How To Manage Blood Sugar Spikes After Meals
If you’re trying to manage diabetes, you already know it’s important to keep track of your blood sugar levels. But how do you handle a spike that comes after you eat? It’s called “postprandial” blood glucose, and if you take some simple steps, you can get it under control and help avoid health problems.
Why Is Blood Sugar Checking Important
If you live with diabetes, a blood sugar check is paramount to good control. Without knowing your blood glucose numbers, you cannot appropriately dose insulin, treat a low blood sugar, eat a meal, or exercise with ease.
Think of a blood sugar check as a litmus test: the number isnt good or bad, it just gives a person with diabetes feedback on what they need to do next.
If a number is too high , its telling you to take some insulin or get some exercise, whereas if a number is too low, youll need to treat with sugar or some other form of glucose.
If your number is satisfactory, then you can proceed on with your day as planned.
Checking your blood sugar is also important to track long-term goals, like an hba1c test, and to see if youre reaching or even exceeding those goals.
Regularly checking your blood sugar also can give you feedback on whats working and whats not: maybe a particular food isnt working for your management goals, or a type of exercise, like yoga, has really helped to mellow out your blood sugar levels.
Its a good time to check in with yourself and calibrate your management to find what will work best for you, knowing that this can and will change over time.
Everyday Health: Testing Too Soon After Eating
This is the kind of website that, on the surface, doesnt seem to have any credibility in the medical field at all! But they do have a Wellness Advisory Board that includes a number of MDs and PhDs.
Anyway, Im citing an article of theirs that was written by some lady who is not a doctor and peer-reviewed by another who is a doctor. So heres what they say:
Testing too soon after youve had a meal or a snack will give you results that are probably too high. The solution for better diabetes control: Test fasting blood sugar, and test every time before you eat. Wait two hours after eating to get the best reading.
Source: Everyday Health | 7 Blood Sugar Testing Mistakes to Avoid
Here is yet another source that says to wait 2 hours after eating before you check your glucose.
But heres the best part!
Wait two hours after eating to get the best reading.
The BEST reading? When it comes to goddam diabetes and glucose numbers, best generally means lowest. But I dont think thats what theyre saying.
Im gonna assume that by best they mean the result that most accurately reflects what effect a meal has had on your blood sugar.
That is what I have to ASSUME. Because they didnt say that specifically. Why? Who the f**k knows.
All right, so there you have it! Four different sources, three of which recommend testing glucose 2 hours after you eat, and one that punts the issue to your doctor.
For me, 2 hours is 2 long.
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Other Types Of Glucose Testing
Random glucose testing isnt a substitute for your normal glucose testing schedule. You should also perform fasting tests and tests after meals, as suggested by your doctor.
A fasting blood glucose test is usually performed upon waking, before you eat. Testing after meals measures glucose levels around two hours after the start of a meal. Different testing times will yield different results. These are affected by:
- the food youve eaten
- medications youre taking
- any exercise youve done
For some people, its important to test every day. This helps you get a sense of your overall blood sugar control and can help you make treatment decisions. Testing is the best way to learn how your blood sugar is affected by your lifestyle, medications, or both.
What Is Blood Sugar
Blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, comes from the food you eat. Your body creates blood sugar by digesting some food into a sugar that circulates in your bloodstream.
Blood sugar is used for energy. The sugar that isnt needed to fuel your body right away gets stored in cells for later use.
Too much sugar in your blood can be harmful. Type 2 diabetes is a disease thats characterized by having higher levels of blood sugar than whats considered within normal limits.
Unmanaged diabetes can lead to problems with your heart, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels.
The more you know about how eating affects blood sugar, the better you can protect yourself against diabetes. If you already have diabetes, its important to know how eating affects blood sugar.
Your body breaks down everything you eat and absorbs the food in its different parts. These parts include:
- vitamins and other nutrients
The carbohydrates you consume turn into blood sugar. The more carbohydrates you eat, the higher the levels of sugar youll have released as you digest and absorb your food.
Carbohydrates in liquid form consumed by themselves are absorbed more quickly than those in solid food. So having a soda will cause a faster rise in your blood sugar levels than eating a slice of pizza.
Fiber is one component of carbohydrates that isnt converted into sugar. This is because it cant be digested. Fiber is important for health, though.
