Why is it important to understand the impact of food on your blood sugar levels?
Understanding how food choices affect your blood sugar is a valuable skill to have, because using this information can help reduce your risk of developing long-term complications of diabetes. The more consistent you are in managing your blood sugar levels the less likely you are to develop complications such as kidney disease, heart disease or permanent damage to your eyes and feet . This enables you to age in good health and live an active, happy and long life.
Why is it important to test your blood sugar before and after eating?
Everyone reacts differently to the food they eat. Two people could eat the exact same meal or snack, and get 2 different readings on their blood glucose meter. How much you eat, when you eat, the combination of foods you eat, and even the order in which they are eaten, can all have an impact on how your body reacts. Exercise and stress can also affect your blood sugar. This is why it’s important to understand how your body reacts to food.
What does before- and after-meal blood glucose testing mean?
To help you understand how food affects your blood sugar, measure your blood sugar before a meal or snack using your blood glucose meter. Record this reading in a log, along with the date and time. Two hours after you started to eat, measure your blood sugar again and record this reading in your log. Try this 3 or 4 times per week for a few weeks with different meals to gather some data.
How do you use the information from before- and after-meal testing?
After 2 weeks, review the results of your log. Your blood sugar before eating should be between 4 and 7 mmol/L. If it is higher than this range, it could mean that your previous meal had too many carbohydrates, not enough protein or fiber, or your medications may need adjusting. Two hours after eating, your blood sugar should measure between 5 and 10 mmol/L. If your reading is higher than this range, it means that your meal or snack needs to be modified to bring that number lower. This could be achieved with smaller portions of carbohydrate-containing foods, or more fiber- and protein-containing foods.
What steps do you need to take to learn the impact of your food choices on your blood sugar levels?
It’s easy, and you can start at any time. Use your blood glucose meter to measure your blood sugar before eating. Wait 2 hours after eating and then measure your blood sugar again. Repeat this with 3 or 4 different meals (and 1 snack) for 2 weeks to see how much your blood sugar changes. If your blood sugar readings fall outside the recommended ranges, modify your food choices to bring them within range. This will reduce your risk of developing long-term health complications.
Do you have questions about your blood glucose levels?
Share your log and blood glucose meter readings with a Registered Dietitian or another member of your diabetes healthcare team. They can help you understand how to better manage your blood sugar levels through diet and lifestyle choices.