 4) or to “eating to fasting” days in a week (5 to 2).

The Key Tenet of Intermittent Fasting

So how, exactly does IF work to promote health and longevity?

There isn’t one standard protocol for IF. But many plans limit the total calorie intake. This makes the food quality a top priority.

We recommend squeezing in the most nutritious meals and snacks. That means mixing processed foods and focusing on fresh, healthy, colorful foods. Yes, you can eat cake, but eating it as a snack after a meal rich in fiber, protein and fat, instead of on an empty stomach when breaking a fast makes it so much better. You will see this in your blood sugar balance and feel better overall.

Besides the limited calorie intake, the idea is that when you’re not eating, your insulin levels  will go down and your fat cells can then release their stored sugar, to be used as energy to maintain steady glucose levels. You could say that your body flips a metabolic switch.
If you’re constantly eating your body won’t need to access this storage, because it has energy in the form of glucose floating around – its preferred fuel. You can read more about this in our blog post on weight control and blood glucose.

Reduce Inflammation

Eating less frequently can also help to reduce inflammation, which is great because it also decreases insulin resistance. Here’s why:
If you’re constantly eating, especially a diet high in carbs, your body releases insulin constantly triggered by the glucose intake. Over time, as insulin builds up in the body cells can’t use it effectively as before- a phenomenon also known as insulin resistance. The cells get “numb” in using insulin which is important to store the glucose away. This in turn leads to higher blood glucose levels  and inflammation.
So squeezing calories intake into a smaller window AND eating healthier foods can decrease the risk of developing diseases. 

Your First Meal of the Day Counts

The way you break your fast matters. 

A “breakfast” rich in carbs can put you on the glucose roller coaster for the remainder of the day. It really sets the tone. If your first meal contains fat and protein (before your carbs) your blood sugar will be more stable, 

A Note About Women’s Health

As mentioned above, intermittent fasting has become extremely popular. Particularly skipping breakfast and eating two more-substantial meals. However intermittent fasting may not be the best diet for every woman.

Firstly, in women with hormonal imbalances, especially PCOS, a good breakfast is really important for bringing down insulin and testosterone and improving ovulation. This is important not only for fertility but also for long-term health.
Secondly, intermittent fasting can trigger disordered eating as women may tend to overeat during the eating window. Which deserves special attention, since studies found that up to 23 percent of women with PCOS tend to suffer from disordered eating.

Along with having a savoury and substantial breakfast a gap of at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast the following morning, can improve the insulin sensitivity.
How can this look like in real life? A 12- hour gap shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. For example, a woman could choose to fast between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. She would need to finish her dinner before 7 p.m. and wait until 7 a.m. to eat breakfast but would be asleep for much of the time in between.  


And since we’re already talking about women. IF is probably not a good idea for pregnant and breastfeeding women as well. The natural calorie restriction that happens because of IF can have a negative impact on fetal development. Also, since the mother’s diet is largely dependent on what the mother eats, a restricted diet during breastfeeding may result in less nutritious milk and thus influence a newborns development.

Boosts Our Circadian Rhythm

One other benefit of IF worth mentioning is that it boosts our natural circadian rhythm. Deep in everyone’s brain there is a master clock that, taking into account external data such as sunlight, stimulates our bodies to perform certain activities.

This so-called circadian rhythm is comparable to a smartphone that has a whole day of alarms preset – get up, eat lunch, etc. – only much less annoying. Our circadian rhythm also includes a glucose/insulin timer. Sensitivity to insulin decreases throughout the day.

It takes our bodies longer to process a piece of bread at 9pm than it does at lunchtime. So having your dinner earlier in the day (for example, by sticking to a 16:8 schedule and eating only between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.) increases the circadian effectiveness of insulin.

This circadian rhythm also explains why someone’s blood sugar goes up and down during the night. Even though they’re not eating. Besides the circadian rhythm, other factors may impact our blood sugar over night:

  1. Dreams and REM sleep: Non-REM sleep is associated with an increase in glucose levels while REM sleep associated with stable levels of glucose. So the glucose levels can depend on the sleep stage. 
  2. Meals that have been eaten during the day: If these meals are very carb heavy, it will result in higher fluctuation during the day. That’s why we at Hello Inside consider the food quality and meal order as crucial to avoid the blood sugar rollercoaster, that will continue into the night.

Long Term Impact

IF can be a feasible, consistent way to increase insulin sensitivity and decrease the average glucose level decreases. By shifting our eating window to earlier in the day, we align our food intake with the time when our bodies are naturally most sensitive to insulin, thus lowering peak insulin and blood glucose levels.

Your blood sugar levels can have a significant impact on how your body feels and functions. Therefore, a stable blood sugar level can be an important factor in your overall well-being and guide you through your own eating regime. So let’s have one final look at some ways how you can make IF work for you.

5 Ways to Practice Intermittent Fasting For Better Blood Sugar Balance

  • Opt for a savory meal to break your fast. E.g Eggs, Tofu, Avocado, Cheese, …
  • Ensure your meals are colorful and rich in fiber to get all the nurturing nutrients and feel full for longer. 
  • Eat sugars and refined grains last or as dessert. 
  • Let your body burn fat between meals. Don’t snack. Be active throughout your day. Build muscle tone.
  • Consider a simple form of intermittent fasting. Limit the hours of the day when you eat, and for best effect, make it earlier in the day (between 7 am to 3 pm, or even 10 am to 6 pm, but definitely not in the evening before bed).

 
With Hello Inside, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can see if your lifestyle choices support healthy living.
Ready to take the first step? Sign up for the Hello Sugar Program today and look inside. 

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

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What is a diet? And what are the main reasons for following one? 

By definition, the word “diet”  refers to the food and drinks that are regularly consumed by a person. However, the word diet is also associated with a restriction of calories, carbohydrates, fats or other nutrients in order to achieve a goal, which is frequently related to health or weight loss. 

Common reasons for following a diet include:

  • Weight management 
  • Ethical / ecological considerations
  • Wellbeing & focus 
  • Hormonal balance & skin care
  • Lifestyle 
  • Longevity
  • Enhanced immune system
  • Increased energy throughout the day
  • Disease prevention 

Which are the most popular diets? Which benefits do they have?

There are many diets out there and we know it can be confusing at times. In this section, we will give you an overview of some popular diets and their benefits when it comes to keeping your blood glucose stable.

  • Intermittent fasting is a great way to increase your metabolic flexibility and therefore improve your glucose control. However, we recommend to do this diet along with a balance diet and skipping dinner rather than breakfast. The risk of the yoyo effect is also part of this diet if you break the diet incorrectly. 
  • The Mediterranean diet is a great approach to improving female health. It’s a good dietary approach to improve your glycemic control. The adherence to the Mediterranean diet seems to have a protective role in glycemic control, reducing HbA1c, and lowering fasting levels in addition to decreased insulin resistance. However, if not  followed properly, it may lead to weight gain from eating more than the recommended amount of fat (e.g. in olive oil and nuts). 
  • Intuitive eating may help you managing your eating hours and avoid overeating and sweet cravings and as consequence can help you reach a stable blood glucose.
  • Calorie counting may help you to avoid calorie-dense foods such as sweets and snacks, lose weight and as consequence it  may improve your glucose metabolism. However, balance is key in calorie counting, and not every low-calorie diet is healthy and provides your body with all the nutrients it needs.
  • The ketogenic diet (Keto) is a type of diet that pushed your body to the limits. It has a fast and noticeable effect on body weight, fasting glucose levels and fasting insulin levels. But in the long term, it can lead to an increase fat intake, which may have unintended consequences. Also the yoyo effect is quite common once you stop following the diet.
  • A healthy vegan diet may help you manage your blood glucose  better. However if you follow a vegan diet heavily based on processed foods, it can lead to deficiencies, increased fat and sugar intake.

Which diet is best for stable blood glucose? 

Many of the diets we described above have benefits for controlling blood glucose levels, but all for different reasons. Some diets are generally more beneficial for stable blood glucose. It also needs to be considered that everyone reacts differently to different foods. 

To help you figure out which diet might work for you in the long term and support your health goals, we prepared a list of questions you can ask yourself as a preparation:

Why do I want to choose a diet? What’s my goal? 

Diets cannot be generalized, and everybody is unique in what their body needs. A diet that has proven to be good for some people may not have the same effect on you. Therefore, we cannot offer you a one-fits-all solution. Finding out how your body reacts to different foods and diets (e.g. by using a CGM and the Hello Inside App) may help you to find an approach that fits your body and lifestyle.

A very important point that is missing is the importance of breaking a diet to avoid the yoyo effect. The yoyo effect is a very common situation, in which people struggle to maintain the already achieved goal once the diet period is finished. This effect happens frequently after stopping to adhere to a very restrictive diet aimed at loosing weight, but it also affects your entire metabolism. Weight cycling, often referred to as yoyo dieting, is driven by physiological counter-regulatory mechanisms that aim at preserving energy, i.e. decreased energy expenditure, increased energy intake, and impaired brain-periphery communication.

What fits best to my lifestyle?

For deciding which diet suits your current lifestyle, you may ask yourself two questions:

Do I eat out often?

Eating out or ordering food frequently is not ideal for following most diets. You do not exactly know what you’re eating or how it was prepared. Eating outside generally tends to come along with high amounts of salt, sugar and fat. If you don’t have lots of home-cooked meals on a regular basis, you need to consider which diets allow you to follow this pattern, or if you want to switch your routines up a bit and try something new.

What’s the most important meal of the day for me?

