Healthy dinner at home or at a restaurant: Eating out with stable blood sugar
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Your dinner influences your sleep and with it your blood sugar of the following day. That’s why we have a few tips for you on how to improve your blood sugar reactions when you choose to eat out, but also for your blood glucose friendly dinner at home.
For many of us, dinner is the highlight of the day. Lunch was four to five hours ago, and now you feel your energy waning and your concentration slipping. You can’t wait to get home, and check what’s in your fridge. That’s a typical sign that your body is hungry and wants to refuel.
Other signals that your body is ready to eat:
- Dizziness or the onset of a headache
- Mood worsens and you feel irritable and short of breath
- Your hands start to shake
- Your stomach growls
- You cannot concentrate on anything but eating
If you are constantly hungry before dinner, you may need to increase your energy intake in the afternoon with a bunch of healthy snacks.
And even if you’re not a big snacker, a healthy dinner is always a smart decision to balance your blood sugar before bedtime.
What’s a healthy dinner?
A healthy dinner is a balanced meal that includes different food groups and colors. At the end of your dinner, you should feel full, but not overly full, so that you can sleep well.
It contains all three macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They all provide energy and vital nutrients that keep you healthy. If you leave out one area, you risk missing a particular nutrient or fiber, making it harder to stick with the diet long-term.
After a long day at work, driving to and from kids’ activities, or a tough workout at the gym, the last thing most of us want to do is spend an hour in the kitchen making a complicated dinner, right? So let’s keep it simple, by following a few easy steps.
Make Your Own Dinner at Home
The advantage of cooking at home is that you you have full control over ingredients and portion sizes. Even seemingly healthy restaurant meals can introduce unnecessary sugar into your diet, which can negatively impact your blood sugar levels.
One of our favorite examples is the blood sugar response to a Ramen ordered in a restaurant vs. home made.
The Healthy Eating Plate Principle
Visualizing the macronutrients can help you create a healthy dinner.
- Dedicate half of the plate to vegetables: salad, fresh-cut vegetables for dipping or sautéed.
- A quarter of the plate is reserved for high-quality carbohydrates, including whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes.
- The last quarter is reserved for protein, plant- or animalbased.
- Lastly, add a healthy fat like olive oil or fresh avocados.
Here’s one easy to make recipe that won’t take too much time and support a healthy blood sugar.
To prepare this blood sugar friendly recipe you need the following ingredients:
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 green bell pepper
- 5 g mint
- 20 g parsley
- 1 pc leek
- 50 g spinach
- 100 g frozen peas
- 0.5pc lemon (juice)
- 200 g feta cheese (divided)
- 2-3 eggs
- 1 dash salt
- 1 dash pepper
- 1 dash nutmeg
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- Peel and finely chop garlic. Remove the core of the bell pepper and dice it.
- Chop mint and parsley. Halve leek lengthwise and slice.
- Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for about 2 min.
- Add bell pepper and leek to cook for about 4 min. Season with cumin, freshly grated nutmeg. Add salt, and pepper to taste.
- Add spinach, peas, chopped mint and half of the parsley to the pan. Once the spinach starts to shrink, squeeze the lemon half and add the juice.
- Crumble half of the feta cheese over the pan and stir to combine.
- Use a spatula to make two small holes in the leek mixture using and crack the eggs into them. Reduce heat.
- Season eggs with salt. Let cook for 10- 12 min. until eggs have set and egg yolks are still tender. Best not to stir now.
- Crumble the remaining feta cheese and sprinkle over the Shakshuka. Garnish with remaining parsley and season with salt and pepper. Buon Appetite!
The healthy eating plate is also a fantastic way to assess your plate as you eat out. It’s a great way to set the tone for a blood sugar balanced meal.
Many meals in restaurants are 50% carbohydrate and 50% protein, with two small pieces of broccoli on the side. And it’s even more unbalanced when you enjoy the delicious bread that’s oftentimes served as a starter. This will get you on the blood sugar rollercoaster right away. The bread at the beginning will increase your blood sugar rapidly, and once you’re done with your meal, you’re on the descent again, and long for some energy in form of dessert.
We’re assuming you don’t want that.
So let’s have a look at a few tricks you can apply when eating out yet still having a blood sugar- friendly response.
Choose the Healthiest Carbohydrates
Choose healthy, complex carbs such as whole grains and vegetables. Because they contain fiber and are less processed, these foods don’t lead to as many swings in your blood sugar levels.
Cover Your Carbs
When carbs are consumed as part of a meal that includes protein and fat, they affect blood sugar more slowly.
Eat Your foods in The Right Order.
Get a headstart with some veggies as a salad, or eat the veggies on your plate first. Then protein and fat, next starches such as beans or potatoes, and last the rice or noodles.
Opt for water. It’s that simple.
When we drink alcohol, we are giving our liver a lot to deal with. So it’s best to try to avoid it. But If you drink alcohol be aware of the following: Light to moderate alcohol consumption may lead to lower glucose in the short term. That’s because alcohol may decrease the liver’s ability to make new glucose to pump into the blood, and light consumption may lead to increased short-term insulin sensitivity
So you’ll notice when you’re full. It’s okay that you won’t finish everything that’s on the plate. You could even ask for a box to take home (or bring one yourself) so you’ll have some leftovers the next day. This could be an interesting glucose experiment to see how your body reacts differently on two days to the same meal.
Time it Right
Eating too close to bedtime will impact your sleep – and not in a good way. Unfortunately, a bad night’s sleep will influence your blood sugar the next day.
A good rule of thumb is to eat at least 3 hours before bedtime, so you give your body enough time to digest before you hit the hay.
Walk home or park your car further away so you’ll have to get some steps in before heading home. Even 10 minutes of walking can lower your blood sugar after your meal.
It’s that simple. Don’t overthink it and enjoy eating out.
With a little extra thought or planning, you can ace your blood sugar response and enjoy your dinner.
No matter if you cook it yourself or if you’re eating out.
To find out what works best for you, sign up for our Hello Sugar Program and learn more about the tips and tricks to balance your blood sugar.