The level of our blood sugar is the direct result of the quality and quantity of foods that we are consuming. After we eat a meal our body coverts carbohydrates like breads, pastas, cereals to sugar using a hormone called insulin. How quickly this occurs is dependent on how many vitamins, minerals and fibre is in the food as well as the time of day and what other foods we are eating along side the carbohydrates.
When we eat only a refined carbohydrate, insulin converts this food into a short burst of energy that is quickly followed by a physical crash. The result becomes a vicious cycle of eating based on our body craving more and more refined carbohydrates as a way to off set this fatigue. In this pattern, our energy is not consistent as we move through our days always needing more refined foods or stimulants to bring us back up.
Keeping blood sugar’s balanced is especially important for busy Mom’s who are already struggling with fatigue and mood challenges. I have counseled 100‘s of Mom’s around their frustrations with what they define as a lack of will power or a sugar addiction when in fact this has less to do with behavior and more to do with physiology.
What we are choosing to eat is most often a reflection of something we did or did not do earlier in the day. Our choice is not bad or weak, in fact we are responding to a strong physical cue. If you start the day with a donut and a coffee it is going to be physically very difficult to choose a balanced lunch because the body needs another quick source of energy. The body is not interested in breaking down a quinoa salad when a white bagel will offer energy so much quicker.
This cycle can be broken and once Mom’s start to make food choices that keep their blood sugar in a stable state they quickly find energy improve, the mid afternoon crash disappear, moods balance and cravings vanish. All this by maintaing blood sugar throughout the day? Yes it is that important! In fact, keeping blood sugar in check is one of my key recommendations for all Mom’s and is absolutely worth the extra self care!
Do I have to give up coffee or caffeine completely? The short answer is no. The long answer involves being more mindful with the timing, amount and how you are balancing caffeine with other nutrients.
When Mom’s are tired we often mindlessly and reactively reach for a “pick me up” like a coffee or energy drink, these do the trick but only for a very short period of time which is typically followed by an even bigger crash. As a busy mom and a seasoned Naturopathic doctor, I do NOT think that the answer is to completely restrict all caffeine.
I do however, want to provide a few tips about when and how to consume coffee so that the result is not a short high followed by a further depletion in our overall energy.
When and how to consume caffeine:
Try to consume your coffee within the first few hours of waking so that it does not impact your sleep later that night.
Switch over to green tea by mid-afternoon, green tea increase your energy and focus but because of the built in calming effect of l-theanine you skip the nose dive in energy after consuming it.
Balance you coffee by adding fat and protein. Try a bullet proof coffee by adding 1 tbsp of medium chain fatty acids like coconut oil as well as 1 tbsp of collagen protein powder and blend. This not only tastes amazing it will also balance your blood sugar and cortisol levels so you can get all the enjoyment and benefit without the energy crash after.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate ensure that you are drinking at least 250-400 ml of extra water for every caffeinated beverage you consume. Caffeine is a diuretic meaning you will actually become less hydrated if you do not replace your fluids with additional water.
Drink coffee away from your medications and supplements. Caffeine can interrupt the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, some of which you may be taking to improve energy. My recommendation is you wait a minimum of 1 hour before taking any supplements after drinking your morning coffee or tea.
As a mom who has recovered from my own burn out after trying to do it all, I have had to get fiercely in touch with my own values. As much as I thought that I was that mom who loves to cook from scratch and bake my own muffins…it turns out I am just not that person.
That being said I do value wholesome nutrition for my family and I am very committed to ensuring that we balance our blood sugars with each meal. By 2.5 my daughter always knew that mom wanted her to finish all the proteins off her plate…even more than her vegetables.
This is why I aways have the following foods bought and prepared (sometimes by me and sometimes by the store) in my fridge so that we can put quick meals together and our plates are always balanced with a protein, carb, fats and lots of veggies.
Tuna or salmon salad (I use straight up mayo)
Hard boiled eggs (make 6 at a time)
Plain greek yogurt
Hummus (sometimes homemade, a lot of the time bought)
Protein powders (loving collagen powder these days)
Cooked rice or quinoa
Cooked sweet potatoes
Frozen butter nut squash
Rice crackers and cakes
Oatmeal (often plain and instant)
Gluten free pasta and pizza
Oils like coconut, avacodo and olive
Nuts and nut butters
Seeds and seed butters
Dressing of the week – (very simple 3-4 ingredients pre-made ready to go)
Fruits and Vegetables:
Prewashed spinach, kale and mixed greens
Sometimes I have the time to wash and cut my veggies often I don’t so I purchase them pre washed in a tray…
Having even just a few of these items allows us to mix and match and ensure that even if it is a frozen pizza night we are able to add some extra veggies and hummus to ensure balance!
