How to Control Blood Sugar Spikes After Meals?
Have you ever felt tired, irritable, or shaky a few hours after eating? These could be signs that your blood sugar levels spiked after a meal. When you eat foods significantly high in carbohydrates and sugars, your blood sugar (glucose) levels rise.
If you have diabetes or prediabetes, these spikes can be worrying. The good news is you can prevent drastic rises in blood sugar levels with helpful tips. Want to know these tips? Keep on reading!
What Causes Blood Sugar Spikes?
After you eat a meal, food’s carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars. These sugars then enter the bloodstream, causing a rise in blood glucose levels. A slight rise in blood sugar after meals is average.
However, in some instances, blood glucose can rise high, especially if the meal has lots of refined carbohydrates and sugars broken down quickly. These sharp rises in blood sugar levels might be difficult if you are attempting to maintain your blood sugar.
Why Control Spikes in Blood Sugar?
Keeping blood sugar levels in check has many health benefits. Drastic rises in blood glucose levels strain vital organs over time and raise the risk for various medical complications. By preventing sugar levels rises, you can:
- Better manage diabetes and control HbA1c levels
- Lower chances of heart disease and stroke
- Reduce the risk of kidney problems, nerve damage and blindness
- Minimize fatigue, thirst and blurry vision after meals
- Improve energy levels and mood
Helpful Tips to Control Blood Sugar Spikes
Controlling blood sugar spikes after meals is crucial but may initially seem challenging. The good news is you can implement many practical, evidence-based strategies to prevent rises in blood glucose readings. Below are the six most effective ways on how to control blood sugar spikes after meals.
1. Choose Low Glycemic Index Foods
The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly foods cause spikes in blood sugar after consumption. Low-GI foods break down slowly during digestion, increasing blood glucose. High GI foods lead to rapid surges in blood sugar shortly after eating. Focusing on low GI menu options is critical for controlling post-meal blood sugar spikes.
Great low-GI food picks include:
- Non-Starchy Vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, kale, peppers, carrots
- Beans and Lentils: Chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, green lentils
- Whole Intact Grains: Oats, barley, bran cereal, brown rice
- Non-Tropical Fruits: Apples, oranges, peaches, plums, cherries
- Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds,
Aim to make most of your plate consist of these low-glycemic foods. Limit high GI choices like white bread, sugary drinks, and instant white rice.
2. Increase Fiber Intake
Consuming adequate dietary fiber is crucial for blunting post-meal blood sugar spikes. Fiber inhibits digestion in the gut, leading to a delayed release of glucose into the circulation following meals. Getting more fiber also promotes satiety and weight loss.
Excellent high-fiber food choices include:
- Non-Starchy Vegetables: Brussels sprouts, artichokes, turnips
- Fruits: Raspberries, pears, strawberries, blackberries
- Nuts and Seeds: Flax Seeds, pistachios, pecans
- Whole Intact Grains: Quinoa, wild rice, farro, whole grain pasta
- Legumes: Kidney beans, split peas, black-eyed peas
Make sure to gradually increase fiber intake, as too much intake too fast can cause gas, diarrhea or constipation. Go for 25-30 grams of fiber every day.
3. Make Smart Food Pairings
Strategically combining certain foods can prevent drastic rises in blood sugar levels after meals. The concept is to pair a high-carb or high-sugar food with protein, fat or fiber to slow digestion. Some smartly balanced food pairings include:
- Veggie omelet – Fiber + protein
- Peanut butter on whole-grain toast – Healthy fat + fiber
- Mixed nuts with dried fruit – Protein + fiber
- Greek yogurt topped with berries – Protein + fiber
- Avocado and hummus full grain wrap – Healthy fat + fiber
- Salmon with quinoa and asparagus – Protein + fiber
4. Practice Portion Control
Eating large, oversized portions leads to blood sugar spikes after meals. Getting familiar with the proper serving sizes of foods and practicing portion control during all meals and snacks is crucial. Some tips include:
- Read nutrition labels closely to identify suggested serving sizes
- Use measurement cups and spoons to correctly portion foods.
- Dish out meals onto smaller, salad-sized plates
- Measure snacks like nuts into 100-calorie packs
- Never ask for second or third portions.
Getting serving sizes right and resisting the temptation of overeating takes diligence, but it is vital for blood sugar control.
5. Exercise After Eating
Immediately after eating, engaging in light-moderate physical activity causes muscles to take up glucose from the bloodstream for energy use rapidly. It prevents extreme elevations in blood sugar levels.
Aim for a brisk 10-15 minute walk, jog, bike ride or strength training session within 30 minutes of finishing a meal whenever possible. If unable to exercise right after eating, take walking breaks regularly at work to blunt potential blood sugar rises from previous meals.
6. Stay Well Hydrated
Maintaining adequate hydration is essential for checking blood sugar spikes after mealtimes. Chronic dehydration impairs the body’s ability to utilize glucose properly. When dehydrated, blood viscosity becomes higher from loss of plasma volume. It slows glucose dispersal and cell uptake, resulting in elevated blood sugar readings.
Try to consume 6-8 glasses of water each day. Limit beverages with added sweeteners like sodas, juices and sports drinks, as those can directly spike blood glucose, says Healthline.
Monitoring Blood Sugar Levels
Managing blood sugar levels involves routinely tracking and monitoring glucose readings. Here are some critical points on blood sugar monitoring:
- Check glucose readings first thing in the morning and 1-2 hours post main meals. Note the levels down.
- Look for abnormal spikes – Levels over 180 mg/dL two hours after meals indicate spikes.
- Discuss glucose reading trends with your healthcare provider.
- If readings seem incredibly high (usually over 300 mg/dL) before and after meals, notify your physician promptly.
Tracking blood sugar patterns gives insight into how food choices and other factors affect you. Share these readings with your healthcare team at the chronic disease management clinic so further adjustments in diet, exercise or medications can be made if necessary.
Investing in a continuous glucose monitor is worthwhile, too, for convenient, round-the-clock tracking.
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How to control blood sugar spikes after meals? Maintaining blood sugar levels after meals is challenging but worthwhile. By following the handy tips such as choosing low GI foods, upping fiber intake, pairing foods wisely, exercising after meals and staying hydrated – you can prevent spikes in blood glucose readings.
Routine tracking of blood sugar is also essential. Maintaining healthy blood sugar ranges after meals is achievable with some consistent effort!