Making a fruit smoothie bowl (and eating it with without a blood sugar spike)!
If you follow me on instagram then you know that smoothie bowls are my go-to for a fast, filling, and delicious breakfast or snack! I could eat them everyday and never get bored. Instead of giving you a specific recipe for a bowl, I'm going to give you a formula to create your own masterpiece that is always delicious and super thick and creamy.
The basic formula is:
Two cups frozen fruit and one cup fresh fruit. Blend and enjoy!
Yup, it's that easy. No milk needed. And because this is a 2:1 ratio, you can adapt the actual amount based on how many servings you want! This won't make a drinkable smoothie, but a smoothie bowl, so note that it will be thicker like ice cream and you won't be able to slurp through a straw! Add a bit more fresh fruit or nut milk if you want to drink it instead.
A few more tips:
My favorite frozen fruit is dragonfruit, strawberries, and açai. I keep my freezer stocked!
Use banana as your fresh fruit for optimal creaminess
If you're having trouble blending, add more fresh fruit or let it sit for 5-10 minutes to soften the frozen fruit a bit
Add some flavor by throwing in ginger, cinnamon, or nutmeg
No, I don't add additional sources of protein or fat in my smoothie. See more in the next section about blood sugars to see why.
As for the toppings:
For me, it depends on the day of whether I want to add more nuts and seeds or more fruit toppings. Most days I'll do a combo!
Some of my favorites are: toasted coconut, chia seeds, cocao nibs, ground flax seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds. I buy them in bulk so I always have them on hand and it saves money too!
For fruit toppings, I love: blueberries, sliced banana, strawberries, kiwi, mango, and grapes (kinda strange, but trust me it's so good!)
And now for the (seemingly) tricky part: getting the bolus right.
As you know-- I'm not a doctor and this is not medical advice. This is information that I have gathered from reading books and digging through research and from my own personal experiences with t1d.
My first tip which everyone should understand is that you can eat any food without getting a spike. Like literally anything. As long as you know how to properly bolus and prebolus for that specific food, there is absolutely a way to eat it without any spike.
I see so many times on instagram people say things like "I can't eat pineapple because it spikes me." What I wish people would say instead is, "I haven't figured out how to properly bolus for pineapple YET." You're not victim to food. Food is not the enemy. It's about finding a way to work with it.
Okay rant over, ha! Here are my tips:
Increase Insulin Sensitivity. It plays a big role. I personally think increasing your overall long-term insulin sensitivity is the best way to be able to eat more carbs with easier-to-manage spikes. From a diet standpoint, this can be achieved by focusing on a majority of foods coming from plant based whole foods. This way of eating is naturally lower in animal products and fat, both of which contribute to insulin resistance. Ever get a pesky overnight high with no explanation? Or eat something like a smoothie bowl and your blood sugar won't drop for hours? It was probably insulin resistance.
If you're not looking to change the way you eat, a short-term way to increase insulin sensitivity is to go for a walk after you eat. Bonus points for hills. 20 minutes usually does the trick.
Eat it slow. In addition to not getting a brain freeze, eating your smoothie bowl slow will allow the carbs to enter your system more gradually. This gives the insulin more time to be absorbed and start doing it's thing.
Extend your pre-bolus. Not all foods are the same. Therefore, your prebolus should not always be the same. If you typically pre-bolus 15 minutes and you're still seeing a spike, consider increasing that. Pre-plant based, I gave myself about a 45-minute pre-bolus for smoothies and smoothie bowls. Now I do about 20-minutes. It can also vary depending on the time of day. In the morning I need a slightly longer pre-bolus than in the afternoon.
Count your carbs by weighing your fruit. It's really easy to mis-calculate the carbs in your fruit buy using measuring cups or determining a "medium" banana. Weighing is the most accurate.
HOWEVER, don't get caught up in your insulin:carb ratio if it's not serving you. Despite having the same amount of carbs, different foods, despite what we're conventionally taught, will affect your blood sugar different. Here's a video and research to explain. The best way to overcome this is to record what happens after you eat the smoothie bowl (for example, maybe you had to take a 3 unit correction), and then adjust based on that correction the next time you eat it (in this case, add 3 units to the initial bolus).
And probably the most contested thing I'll say next is don't add additional fats or protein to your smoothie bowl. I know, I know, everyone is telling you that by adding them it will help slow down the spike but hear me out. Eating high fat foods before or with fruit increases the difficulty for your muscles and liver to metabolize glucose effectively (source: Mastering Diabetes). This makes the spike less predictable and more difficult to come down, resulting in that stubborn extended high. If you do want to add nuts or seeds, stick to a tablespoon or two, but not much more.
"But I love peanut butter in my smoothies. Does that mean I can't include it?"
Of course not! You gotta find what works for you! It's about adding this knowledge to your toolkit so you can better understand and navigate your blood sugars. If you do add something high-fat, you can understand how it will affect you and choose situations when it may be okay. For example, I personally wouldn't eat something that may lead to elevated blood sugars in the middle of a busy day or an important event because I want to feel my best.
And that's all I have for today, folks! Eating fruit is amazing and gives you so much energy and vibrance and LIFE! I so wish I would have learned these tips because I went wayyyy to many years avoiding fruit and smoothies. Got more questions? Drop them in the comments or DM me on instagram!