2014-03-04

Tips To Keep Your Blood Sugar Down

I'm writing this down mostly for my own benefit, but I thought I'd post it publicly in case someone else can benefit from this.

Basically, every diabetic knows what to do to keep their blood sugar down, but there are so many factors that influence blood glucose levels that they aren't always easy to keep track of. So here is a handy cheat-sheet of things that I often forget or sometimes lose track of:

  1. Eating more than 30g of any kind of fat in a single meal. It's hard to keep track of this, especially since so many diabetes-friendly foods are high in fat (avocados, nuts, seeds, etc.). A pat of butter is 15g, a tablespoon of olive oil is 8g. You can see how, in the normal course of cooking - even healthy cooking - exceeding 30g of fat in a meal is easy to do. Note: Your blood sugar will spike 3-4 hours after eating >30g of fat, so it won't always be obvious that fat is the problem.
  2. Eating more than 60g of carbohydrates in a single meal. It's much easier to control your carbohydrate intake than your fat intake (if you're a diabetic), but it's worth noting that even if you take enough insulin to cover a high-carb meal, you still might end up with a glucose spike if you eat in excess of 60g of carbs.
  3. Coming down with a cold. Getting sick pushes your blood sugar up. In my experience, the effect kicks in about two days before I ever even feel myself getting sick. If you've ever experienced truly inexplicable blood sugar increases that persist over the course of a day, you might be getting sick.
  4. Stress. It's crucial that you take some time away from your stressors and focus on happy, soothing, calming things. Take the extra 15 seconds to calm yourself down when you're in a stressful situation, or your blood sugar might be running high the next time you test.
  5. Not drinking enough water. Because we often drink water to bring our blood sugar down from an existing high, we sometimes don't remember that drinking very little water over the course of the day can result in a high reading or two. Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere, and you won't have to worry about this.
  6. Restless nights. Unless you're active on the party circuit or a workaholic, you probably don't have much control over the occasional sleepless night. But when it happens, be prepared for higher BG readings.
  7. Insulin past the 28-day mark. This one tripped me up the other day. If you don't make it all the way through your open insulin container over the course of 28 days, don't be surprised if you find that your readings start to trend upward. In my experience, 28 days is exactly when my insulin starts to lose its potency. Sometimes I forget to set an alarm to remind myself to open a new cartridge, but it's important.
Obviously this is not an exhaustive list of factors that raise blood sugar. This is just a list of things that I, personally, lose track of. Typically I'm so busy focusing on 1 and 2 that I forget about 3-7. Or I'll hone in on 5 and then lose count of 1. Or "hidden carbs" like carrots - which usually count as "free" carbs - will add up and push me over the tipping point on 2.

Anyway, try to keep this stuff in mind. Or poke me with a stick if you happen to see me slipping up.