- white grain products, such as pasta and rice
- cold processed cereals
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Blood Sugar Levels After Eating
Blood sugar level simply means the concentration of a simple sugar in certain amount of blood. In the United States, it is measured in mg/dl or milligrams per deciliter. Glucose concentration in the body fluctuates the whole day. Actually, there can be significant variations from minute to minute. Blood sugar levels after eating normally skyrocket and exercising will normally drop the levels. Doctors are interested in fasting glucose, glucose levels after eating, which is at times tested.
How Do Carbs Affect Blood Sugar
Carbs in food make your blood sugar levels go higher after you eat them than when you eat proteins or fats. You can still eat carbs if you have diabetes. The amount you can have and stay in your target blood sugar range depends on your age, weight, activity level, and other factors. Counting carbs in foods and drinks is an important tool for managing blood sugar levels. Make sure to talk to your health care team about the best carb goals for you.
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Make A Note Of Your Readings
It may sound obvious, but you must record your readings. Note them down in a diary, a notebook or in your phone calendar. Some meters have software that lets you do this. You could try a diabetes app too.
You and your healthcare team can then look back over your results to see if you need to adjust your treatment.
How Long Does It Take For Blood Sugar Levels To Peak After Eating
After consuming foods that contain carbohydrates, it’s normal to see a rise in blood sugar levels.
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Your blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, will temporarily go up after eating a meal until your body’s insulin is able remove the extra sugar from the bloodstream. In general, blood sugar “peaks 90 minutes after you consume a meal,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet. “But it’s going to vary based on what you ate.”
This type of peak is a normal part of digestion. Sometimes, however, a person’s body does not respond as it should, and blood sugar levels rise too high. When this happens, it can indicate a risk for prediabetes or diabetes. Frequent spikes in blood sugar can lead to additional long-term medical problems, as well. Here’s what you can do to protect your health.
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What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Low Blood Sugar
Different people may feel low blood sugar levels differently. People with low blood sugar may:
- feel hungry or have hunger pains in their stomach
- feel shaky or like theyre trembling
- have a rapid heart rate
- feel sweaty or have cold, clammy skin
- have pale, gray skin color
- have a headache
- have seizures or convulsions
- lose consciousness
If you have diabetes, try to remember how your body reacts when your blood sugar levels are low. It may help you figure out when youre having a low blood sugar level more quickly the next time.
What Are Blood Sugar Targets
A blood sugar target is the range you try to reach as much as possible. These are typical targets:
- Before a meal: 80 to 130 mg/dL.
- Two hours after the start of a meal: Less than 180 mg/dL.
Your blood sugar targets may be different depending on your age, any additional health problems you have, and other factors. Be sure to talk to your health care team about which targets are best for you.
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Make Physical Activity Part Of Your Daily Routine
Set a goal to be more physically active. Try to work up to 30 minutes or more of physical activity on most days of the week.
Brisk walking and swimming are good ways to move more. If you are not active now, ask your health care team about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. Learn more about being physically active with diabetes.
Following your meal plan and being more active can help you stay at or get to a healthy weight. If you are overweight or obese, work with your health care team to create a weight-loss plan that is right for you.
How To Use A Blood Glucose Meter:
- After washing your hands, insert a test strip into your meter.
- Use your lancing device on the side of your fingertip to get a drop of blood.
- Touch and hold the edge of the test strip to the drop of blood and wait for the result.
- Your blood glucose level will appear on the meter’s display.
Note: All meters are slightly different, so always refer to your user’s manual for specific instructions.
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What Causes High Morning Blood Sugars
Two main culprits prompt morning highs: the dawn phenomenon and waning insulin. A third, much rarer cause, known as the Somogyi effect, may also be to blame.
The occasional morning high will have little impact on your A1C, a measure of your average blood sugar levels over time that indicates how well managed your diabetes is. But if those highs become consistent, they could push your A1C up into dangerous territory.
Should Diabetics Eat Oranges
The American Diabetes Association has listed citrus fruits among Diabetes superfoods. According to the association, citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and lemons are full of fibre, vitamin C, folate and potassium, which would help benefit a healthy diabetic eating plan. Oranges are full of fibre.
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When Blood Sugar Is Too Low
Glucose is a sugar that comes from the foods we eat, and its also formed and stored inside the body. Its the main source of energy for the cells of our body, and is carried to each cell through the bloodstream. Our brains depend on glucose to function, even when were sleeping.
The is the amount of glucose in the blood. When these levels drop too low, its called hypoglycemia . Very low blood sugar levels can cause serious symptoms that need to be treated right away.
