We’ve all been in the position of having a bad low blood sugar, where all you want to do is eat everything in sight. There’s no reasoning with yourself. It’s like a demon has hijacked your self-control!
It makes perfect sense–your body just wants to get your blood sugar back up to a safe level, and it’s doing its best to ensure that the low is corrected.
But eating your weight in carbs is just going to result in high blood sugar, and then you are dealing with the opposite problem. What’s a person with diabetes to do?
First of all, fix the low. Get your blood glucose level above 70 mg/dl (4 mmol/L).
It’s best to use a dextrose-based treatment, like glucose tablets or gel, to get the BG up to a safe level. Using something high glycemic index is important when you are very low and need to quickly raise the blood glucose, especially if you have a lot of insulin on board.
Be careful to treat with the right amount of carb, as opposed to over-treating.
- If you weigh less than 60 lbs, a gram of carb will raise your BG about 6 points.
- If you weigh 100-160 lbs, a gram of carb should raise your BG about 4 points.
- If you weigh 160-220 lbs, a gram of carb might raise you 3 points.
And give the carbohydrates 15-20 minutes to raise the BG. Do a follow-up fingerstick because there is a lag time with CGM sensors, and the BG you get with a fingerstick will be a more accurate reflection of your response to your treatment. If you are still low, repeat the treatment.
I remember a low where I munched my way through the pantry, and I neglected to count my carbs as I was doing it. I had absolutely no idea how much to bolus for! Boy, did I learn my lesson.
I never did that again – I’ve always made sure to carb count and take insulin to cover whatever I eat that’s in excess of what I needed to do to control the low blood glucose levels. Sometimes experience is the best teacher.
I was driving when I had the worst low I’ve ever had. Thank God I had glucose gel in the center console and glucose tablets on my key chain. I was sucking down the gel as I was pulling off the road.
Ordinarily, I would have wanted to eat (and eat and eat) after that. But I had to sit in my car and wait for my BG to come up, so food wasn’t readily available. And do you know what? By the time I got home, the desire to eat had passed! I was very surprised, but it did. That was a good lesson for me, too.
If your blood glucose is rising and getting higher than you’d like after you’ve treated your low, you can choose to exercise and get yourself away from your tempting kitchen.
Take a little walk to use up some of that food you ate for the low BG and avoid the need to take corrective insulin to bring it down again – vicious cycle, no?
Another strategy to avoid overeating after a low? Enlist the help of the people around you. Sometimes we all need a little support. Who knows, they might just be willing to sit with you while you wait for the low to come up or they may go on that walk with you.
Suggested next posts: How To Treat Low Blood Sugar At Night and What a Low Blood Sugar Feels Like
Hi: I was diagnosed T2 in 2017 at 69. After the initial shock, I tried Metformin and it didn’t agree with me. I researched and found lots of info on it. I changed my diet to low carb and my A1C and blood tests were awesome for two years. Then, suddenly in 2019, I felt sick and out of it for 3 days. Finally I decided to drive to the ER (much to their dismay). They admitted me right away and I spent the next 4 days in ER, Critical Care, ICU, then Unit 3 to learn how to use insulin. Turns out that the specialists did the correct blood tests for diabetes and I was re-diagnosed as T1. I learned how serious T1 and a diabetic ketoacidosis episode can be. I didn’t know that’s what I was feeling. Now, two years later I have times when I’m within target. Then all of a sudden, I’m above or below. My DE doesn’t mind my being high, but I do because that’s when complications start. My latest A1C was 6.8 and she doesn’t want it that low, either. I want it around 5. I am taking control of my own health, although I do have appts every three months. I just found this article and there are things that I didn’t know or forgot. I plan on reading more of the articles because they are helping a lot. Now, if I could stop the highs/lows, that would be awesome. I think I was around 90 pounds when I went to the ER. I have since put on about 20+ pounds and I don’t like that. I’d rather be around 115 (’cause I’m short) and I’ve never been this small in my life. I LOVE it. I feel good most of the time, walk my dog every day for an hour or more when it’s not so humid, so I get exercise. Other than that, things are pretty good. I only know a couple of people with T1 and don’t have a lot of support, because most people don’t understand it. Thank you for all the information you share.
I had the exact same experience you had except I was on 4 type2 diabetic medication, steadily losing weight and high glucose if I stared at a carb. I also ended up in the ICU. My primary care doctor still insisted I was type two but I knew something was wrong. I got a new doctor and was immediately tested and diagnosed as a type one diabetic with adult onset at age 36. But I also gained about 20 pounds with insulin therapy, but I feel better than I have felt in years. The game was upped when I got a Medtronic insulin pump with CGM. It’s a real game changer. I will warn you if you do get a pump, there is a time of adjustment. I had to learn to accept my pump over a few months. I did not make friends with it at first. I wish you luck on your journey.
Sandra Kerner says
I have had type 1 Diabetes since I was 6 (1987), now that I am 39 I occasionally think there is nothing I don’t know about it. This site has given me some “food for thought” and I thank you for it!
Christel Oerum says
I find that living with diabetes is a constant learning experience. That can be exhausting but it also means that we can learn new perspectives that can make life a little easier. Glad you found us
Kevin Clsrk says
Hi. Could you let me know how accurate your formula for grams of carbohydrates vs rise in BG is? I am 180 lbs and it certainly seems that I gram of carbs does not raise my BP 3 points. That would mean that 2 glucose tablets would raise my BG 24 points which doesn’t seem right based on my experience
Christel Oerum says
The general rule of thumb is 15/15, which means 15 grams of carbs, and then wait 15 min, repeat if needed. This can be a starting point to refine that. However, if your experience tells you that you need a different amount go by that. How sensitive you are to carbs may be a little different, and you should take IOB (insulin on board), activity, and hormones into consideration
Can you tell me what glucose tablets you take when you are low? I cannot seem to find anything out there that does not have a massive amount of chemicals. Anything natural that you know of ? Thank you!
Christel Oerum says
You can try ginger chews if you prefer something different from traditional glucose tabs
margaret mccurdy says
i have type 1 diabetes i can eat 2 weetbix for breakfast and my BG goes up and can be to 20 that is in australia or i have fresh salmon and veggies and it can go way high was told to eat more carbs but the starchy carbs put my blood sugar way high no doctors can tell me why this is happening when i don,teat sugar and no take away or no processed food has this ever happened to you
Christel Oerum says
I can’t say exactely what’s going on but it sounds like you’re really insulin resistant in the morning. As time go by we change and so does our diabetes management. So although you’d never had an issue with these kinds of highs before now you do. I’d suggest you look into pre-bolusing as well as have a look at whether your carb ratio needs justing. If you don’t know how to do this your medical team should be able to support you if you give them the data to do so. The data would be a detailed blood sugar and carb log
Ghazi alnajdi says
Dry dates are awesome, not sure why they don’t spike my blood sugar after hypoglycemia like other types of foods. They make me feel full and it will be awesome if I have 1-2 dates with plain yogurt, then my stomach will be really full.
Leana Simione says
thanks so much!! never knew it was based on your weight! !
Sorry me, again! You said you were pulling off glucose tablets off your keychain/ WHAT are these and how do you get them on a key ring?
Christel Oerum says
Try searching for “Glucose Tablet Key Chain” on Amazon and it should show up. They are around 4 USD and I would think you can get them from the Australian site as well