You are standing in your kitchen staring blankly, hands shaky, vision blurry, feeling confused and panicked as you try to decide what to eat or drink. You proceed to consume everything in sight as fast as humanly possible to treat the low. This is followed by the inevitable blood sugar rebound that sends your numbers skyrocketing, and you need to bolus for all the excess carbs you ate. The blood sugar roller coaster begins.
When I was diagnosed with Type 1 in 1991, my family and I relied on doctor’s advice, what we read in books, and good old trial and error on how to treat lows. I ended up creating really bad habits, including binge eating when I had low blood sugar. The problem wasn’t just the mass ingestion of processed carbs, but that I then had to administer more insulin to cover what I had just eaten. Insulin is a hormone that promotes fat storage, and I weighed 200 pounds by the time I was 13. My A1C score was 13.5 at the time.
I was training myself to think that when my blood sugar was low, it was necessary to have copious amounts of unhealthy “treats.” It took me years to change that mindset and break that pattern, but I went from being obese to becoming an athlete. Having gone through this journey, I was left with a passion to help empower others with diabetes, and I’m now a personal trainer and life coach.
Through my work, I’ve found that I was not alone in binge eating to treat a low. Luckily it is easy to reverse this bad habit if you know a trick: In my opinion, the only things you should ever use to treat low blood sugars are 100% juice boxes, glucose gels or liquids, or glucose tabs, period. Train yourself to think that treating a low is not a treat, but just another step in your self-care.
By committing to this as a standard operating procedure, I believe you will be better prepared for low blood sugars, and it will take away the need to ever stand dazed in front of your fridge. And by doing this you teach yourself that you are perfectly capable of dealing with low blood sugars no matter when or where they happen. Your response becomes automatic.
To do this, stock up on two forms of treatment, one for home and one for on the go (I use juice boxes at home and glucose gel packets on the go). Make a list of all the places you need to keep them (bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, basement, cars, purses, gym bag, friend’s houses), the more places the better, and put a supply in all of those places. Then go to your calendar in your phone and set a recurring weekly reminder to check all locations to ensure you stay well-stocked
Of course, you must always treat a low blood sugar as quickly as possible, and sometimes that means you might have to deviate from the system, but this system might work wonders for your health and peace of mind. Low blood sugars will always be something that we have to deal with, so why not make it easy and automatic?
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