Kidney Diet Tips

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5 Reasons to Monitor Blood Glucose During the Holidays

Monitoring blood glucose levels is important for people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes to help control blood sugar (1). Monitoring helps prevent low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), identify foods that cause blood sugar spikes and adjust medication (1). It can be easy to forget to monitor your blood sugar during the holidays; however, it is even more crucial then because changes in your usual lifestyle routine may cause unusual blood glucose highs or lows. Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you have questions about testing your blood sugar and the results.

Here are five reasons why it’s so important to measure blood glucose levels during the holidays.

  1. Monitoring can reveal any unexpected blood glucose lows (1). During the holidays, you may delay eating regular meals with plans to eat more when the main holiday meal is served. You may believe this strategy will allow you to eat more; however, this can lead to a drop in blood sugar and hypoglycemia before the holiday meal. This strategy is not recommended, and monitoring alerts you to blood glucose drop. A better strategy is to continue to have regular meals spaced a few hours apart (2).
  2. The holidays tend to be carb-heavy with foods such as dessert, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, holiday breads and more. As a result, you may consume more carbs than usual, causing blood glucose to spike. Monitoring blood sugar and identifying foods that cause spikes may help you to choose fewer carb-heavy foods.
  3. People tend to overeat during the holidays. If you gage your insulin doses on the amount of food you plan to eat, knowing your before meal (pre-prandial) blood glucose level can help determine how the insulin should be adjusted with consideration to the larger portion of food. Again, it is important to try to keep portion sizes similar to non-holiday days to avoid large fluctuations in blood glucose.
  4. Exercise routines are often neglected during the holidays. While regular exercise may help maintain normal blood glucose levels, skipping exercise could cause unusual blood glucose spikes. Regular monitoring will help detect this, allowing you to adjust your food, medicine or activity levels accordingly.
  5. The holidays can be stressful due to planning for anticipated guests, and preparing your favorite dish or the entire meal. Stress is known to affect blood glucose (3). Close monitoring can bring awareness to out of control blood glucose levels and medication, and other factors can be adjusted to bring them back in control sooner.

In summary, monitoring blood glucose plays an important role in controlling blood glucose levels and can be particularly important during the holidays. The holidays may be a time of changing the usual eating and exercise routine; however, it should not be a time to change the habit of blood glucose monitoring.

References:

  1. Barry H. Ginsberg; Practical Use of Self-Monitoring of Blood Glucose Data; J. Diabetes Sci. 2013; 7(2): 532-541, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3737654/; accessed 11/8/21
  2. Elsamma Chacko; Christine Signore; Five Evidence-Based Lifestyle Habits People With Diabetes Can Use; Clin Diabetes 2020; 38(3): 273-284, https://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/38/3/273; accessed 11/9/21
  3. Good to Know; Factors Affecting Blood Glucose; Clin Diabetes 2018; 36(2):202, https://clinical.diabetesjournals.org/content/36/2/202; accessed 11/9/21

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

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This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Cynthia Johnson, DrPH, MS, RDN

Cynthia Johnson, DrPH, MS, RDN

Cynthia Johnson is a 2nd career dietitian, and a native Washingtonian. She is married and mother of 3 adult children. She holds a doctorate degree in Public Health, 2 Masters’, one in Health Education and the other in Herbal Medicine and a BS in Biology. Besides renal dietetics, her specialty is Functional Nutrition. She enjoys reading, sharing and preparing healthy recipes.