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I’m putting on my Nutritional Therapy Practitioner hat today.
If you’re consistently tired at 3 o’clock in the afternoon (I call it Liz’s College Crash), that’s a bright, flashing sign that you’re dealing with major, chronic blood sugar imbalance. That is not fun. For anybody.
Blood sugar imbalance can seriously screw with your work life, too. As I said in this week’s Email Monday, at one of my previous jobs (which shall remain nameless) I would crawl under my desk nearly every day at 3pm for a nap.
As much as I hate Snickers, those commercials (even though they present the exact opposite of a sensical solution to the Blood Sugar Crazies – ie, eat a Snickers) are fairly accurate. When you’re hungry in the throes of a blood sugar crash, you’re not yourself.
Even folks who follow a whole-foods diet can deal with this. If you’re massively intolerant to sugar of any kind, even healthy carbohydrate-dense foods can send you crashing.
REMEMBER: that’s not everyone. I am NOT carb-phobic. I absolutely love my fruit, my sweet potatoes, my butternut squash, and all that starchy-sweet deliciousness. But my blood sugar is well-controlled, and I know how many carbs are right FOR ME.
Most people CAN handle dense sources of whole-food carbohydrates, like fruit, roots or tubers. Most people NEED them, and for most people they’re perfectly healthy. Contrary to the beliefs of some more militant low-carbers, fruits and starchy veggies actually DO have nutritional value.
But they’re not right for everyone, all the time. And whether you’re just toying with the idea of a dietary overhaul OR you’re already eating whole foods yet you still don’t have a grip on your blood sugar, it may be time to look at your diet…in particular, at the proportion of CARBS to sources of dense protein and healthy fat.
So here’s where I’d start:
As a baseline, breakfast is the place to begin. Some folks aren’t hungry at breakfast time, and if your blood sugar is well-managed, that’s cool as can be. Do what you want. But if your blood sugar is whack, start with breakfast. As in, eat it. And make it good.
Prioritize dense protein and healthy fats first. Here are a few ideas:
Grass-fed steak & eggs.
Eggs & 2-minute Hollandaise sauce. (Over sauteed spinach if you like).
Buffalo chicken meatballs (anything is breakfast if you eat it for breakfast).
Bison Butternut Bowl (with low-starch spaghetti squash). Fabulous for crappy cooks – like me.
These types of breakfasts have been powering sane, stable hard work since long before Kashi GoLean Krunch.
You don’t have to have a huge plate of these goodies. A little goes a long way – chew, eat patiently, enjoy your food, and you may find yourself full fairly quickly – and for a long time after breakfast ends. (No “second breakfast” necessary, as Diane would say of her granola-bar days.)
If breakfast doesn’t seem the same without your fruit or starchy carbs, fine: add them to your plate, but don’t eat them until you’ve finished the rest. By that point, you may not be hungry for ‘em any more. (Little trick you can play on yourself.)
From there, your breakfast-balanced-body will be equipped with the sound mind to choose something equally healthful at lunch: chicken salad with homemade healthy mayo, chicken thighs, or a Cobb salad with hard-boiled egg, avocado, bacon and Extra-virgin olive oil. You’ll likely make it to lunch without needing a “snack.”
Adjusting to a blood sugar management protocol may take a week or two, but from there it should be smooth sailing (if not, it’s time to talk to a practitioner who can dig a little deeper). Then, you can try adding starchy or otherwise carb-rich whole foods (fruits, roots and tubers) into your plan and gauge your blood sugar tolerance from there.
Easy peasy, right?
How do you identify when you’re in the throes of sugar-crash induced drama? How do you keep your blood sugar in check? If you’ve got some good advice, leave it in the comments!