Understanding blood glucose levels

It is important to try and keep your blood glucose (sugar) levels within a healthy range (as set by your health-care provider), however, this can be a challenge.

Low blood glucose (sugar)

A low blood glucose reading indicates a drop in your glucose (sugar) levels (< 4 mmol/L). Low blood glucose is also referred to as hypoglycemia.

Signs of low blood glucose (sugar)

The following may be signs you experience when your blood glucose levels drop:

  • Shaky, light-headed, nauseated
  • Nervous, irritable, anxious
  • Confused and/or unable to concentrate
  • Hungry
  • Fast heart rate
  • Sweaty
  • Weak
  • Numbness/tingling on tongue or lips

If your blood glucose levels are very low you may feel:

  • Confused/disoriented
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure

**Please make sure you have a MedicAlert identification on you at all times.

Cause of low blood glucose level

Low blood glucose levels may be caused by the following:

  • Increased physical activity
  • Skipping meals or not eating on time
  • Eating less than you should
  • Taking too much medication
  • Effects of drinking alcohol

How to treat low blood glucose

If you experience signs of low blood glucose levels, check your glucose levels immediately. If you don’t have a meter with you, treat the symptoms regardless.

Step 1: Treat your low blood glucose immediately by: eating or drinking a fast-acting carbohydrate (15 grams). Examples include:

  • 15 grams of glucose (glucose tablet)
  • 1 tbsp or 3 packets of table sugar dissolved in water
  • ¾ cup juice
  • 6 LifeSavers (1= 2.5 grams carbohydrates)
  • 1 tbsp honey

Step 2: Wait 10-15 minutes after treating your symptoms. Check your blood glucose again. If it is still low, TREAT AGAIN. Once your glucose levels are within normal range and your next meal is more than 1 hour away, eat a snack with 15 grams of carbohydrates and a protein source (e.g. half sandwich, cheese and crackers).

** Make note of your low blood sugar and think about why it could have happened. Make necessary changes so you avoid a low blood glucose again. If you are unsure, speak to your health-care provider.

** Wait 45-60 minutes before driving.

High blood glucose (sugar)

A high blood glucose level indicates a rise in your glucose levels (equal or > 11 mmol/L). A high blood glucose level is also referred to as hyperglycemia.

Signs of high blood glucose

The following may be signs you experience with high blood glucose levels:

  • Thirsty
  • Increased frequency of urination (especially during the night)
  • Tired

Cause of high blood glucose levels

You may experience high blood glucose levels as a result of food, physical activity, unbalanced medication, stress or when you are sick.

How to treat high blood glucose

Speak to your health-care team to better understand a plan that is right for you. You may be asked to adjust your meal plan, physical activity regimen and/or medication.

Type 2 Diabetes

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes is when there is excess glucose or sugar that builds up in your blood instead of being used by your body as energy. This disease occurs when the pancreas, an organ in your body, does not produce enough insulin OR when your body does not properly use the insulin that the pancreas makes.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that helps your body control the level of glucose in your blood. It is produced by the pancreas.

Where does glucose come from?

Glucose is a simple sugar, an important energy source that comes from food such as: bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, milk and fruit. In order for our body to use glucose for energy, insulin is required.

Living with type 2 diabetes

It is possible to live a healthy life while living with type 2 diabetes. The key is to keep your blood sugar levels within the target range set by you and your health-care provider. In order to keep your blood sugars within target you can:

  • Learn to eat healthy meals and snacks.
  • Enjoy regular physical activity.
  • Monitor your blood glucose levels.
  • Aim for a healthy body weight.
  • Take necessary medication prescribed by your physician.
  • Manage your stress.

Your diabetes team

Your health-care team may consist of the following professionals that are available to help you manage your diabetes and live a long and healthy life. Team members may include: family doctor, diabetes educators which may include a nurse and/or dietitian, endocrinologist, pharmacist, social worker, exercise physiologist, psychologist, eye care specialist, and/or foot care specialist.

Fall into Good Health this Season

Mahsa Esmaeili, MHSc., RD
Registered Dietitian

Incorporating healthy and natural foods that grow right in our own backyards is a great way to help support Ontario farmers while enjoying food fresh from the farm in their most nutritious state.

Spotlight: Sweet Potatoes

Origin: tropical vegetables native to Central and South America are also grown in Ontario!

Nutrition: Sweet potatoes are very nutritious and are a good source of vitamin A, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. They are low in calories and glycemic index which means it is a great food for anyone looking to manage their weight and keep their blood sugars in control. Its healthy dose of antioxidants helps to keep skin, hair and eyes healthy.

Storage: Sweet potatoes should be placed in a cool, dry place (not the refrigerator). Once cooked, they can be refrigerated for up to 4-5 days (covered). Cooked sweet potatoes can also be frozen for up to one year (airtight container).

Bake sweet potatoes after scrubbing the whole potato and piercing it with a fork. You can wrap it in foil and bake at 325°F-350°F, until soft.

Roast sweet potatoes after cutting them into wedges or strips. Drizzle some olive oil or canola oil and bake in the oven at 350°F-375°F.

You can also boil or steam sweet potatoes and use in a stew/soup.

Availability: Year round

How to cut sweet potatoes for a healthy baked alternative to fries!
Enjoy a healthy portion with your next meal.

This handout is not meant to diagnose, cure or treat a medical condition. Please speak to your family physician or a registered dietitian before adding anything to your diet.

Source: Foodland Ontario

Aurora Bariatric Clinic