Five things you should know about managing diabetes at mealtimes

People living with diabetes have problems converting the glucose produced from the breakdown of the food they eat into energy for their body.  This disorder is a result of impaired production of a hormone called insulin, which moves the glucose from the blood and into their cells.

Management of blood sugar (or glucose) levels during mealtimes is important.  If blood sugar levels are not properly managed after meals, people living with diabetes will experience elevated blood sugar levels, also know as post-meal hyperglycaemia.

Prevention of high blood sugar or hyperglycaemia is vital because it can have a negative impact on the health and wellbeing of people living with diabetes.

See our list of five things you should know about managing diabetes at mealtimes:

1. PPG, FPG, and HbA1c are really important!

 

 

Measuring the following three elements of your blood sugar can help you get an overall picture of how well you are controlling it:

  • Post-meal or postprandial glucose (PPG) is the measure of blood glucose 1-2 hours after eating
  • Fasting plasma glucose (FPG) is the measure after not eating or drinking for at least 8 hours (for example, after a night's sleep)
  • HbA1c (glycated haemoglobin) is the average blood sugar concentration usually measured every 3 months by a healthcare professional

 

2. Uncontrolled blood sugar after meals leads to hyperglycaemia



High blood sugar after meals (or post-meal hyperglycaemia) is when your blood sugar levels typically go above 11.0 mmol/L (200 mg/dl) 2 hours after meals.

3. High blood sugar can result in short-term health complications...

 

High blood sugar levels (hyperglycaemia) can cause unpleasant short-term physical symptoms, such as:

  • Feeling thirsty, experiencing dry-mouth
  • Experiencing headaches
  • Needing to pee frequently
  • Blurred vision
  • Reduced energy levels or sleepiness
  • Recurrent infections, such as thrush, bladder infections (cystitis) and skin infections

 

4. ...and long-term health complications

 

If your blood sugar levels stay high for extended periods, long-term health issues can occur.  For example, consistently high blood sugar levels after meals can lead to high HbA1c levels.  Over the long-term, these high HbA1c levels can increase your risk of the following complications:

  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Increased risk of damage to eyes
  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Increased risk of death
  • Impaired cognitive function (in people with type 2 diabetes)
  • Increased risk of kidney disease
  • Increased risk of amputation

 

5. Mealtime insulins can help to control blood sugar levels after eating

To manage blood sugar levels after eating, rapid-acting insulin at mealtimes (also known as a mealtime insulin or a bolus insulin) can be used, which aims to mimic the release and response of insulin from a healthy pancreas. Use of mealtme insulins can effectively control blood sugar after meals and avoid high blood sugar levels (or post-meal hyperglycaemia).

 

 

This page is intended for members of the UK public.

UK/WB/0616/0028  September 2016

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For educational videos, including commentary from clinicians and patients on the importance of mealtime management of diabetes.

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