Discover the world of nutrition and explore how to fuel your body and mind for peak performance, while uncovering the secrets of a balanced diet.
Nourishing snacks to keep you steady
What’s your schedule look like? Keeping your glucose stable throughout the day requires thoughtful planning. When trying to keep your glucose in check, snacks can make things tricky. Many snacks on the market are packed with refined sugars and highly-processed ingredients. They are full of the ingredients we don’t want and lack the nutrition we do want. But you can make snacking a part of your balanced, glucose-friendly diet with some of these healthy, but tasty, choices. Banana-Coconut Bites: these bites are perfect for when you need something more grab-and-go. All you need is: one banana, two tablespoons of shredded coconut, and one teaspoon of cinnamon. Mash the banana in a bowl until creamy, then mix in the coconut and cinnamon. Drop mixture by spoonful onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten slightly. Bake at 180° Celsius for 20 minutes, and enjoy. Veggies & Houmous: vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumbers, and bell peppers are the perfect snack. They are full of fibre and low in calories. They also pair perfectly with hummus which adds flavour and is packed with protein and healthy fats to fill you up without weighing you down. Fruit & Nuts: fruits like apples, oranges, pears, and berries are packed with vitamins and minerals. Pair them with a handful of nuts and you have yourself a nutritious, simple snack. Nuts deliver an added crunch while providing healthy fats and protein to keep you satisfied until your next meal. (1) Get moving: movement is great for many reasons, but one of its biggest benefits is its ability to lower your glucose curve. Set aside some exercise time each day. Even just 15 minutes of walking after lunch can have a positive impact on your glucose. (2)
Add fibre to fill up and help manage your glucose
The latest UK data shows that fewer than 1 in 10 adults meet the daily recommended fibre intake of 30g. (1) Vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, whole fruits, and whole grains are excellent sources of fibre. So make sure you include them in every meal. How fibre helps Including fibre-rich foods in a meal not only makes it more satisfying (2) it also helps stabilise your glucose. (3) As your body is unable to absorb and break down fibre, it doesn’t cause a glucose spike. A review in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that including fibre-rich foods was linked with improved glucose control in adults with varying health conditions. The review also showed that increasing your daily fibre intake to 35g helps improve the risk factors for heart disease, such as cholesterol levels and bodyweight. (3) Five ways to add fibre Use more pulses: three heaped tablespoons of beans or chickpeas provides at least 4.5g of fibre. Add them to your salads and sauces or have them as a side dish. Opt for wholegrain and seeded bread. A slice of wholegrain bread with avocado provides about 4g of fibre. Adding a tablespoon of flax or chia seeds to your salad (or on your soup, salad, or porridge) provides about 3-5g of fibre. For a fibre-rich snack, a handful of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit adds about 4g. A banana or an apple will each add 2g. Check the nutrition labels for foods ‘high in fibre’ (6g per 100g) or a ‘source of fibre’ (3g or more per 100g) While you’re busy adding fibre, remember to fill up on fluids too. Fibre draws water into the bowel, so drinking plenty of fluids will allow the fibre to do its job properly.
Balance your glucose and level-up your overnight oats
Overnight oats are an easy, tasty breakfast option that can be prepped in advance. However, as oats are rich in carbohydrates, adding in the right toppings or mixtures is critical to keeping your glucose steady. Traditional oats with flavoured oat milk, raisins, banana, and honey is tasty, but contains lots of carbohydrates and minimal protein. This sweet start to your day can spike your glucose, leaving you feeling low energy, hungry, and irritable hours later. Carbohydrates paired with protein and fats give a smoother post-meal glucose curve than carbohydrates alone. (1) Pair wisely with these tasty swaps: Swap the oat milk for whole milk or full-fat Greek yoghurt. These contain more protein and less sugars. If you’re vegan, opt for a fortified, unsweetened nut-based milk, and double check the ingredients to avoid ones with added sugars. To increase the protein content, add high-quality protein powder to your porridge or mix in milled flaxseed, chia seeds, and chopped nuts. Instead of raisins, dried fruit, and bananas, add berries, as these are lower in sugar. A tasty recipe Use a ratio of 1:1 for the oats and liquid. Mix the ingredients, cover, and leave in the fridge overnight. Divide the mixture into containers if you’re on the move, or portion into bowls for the following days. Having some in the fridge means you can always start your day with steady glucose. By making these swaps, your breakfast will be far more satiating and improve your energy and focus. A great way to start all you days.
Start your day off right with this bacon and eggs breakfast wrap recipe
Breakfast wraps are delicious and satisfying, so it’s no surprise they are a popular option when eating out for breakfast. However, if you make getting takeaway a habit, it can get in the way of your health goals. Many restaurant foods come with more calories, fewer essential nutrients, and leave you with little control over the ingredients that are used. Plus, you spend more money eating out than you would making your food at home. Fortunately, we’ve created this toasted breakfast wrap recipe that can easily be made at home in less than 30 minutes and uses only a handful of ingredients. Not only will this save you money on takeaway, but beginning your day with a protein-packed breakfast will start you off on the right foot and help keep your glucose steady. (1) This will set you up to feel more energized and reduce that mid-morning slump and cravings that you might experience if you eat something more carb-heavy or sugary like a pastry or sweet coffee drink. This recipe, developed by Lingo’s registered dietitians, leans into the Lingo Fundamentals: prioritize protein with the eggs; go with green with the spinach, bell peppers, and onions; don’t fear fat with the olive oil and bacon; and choose savoury over sweet with this balanced breakfast wrap instead of a cinnamon roll or croissant. The tortilla wrap is a lower-carb option compared to a bagel or French bread. This combination will help keep your glucose steady so you’ll stay satisfied and energized all morning. (2) If you want to jazz this breakfast wrap up a bit, opt for topping with salsa, fresh coriander, or avocado for more healthy fats. If you’re vegetarian, swap the bacon for black beans to get a little more protein and fiber. You could even sprinkle some of your favorite cheese inside for additional flavor. No matter how you customize this recipe, it’s a solid go-to to start your morning off right—and save time waiting in line at a café!—all for less than 500 calories. Servings: 1 Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 10 minutes Total time: 25 minutes Ingredients 2 eggs 1 tortilla wrap (whole wheat or white) 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped 1 handful spinach 2 slices of bacon, cooked and chopped (for a vegetarian wrap, sub 56g (1/2 cup) black beans 15 mL (1 Tbps) olive oil Recipe preparation Crack eggs in a bowl and whisk together. Stir in bell pepper and onion, spinach and chopped bacon. In a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sautee egg mixture until cooked. Remove from heat and wipe out remnants from pan. Place egg mixture on top of tortilla and roll. Place back in pan to toast. Nutrients per serving 490 calories 22g protein 32g fat 26g carbohydrate 2g fibre Nutrition facts compiled using ESHA Genesis R&D Food Development and Labelling software, version 11.11.23. It’s always best to speak with your doctor or registered dietitian before starting any new diet or exercise regimen.
