Tap to Read ➤

Fluctuating Glucose Levels After Eating

Leena Palande Jun 23, 2019
Glucose levels, measured before and after meals help diagnose certain ailments. Presented here is some important information on the change in blood glucose levels after eating. Read on to know how to control fluctuating blood sugar levels...
Glucose present in blood is called blood glucose or blood sugar. It provides energy to all the cells in the body. The cells can carry on with daily activities when sufficient glucose is present in the blood. Glucose is the main source of energy for us. Glucose level above or below the normal range may lead to serious ailments, most common one is diabetes.
'Fasting blood sugar' indicates the level of sugar in blood, after fasting for eight hours. The 'two hour postprandial blood sugar' is 'blood sugar' measured two hours after eating.
Blood glucose levels are normally found low in the morning. They usually rise after meals. If the levels are below 70 milligrams/deciliter consistently, you are said to have 'low blood sugar' and the condition is called 'hypoglycemia'. The levels rising above 150 mlgm/dl give rise to high blood sugar symptoms.
This condition is known as hyperglycemia. The normal fasting blood sugar should fall between 70-99. The normal range for blood glucose levels after eating is 70-145 mlgm/dl. When glucose level is tested at any time throughout the day, regardless of the food intake, it is called random blood sugar testing and 70-125 is the normal result range for this test.
The hormone insulin, made by the pancreas, keeps a check on the blood glucose levels in the body. The American Diabetic Association has stated that the blood sugar level, when checked two hours after starting a meal, should not be higher than 180 and before meals, it should be between 70-130.
If you are finding it difficult to maintain the blood glucose levels after meals within the normal range, then being nearer to the normal levels should be the goal. Diet and exercises help control blood sugar levels. Handy and portable blood glucose monitors are available in markets and you can easily check blood sugar, at home.

Signs of Abnormal Glucose Levels

Following are the symptoms of diabetes or abnormal blood sugar levels.
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Blurred eyesight
  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Frequent urination
  • Urge to drink water very often
  • Very slow healing of sores
  • Overwhelming feeling of fatigue
  • Desire to eat constantly
  • Numb feet
  • Tingling in the feet

Glucose Levels after Meals/Snacks

Measuring fasting blood sugar level is the most common traditional method used to diagnose prediabetes and diabetes. But, as all of us spend much more time in a postprandial state, blood sugar during this time needs to be monitored as well.
The glucose level after meals, for someone who has had only a light breakfast - will be pretty different from the postprandial glucose level of a person who has just finished a heavy lunch. The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, (AACE) firmly believes in the significance of the postprandial test for glucose levels.
After comparing the data of glucose levels in diabetic and non-diabetic people, AACE has set up a cut off level of 140 mg/dl as the normal level which is generally not exceeded after eating, by people without diabetes. Normal people rarely exceed the mentioned high glucose level after meals or snacks. 
People who have normal fasting blood sugar levels, may have high glucose levels after consumption of food. There is another 'post challenge glucose test', which is administered after giving a person a fixed amount of glucose (generally 75 mg), in liquid form.
The postprandial testing of glucose helps detect 'impaired glucose tolerance' (IGT), and 'impaired fasting glucose' (IFG), which are commonly known as prediabetes. There are chances that this might be missed in fasting sugar tests. High or low blood sugar levels after having food/drinks can also be detected in people who don't have diabetes or prediabetes.

How to Control Blood Glucose Levels

  • Avoid all forms of sugar. Barley malt, sucrose, maltose, glucose, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, molasses are all different forms of sugar. You can enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables like yams, carrots etc.
  • Refined carbohydrates like breads and pastas which are made from white flour or white rice should be avoided. The reason is these food items are easily broken down into sugar by our body and they lead to sudden rise in blood sugar levels.
  • Consumption of complex carbs such as multi-grain bread, brown rice, fruits, vegetables, beans, etc., does not lead to severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
  • Those who have severe diabetes should avoid high glycemic foods. The glycemic index of foods helps know whether the food can cause severe fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
  • Supplements containing chromium help enhance the function of insulin. Multivitamins such as B-complex, vitamin C and minerals should be consumed under the guidance of a physician.
  • Cinnamon, extract of fenugreek seeds and leaves, roots and stems of salacia are effectively used to stabilize blood sugar levels. Certain herbal medicines work great for diabetes.
  • Caffeine is often used as a stimulant, because it offers a temporary burst of energy. But it affects the ability of adrenal glands to maintain the glucose levels after consumption of food/drinks. So, excessive consumption of caffeine should be avoided.
  • Alcohol affects the ability of the body to use the glucose in the blood. The ability of the body to release required amount of insulin (insulin promotes absorption of glucose by cells, as a result of which blood sugar levels drop significantly) is seriously affected by alcohol. So, alcohol should be avoided.
  • Dietitians recommend frequent small meals instead of only two big meals, as this helps maintain blood sugar levels within normal range. Do not skip meals and eat at regular intervals. There should not be more than a 2-3 hour interval between two consecutive meals. This helps maintain stable glucose levels after eating.
  • Eat a high fiber diet, which consisting of high fiber fruits and vegetables, slows down process of absorption of carbohydrates and thus, prevents sudden rise in glucose levels after meals. Eat at least 35-50 gm fiber each day. Legumes, nuts, whole grains and seeds are common sources of fiber. Fiber supplement can be used as an additional source of fiber.
  • Consumption of moderate amounts of health-enhancing fats present in foods like avocado, raw nuts and seeds, flaxseed oil or olive oil are necessary to maintain healthy glucose levels after ingestion of food. They provide a feeling of satiety and thus, indirectly help reduce the cravings for carbohydrates.
  • Protein is required for proper functioning of liver, pancreas and adrenal glands and so it should be included in appropriate proportions in regular diet. High protein diet can prevent cravings for high carbohydrate foods. Eating 3-4 ounces of lean protein at lunch and dinner is necessary and should be strictly observed.
  • As far as possible, eat carbohydrates in natural state. For example, eating fruits is healthier than drinking fruit juices.
  • Your doctor may prescribe medicines to control the blood sugar levels. Follow the instructions of the doctor religiously.
Those who worry about unstable glucose levels after eating should check whether they are leading a healthy lifestyle. Sedentary lifestyle or lack of exercise can lead to various ailments. Regular exercise helps maintain hormonal balance. Insulin is the hormone which governs blood sugar levels. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to serious health complications.
Those who have a history of diabetes should take extra care. Hope we have successfully conveyed the message that you can lead a happy and active life, simply by improving your eating habits.
You should follow the given tips carefully, under the guidance of your physician. This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.