In this article, I’m joined by Kaitlyn Czajkowski, nutritional therapist and fellow ADAPT health coach, as we share 10 items that belong on your shopping list.
They’re nature’s superfoods – highly nutritious, very accessible and most importantly – great for your blood sugar.
This handy list is a must-have if you want to go from feeling sluggish, low in energy and worried about your blood sugar levels to feeling fuller for longer, energised and in control of your health.
We hope that this list not only inspires you but also keeps you excited about food. We want to make sure that you’re still really enjoying eating. Food is not only for function, it’s also how we connect with others. In this article, we’re prioritising stable blood sugar levels, but also those ingredients that you and your family and friends will love!
Top 10 Items That Belong On Your Shopping List
There is a constant myth that eggs are bad for our health. Many of us have heard that eating dietary cholesterol directly translates into the build-up of fatty plaque in our arteries. But, a recent review found absolutely no research that can accurately conclude that eggs increase our risk of heart disease.
Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. In just the yolk, there are 13 essential nutrients. Egg yolks are the highest source of choline in the diet. What’s more, eggs are incredibly versatile in cooking. Add them to ramen bowls, salads, or a stirfry to bulk it up. If you’re having an incredibly busy morning, throw a few eggs on the boil, jump in the shower and they’re ready when you’re done.
Boiled eggs are also one of the foods we recommend for hiking. Easy to prepare, the shell is a “nature’s Tupperware” and it gives you an easy dose of protein and fats while you’re on the go.
- Summer Squash (Zucchini)
Eating seasonally is key for optimal freshness, taste, and nutrient density as in-season fruits and vegetables typically require less transport time. Especially over the summer and fall, squash (green and yellow), spaghetti squash, and eggplant are delicious options. They are satisfying, more ‘meaty’ vegetables, and also high in fibre.
One of the key benefits of fibre, in addition to its benefit of feeding healthy gut microbiota, is the stabilizing impact fibre has on blood sugar.
Fibre is resistant to digestion and does not raise blood sugar the way other carbohydrates do. In fact, many T1D’s find that when carb counting, they can subtract grams of fibre from the total carbohydrate count, and dose for net carbs.
Good fats and an abundance of nutrients – need I say more?
Oh. They’re delicious.
If you’re wanting to figure out just why avocados are so healthy for us, here it is:
Research has shown that Haas avocados contain an abundance of macro and micronutrients such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, vitamin A, C, E and K1, as well as folate and niacin . They’re shown to support heart health and provide healthy fats to our diets which helps us to stay fuller for longer.
If it’s avo season you can always buy in bulk, mash it up with some lemon juice and freeze for later use.
- Canned salmon
Canned salmon makes our list for two reasons: both nutrient density and convenience.
Salmon is a favourite for many reasons. It is high in protein, rich in Vitamin B12, potassium, and Vitamin D, and high in omega-3 fats.
It can be hard to prioritize healthy foods in the midst of a hectic life, and opting for something like canned salmon can allow for an easy and healthy lunch on the go. Protein is both satiating and stabilizing for blood sugar.
If you opt for canned salmon, look for a brand that includes the bones. They’re soft, safe to eat, and they’re a great source of calcium and omega-3 fats (hot tip: I usually find my canned, bone-in salmon at Spar).
You may be asking, why pumpkin? It seems like an awfully specific, random vegetable.
There is one main reason why pumpkin made our list. Apart from it being a nutrient-dense vegetable – pumpkins provide manganese, vitamin C, fibre, and a great amount of beta-carotene, it’s also a go-to comfort food for a lot of our clients who are watching their metabolic health.
Many of our clients get really sick of eating salads. They’re looking for a side dish of vegetables that’s soft, warm and oh so comforting. What most people reach for is mashed potato, sweet potato fries or a side of butternut. Unfortunately, for those who are watching their blood sugar levels, often those “comfort” foods are on the “eat rarely” list.