Cheesy prawn spaghetti squash ‘pasta’ dish
When you’re eating to steady your glucose and lessen the carbohydrate load of a meal, you might think you have to totally stay away from pasta. After all, pasta (especially the big serving sizes at restaurants) is packed with carbs in the form of refined grains, which usually leads to a glucose spike. This tends to be followed by a crash and subsequent energy slump, plus cravings for more simple carbs. Luckily, Lingo’s registered dietitians developed this recipe for prawn spaghetti squash that tastes just like a cheesy, delicious seafood pasta dish but with fewer carbs. In addition to the base of spaghetti squash, which is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, this recipe adds a sprinkling of peas and broccoli for additional fibre and micronutrients. While less than 400 calories per serving, this recipe definitely doesn’t lack flavor thanks to the mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, and Italian seasonings. You get a balance of protein from the prawns, fat from the olive oil and cheese, and fibre from the veggies. This 40g carb dish is rich in fibre and protein, resulting in a hearty dinner that will leave you feeling satisfied but without the big spike that tends to follow traditional pasta dishes. Servings: 4 Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 30 minutes Total time: 45 minutes Ingredients 1 spaghetti squash (1130-1360g) 454g shrimp or prawns, thawed and drained if frozen 1 Tbsp olive oil 225g Tenderstem broccoli (aka broccolini), chopped 20g fresh peas 4 garlic cloves, minced ¼ tsp crushed red pepper 2 Tbsp water 105g mozzarella cheese, divided 20g grated parmesan cheese, divided ¾ tsp Italian seasoning ½ tsp salt ¼ tsp ground pepper Recipe preparation Preheat oven to 230°C Carefully cut spaghetti squash lengthwise. Place cut-side down in microwave safe-dish with 2 tablespoons of water. Microwave on high until flesh is tender, about 10 minutes. Alternatively, place cut-side down on rimmed baking sheet and bake at 200°C until squash is tender, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat oil in large frying pan over medium heat. Add prawns and cook until opaque. Add broccoli, garlic, and red pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes. Add water and cook, stirring, until broccoli is tender, 3-5 minutes more. Add fresh peas to the skillet, combine with other ingredients and transfer to a large bowl. Use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl. Place the shells in a grill safe baking pan or baking sheet. Stir 85g mozzarella, 2 tablespoons parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper into the squash mixture. Divide between shells and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan. Bake on lower rack in oven for 10 minutes then move to upper rack and grill until cheese starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Nutrients per serving 395 calories 32g protein 12g fat 40g carbohydrate 10g fibre Nutrition facts compiled using ESHA Genesis R&D Food Development and Labelling software, version 11.11.23. It’s always best to speak with your doctor or registered dietitia before starting any new diet or exercise regimen.
Easy protein-packed cinnamon blueberry overnight oats recipe
One of Lingo’s Fundamentals is to choose savoury over sweet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy sweet foods from time to time, especially for breakfast. If you’re someone who craves a pastry or sugary coffee in the morning, you may be familiar with how these choices can spike your glucose followed by a crash, leading to that mid-morning energy slump and cravings for more sweets. Luckily, Lingo’s registered dietitians created this delicious cinnamon blueberry overnight oats recipe that will satisfy your sweet tooth without leading to a spike. This recipe is made with whey protein powder for an extra boost of protein to start your day off right. Prioritising protein (another one of Lingo’s Fundamentals) will help steady your glucose and keep you satisfied all morning while helping to avoid the dreaded mid-morning crash. (1) The sweetness comes from the blueberries (you can use fresh or frozen), which also provides some fibre, vitamins, and antioxidants. The generous amount of cinnamon, a spice known to help with glucose management (2), complements the blueberries nicely. If you’re vegan, you can swap out the whey protein powder for your favourite plant-based protein powder. The best part about this recipe? You make it the night before so it’s ready for you first thing in the morning or to take with you on the go if you’re in a hurry. With just five ingredients, these overnight oats are as easy as putting everything together in a jar and stirring. Mix up your typical oatmeal and opt for these protein-forward overnight oats to stay steady and satisfied all morning long. Servings: 1 Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 0 minutes Total time: 10 minutes Ingredients 45g oats 180ml milk (If animal milk is not your preferred choice, use a low-sugar plant-based milk) 1 scoop 100% whey protein powder (or plant-based protein powder) 2g (1 tsp) cinnamon powder 95g fresh or frozen blueberries Recipe preparation Stir all of the ingredients together. Pour into a container. Place in refrigerator overnight. Nutrients per serving 390 calories 28g protein 7g fat 59g carbohydrate 8g fibre Note: nutrients calculated using 1% fat milk Nutrition facts compiled using ESHA Genesis R&D Food Development and Labelling software, version 11.11.23. It’s always best to speak with your doctor or registered dietitian before starting any new diet or exercise regimen.
Balanced vegan diet: How can you get the nutrients you need?
