Blood Sugar Testing: Why, When And How
Blood sugar testing is an important part of diabetes care. Find out when to test your blood sugar level, how to use a testing meter, and more. If you have diabetes, self-testing your blood sugar (blood glucose) can be an important tool in managing your treatment plan and preventing long-term complications of diabetes. You can test your blood sugar at home with a portable electronic device (glucose meter) that measures sugar level in a small drop of your blood. Why test your blood sugar Blood sugar testing — or self-monitoring blood glucose — provides useful information for diabetes management. It can help you: Judge how well you're reaching overall treatment goals Understand how diet and exercise affect blood sugar levels Understand how other factors, such as illness or stress, affect blood sugar levels Monitor the effect of diabetes medications on blood sugar levels Identify blood sugar levels that are high or low When to test your blood sugar Your doctor will advise you on how often you should check your blood sugar level. In general, the frequency of testing depends on the type of diabetes you have and your treatment plan. Type 1 diabetes. Your doctor may recommend blood sugar testing four to eight times a day if you have type 1 diabetes. You may need to test before meals and snacks, before and after exercise, before bed, and occasionally during the night. You may also need to check your blood sugar level more often if you are ill, change your daily routine or begin a new medication. Type 2 diabetes. If you take insulin to manage type 2 diabetes, your doctor may recommend blood sugar testing two or more times a day, depending on the type and amount of insulin you need. Testing is usually recommended before meals, and sometimes before bedtime. If you manage type 2 Continue reading >>
Eating Well With Type 2 Diabetes
Forget the idea of the "diabetic diet" -- a restrictive regime that puts certain foods strictly off-limits. The healthiest diet for people with type 2 diabetes is the same diet that's best for everyone else. That means eating a wide variety of foods, and including items from all the major food groups represented on the Food Pyramid -- protein, dairy, grains, and fruits and vegetables -- every day. It means watching your portion sizes. It means getting enough fiber, and avoiding an overload of fat, salt, alcohol, and sugar. (Yes, you can have dessert -- in moderation, and with a little planning!) Following these steps will not only help control your blood sugar, but can also help you reach a healthy weight, something that's especially important for people with diabetes. As with any medical condition, people with type 2 diabetes should check with their doctors before starting any diet or exercise program. It's also a good idea to work with a registered dietitian and/or diabetes educator to come up with an eating plan that suits your needs. Two of the main tools doctors and dietitians use to help you plan healthy meals are: Food exchanges. This system divides foods into major categories -- starches, fruits and vegetables, dairy, proteins, and fats -- and tells you how many portions of each you should have each day. Carbohydrate counting. With this system, you keep track of the grams of carbohydrate (starches and sugars) you consume, with the idea of spreading them out through the day to help keep your blood sugar steady. The end result should be a plan tailored to your needs: one that takes your age, gender, lifestyle, and eating habits into account. While you should be able to eat most of the same things as everyone else, people with diabetes often have to limit the amoun Continue reading >>
The Diabetes Diet
What's the best diet for diabetes? Whether you’re trying to prevent or control diabetes, your nutritional needs are virtually the same as everyone else, so no special foods are necessary. But you do need to pay attention to some of your food choices—most notably the carbohydrates you eat. While following a Mediterranean or other heart-healthy diet can help with this, the most important thing you can do is to lose a little weight. Losing just 5% to 10% of your total weight can help you lower your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Losing weight and eating healthier can also have a profound effect on your mood, energy, and sense of wellbeing. Even if you’ve already developed diabetes, it’s not too late to make a positive change. By eating healthier, being more physically active, and losing weight, you can reduce your symptoms or even reverse diabetes. The bottom line is that you have more control over your health than you may think. The biggest risk for diabetes: belly fat Being overweight or obese is the biggest risk factor for type 2 diabetes. However, your risk is higher if you tend to carry your weight around your abdomen as opposed to your hips and thighs. A lot of belly fat surrounds the abdominal organs and liver and is closely linked to insulin resistance. You are at an increased risk of developing diabetes if you are: A woman with a waist circumference of 35 inches or more A man with a waist circumference of 40 inches or more Calories obtained from fructose (found in sugary beverages such as soda, energy and sports drinks, coffee drinks, and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, cereal, candy and granola bars) are more likely to add weight around your abdomen. Cutting back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline as well as a lowe Continue reading >>
How Much Should I Eat Daily To Control My Blood Sugar Levels With Diabetes?