However, pumpkin is considered a relatively low carbohydrate vegetable with 7g of carbs per 100g. In contrast to regular potato which has 15g of carbs per 100g when boiled. This means you can have those comforting mashed food without creating that high spike in your blood sugar.
- Garlic and onion
Garlic and its big brother onion is rich in nutrients and has promising health benefits. If you haven’t yet read the book, Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, we highly recommend it. In her book, Robinson describes garlic as your “anti-” ingredient.
Garlic is an antioxidant, it’s anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anticlotting, anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory. We can’t stress the benefits of garlic enough.
What’s more, in a 2020 review of clinical studies on garlic, its beneficial effects on several diseases was highlighted. It is shown to decrease fasting blood glucose levels.
- Chia seeds
Chia seeds are a surprising favourite, but a favourite nonetheless.
Packed with fibre, omega 3s, and healthy fats, chia seeds check a lot of boxes: inexpensive, convenient, and very low impact on blood sugar.
Just 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds (the perfect amount to use for a single serving of chia pudding, and a nice substitute for oatmeal) contains 7 grams of fibre and is very low in net carbs. A breakfast or snack of chia pudding has minimal impact on blood sugar and can be mixed and matched to create a variety of fun flavours.
For some inspiration on how to create your own chia pudding, check out this recipe.
Most fruits have relatively high sugar content. However, berries are different. You’re able to eat a portion of blueberries and keep your sugar levels constant. What’s more, is that it can be paired with thick yoghurt or cream to create a delicious healthy dessert.
If berries are in season it’s always an idea, if you can, to buy fresh in bulk and then freeze them for a quick and easy breakfast smoothie. A comprehensive study found that freezing blueberries preserves their nutritional properties – vitamin C, phenolics, anthocyanins and antioxidants. The was only a 12% loss of blueberry anthocyanins after 10 months of storage at -18°C. If you’re looking for a breakfast smoothie recipe that is filling, nutrient-dense and good for your blood sugar, check out this free download.
- Sugar-free carbonated drinks
Sugar-free carbonated drinks will not spike your blood sugar, and we like them because finding drinks that are both blood sugar friendly and fun is essential to sustaining a healthy and balanced approach.
It can be tough to battle food cravings and to reduce sugar intake, and a carbonated drink can be an enjoyable, sugar-free treat. It makes a perfect afternoon pick me up, a post-workout refreshment, or even a mocktail–just pull out a fancy glass, cut a wedge of lime, and add a sprig of mint to your carbonated beverage. An added bonus is to look for carbonated mineral water, so you can boost your absorption of essential minerals like magnesium, calcium and potassium.
Carbonated beverages come with a ‘watch out’ though. They are slightly acidic and can be corrosive to enamel on teeth (your dentist might tell you to drink with a straw) and for some, can trigger acid reflux. Drink in moderation, and separate from meals to support your best digestion.
- Stewing meats
Stewing meats are on our list for three reasons: nutrient density, its stabilising effects on blood sugar and convenience.
Meats, especially those attached to bone and connective tissue, have more beneficial nutrients than other “lean” meats. These fattier meats often contain high levels of essential nutrients such as glycine, vitamin A, choline, B vitamins and vitamin K2. This is in contrast to your common chicken breast or steak. Although they have good levels of protein, to get your essential micro-nutrients, eating nose-to-tail is key.
It’s shown in a scientific review that higher-protein diets have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar.
Many of our clients are incredibly busy, so we always prioritise healthy and convenient foods. Stewing meats is one of those easy ingredients you can quickly pop into your slow cooker or Instant Pot with garlic, onion, carrots, some broth and you’ve got dinner ready in 5 minutes.
What’s more, you can easily cook large quantities in one go and have it ready for many meals to come.
The Completed List
There you go – top 10 items that belong on your shopping list to stabilise your blood sugar levels. We encourage you to experiment with these items. Some of them are probably already on your shopping lists – nice work! And others may be slightly foreign to you. Experimenting and figuring out what works for you is key.
We’d love to hear about what you’ve discovered. Let us know in the comments below.