Five Easy Ways to Manage Blood Sugar
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD
It can take time and patience to learn how to manage your blood sugar, but try not to get discouraged. These five tips can make managing glucose a simpler process, and the best part is the longer you practice them, the easier they will be to incorporate into your everyday life.
- Learn to Carb Count
Yes, you can eat carbs if you have diabetes! In fact, you should. An ideal guideline is to eat the same amount of carbohydrates at every main meal. So this means about 45- 60 grams of carbs per meal. How many carbs are in your favorite foods? Look at food labels, and also check out The Diabetes Comfort Food Diet Cookbook and the American Diabetes Association guide to foods with 15 grams of carbohydrates. These include a slice of bread, 1/2 cup of oatmeal, or 6 chicken nuggets.
- Do Preprandial and Postprandial Checks
Preprandial is just a fancy word meaning “before you eat,” while postprandial means “after you eat.” Always check your blood sugar before (preprandial) and exactly two hours after (postprandial) a meal when trying new foods and new combinations to see how your body, especially your blood sugar, responds.
According to the American Diabetes Association, adults with diabetes should have a preprandial glucose target of 80–130 mg/dl, a postprandial glucose target of less than 180 mg/dl. I say, just look for an improvement in the range.
- Practice Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the state of being aware, and it can do so much for our health, from helping IBS to back pain to glucose control. Research supports mindfulness, especially mindfulness mediation, as a proven way to help glycemic management: A study conducted by Brown University School of Public Health, and published in the American Journal of Health Behavior, found those who did best on a mindfulness test had a better chance of having normal plasma glucose levels than those who did worse. To get the full benefits of mindfulness in your own life, use a mediation app such as Head Space or Buddhify (with over 80 guided meditations!).
- Move More
We recently celebrated National Walking Day. But just because the holiday is over doesn’t mean we stop celebrating! In any way possible, look to increase your daily movement. This can range from walking on a treadmill to adding more time to your typical exercise routine. Some easy ways to do it is to get off a few bus stops earlier or take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. If it’s a nice day, walk on your lunch hour instead of eating at your desk. If you need motivation, get a pedometer to track your steps or a fitbit. And remember, you don’t need to sign up for a year-long gym membership or commit to an intimidating high-level Zumba class. Five minutes more of movement definitely counts! Just get some extra activity in. Remember: anything is better than nothing. If you do five minutes each day, by the end of the week you will have added over a half-hour of extra exercise, and perhaps painlessly.
- Include Sugar
Yes, I said to eat sugar. If you love sweets, plan them into your carb counts on a regular basis. If you deprive yourself of pleasurable foods, you may end up feeling like you “cheated” when you finally give in or with an unplanned high blood sugar. You can keep your sugar in a lower or more narrow range if you allot for the sugar in your daily carbohydrate counting.