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Diabetes Still Isn't Easy
Diabetes Still Isn't Easy

FDI is dedicated to diabetes education, nutritional counseling, and wellness programming.

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Inexplicable Highs

A friend of mine who lives with diabetes recently asked me some questions about her blood sugar pattern. She said, “I just don’t know how to get rid of my highs!” 

I wish I could have given her one simple answer, but the truth of the matter is that there are many things that affect blood sugar. For example, food, exercise, and medications are some of the more common factors that have an impact on blood sugar. 

However, there are some other not so common things that influence blood sugar: 


  • Stress. Yes, stress can raise blood sugar. Let’s say nothing has really changed with your diet, exercise, or medication regimen, but your blood sugars are running higher than normal. Take a minute to evaluate the stress level in your life. If you’re feeling pressure at work, or if you have emotional stress in your life, your blood sugar might go up. Stress tip: exercise!  Whether it’s walking, Zumba, yoga, or Pilates, exercise can help boost your mental health. Added bonus: exercise is great for physical health as well!


  • Menstrual cycles (for the ladies, of course). Before and during the menstrual cycle, hormones act a little different. For those taking insulin, this means your insulin doses may need some slight adjustments. Be sure to talk to your health care provider if you find that your blood sugar tends to fluctuate during that time of the month.


  • Being sick. When you’re sick your blood sugar can run a little high. If you take insulin, talk to your health care provider about how to make adjustments on sick days.    


Let’s take another look at those highs. A few explanations for high blood sugars are having too many carbohydrates for snacks and meals, skipping a dose of diabetes medication, or not taking enough insulin. 

Having a hard time keeping track of all this? Start recording your blood sugar readings, the diabetes medication you take, and what you eat on a daily basis. If you have done this in the past but haven’t done it in a while, give it another shot!  You can use a logbook, a smart phone app, an excel spreadsheet, or even a good old notebook. 

Even if you do the same thing every day, your blood sugar will always vary, which really doesn’t sound too comforting, does it?  So focus on what’s most important: the main goal is for your blood sugar to vary within normal range. If you’re having morning highs, or see other patterns of high blood sugars, start keeping track of it and share it with your CDE or healthcare provider. Another pair of eyes always helps.

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About the Author


Lynn is a nutritionist and diabetes educator at the Friedman Diabetes Institute.