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'What's for dinner?': living with type 1 diabetes

Rhodri Owen, T1D


Food is great. We all like colourful, delicious food. However, for those of us with diabetes, whether it is type 1, type 2, or any other form of the disease, food comes along with a few other challenges beyond 'what's for dinner?'.

For people with diabetes eating a meal brings about the following questions:

  • What am I having?
  • How big is the portion?
  • How much carbohydrate?
  • Have I been, or will I be active?
  • What happened last time I ate this?
  • What are my blood glucose levels and do I need to correct my insulin dose?

We all aspire to have a 'perfect' blood glucose profile, (handy tip: there's no such thing as perfect! It's okay to make mistakes) but one of the things that any person with diabetes or healthcare professional can relate to is anxiety related to the postprandial glucose (PPG) reading.

PPG is the measurement of your blood-glucose levels two hours after eating and, depending on your insulin levels, this measurement can 'peak' or rise too high, which can have short-term and long-term effects.

For years I dismissed PPG testing, thinking it was it turns out that test now proves vital to my lifestyle. Whether you're eating a 100g Caesar salad (roughly 4.3g carbohydrate) or an all-you-can-eat buffet (pick-any-number-you-like carbohydrate), it's useful to know what is happening to your PPG level.

This knowledge enables you to measure your insulin sensitivity, the reliability of cannula or injection sites (i.e., where or how you are administering your insulin) and how accurate your 'carb-counting' is. These were all skills I dismissed for too long and it showed in my HbA1c results.

However, by measuring my PPG and mastering my carb-counting my HbA1c levels went down from 8.6% to 7.0% in six months.

It isn't about the two-hour post-meal timeframe though; we'll take pizza as an example.

For a while I stopped eating pizza altogether, it just wasn't worth the hassle...until one day I fancied THE CHALLENGE. Due to the amount of fat and carbohydrate in pizza, it affects your blood glucose levels for several hours after eating.

I now know what meal-time insulin (also known as bolus insulin) dose to take around mealtimes to prevent a PPG spike (this will differ between people, of course) but it took trial and error to find out.

So what am I trying to say?

Monitoring my PPG levels is a vital part of my diabetes management and hopefully yours too.

Measuring blood glucose is a key part of managing my diabetes and one of the best control measures we have, so we may as well make the most of it!

Whether you're using continuous glucose monitoring or finger-stick testing, watch what your blood glucose does after a meal, you might just catch that secret rise or fall.  




This page is intended for UK healthcare professionals only

UK/WB/0616/0055(1) October 2016


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