Intermittent fasting may be a good option for those people that have a preferred meal. Ideally, you should choose having breakfast over having dinner, if possible.  Skipping breakfast has been associated with markers of impaired glucose metabolism, including elevated hemoglobin A1c, higher fasting plasma glucose and a higher rate of impaired fasting glucose.

How do my social factors influence my diet?

Social eating norms may be targeted to encourage healthier eating. Eating behaviour is strongly influenced by social context. We eat differently when we are with other people compared with when we eat alone. Our dietary choices also tend to converge with those of our close social connections.

Your level of activity and the behaviour of people around you also affects your diet choice. If you are an active person, your should avoid highly restrictive diets. Your body needs to be provided with carbs, protein and fats to ensure its best performance and recovery.  Intermittent fasting, mediterranean diet, intuitive eating and vegan diet may be an option as long they do not come along with caloric restriction. 

What’s compatible with my food choices and what’s available? 

When selecting a diet, you also need to consider what foods you have access to and what you like. Where you get your groceries and how you prepare them also affects the diet that may be most suitable for you.

If you like to cook, any diet type is perfect for you. The more you cook, the better for your overall health! For almost any diet it is good to know how your food is prepared and what it contains, to make sure you can provide your body with all the nutrients it needs.

If cooking is not so much your cup of tea, and you need fast and easy options available at all times, you may need to plan ahead depending on the diet you want to follow. However, by preparing snacks that go well with your chosen diet, you can still try out what works for you, even if you don’t have access to a kitchen all day.

Diets are something very individual. Maybe adhering to one specific diet helps you to reach your health goals, or maybe you find that you would rather be flexible with your approach to nutrition. Learn what works best for you and your body. You can discover what you really need and what’s best for your blood glucose by monitoring it with the Hello Inside app and a CGM.

Hello Inside Team

We have a passion for health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics. We love to discover new things and get to know ourselves better. Transforming scientific knowledge and insights into actionable advice is our goal.

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Hello Inside Team

We have a passion for health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics. We love to discover new things and get to know ourselves better. Transforming scientific knowledge and insights into actionable advice is our goal.

more posts from author

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More than 50% of people make New Year’s resolutions every year. Many include cutting back on sugar, eating healthier, or losing weight. This may sound like a logical consequence after all the treats of Christmas. Unfortunately, by January 19th, over 80% of people have abandoned their resolutions already.

So let’s make sure that no matter your resolution, and even if you don’t have any, you understand the power of blood sugar when it comes to your healthy weight. 

Most think eating less and moving more are necessary to drop extra kilograms. But if you’re already doing everything “right” and can’t seem to lose weight or are even gaining it, controlling your blood sugar may be of special interest, and you won’t need to eat less or work out more. Sounds like a win-win, right?

How Glucose Monitoring Is Connected To Weight Management

Here’s why. 

Let’s start with some basic information about hormones. 

Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers that travel in your bloodstream. They work slowly, over time, and affect many different processes. Hormones are very powerful. Only a tiny amount of too much or too little causes big changes in cells or your whole body.

Hormones control your blood glucose regulation

To control your blood sugar, one hormone is of special importance: 

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by beta cells in your pancreas. 

Every time you eat or drink anything but water, your pancreas produces insulin. This hormone helps your body access your food’s energy by “unlocking” your cells. Insulin’s main task is to move the sugar (aka glucose) inside the cells, where it’s used for fuel.
Its side effect is to: impact your fat metabolism (inhibit fat “burning”). Because as long as carbs are in excess, insulin levels are high, and your body won’t burn fat. This happens because your body will always prefer carbs over other energy sources. So it is important to give your body some time between meals (ideally more than 3 hours) to allow your insulin to bring your blood sugar down and your body to access fat cells for energy. Otherwise, your body will gain additional weight. 


The long-term consequence of high blood sugar levels or additional weight is insulin resistance. 

Think of your body as a car. Fill the trunk with your luggage for a month-long vacation. Your car will need more gas to power the engine. And now, imagine that insulin is the gas line between the fuel tank and the engine. Insulin resistance squeezes it, so it’s harder to get when you need more fuel. Controlling your weight or losing some kilograms can slow the development of insulin resistance. Similar to the fact that you would not want to travel around with your vacation luggage all the time. 

Since it’s tough for insulin-resistant cells to take glucose from your blood, sugar levels build up. Over time, this may lead to diabetes, damaging your blood vessels and yield more weight gain. That’s because extra blood glucose signals to your pancreas: “Make more insulin!” But the more you churn out, the easier weight piles on because insulin encourages your body to store the extra sugar as fat.

Besides insulin, another hormone influences your blood sugar:

Cortisol 

Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone.
Stress kicks off your fight-or-flight response, which prompts the body to produce less insulin and release more glucose. This extra glucose is your body’s way of ensuring you have enough fuel in case you need to fight off – or flee from – a threat. This was a great mechanism back then when we had to outrun a tiger in search of food. But our modern stressors, such as meetings or deadlines, aren’t the same physical threat as a hungry tiger. 

