Got type 2 diabetes? How your daily routine can affect your blood sugar
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic health condition which occurs when blood glucose (sugar) levels are too high. Blood sugar levels are usually regulated by a naturally occurring hormone called insulin, which is made in the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin or when the pancreas stops making enough insulin.
If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, you’ll already know that keeping your blood sugar levels within a healthy range can be difficult. Understanding how your lifestyle and daily routine can affect your blood sugar is an important first step towards effective diabetes management.
Understanding food and blood sugar
Understanding how the food you eat affects your blood sugar levels can be tricky. Most diabetics find that effective management comes down to not only thinking about what they eat, but also how much they can eat, and which combinations of food types work best. If you’re struggling to stay on top of food and portion size, have a chat to a dietitian.
Staying on top of carbohydrates
As carbohydrates have a major impact on blood sugar levels, it’s important to choose your carbohydrates carefully. Choosing low GI (glycaemic index) carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables and wholegrains will help keep your blood sugar levels stable for longer. As everyone’s carbohydrate needs are different, it’s a good idea to talk to your dietician or doctor about what’s right for you.
Getting mealtimes and medications right
Coordinating your routines around meals and medications takes a bit of practice. If you don’t eat enough food in proportion to your medication you may end up with hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar). Alternatively, if you eat too much, your glucose levels can climb too high and you’ll end up with hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar). Your doctor or dietitian help you to best coordinate meals and medications.
It’s likely that your doctor has already talked to you about the important role that exercise plays in diabetes management. That’s because when you exercise your muscles burn sugar for energy. By exercising regularly, you can help your body to use insulin more effectively, which in turn can lower your blood sugar. In general, the more strenuous the exercise, the longer lasting its effects will be. If you’re not sure where to start, have a chat with your doctor about what level of exercise is right for you.
Blood glucose monitoring
The main aim of diabetes management is keeping blood sugar levels within a healthy range and by testing your blood glucose regularly with your own blood sugar monitor; it can help you understand the relationship between your blood sugar level, food, exercise, insulin and medications (where prescribed). Keeping a log book of the blood sugar results will help both you and your health professionals to identify patterns and adjust your diabetes management accordingly.
HbA1c blood tests
It doesn’t have a catchy name, but the HbA1c is a blood test done every 3-6 months by your doctor, and it shows the average level of your blood glucose in the past 3 months. This test gives an overall picture of blood sugar management, while normal blood glucose monitoring provides insight into patterns and trends. The hbA1c helps doctors to determine the risk of diabetes related complications for an individual. The range for optimal hbA1c varies for everyone, your doctor can help you determine your own goal target.
Ask questions about new medications
If your doctor prescribes a new medication for a different condition (such as blood pressure) or if you want to try a new over the counter medication for a different ailment, it pays to ask questions. Some medications contain glucose which can spike blood sugar, while others are not compatible with diabetes medications. Always double check with your doctor or pharmacist so you know in advance how it may affect your diabetes.
Need more information?
Adjusting your lifestyle to stay on top of diabetes can be a challenge. If you need further support, talk to your family doctor or diabetes educator.
With our Value or Premier Extras you can get money back when you visit a dietitian. And if you have Premier Extras you get 100% back on initial dietitian consultations. Give Defence Health a call on 1800 335 425 to learn more.