I can’t help but notice that grocery stores are already marketing little pumpkin decorations and Halloween candy and it’s only the beginning of September! Are you ready for the fall season and all the sweet temptations that come along with it?
Let’s talk about how to balance blood sugar when you are hypothyroid and/or have Hashimoto’s disease.
Sugar is plentiful everywhere you turn. Think about it – we’re on the go, we’ve got kids running from one event to the next, and meals have become more like chores and less like family gatherings.
These factors have contributed to us resorting to eating food that is ready-made, processed and packaged. And, for these foods to taste good or “normal” to our palette, food companies have added preservatives, chemicals, and artificial sweeteners. These things add to our already inflamed bodies and overall toxic load.
There are so many names for sugar or sugar substitutes I’ve decided to put them on this handout for you here. Check out all the names for sugar – I’m sure some of these may be new for you.
Hey, we all like a little sweetness now and again. I’m not suggesting that you give it up completely – but let’s understand what happens in our body when we eat sugar and how to balance blood sugar.
White sugar, or refined sugar, has been stripped of all the fiber, minerals, and nutrients that were once in the sugar cane plant. This highly processed sugar causes an imbalance in your body – a blood sugar imbalance – when you consume too much. Your body uses some of that sugar as energy but the rest gets stored as fat.
Why is learning about how to balance blood sugar is so important if you have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s tdisease? Too much sugar in the blood is called insulin resistance and too little blood sugar is hypoglycemia. If you have hypoglycemia, your adrenals will attempt to pump out cortisol to tell the liver to make more glucose.
Eventually, the adrenals wear out and you end up with tired adrenal glands. (Note: This has been historically referred to as adrenal fatigue but the newer terminology is HPA axis dysregulation). On the other hand, insulin resistance increases the destruction of the thyroid gland in those of us with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Then we end up with low thyroid hormone and hypothyroidism. Thus, with thyroid disease, either of these scenarios can make things worse. Plus,
Back to the topic of sugar – I’m not speaking just about cakes and cookies here. Sugar is literally the basis of all carbohydrates (carbs).
Various kinds of carbs have different effects on our bodies. Simple carbohydrates include sugar, fructose, maltose, and glucose. These break down quickly in our bodies and we feel energy right away but can be hungry an hour later.
That is the blood sugar roller coaster which not only feels yucky but it is hard on the adrenal glands. Simple carbs include all the white and refined grains such as white pasta, white breads, white rice, and all commercial baked goods.
Complex carbohydrates like beans, legumes, vegetables and whole grains absorb into your body at a slower rate and are better for maintaining a healthy blood sugar balance.
With all the sugar around, what can you do to lessen your sugar intake and balance blood sugar? Here are 5 blood sugar balancing tips to get you started:
5 Ways How To Balance Blood Sugar When Hypothyroid
1. Avoid artificial sweeteners: While they are not sugar, they are certainly not natural! Artificial sweeteners will not give you lasting energy and in fact, you’ll end up craving more sugar.
2. Substitute natural sugars for refined: Unrefined, natural sweeteners are much lower on the glycemic index, which means less of an impact on your blood sugar. Minimally processed, these sugars contain all the nutrients and fiber in them unlike refined sugar.
Try these and know that you can find them in your local health food store in chain like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods:
- Agave nectar
- Barley malt
- Brown rice syrup
- Date sugar
- Raw honey
3. Consider your cravings: When I work with private clients, we often work on reducing sugar cravings. Cravings are your body’s way of talking to you – when you crave sugar, it could be an indication that you may need to balance your blood sugar because your current diet is not right for your body or that you have stress in other areas of your life such as family, career, or finances.
It is helpful to work with a professional that integrates your health with your emotions to determine the deeper root cause of your cravings. By slowing down and taking the time to recognize what else may be going on in your life, you can uncover your sugar cravings and their source, once and for all.
4. Eat enough carbohydrates to support your thyroid. Many people associate grains with carbohydrates and therefore “weight gain.” Know that there are three sources of fuel for your body: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Research shows that dietary carbohydrate is an important regulatory factor in T3 (Serum Triiodothyronine) production in [humans].
Lowering carbohydrate intake to below 50 mg / day results in lower T3 (active thyroid hormone) serum levels and increased levels of Reverse T3 (inactive thyroid metabolite).
If you already have thyroid issues aim for a minimum of 50 to 100 mg/day of carbohydrate. The body needs carbohydrates which have been a staple of the human diet since ancient times. Obesity associated with carbohydrates is relatively recent and it’s associated with too much refined, heavily processed carbs.
Diverse cultures throughout the world have enjoyed the health of strong, fit bodies while eating diets rich with whole grains. These grains are high in B vitamins and fiber but more importantly, they are complex carbohydrates that absorb into the body slowly. Many of these grains are wonderful alternatives if you are allergic or sensitive to wheat or gluten (best determined by eliminating for a while) and are looking for ways to balance blood sugar.
Here are a few gluten-free grains to try:
- Brown rice
Other carbohydrates to round out your intake include low- to medium-glycemic options such as peas, sweet potato, and various kinds of squash.
5. Get Geeky and Measure: If you are geeky like me and love measures, purchase a glucometer (available at any drugstore for $20 to $30) to measure your blood sugar four times a day: upon rising; before lunch; before dinner; and before bed. Keep a log. Target blood sugar is 80-90 mg/dl each time. This may vary slightly per individual.
Adjust protein, fat and carbohydrate ratios at each meal to support and balance blood sugar. Eat frequently throughout the day to avoid dips in blood sugar and ensure your meals have a bit of protein, fat, and complex carbohydrate. Note: Additional stress removal may be required to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Keeping a steady blood sugar balance throughout the day is one thing I work on with most of my private clients. Women with thyroid conditions often have burnt out adrenals and poor blood sugar control.
By implementing these tips, you will be doing your body a favor by dialing down inflammation and keeping your blood sugar in check. You will not only feel better but your thyroid and adrenal glands will love you for it.
If you’d like to learn more about how to eat well to support your thyroid and balance blood sugar, I invite you to join me in my program, Thyroid Kickstart.
You’ll enjoy delicious and healthy meals that keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the day.
Plus, in just 17 days, you’ll have created your own personal thyroid diet that works for you.
P.S. Need help to get started with your thyroid healing? Get your free copy of my popular thyroid e-book with many thyroid tips that you can start using right away: “My Proven Protocol for Busy Moms to Reboot Their Sluggish Thyroid in as Little as 24 Hours,” a $27 value where I share my #1 strategy on how to reboot your thyroid and experience your first results quickly.