Additionally, many people tend to reach for unhealthy food when they’re stressed. So, in addition to the physiological function of stress, how many people cope with stress makes it harder to lose or maintain weight. 

Monitoring your blood sugar will support a healthy weight. 

You will notice that your glucose levels are higher when you’re stressed. This high blood sugar requires plenty of insulin to bring the glucose down. But high insulin levels inhibit fat burning and weight loss in the long run. In other words, stress blocks weight loss. 

So you may want to rethink your New Year’s resolutions, and even if you don’t have any, think about ways to reduce stress and learn to cope with it – without using food or alcohol.
This will make it easier to lose or control your weight. 

As an inspiration to get you going, we recommend getting plenty of sleep each night, walking as much as possible during the day, and adding stress-relieving activities such as breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation. And of course: Monitor your blood sugar levels. 

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

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Fat sometimes gets a bad reputation. Many people think that eating fat will make them gain weight. They don’t know that we need dietary fats to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Also, fats are necessary for our hormones. It’s not all bad but being mindful is important.

Another important piece of information is that healthy fats include unsaturated fats like monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are less likely to promote insulin resistance, inflammation, and fat storage. That’s good. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids are said to promote heart health. Some healthy fats include olive oil, avocado and avocado oil, nuts, and seeds.

On the other side, unhealthy fats lead to negative health outcomes such as type 2 diabetes. You can find these unhealthy fats in butter, palm oil, ice cream, and lard. So choose smart combinations of macronutrients and balance your meals for a healthy diet.

Tips for more healthy fats in your diet, and for balanced blood glucose.

Include Omega-3s everyday
Choose one of the following every day: fatty fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds, nuts, or seeds. This simple will help boost your omega-3 intake and keep you full.

Include nuts in your recipes 
Nuts are a great healthy fat. They add crunch and protein to your recipes. Remember 1 handful per day is the recommended serving size for nuts.

Exchange butter with olive oil
Increase your healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated fats) by using olive oil in recipes.

Go for homemade salad dressings
You can use olive oil or pumpkin seed oil as a base for salad dressing. Mix two parts oil to one-part vinegar with herbs and add it to your salad. Many packaged dressings are high in unhealthy fats (and sugar)

Add avocado to your meals
Avocados are filling and can help with weight loss. Have you ever tried one in your green smoothie?  This can help to keep your blood sugar more balanced.

Remember to use healthy fats in moderation. Just because they are healthy fats does not allow you to eat without limits. Ideally, you aim for 60-80 g of healthy fats per day, that’s about 6-8 tablespoons.

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

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The New Year is a chance for us to reinvent ourselves. A chance to set new year’s resolutions. Leave behind your old bad habits and embrace a healthier, better and newer version of yourself for the year ahead. Or at least, that’s how it’s supposed to work.

The hard truth of the matter is that despite our best intentions, hardly any of us manage to actually stick to the new year’s resolutions that we set out to achieve. In fact, studies have shown that over 90% of us fail to make them last. And most of us break them within less than a month.

We want to help you to not just repeat the same old resolutions, which are doomed to fail – but to make 2023 about a new year’s revolution to achieve the (health) goals you have been working on all this time.

In this article, we will:

  • Show you where you’re going wrong.
  • Give you some tips on how to set up realistic, achievable and sustainable new year’s resolutions that can really make a difference to you for the year ahead.
  • Show you how your blood glucose is a powerful metric for your overall health and progress.
  • Give you some ways to start.

Why do most resolutions fail?

Before you’ve even started trying to make lasting changes, your new year’s resolutions may already be doomed to failure by the way you set them up. Many of us are too ambitious with our goals, and don’t do ourselves any favors in the things we expect our minds and our bodies to achieve.

Beyond setting realistic resolutions, it’s also really important to bear in mind that as human beings, it takes quite a long time to adjust to new behavioral patterns and form new habits. It could take anywhere from 3 to 4 months of regularly doing something new like going to a gym before your body starts to see it as something essential and that can’t be missed. If you break a new habit within just a few weeks, it’s highly unlikely you’ll just be able to pick up where you left off later on.

Bearing these things in mind and being kind to yourself are the first steps towards creating new year’s resolutions that stick and will really put a smile on your face when you look back at all you’ve achieved next December. It’s time to say HI to sustainable new year’s resolutions.

The January Gym Rush Gym memberships tend to sky-rocket in the first few weeks of January, as newly supercharged health and fitness enthusiasts hit the machines to start working towards their new year’s resolutions. But as you’ll know if you’ve ever been to a gym in February, by the end of the month the enthusiasm has dropped off.

If your new year’s resolution is to go to the gym every day, you’re setting yourself up to fail. You will have days where you feel sick, where you don’t have time, or where you feel so exhausted that you just don’t feel like grabbing your gym bag and heading out into the cold. In the long term, none of that should stop you from getting fitter and healthier. But if you’ve broken your golden rule of going every day, you may suddenly suffer a huge drop in motivation when you realise you’ve broken your new year’s resolution and it’s not even February.

What’s the secret to making new year’s resolutions stick?

When setting goals, it’s essential to be really precise and specific about what you want to achieve. Don’t just say “I want to lose weight”, or “I want to live a healthier lifestyle”. Actually work out exactly what you mean by that. How much weight do you want to lose? In what ways do you want to start living more healthily?

Having focus will help you to break down your resolutions into smaller, and more manageable steps such as gradually adjusting your diet, gradually increasing your exercise routine, and focusing on getting regular, consistent sleep to give your body it’s best chance of responding to and recovering from the new pressure you’re putting it under.

It’s also important to set milestones that you can use to measure your progress. For example, aim to lose half a kilo per week. If you miss that target, you can try to think about why that might be. Then make any further changes to keep you on track.

When making significant changes to your diet, exercise and routine, it’s absolutely essential that you maintain a healthy dialogue with your body. Keep checking how you’re feeling, not just how you’re looking. If you start to feel irritable, have problems sleeping, migraines or any other physical ailments, that could be your body trying to tell you that you’re pushing it too much.

 

Monitor the right indicators: The scales can only tell you so much about your progress. Weight loss or weight gain can be interpreted in many different ways, and may be misleading as a metric for your overall health. The most reliable way to check on how your body’s doing is by measuring your blood glucose using a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM), and checking the data through Hello Inside’s app. With a few tips and tricks, you can learn to keep your blood glucose levels stable and positively impact your sleep, fitness and overall health. Find out more about how Hello Inside can help you to make lasting, healthy lifestyle changes here.

Making true changes to your physical appearance can take months, or even years. There is no safe and healthy way to fast-track your progress. Your body will reward you for your patience and consistency. That’s why it’s so important to create habits that you can stick to. Make commitments that are realistic within your existing lifestyle and circumstances.

What kind of new year’s resolutions are best for self-care?

Here are 6 key areas that you may want to focus on when thinking about the kinds of resolutions you want to set. All of these directly or indirectly influence your blood glucose levels, and therefore have a big impact on your short- and long-term health.

  1. Healthy eating – Your diet and nutrition directly affect your health, immune system and your blood glucose. Why not aim to eat more healthily by cutting down your sugar intake, your alcohol intake, or aiming to eat more vegetables and fibre?
  2. Exercise – Getting regular exercise is a great way to keep your heart and lungs healthy. It also keeps your blood glucose levels stable. Why not start out by aiming to do a certain number of steps a day, or even going for a short run or cycle once or twice a week? Once that feels like second nature, you can try to increase it!
  3. Sleep – There is no replacement for a good night’s sleep. Your body needs a consistent and generous sleeping pattern in order to recover from the stresses of the day and regulate your health and blood glucose levels. Why not aim to be in bed by a certain time every night and see how many other areas of your life improve?
  4. Relationships – Humans are social creatures, and the company you keep has huge implications for all sorts of things in your life. Having supportive friends and family around you can make a huge difference in achieving your goals. Why not aim to strengthen your existing relationships and bring more community into your life this coming year?
  5. Addictions – We all know how damaging certain habits and addictions can be. However, finding the strength to kick them once and for all can be hard. The new year can provide that opportunity. Do you smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, have too much caffeine or order too many fast food deliveries? Why not take advantage of the new year to give these harmful habits up?
  6. Stress – Feeling stress is not just psychological, it’s also physical. Stress releases cortisol which increases your insulin resistance. This means your blood glucose levels will spike, affecting your mood, sleep, concentration span, and body weight. Why not make an effort to unwind and manage your stress better this year?

4 ideas for making your resolutions a revolution

As we’ve seen, the key to making new year’s resolutions that last is planning them properly and thoroughly. Here are some simple things you can do to make sure you’re setting yourself up for success.

1. Write down your resolutions – Putting them in writing will make them feel more real. Make sure you keep reminding yourself of what you’ve set out to achieve.

2. Share your resolutions with a friend – Nominate someone to hold you to account. This will help you to stick to them, even when the temptation not to is high!

3. Set milestones and check progress – Having a way to measure your progress towards your goals will help keep you on track and make any adjustments you need to make sure you achieve them. The Hello Inside app is a great companion to help you visualise your progress.

4. Be realistic and kind to yourself – You know yourself better than anyone else. You know what sounds achievable, and what doesn’t. Remember you want to have a good year, not one full of regrets, guilt and self-doubt if you set yourself up for failure.

