Welcome to the ZOE blood sugar challenge library!

We created this library to help you explore how your body responds to food.

This list of ideas is built around different concepts — some scientifically proven, others still under investigation — that can help you discover how small tweaks can make a huge difference to your blood sugar levels.

🔬 If you try any of these challenges, you'll also play a part in helping to advance science for all!

How do these blood sugar challenges work?

  • Each blood sugar challenge includes two meals to try on two separate occasions.

  • You'll find step-by-step instructions below to guide you how to do these challenges.

  • After doing both parts of a challenge, you can compare your blood sugar curves to the meals that you ate.

Which blood sugar challenges will you try?

Browse through the categories below and pick the ones that most interest you. There's no right or wrong — feel free to mix and match and tweak the challenges to make them truly your own!

Same Food, Different Form

When it comes to food, the little details matter. Small changes in how a food is processed can have big impacts on your blood sugar responses. In this library you'll see foods that seem quite similar, but there's more than what just meets the eye when it comes to blood sugar.

Challenge

Meal 1

Meal 2

Meal 1 Suggested Quantities

Meal 2 Suggested Quantities

1

Sweetened full fat fruit yogurt

Plain whole full yogurt with fresh fruit

8 oz (225 g) fruit yogurt

8 oz (225 g) plain yogurt with 6 oz (170 g) berries

2

Instant oatmeal (served plain)

Steel cut oats oatmeal (served plain)

1 packet prepared with water or milk of choice

1 cup cooked oatmeal (45 g before cooking), prepared with water or milk of choice

3

Oatmeal with jam

Oatmeal with berries

1 cup cooked (45 g before cooking) with 1 tbsp jam

1 cup cooked (45 g before cooking) with 1/4 cup (45 g) berries

4

Fruit salad

Smoothie

1 cup (165 g) fresh fruit

1 cup (165 g) fresh fruit blended with ice

5

Hummus with carrots and cucumbers

Chickpeas with carrots and cucumbers

1/4 cup hummus (63 g) with handful of carrots and cucumbers

1/2 cup (100 g) chickpeas with handful of carrots and cucumbers

6

Mango

Dried mango

1/2 cup (83 g) fresh mango

1/4 cup (40 g) dried mango

7

Oranges

Orange Juice

2 oranges

12 fl oz (350 ml) orange juice

Food Combinations

Have you ever noticed certain food combinations help you feel more satisfied and maybe even avoid that afternoon slump?

There's a real power to combining foods. Pairing the right nutrients together can be a great way to sustain your blood sugar levels. Test and learn how these combinations affect your responses. We think this is a great strategy to make all the foods you love work for you.

Challenge

Meal 1

Meal 2

Meal 1 Suggested Quantities

Meal 2 Suggested Quantities

1

Oatmeal

Oatmeal with Chia Seeds

1 cup cooked oatmeal (45 g before cooking), prepared with water or milk of choice

1 cup cooked oatmeal (45 g before cooking), prepared with water or milk of choice

1 oz (28 g) chia seeds

2

Tortilla chips

Tortilla chips with guacamole

2 oz (57 g) tortilla chips

2 oz (57 g) tortilla chips with 1/4 cup (40 g) guacamole

3

Rice cake

Rice cake with tahini

4 rice cakes

4 rice cakes with 3 tbsp tahini

4

Pretzels

Pretzels with peanut butter

2 oz (58 g) pretzels

2 oz (58 g) pretzels with 2 tbsp peanut butter

5

Banana

Banana with yogurt

1 banana

1 banana with 1 cup (285 g) yogurt

6

Bread roll

Bread roll with olive oil and salad

2 bread rolls

2 bread rolls with 2 tablespoons olive oil and
1 cup (15 g) salad

7

Cheese crackers

Cheese crackers with almonds

1/2 cup (38 g) cheese crackers

1/2 cup (38 g) cheese crackers with 1 oz (28 g) almonds

8

Pineapple

Pineapple and cashew

1/2 cup (85 g) pineapple

1/2 cup (85 g) pineapple with 1 oz (28 g) cashew nuts

9

Spaghetti and tomato sauce

Spaghetti and tomato sauce with vegetables and chicken

1 cup (200 g) spaghetti and tomato sauce

1 cup (200 g) spaghetti and tomato sauce with 1 cup (225 g) of cooked vegetables and 3 oz (85 g) grilled chicken

