"Half your plate vegetables, one quarter of your plate carbohydrate and the other quarter protein." I can't even count the number of times I've given that advice for how to create a blood balancing meal. Ive also told clients "as many vegetables as you can hold in two hands, an amount of carbohydrates the size of your fist, and protein the size of your palm and thickness of your pinky", and for those that prefer measures "two cups of vegetables, one cup carbohydrate and 3 ounces of meat". The list of descriptions for the perfect plate goes on, but I know, from many years of experience, that all too often clients can't relate to these explanations. They are not a real life examples. So today I offer you one example, just one way of doing it, with some visual context and real life foods.
Let's take a look at my lunch today. Starting off with the bulk of what will make up the meal, a beautiful salad made of an array of colorful and nutrient packed vegetables (two handfuls or 2 cups worth).
Vegetables will not provide most of the energy , but they hold powerful micronutrients that are involved in helping your body use food energy properly. Without micronutrients your body is inefficient and works overtime to keep you alive. Vegetables also provide hydration and fibre. We absorb fluid better from vegetables than we do from plain water. This is because veggies have electrolytes which have a role in helping fluid enter cells. That's not to say drinking water is not important, but rather that both fluid from foods and from water are necessary. One thing you can do to help you absorb water better is to add a little lemon or a pinch of high mineral salt (like Himalayan salt).
Veggies are also the best source of fibre. Bang for your buck, vegetables deliver loads of soluble and insoluble fibre without the excess calories. If you've been told you should increase fibre intake, a colorful salad is a better option than a piece of whole grain bread.
In addition to salad my meal contains energy rich carbohydrate in the form of wild rice (about one cup). Wild rice is a low glycemic index carbohydrate that provides stable blood sugars over a long period of time. Wild rice is also loaded with micronutrients and fibre. It is my preferred source of carbohydrate because of it's great nutty flavour. Some advice regarding wild rice, you must soak it prior to cooking and you must cook it long enough so that it opens up and almost turns inside-out (otherwise it is quite indigestible). Because making wild rice is time consuming, I make an amount I can use for several meals.
The protein in my meal today comes from pumpkin and sunflower seeds and from some of the greens in my salad. It's not a lot of protein, but given that I always have a good amount of protein for breakfast (usually eggs or a heap of hemp hearts), I will be sustained. Additionally, I add ample amounts of healthy fats to my meals to keep my blood sugars under control. If you are not vegetarian, feel free to compliment a meal like this with a portion of fish or meat the size of a deck of cards.
The satisfying and sustaining factor to my meal is the fat. That's right, I am saying that fat's alright. In fact, I urge everyone to eat healthy fat at every meal. Blood sugars are regulated by hormones. Guess what hormones are made of? Yep, they're made of fat. If we don't take in enough dietary fat our bodies will not have the resources to make hormones adequately. Unfortunately, if you are carrying excess weight your body will not use that fat to make hormones. In addition to being important for hormones, dietary fat slows digestion. This means that sugar will enter the bloodstream at a much slower rate and will provide energy for a longer amount of time. My fat choices today were 1/2 an avocado and a few tablespoons of a homemade tahini orange dressing. Simply delicious!
So, there you have it, a REAL example of a blood sugar controlling meal. That'll keep me going until snack time!