Ginger Vieira was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 13, celiac disease a year later, and fibromyalgia in 2014. Ginger provides great insights into life with multiple chronic illnesses, including how to make the most of your life despite your health setbacks.
At the doctor's office and in any magazine, people with diabetes are often encouraged to check their blood sugars before meals. But in reality, this is only one of the very important times of day to check your blood sugar in order to assess how your body is handling the food you eat and your medication doses.
If you're working hard on improving your A1c results and overall blood sugar control, here are three times of day you'll definitely want to make a priority for testing:
1. Fasting blood sugar
Waking up with a high blood sugar can actually imply that your blood sugar was high throughout the entire night! That means that for eight of the past 24 hours, your blood sugar was consistently high, which will inevitably increase your A1c. Having high blood sugars for that many hours will also inevitably zap your morning energy and enthusiasm for the day. It can also lead to developing ketones, putting you at severe risk for dehydration and other complications of diabetic ketoacidosis.
Get your morning number down to a healthy range by talking to your doctor about adjusting your medications and by taking a closer look at what you're eating during the last few hours before you go to bed.
2. Post-meal blood sugar
Sure, the number on the meter before we eat is important, but what about what happens after we eat? Especially for those taking insulin, this number can show if you had too much or too little insulin with your meal. For those not taking insulin, this number implies how well your body is simply able to handle the carbohydrate load in the food you're eating. If your blood sugar is consistently high after eating, you can work with your healthcare team to reduce the carbohydrates in your diet and/or increase your medication doses to support your body's needs.
Don't wait! You'll feel so much better after meals if you can get a handle on that post-meal blood sugar.
3. Before bed
Well, we already discussed the importance of waking up with an in-range number in order to prevent spending eight or so hours with a high blood sugar, but that really starts with where you're at before your head hits the pillow. If you are consistently not eating enough during the day, for example, and you're starving by the time you get home, you're likely to overeat and have a really difficult time keeping your blood sugar in-range after dinner.
If you generally eat a high-carb dinner and a dessert, reduce your blood sugar by having one or the other: carbs at dinner and no dessert OR fewer carbs at dinner and a small dessert. Not only will you sleep better with an in-range blood sugar, you'll feel better when you wake up!