10

Grapes

Grapes and eggs

1/2 cup (85 g) grapes

1/2 cup (85 g) grapes and 2 boiled eggs

11

Mango

Mango and cheddar cheese

1/2 cup (83 g) fresh mango

1/2 cup (83 g) fresh mango and 1 oz (28 g) cheddar cheese

12

High carb meal (e.g. Jelly Donut)

High carb meal (e.g. Jelly Donut) with water

1 serving

1 serving with 11 fl oz (325 ml) water

Simple Swaps

It's not about ditching food groups and restriction. Sometimes, all it takes is a simple swap of one ingredient, and the shape of your curve can totally change. Are there new ingredients you'd like to try?

Challenge

Meal 1

Meal 2

Meal 1 Suggested Quantities

Meal 2 Suggested Quantities

1

Salmon with couscous

Salmon with lentils

1 salmon fillet with 1 cup (230 g) cooked couscous*

*approximately 100 g before cooking

1 salmon fillet with 1 cup (200 g) cooked lentils

2

Chili with white rice

Chili with brown rice

1 cup (250 g) chilli with 1 cup (175 g) cooked white rice*

*approximately 58 g before cooking

1 cup (250 g) chilli with 1 cup (175 g) brown rice*

*approximately 58 g before cooking

3

Chicken or vegetable curry with rice

Chicken or vegetable curry with cauliflower rice

1 cup (250 g) curry with 1 cup (175 g) cooked white rice*

*approximately 58 g before cooking

1 cup (250 g) curry with 1 cup (110 g) cooked cauliflower rice

4

Pizza

Pizza with cauliflower crust

1 cheese pizza

1 cauliflower base cheese pizza (same quantity)

5

Plain yogurt

Sweetened yogurt

1 cup (285 g) plain greek yogurt, full fat

1 cup (285 g) fruit flavored yogurt, full fat

6

Milk chocolate

Dark chocolate

2 oz (56 g) milk chocolate

2 oz (56 g) dark chocolate

7

Bagel

Pumpernickel bread

1 bagel

2 slices pumpernickel bread

8

Granola and yogurt

Walnuts and yogurt

1/4 cup (28 g) granola with 1 cup (285 g) plain yogurt

1/4 cup (28 g) walnuts with 1 cup (285 g) plain yogurt

9

Toast with jam

Toast with egg and cheese

2 slices bread with 2 tablespoons jam

2 slices bread with 2 eggs and 2 slices of cheddar cheese

10

Salad with baked sweet potato

Salad with avocado

1 medium baked sweet potato with 2 cups (30 g) salad

1 medium avocado with 2 cups (30 g) salad

11

Chicken with white rice

Chicken with bulgur

1 chicken breast with 1 cup (175 g) cooked white rice*

*approximately 58 g before cooking

1 chicken breast with 1 cup (175 g) cooked bulgur

12

Fish with boiled potatoes

Fish with pearl barley

1 fish filet with 1 cup (160 g) boiled potato

1 fish filet with 1 cup (200 g) pearl barley*

*approximately 63 g before cooking

Activity

Activity can have profound effects on your curve – it doesn't even have to be an intense spin class! Take your pick, and test the effects that even a brisk walk can have on your curve.

Challenge

Meal 1

Meal 2

Meal 1 & 2 Suggested Quantities

1

Cereal

Cereal then exercise

1 bowl cereal

2

Muffin

Muffin then exercise

1 muffin

3

Banana

Banana then exercise

1 banana

Food Sequencing

Some science shows that the order in which we eat our foods can actually have effects on blood sugar responses. We're excited about exploring this with our citizen scientists! Though our ZOE scores do not yet account for this, this is an opportunity for you to both experiment and help further science.

Leave at least 10 minutes between the two parts of the meal when you are experimenting with sequencing.

