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9 Expert Lifestyle Hacks to Lower Blood Sugar


Balancing your blood sugar is not easy. It can involve constantly reading nutrition labels, monitoring how many carbs are in the foods you’re eating, and other detail-oriented tasks. But there are some larger, less granular lifestyle hacks you can focus on that can make a difference in having lower blood sugar. We spoke to dietitians and diabetes educators to find out what lifestyle shifts they recommend. 

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1. Drink enough water

One of the simplest hacks is to stay hydrated. In fact, folks who get admitted to the hospital with high blood sugar immediately get an IV with fluids to help dilute it. Drinking enough water can help you maintain better blood sugars during times of stress and after meals, when it may be higher than usual. 

2. Improve your sleep quality

Getting enough high-quality sleep is associated with better blood sugars. Similarly, getting poor quality sleep or not enough has been shown to increase cortisol levels and increase blood sugar the following day. Focusing on your sleep hygiene is another hack for better balance

“It may surprise you that one of the things that impacts blood sugar the most has nothing to do with what you eat,” notes dietitian and diabetes educator Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDCES. “Poor sleep has been shown to elevate stress levels and worsen insulin resistance, making it harder to manage blood sugar. On top of that, just one poor night of sleep can alter hunger and satiety hormones, increasing appetite and cravings for simple sugars.” 

3. Choose bubbly drinks wisely

If you’re a soda lover, but want a healthier beverage alternative, there are several options on the market. OLIPOP, a prebiotic soda, has 9 grams of fiber per can and only 2 to 5 grams of sugar, depending on the flavor (vs. 39 grams and no fiber in a can of regular cola). If you’re looking for a hydrating beverage without any sugar or fiber, consider a bubbly water such as Spindrift

Related: 7 Expert-Approved Ways to Avoid a Blood Sugar Spike

4. Don’t fear fat

Typically, protein and fiber get all the love when it comes to blood sugar management, but healthy fat is just as important — and it’s time to set aside the old fears we learned years ago about dietary fat and weight. Of all of the macronutrients, fat takes the longest to digest, meaning it will keep you more full and help stabilize your blood sugar by slowing down digestion and absorption. Choose heart healthy fats like salmon, avocados, and pistachios

5. Use natural sugars

Dates, prunes, and other dried fruit can provide natural sweetness with fiber and a lower glycemic index. This means that foods with natural sugars will not raise your levels as much as those with refined sugars. Plus, these foods have a range of health benefits like boosting bone and gut health.

“Use pureed prunes as a replacement for added sugar in baked goods,” says Palinski-Wade, who is a consultant for Sunsweet Growers. “This simple swap preserves the sweetness and texture of the recipe while cutting added sugar, reducing overall carbohydrates, and increasing fiber.”

6. Get moving after meals

Even just a few minutes of exercise after eating can significantly reduce blood sugar levels. When we move our muscles, our body absorbs blood sugar and puts it to use, effectively lowering the amount in the bloodstream. Exercise also increases insulin sensitivity and can help keep your blood sugar more regulated for hours or days later, depending on the activity that you do.

“My approach to balancing blood sugar focuses on adding things in, not taking things away,” says dietitian Christine Byrne. “One fantastic hack that doesn’t involve modifying your food intake is to get in about 10 minutes of physical activity after a meal. Going for a walk is a great option, but it’s not the only one. Household chores like cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming, or folding clothes are also a way to get your body moving post-meal and keep your blood sugar levels more balanced.”

7. Balance your plate

Choosing balancing foods is the number one hack for better blood sugars after meals and snacks. Protein, fat, and fiber are the main nutrients that help stabilize blood sugar and prevent major spikes.

“To help balance blood sugars, I always start with a foundation of eating every few hours, including a combination of fiber-rich foods plus a protein,” says Taylor Aasand, MPH, RDN, CEDS. “Some examples include an apple with peanut butter, hummus and whole grain crackers, or a protein bar made with whole grains.”

Related: 5 “Healthy” Breakfast Foods That Are Spiking Your Blood Sugar

8. Consider a fiber supplement

Taking a fiber supplement with each meal can help slow down meal absorption and prevent a spike.

“Add 3 grams of psyllium husk with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Take it with your meal and plenty of water, and always consult with your medical team before adding a new supplement to your regimen,” says Aasand.

9. Eat your low-carb foods first

It’s not only what you eat, but also the order in which you eat various foods can help. If you eat your protein-rich and fiber-filled foods first, the carbohydrates on your plate will be absorbed more slowly, leading to a smaller peak in blood sugar levels.

“One simple hack for better blood sugar balance is eating your vegetables first,” says Haley Bishoff, RD, LD. “Vegetables are high in fiber, which can aid in slowing the digestion of carbohydrates, leading to a slower insulin response and less blood sugar spikes. Be sure to include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and legumes for better blood sugar balance.” 

Read next: 5 Ways to Control Blood Sugar That Don’t Involve Food

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