Winter beckons a time when some of us “batten down the hatches.” We seek layers, comfort, and warmth. I myself have had romantic visions of being snowed in inside a cozy cabin. Being from California, this doesn’t happen. I know those of you who do get snowed in don’t necessarily think it’s great or hardly romantic.
Like those good ‘ole bears who fuel-up, getting ready to hibernate during the colder months, you might also experience a desire to “pack it on”—clothes, food, and blankets. Don’t worry about eating more, focus on eating wisely, especially when it comes to balancing your blood sugar.
Simple Steps to Balance Your Blood Sugar
1. Wrap Your Carbohydrates in Fiber, Fat, and Protein
Flour-based and grain carbohydrates, along with squash and potatoes, convert to sugar quickly in your bloodstream. We want to slow down that conversion rate in order to avoid blood sugar spikes and insulin “urgencies.” Surround these carbohydrates with fiber, fat, and/or protein.
Include raw nuts and seeds on your plate. Be generous with extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado. Think nut butters, shredded coconut, hemp and flax seeds. If you eat seafood, include wild salmon or other fatty fish, such as sardines. You don’t need to shy away from carbohydrates, just be sure to surround them with fiber, fat, and/or protein.
2. Drink a Grounding Herbal Tea Daily
Not actually “tea,” as these herbs are all non-caffeinated and not technically tea leaves. This is more of an herbal brew, a tonic really, that can be consumed at anytime. Especially warming and grounding during the colder months, drink to enjoy, celebrate your existence, and well… balance your blood sugar.
Some of my favorite herbs to simmer for keeping my blood sugar stable are fenugreek seeds, dandelion leaf and root, nettle leaf, cinnamon sticks and powder, and ginger. Don’t underestimate the superb healing power of herbs. The medicine is in the plants—it always has been and that won’t change. Buy the herbs in bulk and mix and match to your desire. If that’s not your style, you can buy pre-made tea bags from your local natural grocer.
3. Walk After Eating Your Meals
Carbohydrates convert to sugar in your bloodstream. Don’t be alarmed; this is what they are supposed to do. However, much of that sugar (glucose) is meant to move from your blood to your cells. This happens by way of our much beloved hormone, insulin, and gives you energy. However, when this doesn’t happen effectively (have you heard of insulin resistance?), the sugar stays in your bloodstream, hence the term “high blood sugar.”
Moving your body with a simple, moderately-paced fifteen minute walk, will support the movement of sugar from your blood into your cells. Even if you experience insulin resistance, moving your body will help move that sugar. Make it a habit; better yet, consider it a practice. Think of walking as your dessert.
4. Increase Healthy Fats Rather Than Carbs or Protein
Let’s cycle back to “layering it on…” If you have a bigger appetite in winter and/or prefer hardier or heavier foods, go for it and don’t judge yourself. Eating according to the seasons is wise and so is listening to your body’s signals and cues. It’s actually an animal instinct to fuel-up during colder months; it’s our way of attempting to create warmth.
Let is be okay if you need those extra calories, but consume greater amounts of healthy fats (olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, avocado, wild salmon, and grass-fed butter etc.) rather than carbohydrates or protein. Fats are the most satiating macronutrient and higher in calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates. This means they will keep you full and satiated for longer periods of time. Increasing carbohydrates (unless we’re talking veggies) or protein can raise blood sugar levels, sometimes catastrophically.
The power of wisdom allows you to recognize the influence you have over your health. It’s literally in your hands as you co-create your reality. Gone are the days of only trusting doctors in white coats. Put on your own coat, make it colorful, take action, and love yourself silly through the process. I’d love to know if these tips speak to you. Which one(s) can you start right now? Leave your comment below.