Q: How long after eating does food affect your blood sugar? When is the best time to test my blood sugar in relation to meals?
A: Food is the number one reason for fluctuations in blood sugar, or glucose. Usually, food raises blood sugar while alcohol may lower blood sugar. Depending on what you are eating, blood sugar can rise beyond 300 mg/dl if the food contains sugar or simple carbohydrates. For example, milk and juices are used medically to correct hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, because they can quickly raise sugars after only drinking 3 to 4 ounces. Maintaining a balanced blood sugar throughout the day can seem difficult, but it’s actually very doable if you commit to some up-front work for a week or two. I have found from my practice that most people eat the same 20 to 30 foods all of the time, and if they think about it, they can easily recognize patterns and develop schedules based on that. Keeping a food and blood sugar log to track when sugars go up and down will help you figure out what works for you. A common issue with keeping blood sugar balanced is eating only two or three large meals a day — which will spike blood sugar when you’re eating and cause dips during the long periods between meals. Splitting up the food into four to six smaller meals can help prevent those swings in blood sugar. When your blood sugar is too high or too low, it can wake you up at night, says Joy Bierman Pape, FNP-C, CDE, of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City and a spokesperson for the American Association of Diabetes Educators. “One of the best things for better sleep with type 2 diabetes is to keep your blood sugar levels within your target range so you’re not having highs or lows that prevent you from sleeping well,” she says. To meet your blood sugar target, follow your treatment plan, which includes your personal meal and activity plan, and take medications as prescribed, Bierman Pape adds.