Before And After Meals And Snacks
If you eat first thing in the morning, your first blood sugar check of the day can also count as your pre-meal check, but if you dont, youll need to check again before breakfast.
This can inform you as to how much insulin youll need for your meal . If youre running a little high, youll need to bolus extra, but if your blood sugar is on the lower end, you can take a little less insulin for any carbohydrates eaten.
Checking before every meal and snack can help curb postprandial glucose excursions, otherwise known as the stubborn high blood sugars you sometimes can experience after eating a meal and not adequately bolusing for said meal.
Ideally, you should also be checking 2 hours after all meals as well, to determine if your meal bolus was adequate, if you took too much insulin, or if you need to adjust and take more insulin.
Two hours is the recommended time frame, because by then most carbohydrates have been absorbed into the body and most fast-acting insulin has already peaked.
When checking before snacks , make sure youre calculating any active insulin on board so you dont overtreat a high and end up going low.
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How Do I Check Blood Sugar Level
Checking blood sugar level is very simple thanks to the availability of easy-to-use handheld glucometers. These consumer glucometers have made it very easy to always keep an eye on your blood sugar level. They are an absolute essential for diabetics and also for people trying to maintain their blood glucose level.
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They operate by taking pin-pricks of blood onto a small electrode slip, which when inserted into the device gives a digital readout of the amount of glucose content in the blood. These devices have become extremely popular for their convenience, reliability and accuracy.
An essential laboratory test of blood glucose level is the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test or OGTT. It is a diagnostic test for DM or any glucose intolerance. Here, a blood sugar reading is taken after a 10-12 hour fast. Then another reading is taken after 2 hours after ingesting a measured amount of glucose. This test shows the bodys ability to absorb glucose, thus is a confirmatory test for DM.
During Blood Sugar Testing
Everybody is different and the speed at which your blood sugar levels rise after eating depends on whether you are healthy, if you have diabetes or insulin resistance or if you exercise after your meal. If you are concerned with your blood sugar levels, ask your doctor for a prescription to get a glucometer to check your own blood sugar levels at home. Measure your blood sugars before eating and every 15 minutes to two hours after a meal to learn how your body responds to different foods.
Aglaee Jacob is a registered dietitian. She has experience working with people who have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and obesity issues. Jacob obtained a bachelor of science and a master of science, both in nutrition, from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada.
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How Can I Check My Blood Sugar
Use a blood sugar meter or a continuous glucose monitor to check your blood sugar. A blood sugar meter measures the amount of sugar in a small sample of blood, usually from your fingertip. A CGM uses a sensor inserted under the skin to measure your blood sugar every few minutes. If you use a CGM, youll still need to test daily with a blood sugar meter to make sure your CGM readings are accurate.
What Should A Normal Blood Sugar Level Be One Hour After Eating
You should always consult with your doctor about what your target blood sugar levels should be, as its not always the same for everyone. If youre looking for a standard benchmark, the American Diabetes Association recommends a target of below 180 mg/dL one to two hours after you eat. For people without diabetes, you should aim for a target below 140 mg/dL.
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Quick Refresher: How Your Body Handles Sugar
During digestion, the carbohydrates you consume are broken down into sugar that is released into your bloodstream. When this happens, your blood sugar levels rise, which signals to your pancreas that its time to produce insulin. Insulins job is to get that sugar out of your blood and into your cells so it can be burned for energy. Still, some sugar will stay in your blood, especially if your pancreas isnt able to make enough insulin or the insulin it does produce isnt able to do its job effectively, which is the case with uncontrolled diabetes. When too much sugar stays in the blood you guessed it your blood sugar levels will go way up.
Random Glucose Testing And Disease Management
In adults without diabetes, glucose levels are managed through the actions of our internal insulin and the bodys use of sugar for energy. If they received random glucose tests throughout the day, their glucose levels would remain relatively stable. This would be true even if they:
- varied their diet
- experienced stress
- ate at different times of the day
In people with diabetes and prediabetes, glucose levels can vary widely over the course of the day. This is particularly true if the disease isnt managed well. In these people, random test results will vary widely. Tests may also be consistently high.
A random test is one performed outside your normal testing schedule. Random testing is an important part of diabetes management. If random glucose levels are acceptable, your strategy is probably working. Wide swings in your levels suggest you may need to change your management plan.
Remember, high sugar levels are what cause the complications seen with diabetes over time. Symptoms of acute high blood sugar levels include:
- increased thirst
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