The start of the year is a new chance to revisit your overall nutrition. This year, you may be curious about Veganuary—a 31-day vegan diet challenge throughout the month of January that encourages participants to stick with the diet year-round. Veganuary is also a non-profit organisation that started in England and Wales in 2014 to support and encourage people to eat a plant-based diet. Plant-based diets have continued to increase in popularity in recent years. From 2014 to 2018, there was a 600% increase in Americans subscribing to a vegan diet. (1) The British Nutrition Foundation reports that 2-3% of the UK population follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, with interest in reducing meat consumption on the rise. In 2017, 28% of people in the UK reported an interest in reducing their meat consumption, compared to 34% in 2018. (2) While “vegan” and “plant-based” are often used interchangeably, there are some distinctions. A plant-based diet is any dietary pattern that includes a low amount of animal food and high amounts of foods from plants, like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains. A vegan diet is a type of plant-based diet that is free from any animal products (e.g. no meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, or other foods derived from animals). For the purposes of this article, we will be using both terms to refer to the avoidance of animal-derived products in the diet. Whether you’re aiming to focus more on plants to get most of your nutrients or deciding to cut animal products completely, it is important to identify the best sources of protein, carbohydrate, and fat that fit into a plant-based diet. You may set out with the intention to better your health, but without careful planning, cutting out animal-based foods can leave you filling up on carbohydrates and ultra-processed foods, which aren’t best for your energy levels (due to blood sugar spikes and crashes), or your overall health. Below, we break down why people may choose to eat a vegan diet and what a healthy, balanced vegan diet truly looks like. Why people choose to eat a vegan diet There are many reasons people may be interested in trying a vegan diet, a major one being for the desired health benefits. Plant-based eating has been linked to lower BMI (body mass index), weight loss, lower cholesterol, lower risk of diabetes, intestinal diseases, heart disease, cataracts, certain cancers, and more. (3)(4) Adopting a vegan diet is also a lifestyle for many people who choose it for ethical reasons, including animal cruelty and environmental considerations. Many of the health benefits of plant-based diets are linked to the higher fibre content compared to animal-based diets. Since vegan diets are based around complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruits, plant-based eaters tend to get closer to the 30 grams of fibre that is recommended daily. (5) Picturing a vegan diet may bring to mind brightly colored vegetables, fruits, and other healthy plant foods. However, many foods are technically vegan that aren’t health promoting (think: sugary soda, biscuits, greasy chips). So while the goal for many of eating a vegan diet is to eat more plants and plant-based foods, it can unintentionally lead to eating an unbalanced diet that is lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates, specifically refined and ultra-processed foods (UPFs). A 2021 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that vegans consumed the most UPFs of any plant-based diet. (6) Eating a diet high in UPFs has excessive amounts of added sugar, unhealthy fats, salt, and low in micronutrients and fibre. This can wreak havoc on your glucose, energy levels, and overall health. In other words, vegan diets are not automatically healthy. (7) A high consumption of vegan-friendly foods like sugary drinks, refined grains, potatoes, desserts, and fruit juices has been associated with a higher risk of chronic disease and overall mortality. (4) In contrast, a balanced vegan diet can be health promoting. One of the ways is through better blood glucose levels due to increased fibre intake. A 2023 study found that diabetic participants on an animal-based diet had a six times greater risk of having uncontrolled blood glucose levels compared to those who adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet. (8) If you’re interested in eliminating animal products, it’s important to limit added sugars and get enough protein from plant-based sources to steady glucose. Eating protein, especially pairing a source of carbs with a protein, is key to helping balance blood sugar. Eating a vegan diet comes with extra challenges, especially attaining proper nutrition from vegan foods. Trying a vegan diet this year? Keep reading to learn how to get the nutrients you need with a balanced vegan diet. Sources of nutrients for vegans Since vegan diets are free from any animal products or byproducts and often plant-based, it’s important to understand which vegan foods fit into each macronutrient (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) category