"Many of us simply don't know how good we are meant to feel"... A nutritionist's tips for more stable blood sugar levels

A nutritionist's tips for more stable blood sugar levels.

Around 90% of us are living with the negative effects (great and small) of having excess glucose (sugar) in our systems or dysregulated (out of control) blood glucose levels. And, for the most part, are completely unaware as often symptoms can be mistaken for other conditions, or missed altogether. This is because many of us simply do not know how good we are meant to feel and are so used to living with symptoms like low energy, mood swings, intense cravings and more. Addressing our blood glucose is something that would benefit most of us and keeping our blood glucose levels as stable as possible is something we should all be mindful of, not just those of us with diabetes or cardiovascular disease. 

The implications of high blood glucose and blood glucose dysregulation (highs and lows) range from more minor effects such as fatigue, premature ageing, heightened cravings and mood swings, to the development and exacerbation of more serious chronic illnesses such as dementia, cancer, type 2 diabetes and more, over time. 

Addressing glucose levels is something that can benefit the health of most people, as it affects how we feel almost immediately, by influencing our hunger levels and moods. If our glucose levels are out of balance, it can cause weight gain and weight management issues, intense cravings, hormonal imbalances, fatigue, cardiovascular problems and more. It can also contribute to just feeling a bit "off" or not quite right. Bringing our blood glucose back into balance by reducing extreme rises and falls in blood glucose levels i.e. flattening the blood glucose curves.

One of the simplest ways to do this is through food, although lifestyle factors such as stress levels and sleep quality are important considerations as well. As with anything related to health, blood glucose management varies from person to person and there is not a one size fits all approach. There are, however, general strategies we can implement to help flatten those glucose curves, starting with what we put on our plates. 

How does blood sugar affect our bodies (and minds)?

The amount of glucose in our blood is known to impact literally every process and structure within the body and has a profound effect on both physical and mental health. It's important that we are mindful of both the quantity and type of the sugars we are consuming, as well as the ways we consume them and the other foods we can consume them alongside, as this all affects our blood glucose and the intensity of its rises and subsequent falls. Ultimately we want to keep things as stable as possible and limit extreme rises and falls in the amount of glucose in our blood, as this is where the problems can start. Extreme rises and falls in blood glucose are known as blood glucose blood dysregulation. 

What actually is glucose and which foods does it come from?

Glucose refers to the smaller molecules that sugar and carbohydrates are broken down into. All sugars and carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and therefore impact blood sugar to varying degrees, even natural sugars and whole grains. Incorporating the tips below can help to reduce extreme rises (and subsequent falls) in blood sugar and therefore reduce the symptoms of blood sugar dysregulation that can occur as a result. 

Glucose is the body's main source of energy and is essential for optimal brain function, however, most of us are consuming too much of it, or we are consuming it in a way that puts us on a blood sugar rollercoaster (more on how to avoid this later). There are many factors that can influence the way our bodies metabolise, absorb, store and utilise sugars. Reassuringly, we actually have control over many of these factors.  

What are some common symptoms linked with blood sugar dysregulation?

As mentioned above, blood sugar dysregulation can be linked in some way to virtually every symptom and health condition we experience as humans. For this reason, tips for blood sugar management make their way into most of my client treatment plans. Many of them are very simple strategies you can start implementing today, with profound effects often felt almost immediately. 

Symptoms which may be linked with blood sugar dysregulation are vast and vary from person to person, however, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listened below, it may be an indication that you need to work on your blood sugar:

  • Weight management issues
  • Extreme hunger or cravings throughout the day, especially for sweet things
  • Feeling "hangry" (irritable/angry when hungry)
  • A need to eat every few hours
  • Constant fatigue
  • Energy slumps throughout the day
  • Caffeine dependency 
  • Sleep issues
  • Acne and other skin conditions 
  • Brain fog 
  • Mood swings 
  • Hormonal imbalances such as PCOS, irregular periods, PMS, missed periods
  • Anxiety, depression and other mood disorders
  • Brain fog
  • Pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Gestational diabetes and difficulty managing it
  • Difficulties with managing type 1 diabetes 
  • Elevated glucose levels (following test results from your GP or from monitoring your levels at home)
  • A sense that you generally don't feel your best and aren't functioning "optimally", mentally and physically

While blood glucose may not be the only cause of the symptoms mentioned above, working towards keeping those blood glucose curves as flat as possible is likely to have beneficial effects on all areas of physical and mental health, to some degree.  

Always seek medical advice if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above and before making any changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Using quinoa instead of or as well as oats in your morning porridge or overnight oats can help to keep blood glucose more stable.

Top tips for blood sugar management:


  • Make sure every meal contains a protein source, animal or plant-based. A good tip is to choose a primary source e.g. tofu/fish/beans and add a second source e.g. hummus, nuts and seeds etc. This way you are providing your body with a wider range of amino acids (the smaller molecules in which proteins are broken down by the body) which are essential for optimal health. This is particularly important for people following a plant-based, or predominantly plant-based diet
  • Make sure every meal also contains a healthy fat source (such as nuts, seeds, nut and seed butter, olive oil, avocado etc) and fibre source (non-starchy vegetables)
  • Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, pasta, bread etc should be the finishing touch of your meal, rather than the focus.
  • Omit refined and processed grains as far as possible (but remember life is for living and food is to be enjoyed, so refined carbohydrates in moderation are fine from time to time. In these instances, be extra mindful of the rest of your plate. Make sure you have followed the tips above to minimise their effect on your blood sugar)
  • The order in which you eat your food can also impact the effect a meal has on your blood sugar. Eat your vegetables first, followed by protein and fat, then your carbohydrates
  • Use high protein, high fibre flour alternatives in baking and pancakes

Try these chickpea flour pancakes for a sweet or savoury blood sugar-friendly breakfast option. 

  • Favour nut and seed-centric granolas and breakfast cereals, rather than oat-based varieties
  • Favour savoury breakfasts over sweet ones, most mornings of the week. Starting your day with a savoury breakfast is a great way to flatten blood glucose curves. It's also generally easier to meet protein, fat and fibre requirements by having a savoury breakfast, see recipe ideas below


  • Prioritise sleep and stress management and include daily self-care and mindfulness practices. High stress and poor sleep influence the way your body responds to blood sugar
  • Chew your food thoroughly and eat in a relaxed environment as far as possible
  • Limit blue light exposure, particularly in the evening before bed
  • Incorporate daily movement that feels good to you. Doing some kind of movement after meals has been shown to flatten blood glucose peaks, this can be as simple as a walk around the block, or holding a plank for a minute or two

Time in nature, gentle exercise and other self-care and mindfulness practices are also beneficial in keeping blood glucose levels more stable.

Some blood sugar-friendly meal ideas


  • Creamy quinoa porridge with nut butter or tahini, berries, cacao nibs and hemp seeds
  • Chickpea flour omelette with rocket, avocado and crispy baked tofu or tempeh 
  • Full-fat yoghurt, or a *plant-based alternative with seasonal fruit, 2 tablespoons of nut butter or tahini and a pinch of salt
  • Homemade nut and seed-centric granola (basing your granola on nuts and seeds rather than oats will help reduce spikes in blood sugar. Coconut flakes and flaked almonds are good additions too)
  • Good quality sourdough with nut butter or tahini
  • Good quality sourdough with avocado and spicy beans 
  • Warm lentils topped with crispy baked tofu or tempeh, or a fried egg, if you eat eggs
  • If you eat eggs, eggs with sourdough, avocado, rocket and a generous sprinkle of seeds

 *I recommend adding a good quality protein powder to plant-based yoghurts to increase their protein content.

Lunch and Dinner

  • Crispy baked tofu or tempeh with a roasted sweet potato, a big handful of rocket or spinach, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of raw or toasted seeds
  • Whole-grain toast or good quality sourdough with your choice of animal or plant-based protein
  • Spicy black beans in whole-grain wraps with avocado and greens 
  • Chickpea or lentil pasta with home-made nut or seed pesto, a sprinkle of nuts and/or seeds and your choice of animal/plant-based protein 
  • Vegetable soup with beans or tofu blended into it

Make this delicious vegan pesto and enjoy it with chickpea or lentil pasta for a high protein, high fibre, blood sugar-friendly lunch or dinner.


  • A spoonful of nut butter or tahini with a pinch of salt
  • Greek or full-fat yoghurt, or a plant-based alternative with nut butter or tahini swirled through
  • Greek or full-fat yoghurt, or a *plant-based alternative with a handful of nuts or 2-3 tablespoons of seeds
  • A handful of nuts and 1-2 squares of low/no sugar dark chocolate 
  • Apple slices with nut butter or tahini
  • Seeded crackers with hummus
  • A boiled egg with a pinch each of salt and pepper

*I recommend adding a good quality protein powder to plant-based yoghurts to increase their protein content. 

Follow Hannah on Instagram for more health and nutrition tips, and delicious and nutritious recipes. 

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