How to use BGL checks to manage lifestyle impacts

Lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, sleep and stress can play a large role in affecting blood glucose levels (BGLs) for people living with type 2 diabetes.

These everyday influences may have a positive or negative influence on your BGLs.

Checking your BGLs is one of the major strategies we recommend for understanding and managing diabetes, if you’re prepared to use the results to recognise trends and use that knowledge to avoid blood glucose peaks and troughs.

Using short term, intensive blood glucose checks can show how a lifestyle change (either a positive or negative change) can affect your BGLs.

Checking your BGLs several times a day over the short term (eg for three days) will give you blood glucose readings that can then be used to assess how your blood glucose is responding to new changes or checking on current lifestyle choices.

Maintaining a diary of the lifestyles changes that you’re making as well as your BGL results can help you and your healthcare team assess whether the changes are appropriate for you. Identifying improved BGLs can also motivate you to continue making positive change.

Food is the most common lifestyle choice that will affect blood glucose levels. Choices that include high fibre and low glycaemic index (GI) foods may help keep blood glucose levels stable.

Low GI foods break down into glucose more slowly resulting in a slow, sustained rise in BGLs.

Checking your BGLs before a meal and two hours after you start eating will help you analyse your BGLs and understand how your body has responded to what you have eaten. This may encourage you to either look at your meal choice more carefully for the carbohydrate content or reduce the portion size if your glucose level is above your target.

Increasing physical activity in your day by walking the dog, taking the stairs while at work or ramping up your gardening can help with blood glucose management, stress, weight reduction and improved sleep.

Aiming for 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity each day can help your body respond to the insulin it produces, therefore lowering glucose levels.

Check your blood glucose before and after exercise to see how your body responds.

Talk to your health professional about the right kind of exercise for you. A half hour walk may reduce your glucose level into your target range for the rest of the day.

Stress in our lives includes physical stress such as illness or injury, and emotional stress such as family or financial issues.

Regardless of the source, the body reacts to all types of stress. It may result in elevated BGLS, or in some people stress can cause BGLs to decrease. Checking your BGLs at a time of stress, and looking closely at the impact on your BGLs, may help you prioritise making time to reduce the impact of the stress.

Lack of sleep can affect our emotions and mood, our productivity in life, and the ability to make decisions and cope with demands of family and work.

Lack of sleep can also produce hormones that may cause BGLs to rise. Having a good routine at bedtime and aiming to get between seven and nine hours sleep each night can help you feel revitalised, managing stress and your BGLs.

Keeping a close eye on your BGLs is only useful if you intend to use the information to understand how your BGLs can fluctuate as a result of your lifestyle choices.

Which lifestyle factors have the biggest impact on your BGLs? Talk to your health professional today to work out whether BGL checks could benefit you or call us on 1300 136 588.

Keywords: BGLsstress

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