Well, it’s that time again, time to host the next monthly challenge! Having had a little time off last month, I am rip roaring and ready to go with this next challenge. This month’s challenge will be a bit more involved, but oh so worth the effort. It’s something everyone can benefit from no matter where they are at in their health journey. So, are you all ready to join me and get your blood sugar under control?! Let’s take the Blood Sugar Control Challenge.
First, a little background…….For the past 8 years I have been doing a few seasonal ‘detoxes’ if you will. I started my first blood sugar/detox back in 2004, prior to becoming pregnant with my 3rd son. It was the most amazing experience! At the time, I didn’t really realize it was a blood sugar control diet, I did it more as a liver cleanse. I got such amazing results with it and was never the same again. Every health symptom I had at the time, completely went away! I also lost weight, got my energy back and really truly felt great! It took me many years before I truly learned just why that ‘detox’ worked so well, and years before I finally learned how to keep my blood sugar managed. In the spring of 2010 I took the plunge to get the sugars/starches out and never looked back. So many things got better from there on out, but it’s still been a bit of work to make sure I stay managed. I tend to do a little house cleaning every season and take on a sugar detox of some sort to keep myself from that slow spiral back into depending on sugar/stimulants to drive or energize me.
I currently eat a pretty low carbohydrate/sugar diet, I am following a GAPS/Paleo template dietarily and I’ve hovered in this way of eating for about 2 years now. It works well for me, and I find if I do have some starch I am really able to keep it limited because my body tells me. I just don’t do well with too much starch/sugars in my diet. Namely starch. However, this summer, I’ve had some sugar creeping in and I know it’s time to do some housecleaning. I managed to start drinking two cups of weak English Breakfast tea with honey and coconut oil, as well as ramp up the fruit due to summer and find I crave ice cream, A LOT. Starting my day out with 2 heaping teaspoons of honey, is not working well for me, but I got into the habit and now I need to reel myself back in. This past month I have had trouble with my sleep, waking in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back to sleep. It was so foreign to me, as this has not happened to me very much at all in the past several years, that it took me about 2 weeks of on and off nights before I realized that my blood sugar management was slipping. As soon as I figured this out I knew what to do and was able to redeem my sleep. This is far better than I used to live years ago, but I know I can do better and feel better for it. So, I am hosting this challenge for myself just as much as anyone else.
I wrote a post yesterday, titled; ‘How Does Your Blood Sugar Work?’ to raise the understanding of just how tightly regulated the blood sugar levels in the body are. It’s important to understand this so you can know why the ‘rules’ of this challenge are as they are. First let’s talk about all the health issues that arise from any level of blood sugar disregulation.
Health Issues Related to Blood Sugar Imbalances
- lack of energy/fatigue
- depression/mood swings
- sleep disturbances, trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep
- weight gain
- heart issues such as; MI, stroke, cardiovascular disease, high triglycerides, hypertension, atherosclerosis
- need for stimulants which deplete nutrients
- adrenal fatigue, followed by thyroid issues and other endocrine issues
- hormone imbalances
- yeast overgrowth
- mineral deficiencies (such as magnesium)
- irritability prior to meals, shaky/edgy if meals are delayed
- vision impairment
- mental clarity/function
- a plethora of gastrointestinal disorders
As you can see, it’s clear that having good blood sugar balance is key to overall health. Again, it’s one of the two most tightly regulated systems in our body. Every aspect of our health is at risk when we don’t maintain appropriate blood sugar control. Now that you are pretty confident that this is a critical thing to work on, how does one go about managing their blood sugar?
I’m glad you asked. It’s pretty straight forward, but can be tricky too. I am setting up some very basic guidelines keeping in mind that everyone’s path to getting their blood sugar balanced will be very different and take a varying degree of time and effort. I am also offering a special package for this month only to those who would like additional support. Here are the guidelines;
Blood Sugar Control Guidelines
Protein – Consume 3-5 ounces of protein at every meal, 1-2 ounces with every snack. Optimally, the sources of protein should be grassfed meats, pastured poultry, wild seafood and pastured eggs. (read more about protein sources here)
Fats – Good quality fats (as outlined in this post) with every meal and snack, none of the bad fats (mentioned here) such as artificial spreads or hydrogenated fats, or refined vegetable oils for cooking are allowed. Be VERY strict about this. Fats are very satiating and the optimal source of fuel for your body, do not skip or skimp on the fats.
Grains – No grains allowed. (corn is a grain)
Legumes- No legumes allowed.
Vegetables – Organic, in season, low glycemic veggies are unlimited. Eat as much as you want. Limit carrots, beets, and root vegetables – using in smaller portions and make sure to balance well with other lower glycemic veggies. Avoid white potatoes – they are very high in starch. Properly fermented vegetables are allowed and highly recommended.
Nuts – Properly prepared nuts or raw nuts are acceptable in small portions, a handful is adequate. Don’t overdo it on the nuts. (Peanuts are not allowed, they are actually legumes) *Note* – Nuts can be problematic for some, causing digestive issues/complaints or even allergies/sensitivities. If this is the case for you, leave them out for 2 weeks to a month.
Fruit – Limit fruits to 1-2 servings of low glycemic fruits. Avoid fruit at breakfast for the most part, once you get your blood sugar managed you may be able to tolerate fruit in the mornings here and there. Avoid the sweeter bananas, mangos, papayas, grapes and dried fruits. No fruit or vegetable juices at this time, even fresh pressed at home. Fruit is best as a mid-meal snack paired with some fat. (ex: I like to make coconut milk smoothies or even drizzle some coconut oil over sliced peaches)
Dairy- No dairy. Most people will need to avoid dairy – it can have an insulin effect. Ghee is acceptable to use.