The types of food you eat, when you eat them, the timing of medications and even physical activity levels can all affect blood sugar levels. A good component to type 2 diabetes management is keeping your blood sugar levels under control as best as possible. The road to management can be a challenging and winding one. The day-to-day efforts you put in trying to ensure you maintain your target blood sugar levels, can sometimes seem like minute-to-minute efforts. You’ve learned how to check your blood sugar, what medications you should take, recommendations on what you should eat, but have you learned what foods work best for you and your blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels are the one consistent factor in diabetes management that everyone, including doctors can agree require more information on how to manage them more effectively. What’s The Big Deal on Blood Sugars? Type 2 diabetes happens when your body is no longer sensitive to the insulin, or it begins to develop a delayed response to the way insulin is secreted to change your blood sugar levels. Beyond the complications associated with diabetes, high blood sugar levels can gradually do damage to all the blood vessels in the body. Over a longer period of time, these elevated blood sugars and damage can lead to a bigger problem of the loss in sensation throughout the body, particularly in the legs and feet. This condition is known as neuropathy. Deterioration of your eyesight, reduced kidney function and an elevated risk for heart disease are also potential complications. For more information read these guides: Episodes of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar put those with type 2 diabetes at just as high of a risk for complications. Loss of consciousness, confusion, risk of seizures and potential brain damage when Continue reading >>
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How To Snack In The Right Way If You Have Type 2 Diabetes
If it fits your meal plan, yogurt with fruit can be a good snack.Getty Images If you have type 2 diabetes, you don't need to include snacks in your daily diet, unless you're on a type of medication, such as insulin or sulfonylureas, that can cause hypoglycemia. However, snacksif they are healthy and part of the meal plan developed by your diabetes educator or dietitiancan help prevent blood glucose peaks and valleys, as well as overeating at mealtime. The trick is knowing which foods make a "good" snack, the right portion size, and how often you should eat between meals. Calculate snack carbohydrates and calories A good snack consists of 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates and 100 to 200 calories (depending on the individual's meal plan and medication), according to Rosalia Doyle, RD, a nutritionist at the Gerald J. Friedman Diabetes Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Just like meals, snacks should aim for a combination of fat, protein, and carbohydrates (read the food label to get all the details). "At our clinic, every type 2 diabetic gets an individual meal plan when they see one of the registered dietitians. And snacking is important for some people because it helps to prevent the blood sugar from fluctuating," says Doyle. Doyle likes to incorporate snacks her clients enjoy, like yogurt with fruit, popcorn without butter, and berries. Despite the nutritional value of such snacks, this eating must also be monitored. Inappropriate snacking can contribute to obesity. One way to avoid harmful snacking is to understand portion sizes for both your snacks and meals, and to stick to the parameters. "Three cups of popcorn is the same serving as one slice of bread, and a great snack," says Doyle. Other snack ideas include high fiber cereal with soy milk, a Continue reading >>
What To Eat, How Much, And When
Meal planning is one of the most important things you can do to keep your blood sugar in control. Paying attention to what you're eating, how much, and when might seem like a huge challenge at first, but these tips can help make it easier. Quality: What Can I Eat? Having diabetes doesn't mean you can't eat food you enjoy. You can keep eating the foods you like. Just make sure to include lots of nutritious, healthy choices. Healthy, nutritious choices include whole grains, legumes (dried beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, vegetables, non-fat or low-fat dairy, and lean meats, such as fish and poultry. These foods are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and lean protein, and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and refined sugar. Healthier food choices aren't only good for people with diabetes. They're good for everyone. People who eat a variety of these foods every day have a well-balanced diet and