If you’re diabetic, or have pre-diabetes, you don’t need me to tell you how important blood sugar control is. Keeping that number in the golden zone is a daily challenge. And it’s frustrating when you feel like you’re making your best effort, but still not making any headway.
Well I’ve got good news and bad news.
The bad news is you may be unknowingly interfering with those best efforts with a few innocent habits. But the good news is that by making a few minor changes you could finally get the blood sugar control you’ve been working so hard for.
Following are five common habits that can secretly sabotage your blood sugar.
1. Skipping meals:
I know, it seems strange that not eating could mess with your blood sugar control. But keeping your blood sugar on an even keel, avoiding big dips or spikes, depends on us eating regular healthy meals.
Not eating can cause your blood glucose to crash. If you’re on meds to help control your sugar not eating makes the chances of your sugar dropping dangerously low, a condition called hypoglycemia, even more likely. Plus skipping a meal typically leads to overeating at the next one, which can lead to blood sugar spikes.
Most experts recommend three meals a day. Try spacing them out between four to five hours to keep your numbers steady.
2. Drinking empty calories:
It’s easy to forget about the calories you’re downing in your drinks. But many beverages contain a surprising amount of sugar. And even so-called healthy drinks can do damage such as fructose-filled juices, coffee with flavored creamers or syrups and tea sweetened with sugar.
Pay attention to what you’re drinking and opt for water, black coffee (with a splash of real cream if you like) and tea without sugar.
3. Chowing down on simple carbs:
When blood sugar control is a concern it’s a good idea to start thinking of carbohydrates as sugar since they covert to sugar in the body. But that doesn’t mean you need to cut all carbs from your diet. In fact, carbs can be a healthy source of energy, and help you keep your blood sugar steady when you eat the right kind.
Not all carbs are created the same. Complex good carbohydrates or those that come paired with proteins, fats or fiber, are digested more slowly. So instead of a sugar bomb that hits your bloodstream all at once, driving your blood sugar through the roof and then crashing back down, complex carbs provide a slower, steadier trickle.
Simple carb foods are often filled with refined flours or sugars. Some examples of simple carbs to avoid or severely limit include baked goods (such as cakes, pastries and white breads made with refined flours), cookies, candy, fruit juice, white flour pasta and cereals. Instead choose complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, steel cut oats, fresh whole fruits and vegetables, whole wheat pasta, brown rice and beans.
4. Eating oversized portions:
The truth is most of us eat far too much because we’ve never learned what a reasonable portion size is. Even if you’re eating healthy foods you may be eating too much of them. And this is especially true when it comes to carbs which can ruin your blood sugar control.
Confine your healthy carbs such as peas, sweet potatoes or whole wheat pasta to a cup. Nuts, which are a healthy snack choice, should be limited to a handful, or around one ounce. Proteins, such as cooked meats, should generally be around three ounces.
5. Too much online time:
It’s not only mistakes we make with our eating that can affect our blood sugar. Other habits can mess with your numbers too. For example spending far too much time planted in a chair surfing the internet or watching television.
And the reason why is simple. Every minute spent online or binge watching a show on Netflix is time you aren’t spending moving around and being active. Exercise is one of the most effective ways to lower blood sugar, and keep it under control.
Experts say you should be aiming for 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. But don’t worry, you don’t have to spend all that time cooped up in a gym. In fact it’s far easier to stick to exercising if you take up some active hobbies that you love that just happen to count as exercise too.
Dust off the bike and explore your local parks. Join a square dancing club. Make a splash at the local pool. Take long walks with the dog (he’ll love it and so will your body). The point is it doesn’t matter what you’re doing a long as you’re being active.
Keeping your blood sugar under control can be a challenge, but it’s one you CAN win. Don’t let any of these common habits sabotage your best efforts!