How Blood Sugar Impacts Your Hormones

Blood Sugar, Hormone balance, Menopause

The Ultimate Guide to Thriving in the Menopause


If you are struggling with your mood, energy and weight gain, this blog is for you.  Because whilst they all sound like perimenopause and menopause symptoms, they are also symptoms of blood sugar imbalance, as are sugar cravings, sleep issues, anxiety, night sweats, hot flushes, and brain fog.  In fact, most of your hormonal symptoms are underpinned by unbalanced blood sugar.  So in this blog, I will share what is blood sugar imbalance, and how blood sugar impacts your hormones.




What is Blood Sugar Imbalance?


When we eat, sugary foods and carbohydrates they break down as glucose or blood sugar.  The pancreas will release insulin to remove the glucose from the blood.  This glucose is then stored as glycogen to be released as energy when required at a later date.


When we have too much glucose in the system because we are eating too many carbs or too much sugar, the storage cells become full up and go into lockdown.


Because the storage cells are full up and in lockdown, there is nowhere for the glucose to go so it remains in the blood stream.  The pancreas can’t work out what is going so continues to release more and more insulin and eventually, we become resistant to it.   When this happens, we feel tired and lethargic with no energy, we feel hungry all the time, we lack clarity of thought, there may be moodswings, depression and anxiety and we crave sugar all the time even though there is plenty in your bloodstream because the cells are in lockdown, so the glucose isn’t getting in there to be stored as energy.




When we eat breakfast, say cereal and a bagel, we have a blood sugar high, the pancreas releases insulin and clears it up, we then have a low and feel hungry again.  So midmorning we reach for a biscuit and maybe a coffee and we have a blood sugar high, then insulin clears away the sugar and you are back in the low.  Then it’s lunch time and we eat a sandwich, and we are back up in the high and so on and so forth throughout the rest of the day.


If at each meal or snack time, we are eating sugar or refined carbohydrates, this creates big spikes and lows – also known as a blood sugar roller coaster – which leads to blood sugar imbalance.


Blood Sugar and Stress


All our hormones work together, and cortisol, our stress hormone, is particularly important here. High blood sugar prompts an insulin response, while low blood sugar triggers a cortisol response, preparing your body for a fight-or-flight situation.  One way the body primes you for this fight or flight response is by dumping that stored sugar into your muscles – but of course, we are not using up this source of energy by fighting for our lives.  We are usually sat at our desks trying to meet impossible work deadlines, or dealing with traffic jams and unruly family members and so this energy source adds to the problem.


Balance Blood Sugar and Peri-to-Post Menopause


For optimal hormonal health in the peri-to-post menopause years, we want to be eating to balance our blood sugar levels.  When we eat to balance our blood sugar levels, we don’t crave sugar, have mood swings, or fatigue, anxiety improves, and we generally feel more balanced.


Here’s the thing… this blood glucose effect is true of all people of all ages, but in women with declining oestrogen levels, this whole effect becomes much more amplified.  We are much more sensitive to sugar and carbohydrates and blood sugar imbalances.  That is because one of the jobs of oestrogen is to help us receive the message of insulin clearly, as well as keep stress hormones in check.


So we have less oestrogen, we are not receiving the message of insulin clearly, glucose is not being cleared from the system and our stress hormones are left unchecked.  We end up with too much insulin and cortisol in the system and that leads to belly fat and most of your hormonal symptoms.


How to eat to balance your blood sugar levels


Focus on Nutrient-Dense Whole Foods

  • Protein: Critical for blood sugar balance, especially at breakfast. Aim for about 30 grams each meal.
  • Healthy Fats and Fibre: Include fibrous vegetables and healthy fats in every meal.
  • Avoid Sugary and Refined Foods: Cut out sweets, biscuits, cakes, soda, and alcohol. Be mindful of hidden sugars in yogurts and sauces.

Smart Carbohydrate Choices

  • Vegetables: All vegetables are carbs, but focus on those high in fiber.
  • Substitutions: Swap white potatoes for sweet potatoes, white rice for cauliflower rice, and include lentils, beans, and chickpeas for added protein and fiber.

Eating Patterns

  • Regular Meals: Eat every 3-4 hours to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  • Breakfast Timing: Eat within an hour of waking, and have coffee after breakfast to avoid cortisol spikes.
  • Fasting: Give your digestion a rest, but avoid overly-long fasts.  12-14 hours is ideal.


Monitoring Blood Sugar


Continuous Glucose Monitors can be used for monitoring blood sugar and I covered this in a previous blog which you can read here.  Alternatively, you can tune into your own biofeedback.


The easiest biofeedback to track day-to-day is energy, mood, sleep, hunger and cravings. When you have balanced blood sugar levels, each of these markers should be balanced.  Your mood and energy will be stable, you won’t have cravings and your sleep should improve.


If you are still cycling, your period is another great feedback mechanism. Your period should just turn up each month like a complete non-event.


Need more help?


This is the first blog in a series on blood sugar so make sure to check out upcoming blogs either here on my website or by subscribing to my YouTube channel.


And, grab yourself a copy of my Free Guide – Thriving In Your 40s & Beyond which covers blood sugar and 2 other hormone hacks to help you achieve better mood, energy and weight.