Sometimes, I eat a completely normal healthy meal, take insulin or meds as usual, only to discover that 1 hour after eating, my blood sugar has shot up to 250 or 300. Gah!
Blood-boiling rage doesn't even begin to describe my emotional state when this happens.
Why does this happen, anyway?
Well, one theory is that I took the wrong amount of insulin/medication.
Another theory is that I screwed up my carbohydrate counting.
A third (and more satisfying) theory is that my blood sugar is an asshole.
But, what if I didn't mess anything up? Is it possible for my blood sugar to spike after meals, even though I've gotten everything else right?
Yes. Yes, it is totally possible.
Sometimes, carbohydrates metabolize and turn into glucose quite quickly after you eat them. This can cause a blood sugar spike in people with diabetes. The insulin (whether you take injectable insulin or whether it comes from your pancreas) just can't keep up with the glucose absorption, so your blood sugar spikes high, and then eventually comes back down to normal once the insulin has had a chance to work. When carbohydrates metabolize more slowly, this blood sugar spike is much less severe.
Now, there is a bunch of information on the web about glycemic properties of foods, and if you have a bunch of time and want to learn more about these properties, you can go online and spend days reading articles about the glycemic index. There's also a bunch of stuff you can do with insulin, if you take it, that can help with blood sugar spikes. We cover that topic pretty thoroughly in BootCamp for Betics.
But. If you don't have a bunch of time to go prowling the internet, let me give you a quick solution that will help mitigate post-meal blood sugar spikes.
How? Well, wouldn't it be nice if we could FORCE our bodies to absorb carbohydrates more slowly? Is this even possible?
Yes. It very much is.
There are two nutrients that, once consumed, have the effect of slowing digestion. If you consume these two nutrients just a few minutes before you eat your regular meal, your food will take longer to digest, glucose will take longer to absorb, your insulin will have a chance to do its job, and you won't have such a big blood sugar spike.
It's not magic. It's science.
1. Soluble fiber increases the thickness of stomach contents after a meal, which slows digestion and glucose absorption.
2. Fat takes a quite awhile to move through your GI tract, so when you eat fat, this gums up your body's absorption of carbohydrates, slowing down glucose absorption.
Now that we know this, how can we practically apply it to our daily lives?
Well, we need to be careful with fat. There's saturated fat and unsaturated fat. Saturated fat can raise our triglycerides and cholesterol, and put us at higher risk of heart disease. Ew. But unsaturated fats don't do these bad things.
What does this mean?
Well, it means that if we eat soluble fiber and/or unsaturated fat shortly before a meal (like 5 minutes before you take your first bite), we can reduce postprandial spikes.
Next time you eat a meal, try doing one of these things 5 minutes before your first bite:
- Eat 10 walnuts (NOT the candied kind)
- Eat 10 pecans (again, not the kind that's dipped in sugar)
- Eat 10 almonds
- Eat 1/2 of an avocado
- Eat 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter
- Eat 1-2 tablespoons of almond butter
- Eat flaxseed (I've got a mug muffin recipe that I'll send in a few days)