Avoid those blood sugar crashes that can leave you feeling lethargic (Picture: Getty)
When you’ve gone through the trouble of cooking up a delicious meal, you’re probably not thinking about what order you eat your grab in.
But, according to nutritionists, it could have a big impact on your health.
‘Food order theory’ is all about how the order in which we eat our food affects our health and mood.
Pam Bede, a nutritionist with Lingo, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘To feel at our best, we need our body to utilise the nutrients that foods provide, but without unhealthy spikes in glucose, blood lipids, insulin, or inflammation.’
Spikes in glucose mean we experience a crash in for form of tiredness or lethargy, hunger pains and sugar cravings — none of which are ideal. Repeated spikes can cause heart and kidney problems due to the strain on the body.
And if you blood sugar is too high, it can put a strain on your metabolism, by making it harder for you body to convert food into usable energy.
What order should we be eating our foods in? (picture: Getty Images)
As Pam says: ‘The science of food order considers how quickly food is digested and absorbed.
‘Ultimately, this approach helps decrease blood sugar spikes after meals and the negative impact that glucose extremes can cause.’
So, now we understand the science, what is the optimal order to eat our food in is?
‘Eating protein and healthy fats before carbohydrates have been found to be beneficial for managing blood sugar levels after a meal,’ says Pam.
‘This is because proteins and fats slow the rate at which food exits the stomach, meaning the glucose and other nutrients in your meal will be absorbed into the bloodstream slower, which can help reduce blood sugar spikes.’
The effects of high and low and blood sugar:
Common symptoms of high blood sugar:
Feeling very thirsty
Peeing a lot
Feeling weak or tired
Common symptoms of low blood sugar:
Feeling anxious or irritable
Sweating or shaking
Feeling tired or weak
Changes in your vision such as blurred vision
This order of eating helps increase the release of a hormone called GLP-1 – the hormone that controls appetite, as it makes you feel fuller for longer.
‘This in turn improves the production of the hormones insulin and glucagon, which regulate your blood sugar after eating,’ says Pam.
Read on for some example meals, and how to apply food order theory to them.
First up, a humble breakfast of eggs and avocado on toast.
Pam says: ‘High in protein and healthy fats, with a moderate amount of carbohydrates – a savoury breakfast is an ideal way to start your day.
‘I’d always recommend you prioritise protein in the morning, so best to eat your eggs first. Protein helps fuel your body and combat your desire to reach for carbs, sweets or chocolate.
‘Avocado next as it’s rich in fat, contains some fibre and also contains carbs.
‘Finally, tuck into some multigrain toast – carbs aren’t off-limits, and they provide your body with a source of fuel! I recommend incorporating them at the end of the meal and into the meals you eat earlier in the day, giving your body hours to utilise this fuel.’
Healthy avocado and egg toasts (picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Next up lunch, to get us over the midday mark. Pam recommends something like a green salad, pumpkin seeds and salmon.
‘While most people tend to have a “light” lunch, I recommend a filling and nutritious lunch full of vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats to help avoid spikes which can lead to the midday or afternoon slump,’ says Pam.
‘First eat the hearty salad incorporating superfoods like kale, broccoli and carrots topped with seeds or nuts will keep you fuller for longer. Seeds are a fantastic source of healthy fat that won’t make you feel weighed down in the middle of the day.
‘Next, I’d recommend a well-seasoned fish – whether that’s a zesty salmon or a chargrilled seabass – fish is a wonderful source of high-quality protein and essential fatty acids.
‘Though it’s tempting, I’d recommend skipping a sweet dessert to avoid blood sugar spikes. Instead enjoy a more savoury treat, for example, nut butter and whole grain crackers.’
Plate of salmon fillet steak roasted with spices served with fresh salad (picture: Getty Images)
Last but not least dinner, it’s the thought of this meal that keeps us going throughout the day and Pam suggests something like a one-pan lemon chicken, spinach and zucchini pasta.
Pam says: ‘This is an example of working food order theory into your meal plan over the course of the day.
‘The dish itself is a mix that combines lean chicken breast sautéed spinach and garlic spiralized zucchini, so you don’t need to worry too much about the order – just enjoy.
‘To keep spikes at bay, add a salad starter to this meal. Follow with this simple dish incorporating high protein, high fat, and low carb options – which is perfect just before bed.’
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You don’t need to change your diet, just the order in which you eat it.