5 tips to help reduce blood sugar spikes

While the ups and downs of roller coaster rides may be thrilling at amusement parks, they’re not great for blood sugar levels.

Blood sugar, also known as glucose, is a critical source of energy for your body, and steady levels within a healthy range are best. When your blood sugar is too high or too low, you may feel the effects — especially if you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

Keeping your blood sugar stable may mean assessing several lifestyle choices, because they may impact your blood sugar in different ways. By making certain adjustments and staying consistent with any prescribed medications, you may be able to gain better control of your blood sugar.

Here are five tips to consider for keeping your blood sugar steady from the coaches at Real Appeal, an online weight-loss support program available to eligible UnitedHealthcare members and their dependents:

1.     Eat consistently throughout the day

Consuming food in only one or two big meals per day may cause greater fluctuations in blood sugar levels. To help avoid this, consider starting with a healthy breakfast, such as eggs and fruit, and then eat smaller meals and snacks throughout the rest of the day.

If you have diabetes or prediabetes, having meals and snacks too close together may not give your blood sugar levels time to drop naturally after you eat. To help avoid that, space your meals four to five hours apart. If you need a snack, eat something two to three hours after your last meal.

2.     Create well-balanced meals and snacks 

A well-balanced meal includes lean protein, healthy fats and fiber, which can increase the amount of time it takes for your stomach to empty after eating. Slower digestion may prevent spikes in blood sugar by allowing the glucose from the meal to enter your blood slowly.

Consider these meal-planning ideas:

  • Focus on adding healthy foods rather than cutting out other foods
  • Swap ingredients to make dishes or recipes healthier
  • Fill half your plate with non-starchy vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower or carrots

3.     Plan for schedule issues

Anticipate the unexpected by having healthy snacks on hand to help prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping too low when your meal schedule gets thrown off.

An apple with peanut butter, a slice of whole-wheat toast with avocado, or string cheese and a handful of grapes are all nutritious snacks that may help tide you over to your next healthy meal.

4.     Make sleep a priority

Too little sleep, even for one night, may affect the way your body uses insulin, the hormone that helps with using or storing blood sugar that comes from food. Reduced insulin efficiency may make your blood sugar higher than normal.  

A lack of sleep could also raise stress and appetite hormones (cortisol and ghrelin) in your body, which can make you hungry. That may make it harder to say no to sugary snacks.

Tips to help improve your sleep include:

  • Keeping a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, when possible
  • Avoiding alcohol and caffeine late in the day
  • Cutting back on phone, tablet or laptop use for at least an hour before bed

5.     Manage your stress

When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline — also known as the “fight or flight” hormones. These hormones can make your body less sensitive to insulin and cause other changes that make your blood sugar go up.

While you may not be able to avoid all stress, finding ways to relax may be good for your blood sugar and your overall health.

Consider these tips:

  • Focus on what you can control
  • Practice positive self-talk
  • Manage your time wisely
  • Exercise regularly
  • Try meditation and mindful breathing

If you suspect you’re having problems with blood sugar management, consider talking with your health care provider — especially if you are taking medication.

For more information about managing blood sugar, visit uhc.com.