How do you keep a stable blood sugar? Well, that is the question that everyone with diabetes has been asking themselves every day.
The key is considering all areas of life. Different aspects of life will have an impact on blood sugar in different ways. We have covered a few different areas of life in our other blog posts. For this reason, this blog post can be seen as a kind of Greatest Hits of the Hedia blog. Move along Abba Gold, now is the time to Lay All Your Love on Hedia.
Strap yourself in for a list of tips that includes some old Hedia wisdom along with some brand new tips!
How to keep Blood Sugar Stable: Greatist tips
1) Eat “healthy” carbs
When it comes to healthy living, much of the advice for people with diabetes is applicable to those without diabetes. It’s always safer to stick to the generally accepted healthy food.
Carbs are largely converted into glucose. This makes carbohydrates central to blood sugar stability. So, while opting for generally healthy food is a good idea, you should also try thinking about precisely what kind of carbs you need.
How many carbohydrates you need depends on each person but many would advise around 45% of daily calories should be carbs. At the same time, some studies suggest that a low-carb diet can help with stable blood sugar.
As for what kinds of carbs: avoid refined carbs found in processed food because they have been stripped of nutrients and fibre. This leads onto the next point…
2) Eat fibrous food
Fibre is the one carb that isn’t broken down into glucose, and aids with a slower digestion. This means you should have less of a spike directly after eating food with fibre.
3) Keep track of what you’re eating
This goes almost without saying. But sometimes it’s easy to take that second helping of food without thinking about what you’re doing.
Keeping track of food is particularly important for knowing how to medicate and seeing how that food has affected you. Naturally, we recommend Hedia’s logbook for these purposes. Additionally, Hedia’s food database makes it even easier to find what kind of food you’ve had, and how many carbs it contained.
Your muscles need glucose for exercise, which means that blood glucose levels are lowered – even without insulin! Exercise also increases insulin sensitivity. Of course, you don’t want to go too low either (which is why testing blood sugar is advised when exercising).
Meanwhile, intense exercise can release adrenaline, which can also raise blood sugar levels.
So, make sure there is a balance; this is something to bear in mind when thinking about how to keep blood sugar stable.
5) Reduce stress
Stress decreases insulin sensitivity and will usually raise blood sugar levels. For more detail and for ideas on how to reduce stress, have a look at our blog post on stress and diabetes.
Listening to more Abba ought to reduce stress. Or, if you’re unholy, perhaps cutting Abba out your life will reduce stress.
6) Take infections into consideration
If you are ill and you’re wondering why your blood sugar is haywire, then don’t forget that infections impact blood sugar.
In a similar way to how the body deals with stress, when you’re ill the body releases hormones to help fight that infection. However, those hormones also increase blood sugar. Read more on How to deal with Diabetes and the Flu.
7) Test blood sugar regularly
This is one of the best ways to know how to manage blood sugar; it’s direct information from your body.
Check blood sugar to see whether you are at your own target levels. Find some general target levels on Blood Sugar After Eating.
It’s particularly important to test on an occasion where you feel that your blood sugar is more likely to change. Test when you’re ill. Test before, during, and after exercise. Test before eating, and about 2 hours afterwards.
8) Record blood sugar results
It goes hand in hand with testing regularly and tracking your food. Those recordings give you an insight into how your diabetes affects you over a longer period of time. This will give you greater control of your blood sugar. It’s also useful information to show your doctor.
This will be even easier to do with the help of Hedia’s logbook, and a function to have your results as a PDF file to show your doctor.
9) Reduce unnecessary adrenaline
As you will find out from reading about stress and diabetes, adrenaline raises blood sugar levels. Three common sources of increased adrenaline are caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. Try to avoid them.
10) Drink responsibly
Reduced alcohol consumption is advised for anyone. However, drinking does still happen. So, if you are drinking, think about how you can do so responsibly.
Alcohol can both lower and raise blood sugar levels. Read Diabetes and Alcohol for our suggestions for how to drink with diabetes while also having a great night out!
11) Stay hydrated
Drink water with alcohol, drink water with food, drink water when doing anything! Dehydration will lead to a blood sugar rise. Combat that by drinking water to dilute the glucose.
There is no set amount for how much to drink: Harvard Health recommends 4-6 cups of water a day, while the NHS recommends 6-8 glasses or 1.2 litres a day. Either way, drink enough so that you feel hydrated.
Having enough water will also make you feel fuller. This is an indirect approach to how to keep blood sugar stable, since it will assist with diet control. Plus, when drinking water, you are less likely to go for sugary drinks like soda.