for balanced vegan nutrition. Here are the best sources of vegan nutrition for each macronutrient: Protein sources: Beans, peas, and lentils; nuts, seeds, and soy products (such as tofu and tempeh). Carb sources: Whole grains (quinoa, barley, oats), whole-grain bread and pasta, brown rice, potatoes, and other starchy vegetables. Fat sources: Plant oils (canola, olive oil, coconut), avocado, nuts and nut butters, and seeds It’s important to note that many meat alternatives on the market that are designed to replace animal-based foods like burgers and sausages are often not a healthier option. These foods can be low in protein and high in salt, oil, and sugar. If searching for a meat alternative, look for whole soy-based products like tofu and tempeh that have few additives. Healthy vegan nutrition should revolve around the rule of three: Fill ½ of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (e.g. asparagus, Brussels sprouts, peppers), ¼ with high-quality protein (e.g. tofu), and the remaining ¼ with complex carbohydrates (e.g. sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa). Don’t forget to include healthy fats (e.g. avocado, nuts, seeds, or a drizzle of olive oil) as well. Vegan nutrition advice If you follow a vegan diet, it’s crucial that you eat a balanced diet that satisfies macronutrient and micronutrient (vitamin and mineral) needs, as vegans are more prone to nutritional deficiencies that can lead to future health problems like anemia, stroke, cognitive impairment, decreased bone health, and more. (9) Nutritional deficiencies are common among people who follow an unbalanced vegan diet, like those who eat an abundance of ultra-processed foods. Common micronutrient deficiencies include vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, selenium, iodine, iron, zinc, riboflavin, and omega-3 fatty acids. (7) Additionally, because plant-based sources of protein are not as easily utilized by the body and have a different mix of amino acids compared to animal sources, it’s important to ensure you are getting enough protein from a variety of sources to ensure you get all of the amino acids your body needs. (10) Soy (tofu, tempeh, edamame), quinoa, and buckwheat are complete proteins that provide all nine essential amino acids, and other plant-based foods that aren’t complete proteins but provide a good number of amino acids include beans, spirulina, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds. To eat a balanced vegan diet, some of the recommendations from the National Health Service include: (11) Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day. Have some fortified dairy alternatives, such as soya drinks and yoghurts (choose lower-sugar options). Eat some beans, pulses, and other proteins. Eat nuts and seeds rich in omega-3 fatty acids (such as walnuts) every day. Have fortified foods or supplements containing nutrients that are more difficult to get through a vegan diet, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, iodine, selenium, calcium and iron. Drink plenty of fluids (the NHS recommends 6 to 8 cups or glasses a day). While these are broad recommendations for people following a vegan diet, Lingo recommends that you tailor your own vegan diet to include foods that allow you to keep your glucose levels steady. This may mean: Base meals on a quality source of protein (like tofu or tempeh) and make sure to include protein at every meal. Tailor carb portions based on your own blood sugar response and choose whole grain carbs whenever possible. Eat fruits and vegetables that don’t cause your blood sugar to spike rapidly. Vegans should also still focus on limiting ultra-processed foods that are high in added sugars, simple carbohydrates, unhealthy fat, and sodium. Although many foods may be vegan-friendly, it does not mean they are nutritionally sound. To adhere to a balanced diet for good nutrition, follow the rule of three as outlined above to balance non-starchy vegetables, protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. A final note from Lingo Since many people are looking to eat healthier and increase their consumption of fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods, a plant-based diet might be something to explore. Plant-based diets have grown in popularity in recent years, and some studies point to health benefits such as improved BMI, lower cholesterol, and reduced risk of heart disease. (11) However, if a balanced vegan diet is not followed, it can create nutritional challenges. Nutritional deficiencies can be common for vegans, but can be avoided with fortified foods and supplements such as B12 and vitamin D. (9) Although eating a vegan diet higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein may lead to glucose spikes, using a continuous glucose monitor like Lingo can help you understand your habits and patterns and work towards eating a more balanced diet to limit glucose spikes. Lingo is not a medical device and not designed to treat or diagnose any disease or illness. If you have medical questions or concerns regarding your glucose, please contact your doctor.