Blood sugar levels have become quite the topic of conversation in my household lately because I have (finally) come to realize just how important they are in my daily well being. Allowing these levels to drop and, therefore, become “Low” can make your body vulnerable to all kinds of consequences such as low energy, irritability, headaches/migraines and, in my case, seizures. I have been struggling with Catamenial Epilepsy for almost 10 years, but I only recently figured out the significant connection between my blood sugar and my brain activity.
Depending on your daily meal schedule, you will find that certain points throughout the day will seem like a lot of work to get through, more so than the rest of the day.
Personally, these points of the day usually fall around 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Now this may vary depending on your own breakfast, lunch, and dinner schedule. However, it is incredibly important not only to eat solid meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday, but it is imperative to incorporate solid snacks, as well. I gave a few examples of proper snacks in my previous blood sugar article, however, almost all of the snack ideas I provided are not gluten-free. So what do you do for solid snacks if you can’t snack on things like crackers or other wheat based products??
I’ll actually go one step further and provide you with a few snacks that are gluten-free, dairy free, and sugar free. Every single one of these snacks I eat personally and can guarantee that they will successfully sustain your blood sugar levels AND they will act as an excellent source for a much needed burst of energy.
Truthfully, life is busy which can make it difficult to actually stop and search for signs of low blood sugar. Plus, the human body is extremely talented at concealing its weaknesses from the outside world, especially you! Sometimes you might look for signs and find nothing…you’re not super hungry, you don’t have a headache, no seizures, and so on…However, this does not mean that your blood sugar levels are exactly where they should be.
So, in this case I have found it best to toss the optimism, assume the worst and provide yourself with a quick, gluten free snack! Sometimes, one simple snack can actually change my entire day when the determining factor between having a seizure and preventing one is so closely related to my blood sugar levels.
Thinking it at from this perspective helps me fight those occasional thoughts of procrastination…you know, the ones that tell you, “It is WAY too much work to go to the kitchen right now and fix a healthy snack so just skip it instead.” Here is your moment to shine…don’t give in to the procrastination, carry on strong and confident because you CAN do this!
I prefer to eat a small something before it’s too late and something I can’t take back happens…like another seizure. Trust me when I say I’ve already had plenty of those to last a lifetime so if there is anything I can do to prevent another one you can guarantee I’m going to do it! So keep on reading for basic snack ideas I incorporate into my own gluten-free, dairy-free, and sugar-free diet on a daily basis…
My first recommendation is no newbie to the snack arena of the world, I have 2 words for you…Nut Butter. And in case you were wondering, No I did not not forget the “Pea” on “Nut Butter.” I would recommend every other kind of nut butter before I ever recommend peanut butter as a snack option here on Seize the Day Blog. The main reason for this is because of the extreme levels of naturally-occurring Phytic Acid. Although phytic acid is commonly found in the majority of nuts, you can purchase pre-soaked nuts which have been through a sort of draining process where this acid is actually removed from the nut. These can be difficult to find in-store so if you’re interested in these pre-soaked nuts I would recommend searching online.
While draining the acid is possible even in peanuts, it is impossible to determine whether or not the peanut butter companies have used soaked nuts in their products. My guess is No due to the fact that this will be the more expensive route. Time and money will have to be forfeited in order to deliver an acid-free nut base…while the product will be of better quality for the consumer, their wallets will take a hit for their careful production method. At the end of the day, do you think these big peanut companies are going to choose the product that is better for the consumer’s overall health or the product that will mean an increased cash flow???
Now there’s a no brainer….
In addition to Phytic Acid, peanuts also contain yet another negative naturally occurring ingredient that has actually been labeled a human carcinogen. This ingredient is called “aflatoxin, a natural toxin produced by certain strains of the mold Aspergillus flavus and A. Parasiticus that grow on peanuts stored in warm, humid silos. Peanuts aren’t the only affected crops. Aflatoxins have been found in pecans, pistachios and walnuts, as well as milk, grains, soybeans and spices” (Dr. Weil).
Basically, it is a form of mold that grows inside of peanuts. I’ll just give you a minute to let that fact sink in…Every time you eat a peanut or a product containing peanuts you are also eating mold. Does that make you view peanut butter differently? I certainly hope so!
This is where the importance of soaked nuts becomes an incredibly relevant topic. In order to eat any type of nut without the risk of mold or phytic acid, you want to purchase your nuts pre-soaked or you’ll want to soak them yourselves. I recommend checking out the book “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon for excellent tips on how to do this procedure in the comfort of your own home.
Not that I would ever recommend a peanut butter product on here anyway because the majority are so full of sugar that it would be more appropriate to label each product a dessert option rather than a health snack option. It is even more terrible when you consider the fact that peanut butter is most often marketed toward children…
C’mon food industry! You’re already pumping children full of synthetic sugar through the most basic processed snack products…Why, do you have to pump them full of mold too???