get the nutrients their bodies need. Quantity: How Much Can I Eat? Learning about serving sizes is key to meal planning. Food labels on packaged foods and many recipes tell you what a serving size is. These labels tell you how many calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat are in each serving. You'll need to know serving sizes to help you choose foods that keep your blood sugar from going too high after you eat. If you take fast-acting insulin to control your blood sugar, knowing the serving size will tell you how much insulin you need to take before you eat. Eating carbohydrates affects your blood sugar more than other foods. The more you eat, the faster and higher your blood sugar will rise. Eating fat and protein can affect how quickly your body turns carbohydrates into sugar. When you know the amount of carbohydrate, protein, and fat you're eating at a meal, you can learn to c Continue reading >>
A Guide To Healthy Low-carb Eating With Diabetes
Diabetes is a chronic disease that has reached epidemic proportions. It currently affects over 400 million people worldwide (1). Although diabetes is a complicated disease, maintaining good blood sugar control can greatly reduce the risk of complications (2, 3). One of the ways to achieve better blood sugar levels is to follow a low-carb diet. This article provides a detailed overview of low-carb diets for managing diabetes. If you have diabetes, your body cannot process carbohydrates effectively. Normally, when you eat carbs, they are broken down into small units of glucose, which end up as blood sugar. When blood sugar levels go up, the pancreas responds by producing the hormone insulin. This hormone allows the blood sugar to enter cells. In healthy people, blood sugar levels remain within a narrow range throughout the day. In diabetes, however, this system doesn't work the way it is supposed to. This is a big problem, because having both too high and too low blood sugar levels can cause severe harm. There are several types of diabetes, but the two most common ones are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Both of these conditions can be diagnosed at any age. In type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune process destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Diabetics must inject insulin several times a day to ensure that glucose gets into the cells and stays at a healthy level in the bloodstream (4). In type 2 diabetes, the beta cells at first produce enough insulin, but the body's cells are resistant to its action, so blood sugar remains high. To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin, attempting to bring blood sugar down. Over time, the beta cells lose their ability to produce enough insulin (5). Of the three nutrients -- protein, carbs and fat -- carbs have the grea Continue reading >>
Treatment Of Diabetes: The Diabetic Diet
The mainstays of diabetes treatment are: Working towards obtaining ideal body weight Following a diabetic diet Regular exercise Diabetic medication if needed Note: Type 1 diabetes must be treated with insulin; if you have type 2 diabetes, you may not need to take insulin. This involves injecting insulin under the skin for it to work. Insulin cannot be taken as a pill because the digestive juices in the stomach would destroy the insulin before it could work. Scientists are looking for new ways to give insulin. But today, shots are the only method. There are, however, new methods to give the shots. Insulin pumps are now being widely used and many people are having great results. In this Article Working towards obtaining ideal body weight An estimate of ideal body weight can be calculated using this formula: For women: Start with 100 pounds for 5 feet tall. Add 5 pounds for every inch over 5 feet. If you are under 5 feet, subtract 5 pounds for each inch under 5 feet. This will give you your ideal weight. If you have a large frame, add 10%. If you have a small frame, subtract 10%. A good way to decide your frame size is to look at your wrist size compared to other women's. Example: A woman who is 5' 4" tall and has a large frame 100 pounds + 20 pounds (4 inches times 5 pounds per inch) = 120 pounds. Add 10% for large frame (in this case 10% of 120 pounds is 12 pounds). 120 pounds + 12 pounds = 132 pounds ideal body weight. For men: Start with 106 pounds for a height of 5 foot. Add 6 pounds for every inch above 5 foot. For a large frame, add 10%. For a small frame, subtract 10%. (See above for further details.) Learn More about Treating Type 2 Diabetes The Diabetic Diet Diet is very important in diabetes. There are differing philosophies on what is the best diet but below is Continue reading >>
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Is Grazing Good For Diabetes?
