Diabetes Tips: Things to Avoid When Blood Sugar is Low

Ginger Vieira Health Guide
  • GROCERY SHOPPING. Ben & Jerry's, here I come! Never go grocery shopping if you're low or still recovering from a low! We all know we really only need 15 grams of carbohydrates to treat a low, but those darned cravings are hard to ignore. Entering a building filled with food when you're trying to ignore those cravings is setting stage for poor food choices Ice cream, potato chips, chocolate and cheesy junk of all kinds -- those are a just a few reasons why I put my grocery shopping on hold until the meter reads 120.


    DRIVING. Okay, much less funny, but much more important. Driving when your blood sugar is low has led many diabetics to severe car accidents and should be treated with as much caution as driving drunk. Doctors would prefer that you actually check your blood sugar every time before you even get into your car -- and I know that sounds like one of those "over-doing-it" rules, but it could keep you from causing an accident that could be fatal for you and others on the road. If you're someone who has trouble noticing the signs of a low before it's too late, you should put that much more effort into checking your blood sugar before getting on the road.

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    TAKE A TEST. This one is for the fellow students. There's really no way you can perform your best on an exam or quiz if your blood sugar is low. Ask your professor or teacher for a 20-minute extension in order for you to get some carbohydrates into your bloodstream and get sugar levels back up. Most schools and colleges have assistance for students with special needs like this, allowing them to get permission to put off a test (for example) because of health issues. Usually, this is handled within the counseling department.


    SOCIALIZE! Haha, okay, I mean this is the most lighthearted sense, but really, if my blood sugar drops in the midst of a buzzing group of a friends, the last thing I have the energy for is to giggle, make jokes and entertain. I usually slip away to the kitchen as discreetly as possible (because I hate the "Are you okay, Gin?" questions) and scour the fridge for orange juice. I hang around in the kitchen just long enough before anyone notices I'm missing, then return to the social scene full of sugar -- and energy! (Please note, the same rule applies when dealing with family functions!)


    EXERCISE. This seems obvious, I realize, but I'm really referring more to the post-treatment aspect of a low blood sugar. It's important to remember that while you may have just treated a low and your levels are going up, to actually exercise you'll still need a supply of carbohydrates in your blood stream to endure the workout. I try to wait a good 20 minutes and then consume another 15 to 30 grams of carbs (depending on the length and intensity of the exercise) to get through the workout safely. You don't want drop low again during or right after your workout because your body didn't have enough time and carbs to recover from the last low.

Published On: August 30, 2007