Insulin Balance: High Fat, not just Carbohydrates, Raises Blood Glucose

Kelsey Bonilla Health Guide
  • Pregnancy Tracker: 23 weeks

    Size of the Baby: About 8 inches long.

    Biggest Obstacle: To consistently make the best food choices.


    I have a confession to make: Even though I know all the right things to eat, there are times when I fall off the wagon.


    Weekends are the toughest. Occasionally, I'll feel like, "Gee, I've been eating so well all week, I can have a little ______" (fill in the blank: pizza, pancakes, nachos, or something else high in carbs and/or fat.)


    This weekend kicked off the NFL season. My husband and I are big sports fans, and particularly fans of the Miami Dolphins. Since we live on the other side of the country, getting the Dolphins games on our home television is unlikely (perhaps if they played better we'd see more of their games televised, but I digress.)

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    So, this weekend began our fall, Sunday tradition of finding a sports bar in town that shows all of the NFL games. While I'm obviously abstaining from the delicious Pale Ale at our local microbrewery, I couldn't help myself from having a little food. Scanning the appetizer menu and conferring with my husband and our friend, we chose the Sampler Platter, which included rolled chicken tacos, onion rings, hot wings and nachos.


    All of which provide great nutrition for me and my growing child! (Please note the sarcasm.)


    I bolused for about 50 grams of carbohydrate, figuring I'd focus in on the chicken wings without the skin. A couple large onion rings, not too many carbs there either. Hmmm, nachos are always difficult to gauge, but I won't have a lot. The rolled tacos have some carbohydrates in the tortilla. In my figuring, I focused completely on the carbohydrate content of my meal, totally disregarding the effect of protein and fat on my blood sugar.


    An hour after eating, my blood sugar was 130 mg/dl. OK, not too bad. I decided to bolus another ½ unit of insulin, just to be sure.


    Two hours later my blood sugar rang in at 203 mg/dl, and it starts to hit me: That meal had a lot of fat in it. High fat meals are notorious for raising blood sugar several hours afterwards. I know this, why didn't I give myself a combo bolus (and a lot more insulin) in the first place!


    Frustrated, I plugged a correction bolus into the pump and delivered two units of insulin.


    An hour later, my pump alarm went off to remind me that my previous blood sugar had been high. I tested again, and was 238 mg/dl. Agh! Three more units of insulin were delivered as I prayed to see a lower number the next hour.


    I'll spare you the entire play-by-play. Suffice it to say, this testing and corrective bolusing went on for the rest of the evening. At 8 p.m., when I finally saw a lovely 122 mg/dl on my meter, I had a light dinner.


    When all was said and done, that lunch of fried deliciousness required more than 18 units of insulin! If I had known my little binge would demand that kind of insulin and keep my blood sugar in the low to mid-200s for the entire afternoon, I would never have consumed even one tortilla chip with melted cheese and beans.


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    Carbohydrates are not the only blood sugar influencer, especially now that I'm pregnant. By focusing so much on keeping my carbohydrate counts relatively low, I set myself up for a long day of insulin resistance brought on by high fat foods. Lesson learned.

Published On: September 11, 2007