What if you ate frequent, small meals, instead of a few big ones? You wouldn’t need as much insulin at any one time. Maybe postmeal spikes would be much smaller. What does science say about this approach? The question mainly applies to people with Type 2 who still make some insulin. They may have enough insulin to cover a small meal, but not a normal American meal. If you are injecting rapid-acting insulin, more meals would mean more, smaller shots. Eating very frequent, very small meals is sometimes called “grazing.” Some evidence shows that it improves insulin function. In one small study, people were assigned in random order to eat a “nibbling diet,” which consisted of 17 snacks per day, or the usual three meals per day. (Both diets had the same amount of total food and types of food.) The nibblers made less insulin, although their sugars were about the same as the regular eaters. That shows their insulin was used more efficiently. Grazing has been very popular at times for weight loss and diabetes management. It’s not so popular now. A Czech study presented in 2013 found that grazing was less effective for weight loss than eating two main meals a day. No differences were found in glucose levels or insulin function. Some experts still strongly recommend grazing. The Pritikin Longevity Center compares frequent very small meals to weight-loss surgery. Weight-loss surgery is often touted as a diabetes “cure,” or at least a highly effective treatment. But why does it help? Weight-loss surgery leaves a person with a very small stomach, maybe the size of an egg. Pritikin’s website says, “Post- surgery life means very small meals, eaten very slowly and chewed thoroughly, for the rest of one’s life.” That grazing diet may be what appears to be “curi Continue reading >>
Diabetes Diet, Eating, & Physical Activity
Nutrition and physical activity are important parts of a healthy lifestyle when you have diabetes. Along with other benefits, following a healthy meal plan and being active can help you keep your blood glucose level, also called blood sugar, in your target range. To manage your blood glucose, you need to balance what you eat and drink with physical activity and diabetes medicine, if you take any. What you choose to eat, how much you eat, and when you eat are all important in keeping your blood glucose level in the range that your health care team recommends. Becoming more active and making changes in what you eat and drink can seem challenging at first. You may find it easier to start with small changes and get help from your family, friends, and health care team. Eating well and being physically active most days of the week can help you keep your blood glucose level, blood pressure, and cholesterol in your target ranges prevent or delay diabetes problems feel good and have more energy What foods can I eat if I have diabetes? You may worry that having diabetes means going without foods you enjoy. The good news is that you can still eat your favorite foods, but you might need to eat smaller portions or enjoy them less often. Your health care team will help create a diabetes meal plan for you that meets your needs and likes. The key to eating with diabetes is to eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups, in the amounts your meal plan outlines. The food groups are vegetables nonstarchy: includes broccoli, carrots, greens, peppers, and tomatoes starchy: includes potatoes, corn, and green peas fruits—includes oranges, melon, berries, apples, bananas, and grapes grains—at least half of your grains for the day should be whole grains includes wheat, rice, oats, co Continue reading >>
How Often Must Diabetics Eat?
I am not a big fan of eat small more often. I believe that intermittent fasting can help regulate insulin production better and keep your blood sugar levels in control. Conventional anti-diabetic treatment (more management, than treatment) regimes advise the patients to eat many small meals throughout the day so that the blood sugar lowering drugs can work since they get a constant supply of carbs. I believe that if you eat 3 large (comparatively) in a day, your body will be trained to use up reserve stores of fats when it wants energy. This is beneficial in the long run. Continue reading >>
How Many Carbs Should A Diabetic Eat?