So start the new year by saying HI to sustainable resolutions and setting realistic goals. Kick-start your self-care journey this year by getting the Hello Inside App and learn more about your body this upcoming year. Take out the guesswork and truly understand what “health” means for you!

And don’t forget – be kind to yourself, and keep showing up. Patience and consistency are the keys to making long-term changes to your health.


Hello Inside Team

We have a passion for health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics. We love to discover new things and get to know ourselves better. Transforming scientific knowledge and insights into actionable advice is our goal.

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Hello Inside Team

We have a passion for health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics. We love to discover new things and get to know ourselves better. Transforming scientific knowledge and insights into actionable advice is our goal.

more posts from author

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In this article, one of our dear users shares what she could learn from using the Hello Inside app. Martina’s story shows how individual our bodies react to diet and exercise, and she shared some of her most interesting insights with us.

Hello Inside: Dear Martina, can you tell us about how your journey with Hello Inside has started?

Martina: Shortly after I made the decision to understand my body even better, I already held the package from Hello Inside in my hands. I was very excited, but also a little nervous, because the sensor was attached to my upper arm with a small needle. The needle doesn’t stay in, but only a thin thread, but still I was skeptical about how this would work out. After carefully reading the instruction manual, I first cleaned my upper arm, checked the area for moles, and then I was ready to go. Wham! I pressed down the applicator (the one with the needle) and attached the sensor to my upper arm almost painlessly… almost, it tingled a bit at first. But this feeling disappeared relatively quickly, soon I no longer felt the sensor. Which makes sense, because the sensor is only the size of a 2-euro coin. After the sensor had calibrated itself within an hour, the four-week glucose journey could begin.

Why did you want to measure your blood glucose?

For a long time, I only knew continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) from people with diabetes. In recent months, however, I have heard more and more often that even healthy people can track their glucose metabolism – not only to prevent health risks, but also to get to know their own body better. I was also curious to see what I could learn from real-time and long-term monitoring of my own glucose levels about certain foods, sleep, exercise, stress, and my cycle.

What were your first questions when starting the programme? 

Is the sensor waterproof? Since I go swimming once or twice a week and wakeboarding from time to time, I didn’t want to limit myself in these activities. During the first swimming sessions, I wore a waterproof patch. Since this patch did not stick very well for me and came off relatively early, I simply left the patch off. The result: An hour in the water does not affect the sensor and even sauna visits without a patch are possible. What you should know, however, is that the adhesive of the sensor can loosen during longer water activities and thus also fall off at some point. I ended up using a tape that kept the sensor in place during sports activities. (Note from Hello Inside: We are currently looking for a supplier for Hello Inside patches, so you don’t have to organize patches yourself).

What was your biggest surprise? 

That was clearly my morning cocoa with oat drink. I did not expect such a high spike (peak = rapid increase in glucose level). I decided to not use cow’s milk for various reasons, but the oat drink apparently also has its downsides. At least for me. (Note Hello Inside: Many other users also report a strong increase in blood sugar when consuming oat drinks, even without added sugar).

For me, the journey into the world of milk alternatives was just beginning, because I did not want to stop with these results. So I bought all kinds of milk alternatives from pea drink, rice drink, coconut drink, almond drink to oat drink with zero percent sugar. Bottom line, the pea drink was my personal blood sugar winner. It has little impact on blood sugar due to its higher protein content and lower carbohydrate content. Coconut milk and almond milk only slightly elevate blood sugar and do not create a spike. The rice drink as well as the oat drink cause a relatively high and rapid glucose rise. The biggest surprise for me, however, was the oat drink with zero percent sugar. I really hadn’t expected a blood glucose value of 180 mg/dl (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Blood glucose spike after drinking oat drink without sugar

Which other insights about your diet could you gather during your time using Hello Inside? 

A pizza as well as pasta are known to be loaded with carbohydrates. One day I had a pizza and a chocolate pudding for dessert and had a glucose spike soon after (see Figure 2). Nothing surprising. On another day, I had carbonara with red wine, pistachio and vanilla ice cream and the blood glucose remained constant (see Figure 3). Initially, I thought this might be due to the cycle phase. On the other hand, upon closer analysis, I realized that while a pasta carbonara contains carbohydrates, it also contains a large amount of protein and fat (from egg, bacon/ham, cheese). The pistachio ice cream also contains quite a bit of fat… and then there’s the effect of the alcohol. So this combination of proteins, fats and carbohydrates plus alcohol seems to have been okay for my blood sugar at first glance.

Figure 2: Pizza, chocolate pudding, etc.
Figure 3: Carbonara, red wine & ice cream

 

Hello Inside on alcohol and blood glucose:

At first glance, pairing alcohol with high-carbohydrate meals may look like the solution. The influence of alcohol in the form of wine, sparkling wine or spirits causes the blood sugar to drop sharply (or prevents it from rising sharply), which is due to the fact that the body wants to break down the alcohol as quickly as possible. The liver first tries to break down the alcohol and make it harmless to the body, but secondly, the liver makes sugar to release into the blood. Since the priority for the liver is to break down the toxin, it cannot release sugar into the blood in the same amount of time, which causes the blood sugar level to drop.

