Sherri Buffington knows right away when she's stressed out.
"I'll start to feel hot," she says. Once the warmth floods her body, she tests her blood sugar. It's almost always high.
Buffington isn't imagining the connection. Stress is known to spike blood sugar, also called glucose. "It's a very common occurrence," says Kevin Pantalone, DO, staff endocrinologist at Cleveland Clinic. "Stress can increase levels of hormones in the body, particularly cortisol, which can make blood sugar rise."
Test your blood sugar levels to learn how different foods affect them.
Stick to a certain number of carbohydrate grams per meal. Usually this is about 45-75 grams three times a day.
Balance carbs with fiber and protein in each meal. This is easy if you use the plate method. Make half of your plate vegetables, a quarter of your plate a carb like brown rice, black beans, or whole-wheat pasta, and the other quarter of your plate a healthy protein like chicken breast, fish, lean meat, or tofu. Add a small piece of fruit and some low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt, depending on your carb target for that meal.
Eat smart fats such as those in nuts, avocado, fish, olives, and other plants. Avoid saturated fats from meat, butter, cheese, and other dairy foods. Note: Coconut, although a plant, has saturated fat.
If any of the recipes below has fewer carbs than what your doctor or health care team has recommended per meal, round out the meal with more carbs. This could include nonfat yogurt or milk, fruits and vegetables, or a small piece of whole-grain bread.
Scramble 1 egg and 2 egg whites (or 1/4 cup egg substitute) in a small non-stick frying pan coated with cooking spray. On a microwave-safe plate, spread the cooked eggs down the center of a multigrain or low-carb flour tortilla. Top with desired garnishes, such as 1/4 cup chopped tomato, chopped green onion, 1/4 avocado, or 1/8 cup shredded reduced-fat cheese. Microwave on high for about 20 seconds to soften the tortilla and warm up the filling. Wrap up and enjoy.
Estimated: Carbohydrates 30 grams, protein 18 grams, fiber 6 grams.
High-Protein Berry Yogurt Bowl
Put 1 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt in a cereal bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon honey and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon, if desired. Top with 1/2 cup frozen or fresh berries and 1/2 cup whole-grain breakfast cereal of your choice. (Choose a cereal with about 15 grams of carbohydrates and at least 5 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup).