Blood sugar is the first thing I wake up to and last thing I go to sleep too...counting carbs to stay in safe functional range day and night is what managing diabetes is all about. But sometimes we have to look beyond counting carbohydrates and focus on other lifestyle habits that effect A1C levels.
In 1996, I was pregnant and warned it would be a challenge, and the "high risk" label was put on my patient chart. Ugh, bad enough all the hormone changes my body was going through, but I'd also had to spend nine months trying to keep my A1C in the 5% range. To feel good while this baby girl was developing, and a healthy pregnancy was dependent on me to have a plan.
Very important time in my life and I was ready to learn how. Many years with type 1 and the light bulb finally came on, so happy I learned what to keep consistent and delivered a healthy 7 lb. 1 oz. baby girl. YAY! Here's 5 ways I managed to keep my A1C to 5.4%. I figured if it works with the ever-changing state of pregnancy...this should work no matter what.
Same routine I still follow:
Tip #1 - Check your blood sugar often
I didn't have a handy CGM (continuous glucose monitor) 26 yrs. ago when I was pregnant. Finger sticks was my only monitor. Got to know where you're at, to know how to correct or change what you eat. Collecting this information is vital to understanding where you are, what got you there and what needs to be tweaked.
I tested my blood sugar seven times/day and noted what I ate and any other factors going on.
(Fasting, 2 hrs. after eating, before lunch, 2 hrs. after lunch, before dinner, 2 hrs. after dinner and at bedtime).
Tip #2 - Eat balanced meals
Combine a complex carb with fiber, a source of protein and healthy fat. All the recipes I share follow this formula.
"Dr. Perez emphasized the importance of eating a diet that includes plenty of low-glycemic foods. In other words, focus on high-fiber fruits, veggies, and legumes, so if your overnight oats game is strong, keep doing what you’re doing. Fiber is known to slow our body’s digestion of carbohydrates and sugar absorption, resulting in a gradual increase in blood sugar following a meal or snack (as opposed to spikes and crashes). When you are having a meal or snack high in simple carbohydrates, try adding in high-fiber foods with every meal, like ordering veggies on your pizza or fruit with a dessert, to help the body slow its digestion of the carbohydrates."
"Consuming enough healthy fats and protein is key too. For fats, opt for whole-food picks like avocado and nuts."
Tip #3 - Give yourself grace and gratitude
Stress raises blood sugar, so go easy on yourself and set expectations and health goals that are doable. Trying to be perfect won't help lower blood sugar or build confidence on how you can do it. Work on not comparing yourself to other women managing diabetes, instead focus on you and your own routine. Be proud of all you do and what you ask your body to do for you daily.
Tip #4 - Move your body
Exercise is key to utilizing the carbs you do eat and need a little help lowering without taking extra insulin. Fitting time to move your body daily will impact how efficient insulin is used. Exercise and maintaining muscle mass improves your insulin sensitivity, helping you reach a healthy weight you can sustain.
Add time to move on your calendar, schedule it like all the important things you need to do each day.
Tip #5 - Sleep and hydration
These two may seem obvious, but little is mentioned about how they help your blood sugar behave. Quality sleep keeps insulin more sensitive and gives you energy to be active.
Drinking 1/2 your weight in ounces of water to eliminate overeating and craving carbs (i.e., 150 lbs. = min. 75 ounces per day).
I was motivated to set my A1C goals when I was pregnant.
Healthy blood sugar levels are important and what you eat does matter but restricting how many carbs you eat isn't necessary. Other factors fit in to creating a formula that works for you and your goal A1C. With the right motivation, staying balanced can be simple.
Do you use any or all of these tips shared above? What motivates you, comment below.
I promise you're not alone! Contact me if you want to chat about it.