Diet Tips From A Nutritionist To Prevent Blood Sugar Spikes

While certain foods such as added sugars and refined carbohydrates can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, there are also foods for diabetes that can support the optimal regulation of blood sugar.

By URLife Team
09 Nov 2023

You might be in a situation where you've received a diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes, and you're uncertain about how to make lifestyle modifications to take care of your well-being. Alternatively, you might have heard some chatter about "blood sugar-friendly foods" and are contemplating whether the trend is  worth your attention.


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When your blood sugar increases after a meal, it can lead to fatigue, sluggishness, and mood swings. Over time, chronic blood sugar imbalances can make you susceptible to conditions like kidney disease, heart disease, and even dementia. The good news is that you can take steps today to control blood sugar.


We spoke to Dr. Lakshmi K, Head Nutritionist, UR.Life about foods that lowers blood sugar. She says, there are numerous factors contributing to elevated blood sugar levels, with one of the primary culprits being the foods you consume. Notable examples include simple carbohydrates, artificial sweeteners, caffeine intake, and skipping breakfast. However, there are also non-dietary factors at play, such as irregular sleep patterns and dehydration. Frequent spikes and dips can elevate your risk of developing diabetes and other health complications.


Related Post: The Diabetes Guide: How To Balance Your Blood Sugar


What leads to blood sugar spikes?

Dr. Lakshmi explains, “Whenever you eat, you can expect a certain increase in your blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates are present in fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other plant-based products. These Contain glucose that your body utilises for energy. Once consumed, this glucose travels through the digestive system and enters the bloodstream in the small intestine.”


In individuals with Type 2 diabetes, the pancreas continues to produce insulin, but the cells do not respond to it as effectively as they should. This condition is known as insulin resistance. As a result, glucose struggles to enter the cells, causing a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. For those with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, using insulin therapy can cause delay in the reduction of their blood sugar levels. This delay occurs because it can take up to 15 minutes for the insulin to begin its action. Furthermore, individuals with diabetes either do not produce amylin at all, or they produce it in insufficient quantities. Amylin is a hormone that slows down the digestion of food for better absorption of nutrients as its absence or deficiency causes food to be digested more rapidly in people with diabetes.


Experiencing blood sugar spikes at night, leading to morning hunger, can be a common issue for both individuals with diabetes and those without diabetes. This phenomenon is often attributed to the consumption of simple carbohydrates high in sugar before bedtime, which causes a rapid increase in glucose levels, followed by a crash that triggers feelings of hunger. As your body prepares for the day, it releases cortisol and growth hormones, instructing your body to release glucose for energy, further contributing to these nighttime spikes. Insulin can sometimes lower blood sugar levels too much during the night, leading to a rebound effect that can result in laziness.


Related Post: Managing Diabetes Naturally


How do blood sugar spikes impact your health?

Blood sugar spikes are often followed by crashes, which is why consuming sugary desserts can lead to fatigue once glucose levels return to normal. This can initiate a troublesome cycle, as sugar crashes can make you feel hungry and more inclined to reach for another sugary snack.


According to a 2021 report in BSW Health, elevated glucose levels can also result in an increased glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c) level, which is associated with heart issues, kidney problems, retinopathy, and neuropathy. Additionally, higher blood glucose levels require more insulin for regulation, potentially leading to insulin resistance and serving as a precursor to diabetes.


What diabetic diet plan does a nutritionist suggest?

It's crucial to include fibre in your meals and snacks. When you consume refined white flour products like pizza crusts, pasta, or crackers, your body receives only carbs and sugars, leading to spikes in blood sugar. This happens because there's a lack of fibre to stabilise blood sugar levels and slow down digestion.


Dr. Lakshmi defines fibre as a valuable nutrient that plays a key role in slowing down the process of digestion and the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. This characteristic makes high-fibre foods effective in promoting a feeling of fullness and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Non-starchy vegetables, which are rich in fibre, typically have a low glycemic index. The glycemic index is a rating system that indicates how quickly or slowly a specific food can raise blood sugar levels. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with low-glycemic index foods scoring below 55 and high-glycemic index foods scoring above 70.


The glycemic index doesn't consider the quantity of carbohydrates consumed. As a result, the glycemic load, which takes into account both the glycemic index and the amount of carbohydrates in a serving, can offer a more comprehensive view of how a particular food affects blood sugar. Foods with a glycemic load of 10 or less are considered low, while those with a glycemic load of 20 or higher are deemed high in terms of their impact on blood sugar.


Dr. Lakshmi further explains that fibre-rich foods in your diet manage the increase in blood sugar and also support gut health. Incorporating fibre-rich and blood sugar-friendly foods into your diet can foster the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which, in turn, aids in maintaining balanced blood sugar levels while promoting regularity in your digestive system. This synergy between your diet, gut health, and blood sugar regulation is a crucial aspect of overall well-being.


Here are a few foods that prevent blood sugar spikes.

Leafy Greens

Vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens are low in carbohydrates and high in fibre, making them great choices for regulating blood sugar. Besides foods like avocado, cauliflower, and bell peppers are low in carbs and high in nutrients, keeping blood sugar stable.


Whole Grains

Opt for whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and steel-cut oats, which have a lower glycemic index and provide steady energy without causing rapid blood sugar spikes. Whole grains are an excellent choice for individuals looking to manage their blood sugar levels because they have a low glycemic index (GI), meaning they are less likely to cause significant spikes and dips in blood sugar levels. 


