What A Dietitian Eats Daily For Metabolic Health & Blood Sugar Balance
Through DNA testing and my grandmother's personal experience, I learned that I am genetically predisposed to type 2 diabetes, with increased likelihood of this disease. As a registered dietitian, I set out to lower my chances of developing metabolic issues with a healthy lifestyle and a low-sugar diet.
The importance of blood sugar balance.
Eating too much of any type of carbohydrates can lead to spikes in your blood glucose levels, also called hyperglycemia. In most healthy people, the body responds to these spikes by releasing insulin, a hormone that works to bring glucose levels back down to normal. If, however, you repeatedly have too much glucose in your body, over time the cells become "numb" to insulin, causing blood sugar to rise. This is known as insulin resistance, and it is proinflammatory, potentially causing damage throughout the body.
Aside from inflammation, excess glucose in the bloodstream causes oxidative stress1 (an overabundance of damaging free radicals in the body), which, in turn, causes premature aging.
As a licensed dietetics professional, I was taught that low carbohydrate intake helps not only promote weight loss but also lowers the chance of developing insulin resistance and metabolic disorders. However, carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy, and I don't recommend eliminating them completely.
Instead, I focus on proper meal composition and eating the highest-quality complex carbohydrates. Here's how I do that, morning, noon, and night.
What I eat for breakfast.
Once I'm out of bed, the first thing I do is drink a glass of water. Hydration plays an integral role in metabolic regulation and helps balance fasting blood sugar levels. Then, I make a hormone-balancing breakfast packed with protein, healthy fats, fiber, and probiotics. This could look like: pasture-raised eggs, gluten-free toast made with ghee, and a side of sauerkraut and sautéed green vegetables (think kale or spinach.)
Occasionally, I enjoy plain probiotic yogurt with berries and grain-free granola, waffles, or a collagen protein smoothie. These options help me to have stable and sustained energy throughout the day. I also enjoy a cup of antioxidant-rich matcha tea, which is beneficial for overall metabolic health and energy production.
What I eat for lunch.
For lunch, I enjoy a big bowl of salad consisting of green leafy vegetables, like arugula, endive, baby kale, and other high-fiber and nutrient-dense veggies, like mushrooms, peppers, beets, carrots, and cilantro. I top these salads with healthy sources of protein like chicken, beans, lentils, as well as omega-3 fats, like sardines, mackerel, and avocado. For a dressing, I combine extra-virgin olive oil with lemon juice or tahini dressing.
Fiber-rich cruciferous vegetables help slow the absorption of glucose from food and therefore help prevent post-meal spikes in blood sugar. This is the primary reason I recommend eating vegetables at every meal—it helps reduce inflammatory response to food.
My job as a dietitian is to educate my clients on the value of variety. I teach them to eat an abundance of food sources, each with different micronutrients and beneficial phytochemicals, in a balanced way. And I don't just talk the talk—I am constantly learning myself and use cooking as a way to incorporate more nutrient-dense foods into my busy lifestyle.
In fact, that's how my lunch evolved from a dull salad into a seemingly artisanal meal. I now make dressings like cilantro/apple cider vinegar/black cumin oil, and add a variety of toppings, like hemp, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds; cranberries and blueberries; legumes, like chickpeas or adzuki beans; scallions, anchovies, sea vegetables, daikon, horseradish; and even kimchi and natto for extra gut health benefits.
What I eat for a snack.
People have often said different types of sugars (fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, and sucrose or table sugar), can have different effects on inflammation. However, studies don't show a difference in the levels of inflammatory markers2 among different types of sugars, meaning they all affect blood tests similarly.
Even seemingly healthy options, like fruit, dried fruit, (and especially tropical fruits) can spike blood glucose and subsequent drops. That "sugar crash" leads to drops in energy levels, fatigue, and food cravings. This is why I opt for a low-sugar diet.
If and when you do eat high-sugar foods, though, pair them with a source of fiber, protein, and fat. This helps keep you fuller longer, without spiking blood glucose or making the insulin hormone work too hard. Need inspiration? Combine dates with a dab of almond butter and soft goat cheese. It's a satisfying, salty-sweet, and chewy snack.
To keep my blood glucose levels in check, I snack on high-fiber berries, like raspberries, blueberries, and pomegranate. Not only are these low glycemic foods, but they're also packed with immune-supporting vitamin C, antioxidants, and fiber. Other favorites include green fruits like kiwi, apples, and pears, which I like to combine with nut butters or nuts like walnuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, and pistachios.
What I eat for dinner.
For all my meals, I essentially follow the Mediterranean diet guidelines, which is the only diet approach supported by longevity research3. It emphasizes locally sourced, seasonal, organic produce and a diet pattern high in fish, fruits, vegetables, beans, high-fiber cereals, nuts, and olive oil.
For aperitivo, I may enjoy a salad or a cauliflower pizza made with goat cheese and pesto, or a bone-broth-based vegetable soup. That's followed by a main course of sautéed or roasted vegetables with olive oil and garlic, served with healthy protein. I eat seafood two to three times a week (my favorites are wild Alaskan salmon, cod, branzino, and prawns) and stick with poultry for the other two to three days per week, like duck, chicken, or turkey meatballs.
Occasionally, and in the company of friends, I enjoy a half a glass of red wine, which is high in resveratrol4, a powerful antioxidant.
What I eat after dinner.
After dinner, I like to drink herbal teas to enhance digestion and immune support. Depending on the season, I go for chamomile, turmeric, or ginger-lemon tea.
When hosting guests, I like to serve a dessert inspired by Sardinian local cuisine (which is one of the Blue Zones, where centenarians thrive). One of the desserts is a bowl of plain probiotic yogurt served with a honeycomb and crushed walnuts. The other is a bowl of fresh wild berries drizzled with melted dark chocolate and pistachios.
The protein and fat from the yogurt, combined with the fiber from berries, helps slow glucose absorption and keeps my insulin response in check. On top of that? Cocoa is high in antioxidants, and honey in its comb contains prebiotic fibers.
Eating a healthy diet is all about balance. While many people recommend eliminating carbs altogether to lower blood sugar, I like to prioritize a healthy mix of whole grains, high-fiber foods, proteins, healthy fats, berries, and an entire rainbow of colorful fruits and veggies.
Ella Davar, R.D., CDN, received her education in Nutrition Science from New York University, and an Integrative Nutrition Certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Her book, Driven Women Wellness: Your guide to self-care, offers a cohesive list of priorities, plan of action and hacks that help her clients reach their wellness goals while managing busy lifestyles in a healthy way. Davar specializes in integrative anti-aging nutrition and lifestyle interventions to help women of all backgrounds manage weight, stress, diet, and various health conditions.