5 Eating habits that wreak havoc on blood sugar, dieticians say: eat this, not that

Maintaining a balanced blood sugar level is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health – it not only positively affects your energy and mood, but it can also help prevent serious illness and chronic conditions.

According to Kate Kanner, RD, the rollercoaster of constant blood sugar spikes and dips can make it harder for your body to efficiently move glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells that need it for energy. This is known as insulin resistance. Over time, if blood glucose levels remain elevated for too long, this can cause damage to blood vessels, nerves, and even organs.

“When blood sugar levels are not maintained, there is an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, hormone imbalances, brain fog, insulin resistance and energy crashes,” says Elizabeth Arensberg, MS, RD. “Food plays an important role in blood sugar balance. The best way to prevent accidents is to eat balanced meals: fill half your plate with vegetables and divide the other half equally into protein and starchy vegetables or whole grains with healthy fats. “

If keeping your blood sugar in the target range is a top priority for you, here are some eating habits experts you will definitely want to avoid. So, for healthier tips, here are the best breakfast habits for lowering blood sugar.


This probably goes without saying, but regularly eating candy, sugar-laden processed grains, or other foods that consist essentially of pure sugar with few nutrients is a big no-no, according to Dana Ellis Hunnes, a senior registered dietitian at UCLA Medical Center and author of Survival recipe.

For example, it is much better to have an egg and avocado on toast rather than just jam, or a bowl of oatmeal with banana and peanut butter rather than a plain banana. The latter options will increase blood sugar very quickly, while the former contains key macronutrients such as fiber, protein and fat, to ensure a slower and more gradual release of glucose.

“When we eat high amounts of carbohydrates or sugars, high amounts of glucose are released into the bloodstream,” says Arensberg. “Your blood sugar levels will rise and are much higher than your body can handle. So, your pancreas has to pump a lot of insulin to help manage the glucose spike. This will then cause your blood sugar levels to plummet. , causing a drop in energy “.

White bread

White bread, tortillas, and pasta, as well as sweets or other white flour-based foods, aren’t ideal for regulating blood sugar, according to David Brendan, RD, founder of Start Rowing.

“The finest grains lack protein and fiber,” says Sporting Smiles contributor Katie Tomaschko, MS, RDN. “So, eating too many refined grains, especially without anything else, will cause blood sugar spikes and drops.”

As a general rule, Tomaschko says it’s best to always opt for whole grains whenever possible, such as brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice, whole grain bread instead of white bread, and oatmeal instead of refined grain breakfast cereals. .

woman running, talking on the phone and holding a croissant

“If you spend too much time without eating a meal or snack, our blood sugar levels will drop too much,” says Kanner. “This is also known as hypoglycemia and causes feelings of lethargy and fatigue because your body literally does not have the energy to perform all its usual functions. Your brain’s favorite energy source is glucose too, so mental cognition is also. it can take a hit when blood sugar levels drop. “

This is especially true if you skip breakfast, according to Arensberg.

When you wake up, you need to feed your body and provide it with the macronutrients it needs to produce energy“he explains.” If you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to feel groggy and irritable. Having a high protein, healthy fat breakfast within the first hour of waking up is a great way to start the day with consistent energy. “

If you know you have a busy day ahead, have some high-protein, high-fiber snacks on hand, such as an apple and some almonds or whole-grain crackers and hummus, to keep your blood sugar from dropping too low due to not eating. And if you’ve already been diagnosed with diabetes, Kanner highly recommends having a balanced snack in the evening, otherwise your blood sugar levels can drop too low at night.

“The body has a mechanism where it can start breaking down the sugar stored by the liver when it recognizes it,” he says. “So, your blood sugar can be high in the morning because the body went into panic mode and resorted to its backup method to get the sugar into the bloodstream. Eating a balanced snack in the evening can help blood sugar levels stay more stable at night. “

man with headache holding water

Did you know that dehydration negatively affects blood sugar? According to Tomaschko, your body produces a hormone called vasopressin when you don’t drink enough water. Vasopressin causes the kidneys to retain fluid and prevents the body from excreting excess sugar in the urine.

Drinking water constantly throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar level stable. Remember: the ideal intake will depend on your size, diet, physical activity level, health condition and other factors. That said, the national academies of science, engineering, and medicine recommend that men drink 125 ounces (3.7 liters) per day and women 91 ounces (2.7 liters) per day.

couple drinking soda

Dietitians say that drinking sugary drinks like sodas, sports drinks, and some fruit juices is one of the worst habits you can have when it comes to blood sugar. Again, this is because these drinks are essentially “empty calories” which do not provide other nutrients such as fiber, fat and protein to slow down the absorption of sugar.

Worse still: Liquids are digested and absorbed much faster than solid foods, so they can raise your blood sugar even faster and more dramatically than a piece of cake or muffin, which at least contains some starch. This may explain why a 2018 study in The Bmj found that Sugary drinks pose a greater risk of type 2 diabetes than most other fructose-containing foods.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, an average can of sweetened soda or fruit punch contains 150 calories, almost all of which are derived from added sugar. And a 2010 study published in Diabetes Care found that participants who drank one to two servings of sugary drinks per day had a 26% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who consumed less than one serving. per month.

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