Intention Is the Secret Ingredient in Balancing Our Blood Sugar
By: Samantha Blumenthal
There is a difference between feeling full and feeling fulfilled, and that difference lies right in the recipe. Here’s your one-ingredient recipe: Intention. Yes, intention is all you need! When it comes to assembling your nutrition, it’s all in your intention.
Intentionally choosing flavors YOU enjoy, along with nourishing ingredients that stabilize blood sugar, can help optimize your energy and promote sharp focus and fulfillment throughout the day. And yes, it all starts with intention.
Let’s begin intentionally by learning why blood sugar impacts how we feel fulfilled and how we can stabilize it. Do you find yourself craving more sugary or starchy foods? Are you feeling irritable or lethargic? Are you experiencing brain fog, headaches, dizziness, chills, or hunger more often than you’d like? These symptoms may be the result of a life imbalanced, also known as an imbalance of blood sugar levels.
How can smoothies help balance your levels to sustain your energy so you feel fulfilled throughout the day?
Balloons and Sandbags
Carbohydrates, whether they are from fruits and vegetables, or more processed treats, like sweets and cookies, break down into sugar (glucose) in the body. When we create a smoothie, there is one element that affects blood sugar: starchy and sugary carbohydrates.
Whole food, identifiable, natural, and more complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, beans, legumes, or fruit, will introduce sugar into the bloodstream at a slower and more gradual rate. Simpler and more processed sources of carbohydrates will bring sugar into the bloodstream at a faster rate.
When carbs are eaten alone, they absorb into our bloodstream more quickly. When they are paired with a protein, healthy fat, or fiber, everything slows down a bit.
To process this information, I love to think of a balloon as the beautiful centerpiece for a birthday party. What’s going to keep that balloon from floating off the table and hitting the ceiling? A weight or a sandbag.
Let’s allow the balloon to represent our blood sugar rising after eating carbohydrates. When crafting your smoothie, it is important to add that sandbag to promote stable blood sugar, satiety, and the overall idea of fulfillment.
The balloon can also represent the source of the carbohydrates we add to our smoothie, like a fruit or a combination of fruits. At our party, the centerpiece has only one balloon per table. We don’t need an entire bouquet of balloons: simply one to get the party started. So, maintaining awareness of the amount of carbohydrate we add to the smoothie matters. Let’s start with one to two cups.
Remember, everybody’s body is different. Everybody’s activity levels are also different. What your body needs may look different from what a friend’s body needs. Starting off with one cup of carbohydrates is a good beginning. Assess your hunger levels 20 to 30 minutes after enjoying your smoothie. Are you feeling energized, satiated, fulfilled? If not, aim for one and a half to two cups next time. Creating your smoothie is a skill, just like riding a bike. It’ll take some practice to find your own balance.
Why do we need to have balloons at the party, and why do we need that sugar from carbohydrates? The sugar from carbohydrates is essential for the body to perform appropriately. To put it simply, carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. From muscle contractions that rely on sugar for their energy source to other bodily functions, our body relies on glucose to keep everything running smoothly to create a life in balance.
So, I challenge you, to intentionally create stability in your smoothies.
To create stability in your smoothies, set up both your balloon and your sandbag to support stable blood sugar levels. To put it simply, intentionally plan your party to be fully present, aware, and energized to enjoy the party of your life.
When it comes to your balloon (sugary carbohydrates), remember, you can always use fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, even cooked and cooled pumpkin, butternut squash, or canned pumpkin. Frozen fruits and vegetables are packaged at the peak of their freshness, so they retain all their nutrients. Along with your balloon, be sure to do the following:
Blend in 2 to 4 tablespoons of a healthy fat (sandbag). Healthy fats take longer to digest than carbohydrates. When they are paired with carbohydrates (balloon), they slow down the absorption rate. In addition, fats do not directly impact our insulin or blood sugar levels. When consuming a starchy carbohydrate, blend in some healthy fats like nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocados, or coconut oil to help promote stable blood sugar levels.
Blend in 1 to 2 cups of fiber (sandbag). Similar to fats, fiber helps slow down the rate of starchy carbohydrate absorption. If your eating pattern incorporates whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes, it’s very likely you’re already getting plenty of fiber. Generally, aim for about 25 to 35 grams a day. Remember, everybody’s body is different. Factors like your digestive system and energy intake may also further individualize this guideline. An excellent way to sneak in extra fiber is by blending in dark leafy greens, like kale, spinach, or beet greens. You can also use half a zucchini or half a cup of cauliflower florets for a high-fiber, lower carbohydrate creamy alternative to a banana in your smoothie.
Blend in 15 to 25 grams of protein. Protein, both plant-based and animal-based, can also help you feel fulfilled. Aim to add one scoop of a high-quality protein powder to your smoothie or experiment with half a cup of white beans to add a whole-food and creamy source of protein. This will also count toward your balloon.
Blend in a little flavor boost by adding some fresh herbs, spices, cacao nibs, cacao powder, or one to two dates to add some extra oomph! I like to think of these as the individual tablecloths at each table at the party that can help make it unique or make each smoothie unique. Try adding in a little lemon to bring out, or round out, the flavor, too. Remember, adding one to two dates will also be part of your sugary carbohydrate or balloon.
How else can we be intentional? By taking a beat, a pause, and a moment to enjoy. Contrary to our typical fast-paced routines, I challenge you to enjoy your smoothies by consuming them from a bowl using a spoon. Or maybe even freeze them into popsicles. Experiencing new textures that encourage us to chew or enjoy food properly can help with smooth digestion and nutrient absorption. When we bite into a popsicle, or even swish around a smoothie on the tongue, our body releases digestive enzymes in the stomach that help break down food so the body can convert it to energy. When food is not digested properly, and consumed quickly, maybe even slurped through a straw, we can experience digestive issues such as indigestion, acidity, bloating, heartburn, constipation, headaches, and low energy.
The simple and intentional act of chewing allows our body to release a lot of saliva, which contains digestive enzymes. Releasing these enzymes into the throat and stomach can help improve the digestive process.
My intention for sharing this customizable party itinerary is to help you intentionally choose ingredients that both taste good to YOU and feel good to YOU. Set your party up for success by identifying your balloon AND your sandbag for balanced blood sugar; sustained energy; and to feel fulfilled, not just full.