Adjusting Insulin Dosages when You're Stressed Lowers Insulin-Resistance

Ginger Vieira Health Guide
  • Did you know that being mentally/physically stressed can have a huge impact on your blood sugars and your insulin sensitivity?


    I had a lot of trouble with my blood sugars during my junior year of college, and when I explained to my doctor how stressful everything had been (school life, personal life, work life) she explained to me how stress makes your body very insulin-resistant. So the insulin I was taking was literally less powerful than usual, which equals higher blood sugars.


    And this creates a very vicious cycle: You're really stressed out because (for example) your son just broke his collarbone in a lacrosse game, you're in the middle of settling a divorce with your husband and your 4-year-old daughter has the flu -- it's too much.

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    So then you start eating junk food at night to cope and relax or you stop going to the gym because you don't have time...and then your blood sugars are high because you're eating junk food and not working out, so you take more insulin, but you're incredibly stressed therefore your insulin isn't doing its job as well as it usually does and then you're stressed out because your blood sugars are high and you're not sleeping well and you've still got to take care of everything else going on!


    So which link in the chain is easiest to break in order to break the cycle?


    Personally, since there are some things in life you just can't control, I'd start with the insulin and the junk food. Because while the junk food might seem "soothing" at the time, you're probably also increasing the stress factor because you might feel guilty after chowing down late at night.


    So you're going to focus on ditching the junk food. I'm not saying no potato chips ever -- but what if you ate your potato chips in the middle of the day, so that you don't end up eating chips, then chocolate, then ice cream, then pizza, know what I mean: those late-night binges you often read about in news articles and magazines.


    If this isn't enough to help your blood sugars, then should ask your doctor about increasing your basal rates or your long-acting insulin dosages. Sometimes it just takes an extra two units over the course of the day. For others, you might need four or five. Last year, I went from taking 26 units a day to 30 or 31. Today, because I've removed some stressful things from life and learned how to better manage a stressful day, I only take about 24 units of long-acting insulin.


    The important part, though, is that you're willing to experiment and be flexible with your dosages. Give more attention to how much insulin you're taking and whether or not you could adjust this amount in order to help your glucose levels. Very small adjustments could make huge changes and then *POOF* you'll hopefully have a little less to be stressed out by the end of the day.


    In the end, life is wild and ever-changing. Sometimes you're up and sometimes you're down, but there are always ways to help your diabetes not pay the price or make life that much more challenging. Talk to your doctor and see what changes you can make, too.

Published On: November 17, 2007