Type 2 diabetes experts agree: your 'first-thing-in-the-morning' is one of the most critical and misunderstood blood sugar readings. After all, a high blood sugar reading a few hours after breakfast has a clear cause and effect relationship... something about your breakfast made your BSLs go out of whack.
On the other hand, when you haven't eaten for 8, 9, or even 10 hours, an elevated BSL reading can be harder to read than a theoretical physics textbook. Indeed, many Type 2 diabetics immediately steer clear of breakfast after seeing the high glucometer flash them a higher than expected reading in the AM.
But is this wise? Despite a skipped breakfast seeming like a logical maneuver, this approach generally does more harm than good. To understand the 'how' of morning eating after high blood sugar levels, you first need to have a basic understanding of why your BSLs shot up in the first place.
There are two major culprits to consider:
Not eating at night: While it sounds counterintuitive, it may have been a skipped meal, and not necessarily a high-sugar one, that led to high BSLs. How? When you've fasted for an extended period of time, and sleeping time counts against this 'clock' as well, your body's glucose levels start to drop.
In order to keep your body's processing going strong, it releases some of the carbohydrates you have stored in your liver... known as glycogen. In people without diabetes, this brings glucose levels back to normal and everything is hunky dory again. But if you have diabetes, this influx of glucose into the bloodstream is treated just like an ill-advised Snickers bar. Insulin resistant cells defy insulin's orders to accept insulin and hyperglycemic sets in.
Worst of all, most diabetics don't account for this internal glucose when doling out medications and insulin... making the problem even more of a problem.
The Dawn Effect: Even if you did everything right... stuck to your meal plan and had a small nighttime snack, you may still suffer from what's known as 'The Dawn Effect'. Essentially, The Dawn Effect is a perfectly normal bodily process where your body pumps out a bit of glucose and is especially insulin resistant. Believe it or not, but 'The Dawn Effect' affects both diabetics and non-diabetics.
It's our body's way of getting us ready to seize the day; whether we've had breakfast or not.
Let us now answer the question at hand: 'My blood sugar levels are high in the AM, should I skip breakfast?'
The answer to that question is an unequivocal 'yes'. However, this doesn't mean that you should run and order Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast. Your breakfast should be carefully chosen, and based directly on your blood sugar readings.
Here's how to eat breakfast when suffering from high AM BSLs:
Measure, Measure, and Measure again: It's important to keep track of where your blood sugars go after this initial reading. After your first morning reading, wait about 20 minutes and try again. Many times, you'll see your blood sugar drop back to normal.
Eat Protein and Fat: The last thing your body needs is a breakfast of toast, orange juice, and cereal. Have a very light, and protein-rich, breakfast like an egg omelet with smoked salmon and veggies. This way, your blood sugars won't suddenly crash.
Take Insulin With Care: If you use insulin, beware of treating this high BSL reading like any other. Use about 1 to 2 units less than usual as high morning BSLs don't tend to last.
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Beverleigh Piepers RN... the Diabetes Detective.
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