These soundlike very exciting observations and a few “aha” moments. You also said at the beginning that you wanted to know how your blood sugar is related to your cycle. What did you find out? 

It seems that my blood sugar is more stable during my luteal phase as well as my menstrual phase than during the proliferative phase. Since I ate the same breakfast every day, consisting of gluten-free oats, almond paste, wild blueberries and date syrup, I could see clear differences here. During my luteal phase, this breakfast had hardly any effect on my blood sugar. On the other hand, during my proliferative phase, I could see a stronger increase in blood sugar. But to make this determination with more certainty, I would have to run the Hello Hormones program a second time. Then, I would be able to determine even more precisely which foods in which phase have what effect.

Super interesting what you have observed. How would you summarize your findings now? 

The four-weeks of continuous glucose measurement gave me a good first insight into the influence of certain foods, sleep, sport, stress and the menstrual cycle on my blood glucose levels. I also became aware again of how complex the human and especially the female body is. It showed me once again how individual each person is. What works for me may not work for my friends. This “looking into oneself” is a wonderful example that standard nutrition recommendations are very generalized but may not be applicable for each individual. It was also during this time that I really became aware of the fact that the individual cycle phases deserve much more attention, as different glucose reactions can occur depending on the hormones. But the most important thing is not to drive yourself crazy, but to make conscious decisions. Because sometimes I just feel like having coffee with oat drink, vanilla ice cream or a glass of wine.  

So thank you for letting me try the Hello Hormones program. I was able to find out what my body likes or dislikes, and which factors influence my blood sugar and to what extent.  

Martina Zollner, sports scientist and athlete, shared her experience with Hello Inside in this interview.

Hello Inside Team

We have a passion for health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics. We love to discover new things and get to know ourselves better. Transforming scientific knowledge and insights into actionable advice is our goal.

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Hello Inside Team

We have a passion for health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics. We love to discover new things and get to know ourselves better. Transforming scientific knowledge and insights into actionable advice is our goal.

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Yoga outdoors with a friend

Feeling sleepy after eating is a common problem. Many people notice this, especially in the afternoon, only a short time after lunch. That’s why it’s also called the “afternoon slump.” You may have noticed that you or your colleagues wander around searching for sugar and coffee. Both are tempting because they can offset afternoon fatigue.

Yet there’s a better approach to boost your energy than sweets and coffee. For example, structure your meals in a way that helps sustain your energy. Below we’ll look at just how to do this, plus foods to limit that can zap your energy.

Why do you feel tired after eating? 

You’re most likely to feel this way after eating a big meal, especially one high in low-quality fats, starches, and/or sugar.

One of the leading causes of feeling tired after eating is a drop in blood sugar (glucose).

Healthy and unhealthy foods & food alternatives

After you eat starches or sugars your blood sugar rises quickly, and it won’t take too long for the levels to fall as your “blood sugar crashes”. This can cause feelings of brain fog, cravings, and fatigue/tiredness. Although the severity of these symptoms varies from person to person.

In addition to those feelings, sugar starches also cause more serotonin to be released. Serotonin is a “happy chemical,” but it can also make you feel relaxed and tired.

Other reasons you feel sleepy after eating include how your parasympathetic nervous system works and your circadian rhythm.

Your parasympathetic nervous system is the part of your nervous system that is in charge of “rest and digest” processes. It responds to you eating a meal by making you feel more relaxed.

Eating also calls for additional blood activity in your digestive system to speed up digestion. You may have never thought about it, but breaking down the food you eat is a lot of work for your body, which requires a lot of energy.  

Besides the physiological process, tiredness can also result from your “internal clock” (circadian rhythm). It’s considered natural and “normal” to feel a little tired in the afternoon, usually around 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., which is a couple hours after most people’s lunchtime.

To find out what you can do to support your body with its processes and feel less tired, we’ll share a few tips with you next. 

