Avoid peaks and valleys in your blood sugar levels.

Scott Dickinson

Q. My blood sugar seems to always be too high or too low. What are some guidelines for how to manage your blood sugar levels as a diabetic?

A. Managing your eating when you have diabetes can be difficult and it takes diligence to learn how to manage your blood sugar levels. At times, you may be tempted to wait too long to treat low blood sugar. In the middle of a party or at work, for instance, you may notice your symptoms but choose to ignore them, at least temporarily.

Quickly treating lows lessens the stress hormones released by your body, and lowers the chance of your blood sugar going high after a reaction. You'll feel much better if your body is quickly resupplied with the fuel it needs. Your brain, muscles, and other cells will thank you for not prolonging their misery.

Another common mistake when treating low blood sugar is to go too far. A panic overdose of orange juice with sugar, a box of chocolates, a can of soda -- or the entire contents of your refrigerator -- makes your goal of stable blood sugars hard to achieve.

These panicked responses also can come from the release of stress hormones during lows. Instead, prepare for the panic: Remember that it takes only a little fast-acting carbohydrate to counteract most lows, and only 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrate should suffice.

 

If your blood sugar frequently goes high after a low, you should discuss it with your physician, dietitian, or other member of your healthcare team. You may need to find an insulin regimen that is more adapted to your lifestyle, or make adjustments in your eating or exercise habits.

For more tips on handling blood sugar levels, see: