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4 Sneaky Foods That Can Spike Your Blood Sugar & What To Do

The last one may be especially surprising.

  • Posted on 01st May, 2022 10:55 AM
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When it comes to foods that cause the biggest blood sugar spikes, a few standouts come to mind. These include white bread, white potatoes, pastas, the list goes on—essentially, they’re options that contain a lot of simple sugars.

It turns out, however, that a few unsuspecting foods also make the list. When biochemist Jessie Inchauspe, author of Glucose Revolution: The Life-Changing Power of Balancing Your Blood Sugar, joined us on the mindbodygreen podcast, she shared four to be aware of—but that doesn't mean you must avoid them altogether. Below, she also shares how to enjoy each item without a big glucose spike.

1. Sweetened yogurt

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According to Inchauspe, it’s important to look at the label for hidden sugars when you’re selecting a yogurt: “Even if a yogurt has fruit purée or fruit concentrate, that’s just sugar that’s been extracted from fruit….As soon as you denature a piece of fruit to use it for its sweetness, you’re creating a big glucose spike in your body."

Instead, she recommends a simple swap: “If you want a sweet yogurt, buy plain Greek yogurt and blueberries and put that into your yogurt." She also recommends a spoonful of almond butter for its protein and healthy fats. "It tastes really nice and rich and sweet, even though it doesn’t have any sugar in it," she explains.

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2. Date bars

Next up is actually a very popular natural sweetener: “Another big one is all of the cereal or snack bars that are really high in dates," she says. "They might say all-natural, no sugar added, but then you look at the label and it’s like, Oh, this is just 10 dates and some walnuts. Again, dates are dried fruits.”

Although, Inchauspe clearly states that the solution to reducing a glucose spike is not to avoid dates—or any sweet or starchy foods, for that matter. Rather, she suggests pairing them strategically with other foods: “Put clothing on your carbs. Anytime you eat something starchy or sweet, add protein, fat, or fiber—which I call clothing," she says. "You then reduce the glucose spike that the starchy or sweet food would create.” This technique allows you to enjoy food restriction-free while avoiding the short- and long-term effects of big blood sugar spikes.

3. Rice cakes

Third on Inchauspe’s list is rice cakes. “A lot of people think rice cakes are really good for you. Actually, it’s just pure starch," she says. Fortunately, her “clothes on carbs” hack works here, too: “You can put some avocado on them, maybe some smoked salmon—just to make sure that the starch from the rice doesn’t create this massive spike in your bloodstream," she notes.

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4. Honey

Yes, we were shocked, too. “Despite what marketing tells you, regular white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, fruit purée, fruit juice concentrate, dried fruit, all that stuff—if you see it on a label, it’s the exact same thing. It’s all glucose and fructose," says Inchauspe.

In fact, she declares that honey may even lead to a bigger glucose spike than table sugar (gasp!). “Everything that glucose spikes do, fructose does it at an even greater extent,” she explains, and “honey has more fructose in it than table sugar; the proportion is higher.”

Again, this doesn't mean you must stow the honey forever. Just be strategic about the order in which you consume your meal: "Science shows that if you eat the constituents of a meal in a specific order, you can reduce the glucose spike of the meal by 75 percent. So you’re eating the exact same food, but there are much fewer consequences on your body and mental health….The correct order is vegetables, proteins and fats second, and sugars last.” So you can still have your honey—just consume it at the end of your meal!

The takeaway.

While sweetened yogurt, date bars, rice cakes, and honey might cause higher glucose spikes, Inchauspe’s blood sugar-balancing tips (swapping in whole fruits, adding clothing to carbs, and enjoying a meal in a certain order) mean that you can totally still enjoy them—without a big glucose spike and subsequent crash, maybe even more so. 

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