For people with diabetes, there are times when you feel like you’re on a boat. It can be smooth sailing for a while, with normal blood glucose level readings at each finger prick test.
Then suddenly, it can feel as though you’ve hit some choppy water as blood glucose levels begin to rise too high or crash too low.
Why Are My Blood Glucose Levels Creeping Up?
Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, eating well and counting carbs are some of the easiest ways to help promote normal glucose levels. Taking insulin as prescribed, if that’s part of your diabetes management plan, is also helpful, since insulin is the hormone that gets the sugars out of the blood and into the cells to use as energy.
If you haven’t already, meet with your dietitian or diabetes educator to map out a plan for how many carbs to eat at each meal and snack, and how to choose smart carbs such as those higher in fiber.
Even if you carb count like a pro, other sometimes surprising factors can upset your otherwise normal glucose levels. Not getting enough sleep, drinking alcohol, going through menopause and starting new medications can wreak havoc on hormones, including insulin.
What Are High Blood Glucose Levels?
Maintaining normal blood glucose levels requires some vigilance. You need to check your blood sugars regularly, throughout the day, and consider keeping a log to note when they are high and what might’ve led to that.
If you have diabetes, normal blood glucose levels after eating should be less than 180 mg/dL. If your blood glucose meter reading is above 180 mg/dL, it’s time to steer that ship toward calmer waters!
The Seven S’s for Smart Diabetes Management
To help maintain normal blood sugar levels, make sure you’re following these seven smart strategies:
- Sweat. Exercise is great for reducing blood sugar levels in the short term. Regular exercise also helps with maintaining or losing weight, which is good for diabetes management.
- Sustenance. Choosing the right foods in the right amounts can help keep blood glucose levels in check. Be sure to count your carbs, choose fiber-rich sources, and pair your carbs with protein and/or fat.
- Swig. Drink plenty of water and unsweetened/non-caffeinated beverages. Dehydration can lead to spikes in blood glucose levels.
- Sleep. Getting a good night’s rest on a regular basis helps keep hormones in rhythm. Meanwhile, alcohol can ruin a good night’s sleep, so keep your drinks to a minimum.
- Stress. Managing stress helps keep hormones in check. Too much stress can also affect sleep, so do what you can to reduce stressors in your life. Exercise, meditation, journaling, even petting a dog or cat are great stress reducers!
- Sugar Levels. Monitor your blood glucose levels regularly and note when things might be going off course. Sometimes a quick course-correction is all you need to get back on track.
- ‘Scripts. If you’re on diabetes medications prescribed by your doctor, be sure to take them as directed. Avoid skipping doses or playing pharmacist yourself by taking extra medications. You want to steer your ship back on course, not overcorrect!
How to Course-Correct Right Now
If the blood glucose reading you just took is higher than it ought to be, there are some things you can do immediately to help bring you back to normal glucose levels. Before you try any of these, though, be sure you and your doctor agree on these courses of action, and when you might need to get outside medical help.
- Take a walk. A bout of exercise can help sweep that glucose out of your bloodstream. Measure your blood glucose levels again after your walk to see how much it helped. Just don’t do too much exercise that your blood sugar drops to low levels.
- Drink some water. Since dehydration can cause blood sugar levels to creep up, try drinking a glass of water and see if that helps.
- Take your medications. If your doctor has prescribed insulin, first make sure you haven’t skipped a dose or taken it outside of your normal time. If you’ve been cleared by your doctor to take a fast-acting dose to lower your blood glucose levels, that can also help. Be sure to check with your doctor first!
Maintaining Normal Glucose Levels
Keeping your blood glucose levels within normal limits isn’t just good for diabetes management, it also helps reduce your risk for other serious complications. If your blood sugar levels get too high, it can lead to diabetic ketoacidosis, a serious and sometimes deadly condition.
Just think – sailing a ship on a steady course is not only safer, it makes for a more delightful ride!
Talk to your healthcare provider for questions or concerns about any diet or lifestyle changes and to find a plan that's right for you.