Hack 1: Eat foods in the right order
Eat the veggies on your plate first, then protein and fat. And last, any starches and sugars, including fruit and pudding (luckily). A study from Cornell University showed that if you eat in this specific order, you reduce your glucose spike by 73 per cent.
The fibre in vegetables slows both the breakdown of the glucose in your food and gastric emptying. It also creates a viscous barrier in the small intestine that makes it harder for glucose to get into the bloodstream.
Hack 2: Add a green starter
Begin with a salad or any vegetable-based starter, raw or cooked. Jessie suggests: two cups of spinach, five jarred artichoke hearts, vinegar and olive oil. Or sliced carrot with hummus, sliced cucumber with guacamole, sliced tomato with one or two slices of mozzarella.
“In a restaurant, if my party is ordering starters, I order a salad. If we aren’t ordering starters, I ask for a vegetable-based side with my main (such as a simple green salad with olive oil and vinegar, steamed green beans or sautéed spinach), and I eat it before the rest of my dish. I wait until after eating my veggies to eat my main or touch the bread.”
Hack 3: Eat a savoury breakfast
A study from Stanford University in California showed that when non-diabetics were given a breakfast of cornflakes, it sent their blood glucose to levels that looked prediabetic, some even diabetic.
“A breakfast that creates a big glucose spike will make us hungry again sooner. What’s more, that breakfast will deregulate our glucose levels for the rest of the day, so our lunch and dinner will also create big spikes,” says Inchauspé.
Your best breakfast is a savoury one: fibre from vegetables or salad as well as protein, such as cheese, smoked fish, eggs, tofu, nuts, nut butter or Greek yoghurt, and optional carbs or fruit (eaten last). Hack 4: Watch your snacking
We have been told it’s better to eat little and often. But when it comes to glucose levels, it’s better to eat larger, more filling meals instead of smaller ones, then snacking in between. Every time you have a snack, your insulin goes up. “When our body is not in the postprandial state, our insulin levels come down and we can go back to burning fat instead of stashing it,” says Inchauspé. If you want something sweet, do it at the end of a meal, when it’ll cause a smaller glucose spike.
And if you do snack, make it savoury. Good ideas: a spoonful of nut butter; a cup of 5 per cent Greek yoghurt with nut butter; a handful of baby carrots and a spoonful of hummus; a hunk of cheese; apple slices with cheese or nut butter; a hard-boiled egg with a dash of hot sauce; a soft-boiled egg with salt and pepper; lightly salted coconut slivers; seeded crackers with a slice of cheese; a slice of ham.
Hack 5: Vinegar before you eat
Put a tablespoon of vinegar in a tall glass of water, and drink 20 minutes before to 20 minutes after eating. You can use any vinegar but apple cider is the most palatable. If you don’t like the taste, start with a teaspoon and work up, or put vinegar in the dressing of your green salad or vegetable starter.
By doing that, “cravings are curbed, hunger is tamed and more fat is burnt”. The acetic acid in vinegar slows down the release of glucose into the blood and speeds the uptake of glucose in the muscles.
Hack 6: Put some clothes on your carbs
This hack is for real-life eating when you haven’t got time to plan or don’t have much choice. “It’s for those times when we’re going to eat a slice of cake for breakfast because we’re hungry and it’s there.”
The solution is, “Instead of letting carbs run around naked, put some ‘clothes’ on them,” says Inchauspé, i.e. combine them with fat, protein or fibre. “Clothes on our carbs reduce how much and how quickly glucose is absorbed by our bodies. Have the brownie at your friend’s place, but ask for Greek yoghurt with it, too. Have the bagel at the business meeting, but choose the one with smoked salmon in it.”
Hack 7: After you eat, move
Move within an hour after a meal and your muscles use up the glucose that’s just been released into the bloodstream, flattening any potential spike. Studies have shown this with a 10- to 20-minute walk, weights and strength training, but any exercise is likely to be good.