For now, I guess this is just food for thought. Do not fear, my peanut butter rant does have a healthy solution. Plus I think it’s important to be aware of these detrimental ingredients present in even the most common food products.
In my first blood sugar related article, I discussed snack options such as crackers. However, I had not yet begun a strict diet. When I took a look at that article again I realized, Wow! I can’t actually take any of my own advice when I’m on this diet and neither can any other gluten-free person! So in this article, I’d really like to share with you all of the snack ideas I’ve been using to keep my seizure activity as low as possible.
My first choice right now is what the health industry calls “Nutter” and as I previously discussed above is simply all different types of Nut Butter under a single umbrella name…Trust me, Nutter is much easier to say when, like me, your lifestyle requires you to say it frequently. Nut Butter is just a mouthful!
Almond Butter, Pistachio Butter, Cashew Butter, Pumpkin Seed Butter, basically every other type of Nut Butter is an excellent choice for your gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free diet regimen.
My favorite types of Nutter happen to be Almond Butter and Pistachio Butter by Wilderness Poets. This brand is Organic, Non-GMO, Soy Free, and affordable! Plus, you can honestly put this stuff on anything, including the crackers (if your diet permits gluten) I recommended in my first post on blood sugar levels and it will taste great! However, for those us trying to keep to a gluten, sugar, and dairy-free diet it is best to stick to Fruit & Veg categories.
So what I like to do is eat an organic apple or celery sticks and cover both in Nutter. The apple is sweet enough to eat the Nutter alone. However, with the celery sticks I highly recommend adding a dash of sea salt and a drizzle of raw honey to each stick of celery already coated with Nutter. This will add a lot more flavor to what is already an incredibly nutritious snack!
Just a thin layer of Nutter on each slice of apple or each piece of celery is all that you need. My experience has taught me to add it according to my own taste and allow others to do the same because the amount of preferred Nutter seems to vary from person to person. It is also wise to experiment with Nutter amounts when it comes to each fruit and veggie just in case you might need extra Nutter or extra ingredients for each snack. I tend to add a little bit more Nutter to my celery than I do my apples.
Another great snack option that offers a little more substance in its base ingredients is guacamole and tortilla chips or Avocado Salsa and tortilla chips. Tortilla chips are probably the closest thing I’ve found to crackers that are still gluten-free. You can even pair these with Salsa too if you’re not a huge fan of avocados. I like both, but be careful when snacking because you only want to eat enough to drive your blood sugar levels up a bit during that time of the day when those levels might be prone to sagging a bit lower than they should. You don’t want to spoil one of your meals by stuffing yourself with tortilla chips…I know it can be challenging, but resist the temptation!
Although I do love myself some good salsa and guacamole, the superstar product here is actually the tortilla chips. These are the most convenient on-the-go snack that I have been able to find! Plus, I have thoroughly researched the ingredient label of the Late July Brand’s Tortilla Chips and it is pristine!
I have previously discussed some post-seizure behavior my body has been prone to since I was first diagnosed with epilepsy ten years ago. One of which includes “shivering” as though I am cold despite the warm temperature around me. This is partially why blood sugar levels have become such an interesting topic for me, personally. My parents figured out that my “shivering” will actually stop quickly and completely if I eat something with some substance such as crackers (when I was consuming gluten) and then tortilla chips (when I began a gluten-free diet). Tortilla Chips are an excellent snack for me post-seizure. I’d also like to think that they prevent seizure activity when I incorporate them at the correct times throughout the day. These tortilla chips are found at most grocery stores so they are easy to find and even easier to bring with you if some on-the-go business arises unexpectedly during your day.
Finally, if you want to keep things extra simple, I recommend grilled chicken with garlic salt. It is a protein packed snack that can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge for about 4 days when properly stored. I would say this is the gluten-free and dairy-free version of other familiar snacks like cheese. String cheese is always a snack favorite amongst people of all ages. It can offer a little boost to your blood sugar and your protein levels without any extra effort from you. This is definitely a dream snack, however, grilled chicken can offer the same boost with only a teeny bit of effort from you. In the end, you will be getting a better quality form of protein from the chicken so it will definitely be worth it. Plus, it can be eaten hot or cold so it works great if you’re on-the-go!
My preferred time periods for a snack are around 10:30 AM and 3:00 PM. This is best for me personally because I eat breakfast around 8:00 AM, Lunch around 12:00 PM, and dinner around 5:30 PM. As you will notice from my schedule, I am trying to fit my snack in 2 hours after I have eaten and 1-2 hours before my next meal. You want to figure out that 2 hour window in between your own meals and adjust accordingly.
The goal here is consuming healthy carbohydrates and healthy fats that act as a sustaining agent for your entire body, but most importantly your blood sugar. Your blood sugar levels are deeply connected with your brain function. I know that my seizure activity increases when my blood sugar drops so incorporating a small snack is actually an excellent contribution to your total-body health and your overall brain function.
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