Healthy Lunch Ideas to Keep Your Blood Sugar Balanced

If you often experience midday hunger pangs along with near-debilitating bouts of fatigue, you’re in good company. What is known as evening depression is quite common and is often the result of a drop in blood sugar levels, according to Jerry BaileyDC, LAc, certified nutritionist, acupuncturist, chiropractor and functional medicine doctor in Holistic health by the lake.

Blood sugar, also known as glucose, is a crucial source of energy for all cells in the body. “Blood sugar comes from the foods we eat and is transported to cells throughout the body through the bloodstream,” he explains. “When our blood sugar levels are too high or too low, it can lead to a variety of health problems, from fatigue and irritability to more serious conditions like diabetes.”

The key to balancing blood sugar is to incorporate a combination of slower-digesting foods, such as fiber, protein, and fat, explains Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CEO of New York Nutrition Group and author of TThe Core 3 Healthy Eating Plan. “This trifecta can ensure that what you’re eating is broken down completely and in a way that supports healthy, stable blood glucose levels,” she says. Consuming these nutrients in a single meal will help you top up your blood sugar levels by promoting a more consistent rise and fall of blood glucose levels.

From satisfying salads to protein-packed wraps, discover simple, yet delicious and healthy lunch ideas and recipes that will keep you nourished, focused, and ready to conquer your entire afternoon to-do list.

What to look for in a healthy lunch to balance blood sugar

When planning a balanced and blood sugar-friendly lunch, it is essential to consider several key factors that contribute to maintaining stable glucose levels and overall health.

1. Low glycemic index foods

First, Dr. Bailey recommends incorporating foods with a low glycemic index (GI), or foods that are digested and absorbed more slowly, providing a gradual release of sugars into the bloodstream. These types of foods, such as vegetables, whole grains and legumes, help prevent sudden spikes in blood sugar levels, he explains. “By choosing low-GI foods, you can enjoy a satisfying meal that keeps your energy levels stable throughout the afternoon,” he adds.

2. Fiber content

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate found in plant-based foods that cannot be absorbed by the body. Instead, it passes through the digestive tract and provides a host of benefits, including maintaining satiety for longer periods, lowering cholesterol levels, improving the gut microbiome, and stabilizing blood sugar levels, explains Dr. Bailey. “Foods rich in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, not only keep you fuller longer, but also slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream,” he says. “This slower rate of absorption helps prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar, making high-fiber foods an excellent choice for blood sugar control.”

3. Proteins and healthy fats

Incorporating a source of quality protein and beneficial fats into your lunch can further support the stability of your blood sugar levels. “Proteins and fats are digested slowly, which helps maintain energy levels and satiety without significantly affecting blood sugar levels,” says Dr. Bailey. He recommends incorporating lean proteins like chicken, fish, or plant-based alternatives, along with healthy fats from sources like avocados, nuts, and olive oil, to make your meal satisfying and healthy.

4. Portion control

When you’re looking to keep your blood sugar levels under control, it’s a good idea to keep your portion sizes in mind. Overeating, even healthy foods, can lead to high blood sugar levels, warns Dr. Bailey. “By serving reasonable portions, you ensure your body gets the nutrients it needs without the risk of overindulging,” he says.

5. Balance and variety

Finally, Dr. Bailey recommends striving for balance and variety in your meals; ideally a lunch that includes a combination of all three macronutrients, carbohydrates, protein and fat, along with a variety of fruits and vegetables to ensure a wide range of nutrients. “This diversity supports overall health and helps maintain stable blood sugar levels,” he says.

The best supplements to help you with your healthy lunch routine? Try HUM’S BEST OF BERBERINE for glucose control and FLATTER ME to combat any unwanted bloating!

Healthy Lunch Ideas for Optimal Blood Sugar Levels

Here, registered dietitians share a variety of delicious and nutritious lunch options designed specifically to help keep your blood sugar under control.

1. Quinoa Salad with Grilled Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

With a low glycemic index, quinoa does not cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels after consumption. It is digested more slowly, which can help prevent spikes and crashes. A complete protein in itself, quinoa offers all the essential amino acids which, along with chicken, help with slow, steady digestion and sustained energy levels, explains Dr. Bailey. “Roasting vegetables intensifies their flavors and preserves their nutritional integrity, providing antioxidants that support overall health,” he says.

To prepare, cook quinoa according to package directions, grill seasoned chicken breasts, and roast vegetables of your choice in the oven until tender. Mix all the components with a splash of olive oil and lemon juice for a refreshing and balanced meal.

2. Lentil soup with green leafy vegetables and whole wheat bread

There’s nothing quite as comforting as a warm bowl of soup, and lentils offer just what you need in a blood sugar-friendly source. “Lentils are a fantastic source of protein and fibre, ensuring a slow release of energy and preventing blood sugar spikes,” says Dr Bailey. “Adding leafy greens like spinach or kale provides additional fiber, vitamins and minerals, which improves the nutritional profile of the meal.” Recommends serving with a slice of whole wheat or gluten-free bread for a satisfying crunch and an extra dose of complex carbs.

To enjoy, simmer the lentils with your choice of broth and spices until soft, then add the chopped leafy greens until softened and serve hot with bread on the side.

3. Turkey and avocado wrap with teff tortilla

“Turkey provides high-quality protein, while avocado offers heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, which contribute to the food’s ability to stabilize blood sugar and improve satiety,” says Dr. Bailey. “A teff tortilla adds fiber and nutrients, rounding out the dish for a sustained release of energy.”

To make it, simply spread ripe avocado on a teff tortilla, add slices of turkey breast, and include additional toppings like lettuce, tomato, or cucumber for extra crunch and nutrition. Roll up the tortilla and it’s ready to enjoy!

4. Greek yogurt parfait with dried fruits and nuts

If you like a yogurt parfait, opt for Greek, which typically contains fewer carbohydrates compared to regular yogurt, making it a better choice for controlling blood sugar levels. Greek yogurt is also packed with protein and contains gut-friendly probiotics. “Combining it with fiber-rich berries and nutrient-dense nuts creates a delicious and healthy lunch option.” The berries add natural sweetness and high fiber, while the nuts provide healthy fats, making this a complete meal for blood sugar control,” says Dr. Bailey.

To assemble, layer Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and a sprinkle of nuts and seeds for extra crunch. For an extra touch, drizzle with a little honey or maple syrup.

Yogurt Bowl with Healthy Lunch Ideas

5. Chicken breast stuffed with spinach and feta cheese with quinoa garnish

Lean chicken breast is packed with protein, helping to keep you fuller longer, and spinach and feta cheese provide additional protein, explains Dr. Bailey, and spinach offers additional fiber and iron. “Combined with a side of quinoa, this meal offers a complete profile of amino acids, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats, ensuring a balanced release of energy,” he says.

To prepare, stuff chicken breasts with a mixture of chopped spinach and crumbled feta cheese, bake until cooked through, and serve alongside cooked quinoa seasoned with herbs and olive oil. This combination not only delights the palate but also promotes constant blood sugar levels and general well-being.

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