Figuring out how many carbs to eat when you have diabetes can seem confusing. Meal plans created by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) provide about 45% of calories from carbs. This includes 45–60 grams per meal and 10–25 grams per snack, totaling about 135–230 grams of carbs per day. However, a growing number of experts believe people with diabetes should be eating far fewer carbs than this. In fact, many recommend fewer carbs per day than what the ADA allows per meal. This article takes a look at the research supporting low-carb diets for diabetics and provides guidance for determining optimal carb intake. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the main source of fuel for your body's cells. In people with diabetes, the body's ability to process and use blood sugar is impaired. Although there are several types of diabetes, the two most common forms are type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 Diabetes In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas is unable to produce insulin, a hormone that allows sugar from the bloodstream to enter the body's cells. Instead, insulin must be injected to ensure that sugar enters cells. Type 1 diabetes develops because of an autoimmune process in which the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells, which are called beta cells. This disease is usually diagnosed in children, but it can start at any age, even in late adulthood (1). Type 2 Diabetes Type 2 diabetes is more common, accounting for about 90% of people with diabetes. Like type 1 diabetes, it can develop in both adults and children. However, it isn't as common in children and typically occurs in people who are overweight or obese. In this form of the disease, either the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body's cells are resistant to insulin's effects. Therefore, too much sugar stays Continue reading >>
Snacking When You Have Diabetes
Learning how to count the carbohydrates that you eat (carb counting) helps you plan what to eat. It will also keep your blood sugar under control. Your health care provider may tell you to eat a snack at certain times of the day, most often at bedtime. This helps keep your blood sugar from getting too low at night. Other times, you may have a snack before or during exercise for the same reason. Ask your provider about the snacks you can and you can't have. Needing to snack to prevent low blood sugar has become much less common because of new types of insulin that are better at matching the insulin your body needs at specific times. If you have type 2 diabetes and are taking insulin and often need to snack during the day, your doses of insulin may be too high and you should talk to your provider about this. You will also need to ask about what snacks to avoid. Your provider can tell you if you should snack at certain times to keep from having low blood sugar. This will be based on your: Diabetes treatment plan from your provider Expected physical activity Lifestyle Low blood sugar pattern Most often, your snacks will be easy to digest foods that have 15 to 45 grams of carbohydrates. Snack foods that have 15 grams (g) of carbohydrates are: Half cup (107 g) of canned fruit (without the juice or syrup) Half banana One medium apple One cup (173 g) melon balls Two small cookies Ten potato chips (varies with size of chips) Six jelly beans (varies with size of pieces) Having diabetes does not mean that you must stop eating snacks. It does mean that you should know what a snack does to your blood sugar. You also need to know what healthy snacks are so you can choose a snack that will not raise your blood sugar or make you gain weight. Ask your provider about what snacks you can Continue reading >>
Late-night Eating: Ok If You Have Diabetes?
Are late-night snacks a no-no for people who have diabetes? Answers from M. Regina Castro, M.D. If you have diabetes, late-night snacks aren't necessarily off-limits — but it's important to make wise choices. Late-night snacks add extra calories, which can lead to weight gain. And if you snack after your evening meal — especially if the foods contain carbohydrates — you may wake up the next morning with a high blood sugar level. If you're hungry after dinner, choose a "free" food, such as: One sugar-free frozen cream pop Five baby carrots One cup of light popcorn A small handful of goldfish-style crackers A can of diet soda Or swap the snack for a piece of gum or small hard candy. These "free" foods have few, if any, carbohydrates and calories, so they won't contribute to weight gain or increased blood sugar. If you take insulin or other diabetes medications and feel that you must snack before bedtime to prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) during the night, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend adjusting the dose of your medications to prevent the need for a late-night snack. Continue reading >>
Does Timing Of Food Matter With Diabetes?
Eating certainly affects glucose control. But does the timing of your food intake really matter, as long as you take your medications when you’re supposed to? What about European cultures who favor a larger midday meal? What time of the day should you eat for optimal glycemic control? Glycemic Control Certainly, regularly scheduled meals and snacks are best for glycemic control. This is a long well-known principle. Standard of care recommendations are three meals, 4-5 hours apart, same or similar times of the day every day. Setting your meal times and medication times on a regular schedule will result in improved glucose control throughout the day, and over time, evidenced by improved HbA1c values and improved insulin sensitivity. A sample daily meal schedule would be: 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. breakfast + 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. lunch + 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. dinner. Regular recommendations are 60 grams of carbohydrate at each of these meals, but that should be individualized by working with a Registered Dietitian (RD) or Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). Individuals on long-acting insulin will need a bedtime snack including 15-30 grams of carbohydrate to avoid nighttime hypoglycemia. This can be tricky for people working a night shift, or other lifestyle issues affecting a ‘typical’ schedule. Again, work with an RD or CDE to determine what can work for you. Hunger & Satiety Eating on a regular schedule, with small frequent mini-meals keeps you satisfied. Skipping meals in order to lose weight eventually ends up with overeating at the next meal. Eating the traditional three larger meals each day may lead to hungry spells in between. Hunger scores were significantly improved in human subjects fed a larger morning meal compare to those fed a larger evening meal. A Continue reading >>
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