- Big changes in your blood sugar levels can cause hunger, irritability, fatigue, or grogginess.
- While carbs elevate blood sugar, you can stabilize it by adding healthy fats, protein, and fiber.
- Whole grain breads, salads, legumes, and smoothies are great lunch choices for stable blood sugar.
Stable blood sugar levels are important not just for people with
— spikes or dips can mess with your mood, sap your energy, and disrupt your focus
You don’t necessarily need to cut carbs or even sugar to manage your blood sugar, according to Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietitian and the author of “Read It Before You Eat It — Taking You from Label to Table.”
The key is getting a balance of nutrients, combining carbs with fat, protein and fiber to slow the absorption into the bloodstream, Taub-Dix told Insider.
“Foods interact with each other. If you eat something high in sugar or carbs, it causes blood sugar to come up and go down like a roller coaster,” she said. “Make sure you’re eating mixed meals so you have a smoother curve than if you had carbs alone.”
Whole grains, salads, and lean meats are good choices for satisfying lunches and more stable blood sugar, she said.
A turkey sandwich on wholegrain bread is a filling classic
Cutting out grains on a keto or low-carb diet is popular strategy for managing blood sugar. But bread can be a healthy part of your diet, especially if you choose whole-grain varieties with more fiber and nutrients than processed white bread, Taub-Dix said.
Her go-to lunch suggestion is a sandwich on whole-grain bread, with sliced turkey for protein and cheese for healthy (delicious) fat.
Top the sandwich with veggies like greens, tomatoes, bell peppers, or cucumbers for added fiber and vitamins.
A salad with chicken and chickpeas is full of fiber and lean protein
Taub-Dix also loves a lunch salad, with a combo of veggies, mixed greens, grilled chicken, and chickpeas/garbanzo beans. You’ll get a double dose of protein from the chicken and legumes, and the greens and beans are a rich source of fiber to slow the conversion of carbs into glucose and avoid a blood sugar spike.
Be mindful that some salad dressings can be high in added sugar, and consider mixing your own simple dressing with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for healthy fats.
Tuna salad with sliced almonds is packed with healthy fats
Tuna is another easy lean protein. For a quick lunch salad, mix with sliced apples for flavor, fiber, and carbs. Add almonds or other nuts, Taub-Dix said — they’re packed with fiber, healthy fat, and a bit of protein, the trifecta of blood-sugar balancing nutrients.
Smoothies with Greek yogurt or almond milk are a convenient choice
It might be hard to find time for a midday meal, but skipping lunch (or breakfast) can mess with your overall blood sugar levels during the day, according to Taub-Dix.
“I’ve noticed with clients, if they don’t take the time to have lunch, it’s hard to concentrate,” she said.
Taking the time to whip up a quick smoothie or even a yogurt bowl for breakfast or lunch can help stave off grogginess due to low blood sugar. Good ingredients include high-fiber fruits like berries, greens, almond milk or butter. Adding in some Greek yogurt or another protein can provide lasting energy so you don’t feel sluggish or hit an afternoon slump.
Steel-cut oatmeal with almond butter is a healthy brunch option
For later, more laid-back breakfast or lunch, oatmeal is a high-carb option that won’t mess with your metabolism, and can be loaded up with protein powder or Greek yogurt for a nutritious punch. Adding healthy fats like nuts or nut butter to the oatmeal helps pace your digestion of the carbs so your blood sugar stays stable, Taub-Dix said.
Steel-cut oatmeal is higher in fiber than other types of oats, making it tasty, filling choice.