3 Simple Steps to Keep Your Blood Sugar Level
Are you struggling to keep your blood sugar levels in the normal range?
So many people know what their numbers should be, but aren’t exactly sure how to get them there. After teaching diabetes classes for many years, I found that many people are trying to do right, just not completely sure how to get there. After being diagnosed with diabetes, many are given a large packet of information and sent on their way to figure it out on their own. A good diabetes self management class is essential to managing blood sugar levels. Most hospitals teach those now. Working with a registered dietitian is also a great tool in managing your diabetes.
Here are 3 things that will get you started in the right direction with your food:
1. Eat consistent meals and snacks daily
Your body is a well oiled machine. It expects you to do what you should to keep it running smoothly. This includes eating meals around the same times daily. Blood sugars stay much more stable when this is implemented.
This doesn’t mean eating breakfast every single day at 6:46 am, it simply means to get your body in a routine so it can know what to expect.
If you know that you eat lunch around noon, and don’t eat dinner until 7 pm, planning for an afternoon snack is a must. The afternoon snack will head off and lows or highs from blood sugar that has not been tended to. Great snacks for diabetics contain between 15-30 grams of carbs and have some type of protein as well. Things such as:
- Whole wheat crackers and cheese
- Crackers and peanut butter
- Apple and peanut butter
- Protein bar
- Hummus and crackers
- Greek Yogurt
- Whole wheat tortilla roll up
- Turkey, cheese and crackers
- Kind Bars
- P3 protein packs and crackers
2. Never go over 4-5 hours without eating something (with the exception of nighttime)
Your body needs fuel every so often, just like our cars do! Putting the correct fuel in and at the right times is of utmost importance. You don’t run your car out of gas and then expect it to take you on a long road trip, do you? Essentially this is what we are doing when you don’t eat for 7-8 hours and try to do normal daily activities.
So many clients have come to me questioning why their blood sugar has been super high after not eating for 6-7 hours. The answer has to do with your liver. The liver stores sugar and dumps it into the blood when you don’t put fuel (food) into your body for long periods of time. The liver tries to compensate for you not taking of your blood sugar and sometimes the results aren’t what we would like! Treat your meals just as you do your medication. When you are a diabetic, meals are just as vital to your health!
3. Eat consistent amounts of carbohydrates
Men should aim for 60 grams/carbs each meal, and women need 45 grams per meal. There are definite exceptions to this, and this is why it’s so important to work with a registered dietitian or endocrinologist to help determine what your body needs and functions best with!
Carbohydrate Counting 101
Have you been taught what carbs are? If not, carbs are basically anything with starch in them, Milk, juice, breads, crackers, starchy vegetables, all carbs. It is so important for you to learn to count carbohydrates in order to keep blood sugar numbers under control. In my handbook, The Type 2 Diabetic’s Carbohydrate Bible, I break this all down for you. Other great resources can be found at nutrition411.com and diabetes.org.
If you know how to read food labels, then just skip this section If not, then read on.
Find the label on any food that has one. It’s typically on the back.
The first line below “Nutrition Facts” should be Serving Size and the amount. This is what an “ideal” serving is. Not what you necessarily eat.
The next line will say “Servings per container” This is exactly what it says-how many servings of that food are in the whole bag/box/container.
To find out carbohydrate grams, we scroll on down to the total carbohydrate line.
This line will tell us how many carbohydrate grams are in 1 serving of this food. Not in the bag, but in one serving. The “g” beside the number stands for grams. Do not pay attention to the % number on the far right. Not relevant. (to diabetes anyway :))
Does that make sense?
Some foods don’t have nutrition labels on them, so this can get tricky. Most meats and cheeses don’t contain carbs. All fruits contain carbs. Starchy vegetables all contain carbs.
If you would like a comprehensive guide to counting carbs, my handbook, The Type 2 Diabetic’s Carbohydrate Bible, will launch in November and will available for purchase. It has a comprehensive list of carbohydrate grams in foods, and as an added bonus, I will include a week’s free email nutrition counseling with your purchase!
Now that you understand how to count carbs, you are on your way to keeping your blood sugar stable.
A few things to remember:
Blood sugar can be too high or low if you have an illness or fever, regardless of what you eat!
Liquid carbohydrates go into the blood super quickly and can cause extreme highs and lows. These should be avoided unless in the case of a low episode. Examples are: sweet tea, real sodas, juices, sports drinks.
Checking blood sugar at different times of the day is key to knowing how your body is processing foods! Checking your blood sugar at the exact same time EVERY day is not a good picture of what your blood sugar levels are.
Implementing these strategies will put you on the way to stable blood sugar levels. If you feel like you or someone in your family needs help from a dietitian regarding blood sugar levels or diabetes, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I will be glad to answer any questions .