Memorial Day is almost upon us! As we gear up for warmer weather, this day of remembrance may mark the first of many summer barbeques you attend.
If you're watching your glucose levels—whether it's because of a condition like diabetes or to optimize your health—traditional BBQ staples (like hamburgers, hotdogs, and pasta salad) may not be the best choice for your blood glucose. But that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a delicious meal with loved ones.
We asked our dietitian and Nutrition Manager, Carlee Hayes, to help us take you through some helpful tips for preventing blood sugar spikes. Plus, enjoy our favorite BBQ-themed dishes that are not only glucose-friendly but also delicious crowd-pleasers.
When trying to optimize your glucose levels, it may be difficult to navigate large gatherings and party foods. Thankfully, you can keep your blood sugar in check and enjoy time spent with friends and family with a bit of planning.
Read on for some easy but effective things you can do to help regulate and prevent blood sugar spikes no matter the occasion.
While it’s not necessary to cut out all carbs, limiting your consumption is helpful.
Limiting refined grains and focusing on including items like meat, fish, and other seafood, healthy fats, and non-starchy fruits and vegetables is one way to help control blood sugar spikes from carbohydrates.
When opting for carbohydrates, choose the food items you love and leave what you can live without. Everyone has their own carbohydrate threshold, so it's important to eat the right amount of carbs for your specific body, so be choosy with your choices! Love watermelon but couldn’t care less about the potato salad? Take a small portion of the foods you love, and focus on eating them mindfully, enjoying each bite. Small habits like this can really blunt a large glucose spike, which can ultimately help keep energy levels high to fully enjoy the festivities.
Paying attention to the order in which you eat your food is one of the easiest ways to prevent or lower blood sugar spikes. In fact, meal sequencing can even help with fat loss and allow you to be more flexible with your diet.
Try starting your meal with a small salad for a fiber boost, and then opt for your protein source (eggs, chicken, tofu, etc) before eating carbs to slow down your body’s digestion of glucose.
Drinking plenty of water and substituting water for things like fruit juices, sodas, and other sugary drinks can also be an easy way to avoid unwanted spikes in blood sugar.
Apart from blood sugar spikes, staying hydrated helps you stay more in tune with hunger and fullness levels and can help you avoid overeating.
Vinegar may help lower blood sugar spikes when paired with carbohydrates. Put this tip in action by adding some apple cider vinegar to your favorite salad dressing and eating it before your carbs to blunt a glucose spike and control your cravings.
Whether you opt for adding vinegar to your salads, eating more fermented foods, or even by just mixing a few teaspoons of it to your favorite tea, there are plenty of easy ways to include vinegar in your diet.
You don’t need to avoid alcohol altogether, even if you have a condition like diabetes. However, opting for low carb and low sugar drinks is the best way to keep your blood sugar balanced while enjoying a drink or two. Opt for white and red wine, light beer, and distilled spirits for the best glucose-friendly options.
Similarly, while sugar from fruits and other whole foods can be a healthy source of carbohydrates, it's best to limit your consumption when possible. Excessive sugar intake is not a good idea, especially if you have diabetes or glucose imbalances, as it often leads to spikes in blood sugar.
Gatherings are a time to connect with loved ones and enjoy amazing food. One way to optimize your responses to food is to add some activity to your day!
Incorporate family walks or sports activities (game of catch, anyone?) to get the family involved, connected, and moving! You'll build a memorable tradition and help optimize your glucose responses—a win, win all around.
Here are a few glucose-friendly recipes that are sure to give you some great inspiration for your BBQ appetizers and entrées this holiday weekend:
For The Pork:
For The Rub:
For The Honey-Mustard BBQ Sauce:
This recipe will give you the summer BBQ feeling-–not only is it a classic dish, but it’s also an excellent source of protein.
This recipe doesn’t contain refined carbs (such as those found in hamburger buns), so it is less likely to lead to excessive blood sugar spikes while still being full of flavor. Pro tip: Consider throwing this on a big salad, or pairing it with potato salad for a complete meal.
This black bean burger recipe is a great vegetarian alternative to animal protein sources like beef. Including a high-fiber option like this at your BBQ is an excellent way to protect your blood sugar while also ensuring there's a vegetarian-friendly option for everyone to enjoy.
To optimize this recipe even further, you might consider replacing the whole-wheat buns with a bed of leafy greens.
Swapping out a high-carb dish like pasta salad for a tabbouleh recipe made of bulgur wheat is a great way to add a lighter, glucose-friendly dish to your spread.
It's a delicious, high-fiber salad that will complement your other dishes. Bulgur wheat has been found to cause much lower spikes in blood sugar than alternatives like white pasta. Pro tip: Pair it with grilled protein and vegetables for a full meal.
This hummus recipe is quick and easy to make, and it’s also an excellent snack for people with diabetes or glucose imbalances due to its low glycemic index (GI) and high complex carb and healthy fat content.
Hummus is an excellent appetizer for any gathering and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Pro tip: Pair this with chopped cucumbers and carrots for a satisfying dish.
For a change up of the traditional burger, we love this flavorful turkey burger recipe.
Every good BBQ should have a fresh salad to balance the main dishes. This cucumber salad is not only crunchy and refreshing, but its also light vinegar dressing is also an easy way to help you balance out your blood sugar spikes before eating a high-carb entrée.
Grilled chicken is one of the best lean protein sources, and this recipe is a traditional BBQ staple and easy to cook on the grill. It’s also low carb and full of healthy, flavorful vegetables.
These skewers can even be a fun activity for your kids to help out with preparing in the kitchen.
Optimizing your diet is one of the most important things you can do to regulate your blood sugar levels. Wearing a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) can give you the best insight into how your diet affects your body to help you make more informed decisions about what you eat.
As a member of the NutriSense CGM Program, you'll get to track real-time data from your CGM in an innovative app. You'll also have access to a credentialed dietitian or nutritionist who can help you create a personalized diet plan for your specific needs.
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