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#1 Best Eating Habit To Lower Blood Sugar, Say Dietitians

There are many habits that can help keep your blood sugar in a healthy range
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat can all influence your blood sugar. It is so important to manage this metric as high blood sugar, also called hyperglycemia, can be a risk factor for developing serious chronic conditions, like heart disease, kidney damage, and nerve damage. While genetics may play a role in your blood sugar, your food choices have a major influence, too.

Luckily, there are many habits that can help keep your blood sugar in a healthy range, but the best eating habit to lower blood sugar is reducing your intake of refined sugar from food and drink.

We know, eating fewer sweets may be obvious, and a bummer, but cutting back the amount of sugar you consume in a day can have a significant effect on your blood sugar levels.

refined sugars

We're talking about added sugar, not all sources of sugar.

It is important to differentiate between the types of sugar commonly found in food and drink. Added sugar, the type that is most likely to contribute to high blood sugar and other health conditions, is what is traditionally found in soda, juice, sweetened coffee drinks, candy, pastries, cereal, and many processed food items. This form of sugar has no nutritional value outside of providing calories, and the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends men consume no more than 36 grams per day and women should cap their intake at 25 grams.

Other forms of sugar, like that naturally found in fruit, do not elicit the same blood sugar response as added sugar and come along with many vitamins and minerals in the food it is found in. Because of this, fruit intake generally does not need to be as closely monitored when it comes to managing blood sugar.

How to reduce your added sugar intake.

It can seem daunting to cut back your sugar intake but be encouraged that any reduction in sugar consumption can work towards your goal of improving your blood sugar.

One of the best ways to improve your sugar intake is to make changes that feel maintainable. For many, that means reducing their intake over time rather than cutting it out cold turkey.

For example, if you drink two sodas per day, drop it to one. If you add 3 tablespoons of sugar to your coffee, try just adding two, and if you have a scoop of ice cream every night, try reducing to a half scoop with some fruits and nuts on top. Over time, you can continue to reduce your sugar intake to meet the AHA recommendations, or a lower level that you feel good about maintaining.

Eating habits to improve blood sugar regulation.

In addition to eating fewer grams of added sugar each day, there are other eating habits that can improve your blood sugar. Try some, or all, of these tips, in addition to eating less sugar, to maximize your blood sugar control:

  • Exercise several times per week to improve insulin resistance and increase your usage of stored carbohydrates.
  • Eat more fibrous foods that will slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream and increase satiety.
  • Pair protein and fat along with carb sources to improve satiety and achieve more even levels of blood sugar. For example, instead of just a bowl of cereal, add a side of Greek yogurt and nuts.
  • Maintain good portion control that will allow for small amounts of sweet treats while keeping you within the recommended sugar intake range.

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Melissa Rifkin, MS, RDN, CDN
Melissa is a Connecticut-based registered dietitian with over 15 years of experience, including clinical and outpatient settings, and runs the popular nutrition education Instagram account, Confessionofadietitian. Read more about Melissa