Oats contain a beneficial component called beta-glucan, which can reduce glucose and insulin responses after meals, helping to stabilise blood sugar levels. It helps to improve insulin sensitivity, making it easier for your body to use insulin effectively. It's typically best to opt for stone-ground and rolled oats, as they are less processed and retain more of their beneficial properties. 


Related Post: Sugar Substitute: Healthy Sweetener Alternatives For People With Diabetes



Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are excellent choices of food when it comes to regulating blood sugar spikes as these are high in fibre, complex carbohydrates and protein, which can help stabilise blood sugar levels.



Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are low in sugar and packed with antioxidants and fibre. A 2020 study in the Current Developments in Nutrition revealed that the daily consumption of one cup of blueberries over an eight-week period was associated with improvements in haemoglobin A1C levels and triglycerides, both of which are significant markers for diabetes management. Blueberries have a relatively low glycemic index, meaning they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels. A one-cup serving of raw blueberries contains nearly 4 grams of fibre, which accounts for approximately 14 per cent of the recommended daily fibre intake. Blueberries also provide essential nutrients like vitamin C and magnesium, making them a fantastic and filling snack option for a midday pick-me-up that won't cause blood sugar spikes.


Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are nutritional powerhouses when it comes to blood sugar regulation. Most nuts such as almonds, walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds are rich in healthy fats, fibre, and protein, which can slow down the absorption of sugar. Besides, they also contain antioxidant vitamins, phytochemicals, such as flavonoids, and minerals, such as magnesium and potassium. 


Incorporating nuts and seeds into your diet is easy. You can sprinkle them on top of salads, mix them into grain-based dishes, or add them to your oatmeal for extra texture and flavour. 


Eggs, Chicken and Fatty Fish

Fish, chicken, and eggs are excellent protein sources with a glycemic load and index of zero, signifying that they have a minimal impact on blood sugar levels when consumed in normal serving sizes, as per a 2023 report by Health. Combining protein-rich foods such as seafood, poultry, and eggs with carbohydrates in your meals can be an effective strategy for managing blood sugar. This pairing helps slow down the digestion process and improves overall blood sugar control by preventing rapid spikes in glucose levels. It's a smart way to create balanced and satisfying meals that promote stable energy throughout the day.


Related Post: Healthy Eating Tips For Diabetes


Greek Yoghurt

Unsweetened Greek yoghurt is the ideal choice for individuals looking to regulate their blood sugar levels, primarily due to its high protein content and probiotics, which have the potential to assist in blood sugar management by influencing gut bacteria, improving overall gut health, and enhancing insulin sensitivity.


In a 2023 study issued in the Clinical Nutrition involving 72 individuals with type 2 diabetes, those who consumed 200 grams of probiotic yoghurt enriched with Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis probiotics for a duration of 12 weeks experienced notable reductions in haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c). HbA1c serves as a marker for assessing blood sugar control over the past three months.


Greek yoghurt is an excellent choice for a satisfying and protein-rich breakfast or snack. Consider topping your Greek yoghurt with fresh berries, nuts, and chia seeds for added flavour, texture, and a boost of vitamins, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre. 



A 2022 study published in the journal Nutrients involving 14 women revealed that consuming broccoli before a meal consisting of rice led to a significant reduction in peak post-meal blood sugar levels. In fact, the blood sugar levels were lowered by approximately 40 per cent when compared to consuming rice alone. This finding underscores the potential blood sugar-regulating benefits of incorporating broccoli into one's diet, especially when consumed before carbohydrate-rich meals.



Beans are relatively high in carbohydrates, and also loaded with a combination of magnesium, plant-based protein, and fibre. This combination can be effective in preventing post-meal blood sugar spikes. According to a 2020 study issued in the journal Nutrients, a cup of kidney beans contains around 37 grams of carbohydrates, but it also provides 11 grams of fibre and 13.4 grams of protein. The substantial protein and fibre content in beans not only helps in promoting a sense of fullness but also contributes to healthy blood sugar regulation.


You can also create your own fibre and protein-rich hummus by blending canned chickpeas with ingredients like garlic, olive oil, tahini, and lemon juice.



Millet is an often overlooked food in the domain of grains. As a gluten-free option, it boasts a high fibre content, and when compared to rice or wheat, millet has a lower glycemic index. This versatility makes it an excellent choice for various culinary applications. Give millet a try as an alternative to rice or quinoa. You can use millet as the foundation for a vegetable bowl, offering a unique and nutritious twist to your dishes. Its lower glycemic index makes it an appealing option for those looking to manage their blood sugar while enjoying a wholesome and satisfying meal.


Paying attention to when you eat is crucial for managing blood sugar levels effectively. Some individuals skip breakfast and opt for two larger meals at lunch and dinner, which can lead to blood sugar spikes. A better approach is to consume several balanced meals throughout the day, including one or two snacks. Having multiple smaller meals is generally more beneficial than relying on one or two larger meals.


Another strategy to consider is breaking up your food into two separate meals. For example, rather than having a single dinner at 7 p.m., you can eat half of your meal at 5 p.m. and the other half a few hours later. This approach can help in maintaining more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day and preventing drastic fluctuations that can be caused by infrequent or imbalanced eating patterns.


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