Timing of meals for healthy blood sugar (+ should you be snacking?)
- Mel’s weekly food pick:
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar (HINT: This is really good for blood sugar control!)
- Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Roasted Cabbage “Noodles”
In my previous post, I discussed the importance of developing a practice of living with the end in mind. I also offered you my End in Mind audio meditation to help you visualize and inhabit the healthy body of your dreams and live as the end product of your desires. I’ve personally made this a daily ritual in my life and attribute much of my success at achieving healthy blood sugar to this practice. I can’t even imagine a day with it!
This week I would like to offer my thoughts on meal timing for healthy blood sugar and the idea of snacking (should you or shouldn’t you?).
It’s one of the most hotly debated topics…especially the idea of eating breakfast. Some people eat breakfast every day, while others skip it altogether because they don’t feel hungry. Still another group of people unintentionally skip breakfast because they are always in a hurry.
I make it a rule to eat breakfast every day and I usually keep it on the lighter side—consisting mostly of healthy fats and proteins, and fiber-rich, low-glycemic carbohydrates. For example, one day I may have a smoothie made with kale, turmeric, ginger, avocado, chia seeds, bone broth protein powder and wild blueberries, while on another day it could be a hard-boiled egg with a slice of Anti-inflammatory Breakfast Bread spread with fresh ground almond butter.
While making healthy food choices is important, I find many people focus their attention on what to eat, without giving much consideration to meal frequency.
For healthy blood sugar control, your breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be spaced out to allow a minimum of four hours in between.
This timing is important because you want to give your insulin levels time to reset. Eating frequent meals throughout the day keeps your blood sugar and insulin levels high, which can eventually cause your pancreas to poop out and your cells to become insulin resistant over time. For this reason, I also recommend allowing a minimum of 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. This means you should avoid snacking after dinner if possible. If you are an avid snacker, this may seem like a difficult habit to form, trust me…I’ve been there. It took me quite a while to get used to not snacking in the evening, but once I stopped and took a step back to examine why I was snacking, I realized it wasn’t due to hunger at all. I simply formed a habit… a bad one at that!
Here’s what a typical 24-hour period looks like for me:
7:00-8:00 am: Breakfast
11:30 am-12:00 pm: Lunch
3:00-3:30 pm: Snack
5:00-6:00 pm: Dinner
As you can see, I allow a nice 13-14 hour fasting period between dinner and breakfast and a minimum of four hours between breakfast/lunch, and lunch/dinner. Because of the long stretch between lunch and dinner, I also make sure to plug in a healthy, low-glycemic snack of raw veggies and raw nuts around 3:30 pm.
Take a few minutes to map out the timing of your meals and don’t forget to plug in a snack if more than 4-5 hours pass between breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. Remember…you don’t have to eat it if you aren’t hungry! Some other key points to consider:
- Make dinner your final eating occasion of the day if possible.
- Allow for a 12-hour fast between dinner and breakfast.
- If you snack, make sure it’s planned and packed! Otherwise you will wind up grabbing a candy bar from the nearest vending machine. Healthy snacks for balanced blood sugar include: raw nuts, raw veggies, a hard-boiled egg, or apple slices paired with fresh ground almond butter.
Mel’s weekly food pick:
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
I must admit the idea of drinking diluted apple cider vinegar was enough to make me want to gag! Seriously… I like vinegar on my salad…but in a glass? Yuck! Eventually I decided to put on my big girl shoes and stop acting like a three-year-old. After repeatedly hearing about the benefits of apple cider vinegar I became intrigued enough to give it a try. Now I’m hooked and actually crave it!
Check this out: Because it is fermented, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a rich source of enzymes and probiotics. My favorite brand of ACV is Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s organic, raw, unfiltered, and contains “The Mother”—which at first scared the living daylights out of me, until I learned what it was. “The Mother” is a mass of web-like strands of good bacteria floating about in the bottle, which helps promote gut health.
Because it slows down the rate that food leaves the stomach, ACV can lower blood sugar when taken before a meal. It can also improve insulin sensitivity. For these reasons, I drink 1-2 tablespoons of Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar diluted in 8 ounces of hot water twice a day—once before breakfast and the other as I’m preparing dinner. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but once you get used to it, it’s actually quite enjoyable!
Some other notable benefits of raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar include:
- Support for a healthy heart
- Improved cholesterol (decrease in LDL)
- Appetite suppression
- Increased metabolism
- Reduced blood pressure
- Strengthened immune system
Enjoy up to two servings of diluted Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar (1-2 tablespoons vinegar to 8 ounces of water) each day before meals for healthy blood sugar. You can add a touch of cinnamon if you like!
Note: If you are on any medication, please be sure to check with your doctor to avoid any potential negative interactions.
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Roasted Cabbage “Noodles”
Cabbage (along with kale, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts) is a cruciferous vegetable—a super powerful class of veggies that aids in boosting immune function, reducing inflammation, and balancing blood sugar. I make it a rule to get at least one hefty dose of cruciferous vegetables in my diet every day. This recipe can help you do the same!
Originally a recipe for cabbage “steak”, the cabbage, once roasted, took on more of a “noodle” shape. For me it’s total comfort food, with an aroma reminiscent of my grandma Eleanor’s stuffed cabbage baking in the oven.
Here are some of the many ways you can serve Roasted Cabbage “Noodles”:
- As a side dish with salt and pepper
- Folded in your omelet
- With marinara or pesto sauce
- Over salad
- In a giant bowl all by itself!
PS: Roasted Cabbage “Noodles” taste great served cold the day after too!