It finally happened. At your yearly check-up, your doctor said the dreaded phrase you’d been worried about: “You have high blood sugar.” High blood sugar is typically caused by diabetes, but you could also experience it after an injury or an illness (1). No matter how your high blood sugar occurred, your doctor will encourage you to be proactive in treating it. Your doctor may notice that your medication isn’t the right dosage, that your activity levels are lower than they should be, or that your diet is part of the spike in your blood sugar. We’ll leave the medication to your doctor, and your exercise to your personal trainer.
Here are some tips for eating well when you have high blood sugar:
- No, water isn’t technically food. However, it’s very important to be conscious of your hydration levels when you have high blood sugar. Water can help dilute the concentration of sugars circulating in your blood, so the more fluids the better. Dehydration is a cause of high blood sugar, so drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help keep your sugar levels in check (2). As a note, high blood sugar can cause you to urinate more often, so combatting dehydration is key to living a comfortable life.
- One of the main causes of raised blood sugars is carbohydrates (3). This is because the body is able to quickly break carbs down to convert them to energy. Think of a runner prepping for a cross country meet: They might chow down on a carb-heavy meal with bread and pasta galore. While an athlete is going to use this energy once it’s converted, not everyone is active enough to do so. This is where the trouble comes in for someone with diabetes that may love to indulge in Italian cuisine without proper exercise afterward.
- Luckily, you don’t have to swear off bread, pasta, and rice just because you have high blood sugar. Rather, you should focus on opting for whole-grain over refined grain. Refined grains include white bread, french bread, and white rice. By choosing whole-grain bread and pasta, your body will take longer to break down the food. This means that your blood sugar will remain more controlled and not suffer a spike.
- Vegetables have plenty of health benefits as they are, but they offer even more for someone with diabetes. The nutrients in veggies can help reduce the chances of long-term complications, such as heart issues (4).
- While every vegetable has its benefits, you’ll want to stick to low-carb veggies to help manage your blood sugar. Bell peppers should be at the top of your grocery list. They’re low-carb and give you all of the Vitamin-C your body needs for the day (5). Stuffed Bell Peppers are an easy and delicious meal you can prepare with just a few healthful ingredients.
- Leafy greens should also become a staple in your diet. Options like kale and spinach are easy to add to your diet, whether they be the main course in a salad or a secret supplement mixed into a roast. As an added benefit, the antioxidants in these greens help prevent optical issues that can be caused by diabetes, such as blurry vision or glaucoma (6).
- Having diabetes or non-diabetic high blood sugar doesn’t mean that you’ll never get to enjoy your favorite high-carb meals again. However, it is important that you are more mindful of your carb intake than you may have been in the past. If you know you’re going out for pizza tonight, maybe you get in a good workout before you head out. Perhaps you start with a side salad to let your body fill up on key nutrients before you dive into the pizza pie. No matter how you plan your evening, just be sure to put your health first.