Challenge

Meal 1

Meal 2

Meal 1 & 2 Suggested Quantities

1

Orange juice then eggs

Eggs then orange juice

12 fl oz (350 ml) orange juice

2-3 eggs (e.g. omelet, scrambled, poached)

2

Orange juice then Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt then orange juice

12 fl oz (350 ml) orange juice

1 cup (285 g) Greek yogurt, full fat

3

Mashed potatoes then sausages

Sausages then mashed potatoes

1/2 cup (100 g) mashed potatoes

3 oz (85 g) sausages

4

Rice then salmon

Salmon then rice

1 cup (175 g) cooked rice*

1 salmon filet

*approximately 58 g before cooking

5

Bread then chicken and salad with olive oil dressing

Chicken and salad with olive oil dressing then bread

3 oz (85 g) bread

3 oz (85 g) chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup (30 g) salad

6

Mango as a starter

Mango as dessert

1/2 cup (83 g) fresh mango

7

Cookie as a snack

Cookie after dinner

1 medium size cookie

Added Ingredients

Some science suggests that having certain ingredients before a meal can affect how your blood sugar levels respond. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and Cinnamon are ones that are being studied. The jury is still out on that one and our ZOE scores don't take them into account, but our citizen scientists are welcome to experiment and help contribute to finding the answer.

Challenge

Meal 1

Meal 2

Meal 1 Suggested Quantities

Meal 2 Suggested Quantities

1

Cake

ACV then cake

1 slice cake

20 g ACV in 40 g water, then 1 slice cake

2

Bagel

ACV then bagel

1 bagel with 20g butter

20 g ACV in 40 g water, then 1 bagel with 20 g butter

3

Chicken and rice

ACV then chicken and rice

1 chicken breast with 1 cup (175 g) cooked rice*

*approximately 58 g before cooking

20 g ACV in 40 g water,

then 1 chicken breast with 1 cup (175 g) cooked rice*

*approximately 58 g before cooking

4

Spaghetti and meat sauce

ACV then spaghetti and meat sauce

1 serving spaghetti and meat sauce

20 g ACV in 40 g water,

then 1 serving spaghetti and meat sauce

5

Oatmeal

Oatmeal with cinnamon

1 cup cooked oatmeal*, prepared with water or milk of choice

*approximately 45 g before cooking

1 cup cooked oatmeal* (prepared with water or milk of choice) with 2.5 tsp cinnamon

*approximately 45 g before cooking

Meal Timing

Your body has an internal clock telling all your organs the time of day. Your metabolism may be more capable of metabolizing foods earlier rather than later in the day. This is new and exciting science we are investigating.

Challenge

Meal 1

Meal 2

Meal 1 & 2 Suggested Quantities

1

Spaghetti and sauce for lunch

Spaghetti and sauce for dinner

1 cup (250 g) spaghetti and sauce

2

Chicken and rice dish for lunch

Chicken and rice dish for dinner

1 chicken breast and 1 cup (175 g) cooked rice*

*approximately 58 g before cooking

3

Your favorite dessert for breakfast

Your favorite dessert for dinner

1 serving

4

Your favorite breakfast meal for breakfast

Skip breakfast, and have your favorite breakfast for lunch

1 serving

Cooking States

Did you know that whether certain carbohydrate-rich foods are freshly cooked or cooled down then reheated can cause changes in their internal structures? These changes affect how well the foods are metabolized by the body and influence blood sugar curves. Though not in our scores yet, we thought it might intrigue you.

Challenge

Meal 1

Meal 2

Meal 1 Suggested Quantities

Meal 2 Suggested Quantities

1

Freshly cooked pasta

Reheated pasta

1 cup (200 g) freshly cooked pasta*

*approximately 100 g before cooking

1 cup (200 g) freshly cooked pasta* that is refrigerated for 24 hours then reheated

*approximately 100 g before cooking

2

Freshly boiled potato

Reheated boiled potato

1 cup (140 g) reshly boiled potato

1 cup (140 g) boiled potatoes that have been refrigerated for 24 hours then reheated

3

Freshly cooked rice

Reheated rice

1 cup (175 g) freshly cooked rice*

*approximately 58 g before cooking

1 cup (175 g) cooked rice* that has been refrigerated for 24 hours then reheated

*approximately 58 g before cooking

Step-by-step guide for doing your blood sugar challenges

To get accurate results that you can compare with your other challenges, we recommend that you:

  • Eat your meal on an empty stomach

  • Fast for 3 hours

  • Check your blood sugar readings on your reader (or LibreLink app if you have it) 3 hours after your meal

  • Limit or avoid exercise during your fast

Repeat these steps when you do the second part of the challenge and compare your blood sugar curves. Notice which one is flatter.

Please note: The restrictions above are optional for more accurate blood sugar comparisons. Your official results won't be affected by whether or not you stick to them.

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