Test, Don’t Guess: Using Continuous Glucose Monitors (CGMs) To Uplevel Your Diet
One thing we all have in common here at Daily Dose is prioritizing food when it comes to total health. Both you and I trust that the quality of what’s on the ends of our fork can literally make or break our day - if we have good energy, a positive attitude, if we feel strong and perform well, if we feel empowered in our clothes and proud to show our face to the world. Food matters and you know that, so it’s why you’re here now enjoying your Daily Dose meals. But what if there was more to the story about what defines “healthy eating.” Yes, we all know berries, salad greens, fragrant herbs, deeply hued spices, alongside quality proteins and healthy fats round out a healthy meal. But what if you could determine exactly which foods in which specific amounts and paired with what accompaniments at what particular time of day worked best for your unique, one-of-a-kind body? What if having this constant information could help make the difference between those last 5 pounds you just can’t lose or determine if you succumb to the heart disease, Alzheimer’s, PCOS, infertility, or type 2 diabetes that run in your family? The answer is exciting, easily accessible, painless and above and beyond all…fun! A continuous glucose monitor, known as a CGM, is a wearable device that constantly monitors your glucose so you can have real time knowledge about how every morsel of food you eat impacts your metabolism. No pricks, pokes or sore fingers to contend with either.
Regulate Glucose, Increase Insulin Sensitivity & Look, Feel and Live Better
Glucose regulation is a sign of health and resilience so your goal is to eat a diet and live a lifestyle that keeps your glucose within a healthy range and therefore prevents your insulin from spiking. Every time you eat, your pancreas releases the hormone insulin to lower your glucose and make it accessible for energy within your cells. The research is clear that long term elevated glucose leads to a condition called insulin resistance (IR). IR is the root of many chronic diseases and conditions that us health-seekers are trying to avoid: cardiovascular disease, dementia, diabetes and cancer and yet our daily quality of life is also impacted by IR – our mood, focus, athletic performance, skin, female health, fertility, aging and so much more! It’s clear we want to keep our insulin in range for optimal health and wellness.While our diet is a main player in regulating glucose, it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Meaning, our diet is only as good as our lifestyle in the game of blood sugar control. Diet in the context of our sleep/wake cycles, intensity, timing and frequency of exercise, stress management, self-care and even things like hydration and temperature all matter in how well our bodies maintain healthy glucose control. What this means is that our bodies change every day according to how we slept, exercised or what stressors we experience. Wouldn’t it make sense then to adjust our diet according to how we felt each day? In other words, if you knew that on days you slept amazingly well, rocked an awesome morning workout (or went to the spa and blissed out for hours) your glucose could handle that extra bite (or 5!) of a delicious Daily Dose dessert wouldn’t you want that knowledge? After working with Levels and using their CGM and app I got a complete view of what’s behind the curtain on how my body handles certain foods. The results were nothing less than shocking! Hint: Even seemingly “healthy” foods you’re eating that you think are working for your body might turn out to be a total metabolic disaster for you. And if you think your friend eats a certain way and it seems to be working miracles for her, let me give you the most important spoiler alert – what works for her doesn’t mean it’ll work for you!
Blood Sugar Regulation Is A Personal Matter
Two weeks ago I ate a pint of cherries from the farmstead (so delicious!) but my blood sugar spiked to 160. Yes… cherries! I never would have known this if I weren’t wearing my CGM. And as a reference, ideally you don’t want your glucose to go above about 30 points over your baseline 1 hour after eating. After learning all about hacking my metabolic health from Dr. Casey Means, the MD behind the Levels app in an IGTV we did together, I ate a pint again with almonds and my blood sugar didn’t go out of range. Levels has really helped me personally and I am so inspired by what it’s done for my understanding about how food impacts my blood sugar that I’ve now fine tuned both of our plant based plans at The Daily Dose that tend to be higher in carbs than our traditional ketogenic plan by using more fats and some protein.
5 Ways To Keep Blood Sugar Level Using A CGM
Unfortunately, there is no free lunch when it comes to food – even too much of a good thing can become metabolically challenging for your body in excess. So while all of our meal plans at The Daily Dose are 100% nutrient dense and crafted using all real food for both culinary pleasure and health, it’s possible that you can spike your insulin if you don’t have an understanding of your unique biological response to specific ingredients or the timing of them. Here are 5 ways to get the most out of your Daily Dose meals while using a CGM:
1) Never Eat A “Naked” Carb: Eat all carbs, even carbs with fiber (i.e. fruit), with a fat and/or protein. Dr. Casey Means loves how we combine fruit with chia seeds (fat, fiber and protein!) in our legendary chia seed pudding with a mixed - berry compote that is to die for! And FYI - a serving size of fat looks like:
o 1 teaspoon organic oil (extra virgin olive, MCT, coconut, avocado)
o ¼ avocadoo 1 teaspoon organic ghee or grass fed butter (if you tolerate dairy occasionally)
o 1½ tablespoons coconut milk
o 1 tablespoon seedso ½ tablespoon nut or seed butter
o 1 egg yolk
o 3 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut
o ½ oz dark chocolate
For optimal blood sugar control, you can aim for 3-5 servings of healthy fats per meal, depending on how your body handles blood sugar. Start with 3 servings and increase depending on your response.
2) Plan Your Carb Intake According To The Sun’s Schedule: Your body tends to be more insulin sensitive in the daytime and less so in the evening. You can determine if you have better control of your glucose in the morning or as the sun peaks around noon (lunchtime) versus the evening by using your CGM. You can experiment to find which time of day you are more insulin sensitive without a CGM by eating your complex carbs with protein and a couple servings of fat in the earlier part of the day and sticking to mostly protein and healthy fats with some non-starchy carbs for your evening meal (think: Rainbow Noodle Bowl at lunch and Wood Roasted Salmon Bowl at dinner).
3) Practice Meal Sequencing: Instead of going for the breadbasket when you’re out to dinner, start with a fat/protein/fiber to fill your stomach to blunt the influx of glucose that will come later in the meal. For example, pass on the bread, but ask for olives or a salad with vinaigrette instead (actually, the vinegar will help lower your glucose levels after your meal – it can be apple cider or even balsamic or really any healthy acid). Finish your meal with the carb choice and watch your CGM amaze you that you can quite literally have your cake and eat it too. (Although… we much prefer our decadent and rich Chocolate Avocado Mousse!).
4) Be Like The Italians, Take A “Passeggiata” Post Meals: There’s a reason Europeans enjoy rich food and yet they don’t experience the fatigue and yuck we feel sometimes after heavy meals. Italians are known for their evening stroll, called a passegiatta, which science shows not only helps improve digestion but can markedly bring down post-meal glucose numbers as beautifully as pharmaceutical medications. I don’t know about you, but a 15-minute stroll in fresh air sounds a lot better than medication! And for those of you who like more intense exercise than a calm stroll, studies show if you exercise intensely in the morning, you will experience better blood sugar control throughout the day. Pro tip: don’t be alarmed if you see a spike in glucose after an intense workout – that’s functionally normal and not a sign of disease. Give yourself a couple of hours to cool down and you’ll actually see lower glucose numbers the rest of the day.
5) Trust The Process – We’ve Got You Covered At The Daily Dose: The kitchen is our pharmacy and each ingredient we use in our meals is curated for optimal metabolic response. I’m so passionate about helping you enjoy great health without you having to think about it or suffer through bland, tasteless “health food.” Ingredients such as nigella seed, cinnamon, vinegar, kudzu, chia seeds, and shirataki noodles made from an ultra-fiber called glucamannan along countless others, actually have a glucose blunting impact. So eat our delicious meals, and know we’ve got your back – we’ve already done the work for you! All you need is to sit back, relax, and enjoy.
As you can see, eating healthy is so much more nuanced depending on how each of our bodies responds to our diet and lifestyle. What works for you might be completely different than your partner or best friend. Wearing a CGM is an easy way to gather data so you can better understand how your body works and then adjust your meal timing, meal sequencing, ingredients and lifestyle accordingly. For more information on Levels, you can read their blog or sign up for their waitlist here. You can also work with your local doctor and get a Freestyle Libre from your pharmacy. Prices vary depending on insurance but as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Have you used a CGM before? Do you plan to? If you do, let us know! We would love to hear what you learn while eating your Daily Dose meals. Drop us a line and keep us looped in – we would love to hear from you!
And if you’re new to The Daily Dose (welcome!), you can learn more about us and our meal plans here.
Passionate about the power of food and personal wellbeing, Tricia is an accomplished celebrity chef, nutrition educator and consultant. Tricia has left her mark as a chef in some New York's best restaurants and her love of the culinary arts and the power of food surfaced after she gave birth to her first son. She returned to school to study holistic nutrition.
A meal plan rooted in how we were meant to eat – with grass-fed meats, sustainable fish, healthy fats and a rainbow of organic vegetables. Heal from the effects of modern life and improve overall health.