Mom’s need every advantage possible to keep energy up, moods balanced and immune system strong. One simple recommendation to maintain health and vitality is to keep blood sugar stable throughout the day. In my naturopathic practice, I have seen huge shifts in moms health when they recognize this need and make it a priority of care for themselves.
Here are my top 5 tips to help busy Mom’s maintain blood sugar levels and sustainable energy throughout the day.
Eat a high protein breakfast: a high protein start to the day has been shown to decrease empty nutrient intake and reduce sugar cravings for the rest of the day. Add hard boiled eggs to your slice of toast or hemp hearts with nut butter to your oatmeal or a high protein smoothie and you will be amazed how this will shift your energy, focus and sugar cravings later in the day.
Eat a mid afternoon snack: in the same way that breakfast protein decreases afternoon cravings, a mid afternoon snack rich in protein will result in less sugar cravings after dinner. Choose a handful of nuts and fruit or plain greek yogurt mid afternoon and the result will be balanced late afternoon energy and less junk food after dinner.
Never miss a meal: after years of exploring, recommending and trying multiple fad, lifestyle and therapeutic programs I have returned to a very basic philosophy when it comes to nutrition. I call it “Grade 1 eating” and it consists of 3 balanced meals breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the day. When we miss a meal not only do we set ourselves up to make poor choices later, we also spike our stress response, decrease our immune health and further aggravate our blood sugar levels. You are not doing yourself any favors by skipping a meal.
Always balance your meals: a balanced meal consists of protein like chicken, fish, tofu or eggs and whole food starch like rice, potatoes or quinoa and good fat like nuts, olive oil or avacodo and at least 1/2 your plate veggies. Most of us busy moms don’t balance our meals. Begin to ask yourself the question is there a protein or fat? Can I increase my veggies? Adding nuts, hemp hearts, hard boiled eggs and handful of spinach can completely make over your meal and offer you balanced energy for the day.
Eat your fibre: Fibre keeps our blood sugar balanced by slowing down the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar. When we eat more fibre our energy becomes balanced. When choosing carbohydrates always reach for the darker and denser options like brown rice over white rice or sweet pototes over white ones. Another great tip to increase fibre and decrease insulin is to add 1 tbsp of ground flax seed to your
The change of season from winter to spring is the ideal time to detoxify. During the winter months your body has accumulated toxins due to immune challenges, poor diet choices and the mental/emotional as well as physical stresses of the long cold season.
Following this daily nutrition regime for 14 days will result in the safe and gentle assistance of your liver to process the toxins as well support your urinary tract, lymphatic system and gastrointestinal tract in the elimination of the toxins.
1) Start your morning with a nutrient dense smoothie that includes: 15 grams of a high quality rice, hemp or pea protein powder, 1/2 cup almond or rice milk, 1 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries and a large handful of spinach or kale. For added support include 1 tbsp of coconut oil and 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds.
2) Mid morning choose a piece of organic fruit and 10 almonds or 1 tbsp of almond butter.
3) Lunch includes a protein like beans and lentils, organic chicken or turkey or wild game like bison or elk served with brown rice, quinoa or sweet potatoes and an abundance of vegetables. This can be served in a variety of ways for example cold as a salad with an oil based salad dressing or warm as a stir fry seasoned with garlic and ginger.
4) Mid afternoon choose raw vegetables like carrots, peppers or celery and 3 tbsp of hummus.
5) Dinner is similar to lunch. To keep things interesting make soups or stews that follow the same guidelines of a protein, gluten free grain and lots of veggies. Also ensure that you add healthy fats to each meal like avocado, roasted nuts and seeds, goat cheese and/or different salad dressings and sauces.
6) If you are hungry at night choose a brown rice cake with almond or cashew butter and honey.
7) Finally drink at least 2 liters of water and replace coffee with green tea.
For an advanced detoxification program please contact Sage Wellness to book an appointment to assess your level of toxicity and to obtain a specific and individualized protocol.
Almost a year ago I posted a blog titled “A Whole Body Approach to Dietary Changes” with the intention of sharing the message that diets do not work!
During my years of practice as a Holistic Nutritionist and a Naturopathic Doctor this has become increasingly evident and assisting patients towards whole food eating a focal point in my work.
I recently had the opportunity to watch “Hungry for Change” and this belief has since been further validated for me. After eagerly taking in the information from health experts around the world I feel even more compelled and drawn to the promotion of whole food eating as a way of life and to share this incredibly valuable information to others.
Whatever your current relationship is with food this movie will offer new insight and awareness about nutritional choices for you and your family.