The Energy Series: Part 1: Blood Sugar Management

How would you describe your energy levels? Do you mostly feel energised? Do you start your days ready to take on your mum responsibilities with optimism? Do you have energy to enjoy life and motherhood? Does your energy feel sustained throughout the day? If the answer is no, this blog series is for you.

Feeling tired all the time, having energy slumps throughout the day and generally lacking in energy isn’t something we should consider as normal.

There are many, many aspects of life and health that influence our energy levels. It is no doubt an enormous topic. In this 4-part series, I’m going to explore 4 areas that impact our energy and how you can optimise your likelihood of feeling more energised.

First up, if you are feeling consistently exhausted and it is really impacting your day-to-day, please do first seek medical advice, as it CAN indicate an underlying undiagnosed condition. The advice given in this blog series does not replace medical advice.

Secondly, being a mum is hard work, especially when your sleep is so affected. It is normal to feel tired out sometimes! But let’s make sure we are giving our bodies the tools it needs to carry out our mum duties AND enjoy life too.

Today we are going to be talking blood sugar management. What it is? Why is it important? What does it mean for our energy? And how can we optimise our blood sugar management to promote optimal energy?

What is it and why is it important?

When we eat or drink something, particularly something containing carbohydrates or sugars, our blood sugar levels rise. After some time, our body will bring this level back down. Maintaining healthy blood sugar levels is one of our body’s most important jobs as it is really key for our health. Different foods and drinks will affect our blood sugar levels differently.

The key here though, is when we consume something that raises our blood sugar levels very quickly, the quicker and sharper it will come down, often coming down too low. On the other hand, when we consume something that raises our blood sugar levels very slowly, then it will be bought down again in a much slower, more controlled manner, without dipping down too low.

What does it mean for our energy?

Keeping our blood sugar levels nicely maintained, with only small fluctuations throughout the day, means we have a consistent energy supply. Our body feels happy and safe because a nicely maintained blood sugar level is exactly where it wants to be. Massive rises in blood sugar levels is very undesirable for our health, so our body will work very hard to bring it down quickly. But when it dips down too low this is when we feel tired, irritable, ‘hangry’ and like we MUST EAT SOMETHING NOW.

Not only are our energy levels impacted, so is our mood and patience. Energy dips throughout the day, feeling irritable or dizzy if you don’t eat often, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating are also signs that you may need better blood sugar management.

Also, constant consumption of foods and drinks that rapidly raise our blood sugar levels is very demanding on the body, which CAN lead to health issues (type 2 diabetes and obesity to name a couple) down the line.

So, how can we optimise our blood sugar management to promote optimal energy?

The good news is, some simple tweaks to our diet and lifestyle can make the world of difference. As with anything, don’t expect to make loads of changes at once. Pick one and stick with it until it becomes your new habit.

· Eat protein and fat at breakfast. So many typical breakfast foods are high in carbohydrates and sugar (toast, cereal, granola, porridge). When carbohydrates are eaten on their own, they spike blood sugar levels pretty quickly, leaving you hungry long before lunch. Starting your day off with a breakfast that is going to help stabilise your blood sugar levels is a fantastic way to start your day. Here are some ideas to implement at breakfast:

o Top your toast with nut butter, avocado, eggs or baked beans.

o Top your porridge with nuts, seeds, nut butter and/or natural or coconut yoghurt.

o Omelettes are great – throw some onion and any type of finely chopped veg you have lying in the fridge in a frying pan, add some whisked and seasoned eggs to bind it all.

o Eggs with anything – mushrooms, avocado, tomatoes, leftover veg from last night’s dinner, good quality sausages. Experiment to find out your fave way of having eggs; scrambled, fried, poached. Throw some herbs on them if you want! (I understand this kind of breakfast might need to wait for a slower weekend start).

o Overnight chia pudding – loads of great recipes can be found online including this Amelia Freer one – including breakfasts that have been prepared the evening before are super helpful when mornings feel too rushed to make something from scratch.

· Make sure any snacks are also not naked carbs (carbs on their own) – add fat and protein.

o Handful of nuts and seeds

o Dark chocolate (the darker, the better)

o Full fat natural or coconut yoghurt

o Fruit with some nut butter (apple slices with peanut or almond butter is delicious)

o Veg sticks and hummus

o Cheese and oatcakes

o Roasted chickpeas

o Hard boiled eggs

o Coconut chips

o Homemade oat bars

· Get moving. Regular exercise of any kind is a great way to help manage blood sugar levels. It is also a wonderful way to de-stress and get some ‘me time’ – both also key to managing blood sugar levels.

· Go steady with your intake of sugary foods and caffeine, as both these spike blood sugars. If you find that you crave sugar and caffeine throughout the day, this may be a sign that you need to address your blood sugar management.

o Find lower sugar/carb snacks to satisfy you (see list above) and don’t forget to pair them with fat and protein

o Try having your morning coffee AFTER breakfast, instead of before, which will have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels

· Don’t eat late in the evening. Eating too close to bedtime has been shown to negatively affect your blood sugar control the following day. Aim to leave 2-3 hours before going to bed to finish eating.

There are lots of other factors that can impact your blood sugar levels, but these are great starters. You may notice pretty quick improvements with better food choices or lifestyle habits, everyone responds differently.

You have your own unique needs and circumstances, and the causes of your low energy can be multifaceted. In part 2 of The Energy Series, I will be exploring stress management.

If you would like to explore your unique health concerns and reasons for your low energy with a nutrition professional, please do get in touch.


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