Reasons for Blood Sugar Swings
Blood sugar can rise after drinking coffee -- even black coffee with zero calories -- thanks to the caffeine. Likewise, black tea, green tea, and energy drinks can hinder blood sugar control in people with diabetes. Each person reacts differently, so it's best to track your own responses to foods and activities. Ironically, other compounds in coffee may help prevent type 2 diabetes in healthy people.
Upswing: Sugar-Free Foods
Many foods labeled "sugar free" will raise your blood sugar level. Why? They can still have plenty of carbs from starches, fat, and fiber. Check the total carbohydrates on the back label before digging in. You should also pay attention to sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and xylitol. They add sweetness with fewer carbs than sugar (sucrose), but may still have enough carbs to your raise your blood sugar level.
Upswing: Chinese Food
When you dig into a helping of sesame beef or sweet and sour chicken, it isn't just the white rice that can cause a problem. Foods that are high in fat can cause your blood sugar to stay high longer. The same is true for pizza, french fries, and other foods that are high in both carbohydrates and fat. Check your blood sugar about two hours after you eat to know how a food affects you.
Upswing: A Bad Cold
Your blood sugar rises as your body works to fight off an illness. Drink water and other fluids to stay hydrated. Call your health care provider if you've had diarrhea or vomiting for more than two hours or if you've been sick for two days and aren't getting better. Be aware that some medicines, such as antibiotics and the decongestants used to clear your sinuses, can affect your blood sugar.
businessman covered in flying paperwork
Upswing: Job Stress
Feeling overwhelmed or unhappy at work takes a toll. When you're under stress, your body releases hormones that can cause your blood sugar to rise. This is more common for people with type 2 diabetes, than those with type 1 diabetes. Learn to relax with deep breathing and exercise. If possible, change the situation that is making you feel so much stress.
What's the difference between eating a slice of white bread and a bagel? Bagels are packed with carbohydrates -- and calories. They have more carbs than a slice of bread. If you yearn for a bagel, choose a mini bagel. Certain foods may make your blood sugar spike even more than you would expect. Talk with your health care professional to find healthy alternatives.
man drinking sports drink
Upswing: Sports Drinks
Sports drinks are designed to help you replenish fluids quickly, and some of them contain as much sugar as soda. For a moderate workout of less than an hour, plain water is probably all you need. For longer, more intense exercise, a sports drink may be appropriate. But check with your doctor first to see if the calories, carbs, and minerals in a particular sports drink are safe for you.
Upswing: Dried Fruits
Fruit is a healthy choice, but be aware that dried fruit will pack more carbohydrates in a smaller serving size. Just 2 tablespoons of raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries have the carbs of a small piece of fruit. Three dates give you 15 grams of carbohydrates.
Lower: spoonful of yogurt
Foods that contain healthy bacteria, such as many types of yogurt, are called "probiotic." They can improve digestion and also may help you control your blood sugar. Some yogurts contain added sugar and fruit, so be careful to count the carbs. Your best choice is plain yogurt or light yogurt without added sugar.
Lower: Vegan Diet
People with type 2 diabetes who switched to a vegan, or entirely vegetable-based diet, had better blood sugar control and needed less insulin, according to one study. A boost in fiber from eating whole grains and beans might play a role, by slowing down the digestion of carbs. More research is needed to confirm the value of a vegan diet for diabetes. Talk to your health care provider before making major changes to your diet.
Sprinkling your food with cinnamon can add flavor without adding salt, carbs, or calories. Some studies suggest it also can improve the body's ability to use insulin and may lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. More research is needed to confirm these promising studies, and supplements containing large doses can cause side effects. So it's best to talk with your health care provider before trying cinnamon.
Blood sugar can dip dangerously low during sleep for some people with type 1 diabetes. It's best to check your blood sugar level at bedtime and when you wake up. A snack before bed may help. For some people, blood sugar can rise in the morning -- even before eating -- due to changes in hormones or a drop in insulin levels. Regular testing is important. One option is a continuous blood glucose monitor, which can alert you to highs and lows. more