If you gain weight easily, struggle to lose weight or have type 2 diabetes, then this article is for you.
I am not sure you have read the recent article named:
“for better blood sugar and weight control, eat your veggies first”.
It showed a plate of green veg [to be eaten first] and a big plate of white spaghetti [to be eaten last].
Every now and then a new blogger/author picks up on this trick and writes another article about it. By now that method has been tested and proven so many times that it has become an accepted fact. Except, because nobody has time to read each and every nutrition study, not many people know of this method.
Eating meals in a specific order is definitely one of the many ways to control your blood sugar and hormonal responses to food, especially carbs.
Here is a study that shows just how effective this method can be. They tested people with and without type 2 diabetes.
I remember learning about this already in 1998 during one of my studies. And since then we have had various iterations of it but researchers agree: it works.
So OK. We get it.
Namely for better blood and insulin responses, eat your vegetables first and your starchy carbs last.
But why are blood sugar and insulin control important for weight management?
After all, not everyone has diabetes which requires a strong focus on carbs.
Certainly, a focus on blood sugar levels may NOT be so important for everyone. For instance, those who don’t carry extra body fat around their middle, are toned, slim, young and healthy and exercise a lot, are quite lucky. They can, within reason, eat their meals any which way around they wish.
But for the rest of us mere mortals who have to watch our weight, we should be more cautious. Because high blood sugar and insulin spikes are not beneficial for us, even if we don’t have type 2 diabetes.
Here are just some of the reasons.
1) When there is excess blood sugar and insulin in our bloodstream, our body puts that excess into storage.
Some of it goes into our liver and muscles. However, when those are full up, insulin is one of the hormones that starts to store the extras as fat. Especially around the middle of the body.
2) When insulin levels are elevated beyond a healthy level, it impairs the body’s ability to burn fat for energy. Regularly elevated insulin levels kick the body into fat-storage mode too often.
3) If you keep eating foods that cause these spikes on an ongoing basis then insulin eventually stops working properly. And instead of pushing blood sugar into cells for energy, it will layer more of it as body fat. This can leave you tired and overweight. And this can push you towards Insulin Resistance which can take quite some time to sort out.
So what is the long-term solution? Will your weight be ok if you watch your blood sugar levels and eat your veggies first?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple because it is only one piece of the big puzzle.
Firstly, unless you create a safe calorie deficit whereby your body uses up its stored fat for energy, you’ll not be able to lose weight. And then comes the issue that each one of us can have unique blood sugar responses to what we eat.
My blood sugar might not take too kindly to eating oats on their own but my husband’s levels happily stay within normal even after enjoying a large serving.
But how will we know this?
Here’s an idea:
If you keep a food diary, you might see that after eating traditional porridge, you get hungrier than eating porridge made using quinoa.
This could mean that the oats increase your blood sugar too much….then this is followed by insulin which mops it all up too quickly. The result can be a ‘blood sugar crash’ and hunger within 2 hours.
The lesson to this is to choose a meal that keeps you fuller for longer. Or add other [low calorie] items that can help to fill you up. Watch my YouTube video over here to get some tips on that.
Getting back to using blood sugar control as a weight management tool…
Did you know that the same meal eaten in the morning can cause
a lower blood sugar spike than when eaten at night?
Knowing this, it might be beneficial to have our carb-rich meal in the mornings rather than at night when our body doesn’t appear to deal too well with it.
So by now, you can see that eating our vegetables before eating starchy carbs is only one of the many tools we can use to manage post-meal glycemic responses [= after-meal blood sugar responses]
There are actually many other options available to us.
One of them is reducing the serving sizes of starchy carbs.
Instead of having a generous bowl we only use add modest servings of 1/3 to ½ cup of cooked whole grains or potatoes in a meal. That amount won’t tax anyone’s system! For instance, instead of a bowl of rice, reduce the grains and mix grated cauliflower through the rice. Tastes really nice.
Unless you don’t like cauliflower… :/
Another important option is to stay away from processed low-fibre starchy carbs such as white bread, white rice and white potato. Those can definitely play havoc with blood sugar and insulin. They often get digested too quickly and exit our stomach fast and BOOM, our blood sugar surges. And then it crashes.
Here’s the next tool for improved glycemic control:
Precook your starchy carb foods, chill them overnight in the fridge [or freezer] and something interesting happens.
A small percentage of the starches convert into resistant starch, and the body cannot absorb them. When you test your blood sugar after eating such a cooked chilled product, one can clearly see the benefit.
Dr Greger from nutritionfacts.org was a little sceptical of this at the beginning when this was first shared on the news. He doubted that this small amount would make any difference. However, he is now a convert.
Upon seeing people’s blood sugar responses, he admits that one can get a 40% lower glycemic impact using the cook-chill method.
You can also reheat the carb foods the next day. It won’t reduce the resistant starch level.
The next tip is adding plant-based protein to all our starchy-carb meals.
Especially adding lentils, beans and chickpeas. They have a terrific mix of protein and fibre which offers an impressive benefit to blood sugar control. By slowing the exit rate of food from the stomach, they can decrease our glycemic response to our meals.
In this study, they referred to lentils as a ‘Starch Buddy’. They were able to show that by reducing servings of rice or potato and replacing those with lentils or beans, participants’ blood glucose levels decreased between 20% and 30%. That’s pretty impressive.
And by leaving away all rice or potato and using lentils instead, blood sugar levels were reduced by 70%
Well, members of my Facebook groups already know this tip and we have many yummy recipes over there that don’t require grains or potatoes!
And here are even more tips to lower your blood sugar:
*Walking after meals, even if it is for just a few minutes, can make an impressive difference.
Certainly any exercise will help. Whereas sitting around all day won’t 🙁
*And poor sleep is associated with poor blood glucose control. So better look at your sleep quality and the amount of sleep you get.
In closing, because the order in which you consume food can make a difference, try to eat foods in this order.
1) vegetables, salads and veg soup first
2) protein and a little fat
3) and last come the high-carb foods. And not too much in one hit.
This can definitely offer you improved blood sugar responses persistent throughout the whole day.
Mind you, when you’re eating soup or a stew, you might not be able to follow those tips exactly.
And sadly, because I LOVE varying my mouthfuls of food instead of eating them in the suggested set groups, I would struggle to enjoy my meal.
I like the mix of various textures and flavours and think it would be boring eating food groups one by one. I’d have to totally unlearn my last 70 years of eating style.
Not sure if I wish to do so.
Maybe if I would see the results via testing my blood, I could be talked into it.
Will you change the order in which you eat the food on your plate?