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Balancing Blood Glucose: A Busy Parent's Guide to Metabolic Health

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

In this blog post, we will dive into practical strategies tailored to busy parents, offering insights on how to improve your health while managing the daily demands of parenthood. From making mindful food choices and incorporating short bursts of exercise to managing stress and staying hydrated, we'll explore actionable steps to help you balance your blood glucose levels effectively.

Healthy meals for busy parents

In the whirlwind of parenthood, finding time for self-care can feel like an impossible task. Juggling work, childcare, and household responsibilities often leaves little room for prioritising your own health, even in the littlest of ways.

I see this issue a lot with my health coaching clients. They put themselves and their health at the bottom of their priority list. There is a undercurrent feeling of surrender to the way things are. They think it is a phase and things won't be better until the kids are much older. That is simply not true!

Taking some time to refuel your own tank will actually enable you to be your best self at work and at home. You will have the energy and health to give more to the people you love and to excel at your work.

One of the main energy and well-being unlocks for busy parents is balancing blood glucose. Having effective metabolic processes that allow you to extract the nutrients out of food and metabolise them into energy is a cornerstone of good health. Our blood glucose levels affect how energetic we feel, how much fat we store, our ability to fend against illnesses, and much more.

Let's dive into some helpful strategies to balance blood sugar, as a busy parent, without completely needing to completely redesign your schedule.

Tip #1 - Ditch the convenience foods

Busy parents often resort to fast-foods or processed meals due to time constraints. However, these choices can wreak havoc on blood glucose levels, for you and your family, as they often contain immense amounts of sugar and health-disruptive additives.

Instead, focus on quick and nutrient-packed options, using these simple rules of thumb:

  • Opt for whole foods: whole grains, lean proteins, and plenty of fruits and veggies

  • Include a protein with every single meal: minimum a quarter of the plate

  • Reduce your carb intake: no more than one quarter of the plate

  • Stay hydrated: try starting your day with one glass of water first thing in the morning, then aim for one further glass every two hours until the evening

Tip #2 - Get smart with cooking

Cooking takes up a lot of time, which is the main reason why convenience is king. What if I told you there are ways to make wholesome cooking as time-efficient as convenience foods? Here are a few ideas:

  • Meal plan: Stop buying random ingredients and then deciding what to make with them. Instead, think ahead of the meals you want to make, and order exactly what you need

  • Prep meals: Carve out two slots per week, where you wash and chop your vegetables, prepare some grains, and store these in the fridge for easier mid-week meals

  • Batch cook meals: Always make double the amount you need and freeze one portion for later

  • Use helpful kitchen equipment: Invest in a slow cooker or an air fryer to help you create healthy meals while you get on with your work or family responsibilities

Tip #3 - Snack on protein-rich foods

Instead of going for a quick sugar hit, in the form of a cookie or a cracker, in between meals, consider having a protein-rich snack. Proteins help temper your blood glucose spikes and aid in muscle tissue generation.

Simple snack ideas include cottage cheese, mini mozzarella balls, crudités and hummus, nuts and seeds.

Tip #4 - Shorten your eating window

Fasting overnight can help with blood sugar control as it promotes metabolic flexibility. Try having your last meal by about 7pm and then eat breakfast at 9am the next morning. This will give you a 14-hour fasting window, achievable on most days, which allows your body to reset. You can still have water, black tea, or black coffee in your fasting window.

Tip #5 - Incorporate short bursts of exercise

Exercise is known to be very effective at reducing blood glucose levels. Exercise draws on reserve sugar stored in your muscles and liver. As your body rebuilds these stores, it takes sugar from your blood, thus reducing your blood glucose levels, for up to 8 hours subsequently.

Exercise doesn't have to mean hours at the gym. Sneak in short bursts of activity:

  • Take the kids for a brisk walk or bike ride, especially after meals

  • Do quick, bodyweight exercises during the day

  • Prioritise consistency over duration

Tip #6 - Manage your stress levels

Parenting can be stressful, but managing stress is crucial for blood glucose control. When stressed, the body prepares itself by ensuring that enough sugar or energy is readily available, thus spikes your blood glucose levels. Here are some things you can do:

  • Practice deep breathing or meditation for a few minutes daily

  • Delegate tasks and ask for help when needed

  • Find small pockets of "me-time" to recharge

Tip #7 - Prioritise sleep

In recent studies, there emerged an association with decreased insulin sensitivity in the range of 25% to 30% after as little as 4 to 5 days of insufficient sleep. Telling a parent to prioritise sleep can feel like "easier said than done", especially when you have a young child who wakes during the night. Here are a few actionable ideas to try:

  • Set a bedtime reminder

  • Keep your devices outside of the bedroom

  • Stop eating at least 3 hours before bedtime

  • Wear and eye mask and/or earplugs, if you're a light sleeper

Need support to balance your blood glucose? Get in touch.

I know first-hand the struggles of being a working parent that wants to prioritise health and well-being. It can seem as though there are not enough hours in the day for everything. Many of the habits and recommended tips do not stick for the long-run. If so, get some help.

Working with a health coach provides the support and accountability you need to make lasting changes that improve your and your family's health and well-being. This is why I have recently launched my GlucoBalance 7-session programme which is designed to help busy parents make small tweaks to their lifestyle to improve their insulin sensitivity and prevent chronic disease.

Book your first complimentary session with me here.

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