*However, if you have gone through an elimination diet or gone through GAPS intro and you know you are not sensitive to dairy – you can have some dairy, such as butter, small portions of GAPS approved cheeses, a small amount of sour cream with meals or as a dip for veggies. Avoid entire meals of dairy, such as a large glasses of kefir or a yogurt as your meal. *
Sweeteners – No sweeteners of any kind. Zip, zilch, zero. (Stevia is okay in green leaf form on occasion if need be, but not for those with severe sugar imbalances).
Beverages – Water is best – try to drink half your weight in ounces of water per day. It is VERY important to make sure you get enough electrolytes as well. Adding a pinch of good quality sea salt to your drinking water is ideal, especially the water you drink during and after your workouts. Water makes up 70% of our bodies – it is the most important and critical nutrient we need. Adding a slice of lemon to your water is also a good option. Avoid, alcohol, fruit juice, milk. Avoid caffeine – this is a biggie – caffeine actually disrupts your blood sugar. If you are a coffee drinker, take the first two weeks to wean off of coffee – decaf is better but still has caffeine. 1 cup of decaf can be okay. Dandy Blend is a popular coffee substitute that can be used. As well as organic herbal teas with no additives of any kind. I also allow kombucha, Two -4-8 ounces servings a day. I recommend beet kvass as well, two – 4 ounce servings a day in the morning with breakfast and before bed with a small snack. Fermented beverages consume all the sugars during fermentation. I would however avoid water kefir, unless you ferment it until it’s on the tart side. Coconut water diluted in half with water can be an okay sports drink replacement, but only use when working out/sweating lots, as it does contain a fair amount of sugar. Coconut water kefir would be better suited for this purpose if you have access to it.
The above food plan is meant to be used to gain a foothold on your blood sugar control. It can be followed for 2-4 weeks. It can take a minimum of 2 weeks to reset your blood sugar handling, though it can vary for everyone (especially if you are on any kind of medication). It is important to eat every 2-3 hours of the day to keep your blood sugar from dipping down too low. Once you get yourself straightened out you won’t have to eat this frequently. If you find you wake up at night at all, you need to have a snack before bed. Make sure it contains protein/fat/carbohydrate. Also, if you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, have a snack.
Try to eat something raw and fermented at every meal. This is particularly helpful if you get a wide array of colors of produce. You want to nourish your body with nutrients; vitamins, minerals, bioflavanoids and antioxidants to replace what you need from having been a sugar burner for so long. Sugar depletes so many vital nutrients that add to the cravings. When you get needed nutrients into the body, it helps take away the cravings for more sugar.
Considerations – this plan is not meant to cure candida/yeast issues, but can certainly help. For those already consuming higher sugar/carbohydrate diets well above 150 grams of carbs a day, you will likely need to wean into this gradually, as will those with deeper endocrine issues. Also, athletes may need to be careful switching over to this plan especially during any athletic competitions or events. Please know I am available to work with individuals with more specific needs, and offering ADDITIONAL SUPPORT for anyone interested.
Make sure to eat loads and loads of veggies. Eat frequently, don’t skip those 3 snacks a day. Eat within one hour of waking even if you don’t feel hungry. Try not to let your daily carb intake go too low – aim to stay at 50-70 grams per day. The object of this whole game plan is to retrain your body to run with normal blood sugar balance, to use fats as fuel over glucose and learn what balance of foods make you feel best. So as you re-introduce the dairy and starchier veggies you will be able to see just how they make you feel.
Exercise – Daily exercise is ideal. 15-30 minutes daily. (I will be posting more on exercise throughout the month). Blood sugar control is affected very positively by regular exercise – be sure to carve out time for it daily.
Starting August 1st, I will post every day with further information, tips, advice, articles all surrounding managing your blood sugar. We will start with a 7-10 day Phase 1 to gear up for this challenge! Subscribe to my feed to stay informed.
Additionally, I am offering EXTRA SUPPORT to anyone who would like further support while taking on this challenge. It could be for those with deeper health issues, or those who have tried something like this in the past and weren’t able to stick to it for whatever reason. I am here to help!
SO, ARE YOU READY TO TAKE THE CHALLENGE?!?! Are you ready to feel better physically, have more energy and a steadier energy throughout the day? Lose weight? Lose cravings?Experience greater mental clarity and emotional stability? Improve the quality of your sleep? Prevent hypoglycemia and diabetes?
LET’S DO THIS! Comment below if you plan to join me!
Lydia Joy Shatney is certified as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner through the Nutritional Therapy Association. Additionally, she is a co-chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation in Delaware County, Pa. (Find the group here on Facebook). Lydia is also a member of the Nourished Living Network. Lydia founded Divine Health in March of 2010. You can find Lydia on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.
Lydia offers specialized one-on-one counseling for those that are looking to transform their health through dietary advice (both food and supplements), learning cooking techniques, shopping guidance, as well as fitness inspiration and self-empowerment. These personal consultations are tailored to suit your specific needs and can be done over the phone, Skype or in person. Lydia will work with you in person locally or long distance across the globe. Lydia currently offer 3 & 6 month packages. In these packages you will receive phone consultations, email support, food journal evaluations, a thorough nutritional assessment, lots of handouts, supplement recommendations for your specific needs, information, recipes, tips, cooking ‘how to’s’ and more. Contact Lydia to sign up for your free initial consult call today!