Our Tips:

  • Balanced meal: Aim to strike a balanced meal by including high-fiber foods, healthy fats, protein, and vegetables. Be careful not to load on refined carbs like pasta dishes, cereal, grain bowls without protein, noodle dishes, sweets, etc.
  • Add veggies: When in doubt, add some vegetables to a protein dish, such as sautéed chicken or fish, and incorporate some fat, such as olive oil or avocado slices, to round things out. Remember, though, that too much protein causes some people to feel lethargic. So we recommend a mix of proteins, not just one single source. 
  • Vitamin B and D: Foods that supply you with B vitamins, vitamin D, and iron can also help support your energy levels. B vitamins and iron are essential for supporting digestion and metabolic processes that convert the nutrients in your diet into usable energy. Such as salmon, eggs, or dairy products. 
  • Smaller meals. Remember that we mentioned that digestion requires a lot of energy. So when you eat a larger meal, your body may need to “shut down” while it handles the monumental task of breaking down all that food. 
  • Drink enough. Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water (and not too much caffeine, alcohol, or sugary drinks) since hydration is vital for feeling your best. Alcohol to a meal can make you especially tired because it impacts liver function and how your body handles carbohydrates. 
  • Go for a walk. Light exercise during the day, especially after eating, can help people feel less tired.

Many people experience a dip in energy after eating. Large meals and meals rich in protein and carbohydrates are most likely to make people feel sleepy. Track your blood glucose to determine if your favorite lunch is a blood sugar dropper. And learn about the small changes you can make to keep enjoying it. 

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

Marie-Luise Huber

Luise has spent the last 15 years learning about nutrition and coaching people toward healthy behaviors. Before becoming Head of Nutrition at Hello Inside, she helped parents plan proper lunches for their children. Luise also optimized food ingredients in Central and Eastern European countries. She supported 1000+ people of all ages on their weightloss journey. Her favorite tip to balance blood glucose is moving her body because Luise loves to run, ski or bike. And she loves to bake (not always blood glucose friendly).

more posts from author

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boost energy with stable glucose snacks

You sometimes need the extra energy boost in the afternoon, right in the morning or after exercising. There are many options you have probably heard of. From energy drinks, to power bars and sports gels. 

Unfortunately, these products may be efficient and suitable for elite athletes that need high amounts of quick sugar during or after their workout. But for the rest of you they will likely cause a quick glucose rush (a fast increase of glucose) that is followed by a glucose dip after. This fast up and down will make you feel more tired, moody or hungry than before you enjoyed this gel, bar or drink. 

At Hello Inside, we consider a good energy booster as something that won’t put you on this rollercoaster of highs and lows. These foods provide sustainable energy and won’t cause any spikes and dips.

 

Remember this as a rule of thumb:

The less processed your energy-boosting food is, the better. A small amount of sugar combined with plenty of fiber, fat, and/or protein makes a snack perfect and will make you feel energized for a long time.

Best 7 foods & snacks to boost your energy

  1. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolate may be an easy way to increase energy. It usually has less sugar than milk chocolate. Less sugar results in a more balanced blood glucose and thus avoiding dips. It also has more cocoa content which means more of the benefits of cocoa, including helpful antioxidants such as flavonoids.
  2. Hummus: Is low in fat, but high in protein. It typically contains no added sugar and is low in calories. Combining it with some veggie sticks makes hummus the perfect energy snack. (Tipp: make sure to check the food label for added sugars when you buy hummus in the store)
  3. Plain or greek yogurt is rich in protein, fats, and natural sugars, which provide energy to the body. The content of fat and protein help to lower the impact of naturally occurring sugars on your blood glucose. Caveat: Plant- based yogurts sometimes lack fat and or protein, causing your glucose levels to spike. 
  4. Quinoa and amaranth: Quinoa is high in protein and fiber. The combination of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and fiber are a recipe for sustained energy rather than short bursts of glucose. Add quinoa or amaranth pops to your yogurt as a snack.
  5. Nuts and seeds: are high in fat and protein to provide energy throughout the day.
  6. Matcha and guarana will make you feel energized and help to control your blood glucose.
  7. Green-ish banana: It contains something that’s called resistant starch. This resistant starch helps to slow down the process of releasing sugar in your bloodstream.

 

Did you know…

The browner a banana the more sugar it contains and cause a bigger raise of your blood glucose.

Boost your energy naturally with these habits

If you are looking for something else, other than food to boost your energy we have some alternatives for you. 

  1. Take a cold shower. In the short term this can result in a glucose increase and a quick energy burst. This is caused by the positive stress your body is exposed to. However, if taking a cold shower becomes your habit you also promote metabolic health in the long term. 
  2. Move your body. Simple, yet very effective. To avoid the afternoon slump after lunch just take a short walk outside or do some squats. Also a morning walk before work can help you to kick-start the day and make you feel energized. 
  3. Breathe. Sometimes the only thing you need is a quick break during your work day. A few minutes of breathing exercise can do wonders. Go to your window, open it, close your eyes and take 3-5 deep breaths of fresh air. You won’t believe how much more energized you will feel.

Hello Inside Team

We have a passion for health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics. We love to discover new things and get to know ourselves better. Transforming scientific knowledge and insights into actionable advice is our goal.

more posts from author

Hello Inside Team

We have a passion for health, wellbeing and lifestyle topics. We love to discover new things and get to know ourselves better. Transforming scientific knowledge and insights into actionable advice is our goal.

more posts from author

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