Glucose readings, especially for a diabetic, can vary throughout the day. If you are diabetic, you may get some of your highest readings after a meal. Since carbohydrates are responsible for providing the body with necessary glucose, high blood sugar levels may even be found in non-diabetics who have eaten carbohydrate-laden meals. What we’ll focus on in this article is how glucose readings after meals rise and what diabetics can do to control their blood sugar levels after eating.
Why Does Blood Sugar Rise After Meals?
Blood sugar naturally goes up after a meal in response to the carbohydrates that you consume. When it does, cells in the pancreas are signaled to release insulin in response to the glucose.The insulin transports the glucose to the body’s cells, providing them energy.
The degree to which insulin is released into the body is generally a response to the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. Diabetics either do not produce sufficient insulin to counteract the glucose or their body does not process insulin sufficiently. In either case, carbohydrates consumed at a meal bombard the system with blood sugar, and diabetics are unable to process the glucose quickly and efficiently resulting in high glucose readings after meals.
How Do I Control It?
There are foods and food combinations that more favorably impact your glucose readings after meals.The glycemic index rates carbohydrates on how quickly the body absorbs them. Carbohydrates that are absorbed quickly result in severe spikes in blood glucose levels. Foods that take longer to absorb result in more stable blood sugar levels. Look for carbohydrates that have a GI rating of 55 or lower to avoid high spikes in blood sugar, like most fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt and fat-free milk. You can find out more about the glycemic index and low glycemic foods at https://www.glycemicindex.com/.
Eat foods with sufficient amounts of dietary fiber in them. Foods with fiber take longer to digest and slow the rate at which those carbohydrates enter the blood stream. On a similar note, eating a mixed meal would be a smart thing to do. Don’t eat carbohydrates by itself. Mix modest portions of healthy fats and lean proteins. These macro nutrients which take hours to leave the stomach will slow the rate at which accompanying carbohydrates leave the stomach and are digested. What you get is more gradual glucose readings after meals. Also, remember to not eat too much food at once. Spread out your calories and carbohydrate intake so that you don’t take in too many calories or carbohydrates at once. Aim for five smaller meals spread throughout the day rather than three large meals.
Exercise is also helpful in keeping blood sugar levels low. Exercise helps to make your body more sensitive to insulin, allowing you to have tighter blood sugar control, even after meals. Consistency is the key, however, as this may not happen with just a few bouts of exercise. Going for a walk after you eat a meal can lower your glucose readings after meals as well.
The ADA recommends that a diabetic’s glucose readings after meals be maintained below 180 mg/dl (10 mmol/l).
We have answered the how and what, but question remains…“Why?”
Maintaining a tight blood sugar control, especially after meals, is very important and has both short- and long-term benefits. In the short term you may feel better, have more stable energy levels, stay healthier and avoid symptoms of high blood sugar such as blurred vision, thirst and frequent urination. In the long run, you can avoid more serious diabetes complications such as eye disease, kidney disease, heart disease and nerve damage. Tight blood sugar control can also save your life. Keep these things in mind when it comes to glucose readings after meals and you should see your numbers coming down.