By Diane Hwang
When you have diabetes, managing your blood sugar levels is essential. It can help prevent long-term health problems and make your daily life easier.
Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, is when your glucose levels fall below approximately 70mg/dL. When your blood sugar is too low for too long, it can cause confusion, headaches, fainting, or even more serious conditions like coma and death.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent this (including keeping a low blood sugar test kit handy).
1) Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations
Working with your primary care physician is a critical part of your ongoing care if you have diabetes and low blood sugar concerns. Make sure to follow their recommendations for how to keep your levels balanced throughout the day.
This includes any medications you’ve been prescribed and when to take them. Additionally, if your doctor has placed you on a unique diet to help manage your levels, be sure to follow it closely.
Usually, the best way to learn how to prevent hypoglycemia is to follow the preventative measures your doctor has prescribed.
2) Regularly Test Your Blood Sugar
People with diabetes are often advised to test their blood sugar in the morning when they wake up (and before eating anything). However, if you have diabetes and are prone to low blood sugar, keeping track of your fluctuating blood sugar levels is important.
For example, you may need to test before each meal, which would increase your testing to around four or five times per day. Make sure to log your results in a notepad or app designed for this purpose.
Keep your low blood sugar test kit with you. To test your levels:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Cleanse the pad of your index or middle finger with an alcohol wipe.
- Hold the lancet against your finger at a 90º angle and release it to prick your finger.
- Squeeze a drop of blood onto your test strip and insert it into your glucometer.
- Log your levels in your notepad or app.
Remember, if you have diabetes and low blood sugar of 70 mg/dL or below, you may begin to experience symptoms of hypoglycemia.
3) Eat Regularly and Consistently
One of the easiest ways to learn how to prevent hypoglycemia is to eat regular and consistent meals and snacks. Aim to eat three full meals plus three snacks throughout your day.
Missing a meal or snack can cause your blood sugar levels to fall. Try to plan your meals and snacks so they’re no more than four or five hours apart.
Don’t forget to take into account your exercise routine as well. If you have an intense bout of exercise planned like a marathon or high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you may need to eat more frequently or have larger meals than normal.
4) Keep Your Meals Healthful
Managing diabetes and low blood sugar also involves making sure your meals and snacks are nutrient-dense. Prioritize protein at each meal with a serving about the size of your palm. Aim to pair this protein with complex carbohydrates, like whole grains.
Also aim to consume fresh vegetables at each meal and fruit throughout the day, though in moderation. These are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, meaning you hopefully won’t have to use your low blood sugar test kit as often! Consuming fruits like oranges, strawberries, blueberries, and grapes can boost your blood sugar levels if you need it.
Limit refined carbohydrates like white bread and rice, pastries, sugary syrups, candy, and desserts. Good sources of complex carbs are whole wheat bread, brown rice, and beans. Solid vegetable choices include spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, and carrots.
5) Keep Snacks With You
A key part of how to prevent hypoglycemia includes keeping snacks with you at all times. When you’re out and about, low blood sugar can happen any time. This is especially true if you have a busy day of errands, work, or vacation planned. It can be easy to miss a meal or forget to test your levels.
Manage your diabetes and low blood sugar by keeping travel-friendly, nutritious snacks with you. Convenient on-the-go options include dried fruit, string cheese, fresh fruit, yogurt packs, and more. Remember to prioritize protein and complex carbs.
6) Exercise Regularly
Exercise is a key part of managing your diabetes. It can help lower blood sugar levels, but be careful — sometimes exercise can cause your levels to fall too low.
Time your exercise about an hour after you’ve eaten a meal. Always use your low blood sugar test kit to check your levels just before your workout and again afterward.
If you’re engaging in strenuous or long bouts of exercise, you may need to carry snacks with you to help manage diabetes and low blood sugar. This will depend on the results of testing your levels.
It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor to learn how to prevent hypoglycemia before you begin your exercise regimen.
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At OKRA Care, we’re dedicated to helping you simplify your health and manage your diabetes as easily as possible. We provide a low blood sugar test kit, testing strips, and more, all in an optional convenient subscription.
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