12) Consider the glycemic index
Back to food again: the glycemic index (GI) represents different kinds of carbs and how they affect blood sugar. The lower the GI, the more slowly the food is digested.
This means that food with a low GI score gives a slower rise in blood sugar. Get greater stability by choosing these foods. An example of low GI foods are non-starchy vegetables such as onions, carrots, broccoli, leek, and sprouts. If you want ideas for how to prepare sprouts and other low GI foods, then have a look at our recipes!
That’s not to say that non-starchy vegetables should be avoided: just find a balance. Equally, don’t forget that low GI foods still contain carbs. So, while substitutes for refined sugar with lower GI scores – such as honey – might be digested more slowly, they will still raise blood sugar levels.
13) Have carbs ready
If you have insulin-dependent diabetes, this will be one of the first things you would have learned. But it’s never pleasant to be left with a hypo and no ready way to deal with it. So, here’s a reminder.
The “rule of 15” is the standard way for dealing with low blood sugar, but the precise amount of carbs you need can vary from person to person. This is where Hedia comes in handy and gives a recommended carb amount.
14) Try not overeat when low
When using insulin, you will know the feeling: you start feeling dizzy and shaky and suddenly you want to inhale all the food.
Try to think of your hypo as only momentary. It will be resolved with carbs, and it won’t be made any better if you choose that moment to indulge. It’s easier said than done but that doesn’t make it any less true.
15) Plan your meals
Ok, in an ideal world, all meals would be perfectly planned. That’s not always realistic. However, a little forethought will maybe keep you from grabbing a chocolate muffin instead of a proper breakfast as you dash to work.
Planning meals has two desired outcomes that lead to stable blood sugar. First, you have to think more about what you will be eating, and, hopefully, choosing food that makes blood sugar easier to manage.
Second, you won’t be caught off guard by any unexpected last-minute meals where you don’t have time to consider the impact on the blood sugar.
16) Eat less but more often
While it may be preferable to have a larger meal earlier in the day, that meal should still be reasonably sized. To keep blood sugar at a more constant level, it’s better to have smaller meals with snacks in between.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are the classic “big” meals. Approach those meals differently by making snacks a part of that routine. Basically: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack.
This avoids putting the body through the strain of suddenly having to deal with high blood sugar after a large meal.
17) Avoid skipping meals
With the same logic, skipping meals won’t do your blood sugar any favours. Having no food, followed by a large meal makes blood sugar levels skyrocket.
If you ever needed to fast intentionally, then it is definitely best to consult with a doctor. An important thing to remember when fasting is to break it slowly with small portions of food. But, otherwise, stick to a steady balance of eating meals and set mealtimes.
18) Find your balance
To put this list into perspective: it’s all very well reading about the ideal way for how to keep blood sugar stable. But, managing blood sugar should also work for you in a realistic way. If you have a favourite kind of chocolate bar, then of course you should be able to eat that.
We need our pleasures to make our routines work. Balance is the key to everything; don’t overindulge, but perhaps allow yourself that chocolate bar once every two weeks, or once every Friday afternoon. Besides, if you have insulin-dependent diabetes, you should be able to eat what you want.
Find your balance, and you will find it easier to manage your blood sugar as a whole, leading to more stable blood sugar.
19) Find your own “landmines”
You know your own body better than anyone else’s. Try writing down a list of occasions that you think causes your blood sugar to run amok. That way, you might be better prepared in future for avoiding those occasions.
Writing for diaTribe, Adam Brown has termed these occasions “landmines”. He’s written his own list of landmines, which might give you even more ideas for how to keep blood sugar stable.
After taking all these points into consideration, you deserve a well-earned rest, Chiquitita. Make sure you get your full 8 hours to make blood sugar easier to manage. A lot of it’s to do with hormones: find out more on our blog post on diabetes and sleep.
21) Use a bolus calculator
We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t believe that Hedia can help keep blood sugar stable. A bolus calculator helps you get accurate insulin injections, which in turn will give more blood sugar control.
Hedia is one of those bolus calculators. Read about it on our blog post, How to use a Bolus Calculator. Of course, Hedia Diabetes Assistant is much more than just a bolus calculator. Find out what else it does on Hedia’s webpage.
If there’s at least one thing that you can take away from this list, it’s that there is no single answer to a stable blood sugar.
In fact, stable blood sugar might not even be realistic 24 hours of the day. Instead of trying to account for all of these tips, just have them at the back of your mind as you go about your day.
Awareness of what makes blood sugar behave in a certain way is never a bad thing to have. You’re a super trouper for dealing with it all!
Do you feel like you need a little inspiration for keeping up the self-management? Check out: How to keep up the good work with Diabetes Management