How can I keep my blood sugar levels stable?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

You can keep your blood glucose levels on target by doing as follows:

  • Making wise food choices
  • Being physically active
  • Taking medicines if needed

For people taking certain diabetes medicines, following a schedule for meals, snacks, and physical activity is best. However, some diabetes medicines allow for more flexibility.

Talk with your doctor or diabetes teacher about how many meals and snacks to eat each day.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

You can make changes, a few at a time, to slowly lower your blood glucose levels if you have diabetes. Here are some things you may want to change:

  • how much food you eat
  • the kinds of food you eat
  • your activity level
  • how much insulin or medication you take

Eating frequent, smaller meals (every few hours) can help to keep your blood sugar more stable. Concentrate on the protein part of your diet as that is broken down more slowly, also helping your blood sugar to remain more stable. Please contact your doctor and possibly a dietician to discuss a meal plan and options to keep your blood sugar normal and to control your symptoms.

You want to keep your blood sugar even. If you’re trying to keep your blood sugar between 120 and 130, you don’t want to have periods where it drops.

We always recommend a person with diabetes to have a snack in between their regular meals. So if you eat breakfast at 8 a.m., maybe 10:00 a.m. is a good time for you to have your first snack, then have a snack between lunch and dinner, and another snack before you go to bed.

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Blood sugar levels with type one diabetes is managed with diet, medications and insulin. Type two diabetes is controlled with diet, exercise, weight loss if overweight, and in some cases medications and insulin.

Carbohydrate in food affects blood glucose directly and must be monitored in your diet. Foods contain a combination of 3 macronutrients fat, carbohydrate and protein of which all are eventually broken down into glucose to affect blood glucose levels. Strive for healthy blood glucose levels by including healthy fats like olive oil, protein such as lean meat and carefully planned small amounts of carbohydrate found in nutrient dense legumes, beans, soy or dairy, whole grains, and fruits at meals and snacks. Eat unlimited non-starchy vegetables with few carbohydrates. See a registered dietitian to plan nutrient and carbohydrate content of meals that are individual to your needs and lifestyle to help diabetes and promote healthy weight maintenance.

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and losing weight if you are overweight are the best ways to keep your blood sugar at a normal level. If your blood sugar levels are high but not high enough to qualify as diabetes, you may have a condition called prediabetes. If you have prediabetes, you may be able to lower your blood sugar levels by losing a modest amount of weight (5 to 10 percent of your body weight) and doing mild exercise such as walking for 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Eating a balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy products and whole grains, is also key. So is eating regular meals and small snacks, and cutting back on high-fat, high-sugar foods.

When you have diabetes, it can be challenging to go all day and keep your blood sugar (glucose) levels stable. Good blood sugar control involves so many factors. Preventing highs means getting the right amount of insulin at the right time in the right manner (all at once or spread out in a bolus if you are using a pump)—which means for meals you need to know your percentage of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

One helpful hint is to give yourself the insulin at least 20 minutes before eating and reduce the amount of insulin if you are planning to exercise after eating. Make sure you take into account how much and how long you will be exercising.

Keep an eye on the trend arrow on your continuous glucose monitor (CGM) to see if your blood sugar is on the way up or down. This should have a major influence on the amount of insulin you take.

Bob Greene
Bob Greene on behalf of The Best Life
Physiology Specialist

If you have diabetes you’ll be using a blood glucose monitor to test your sugar and you’ll be logging select blood sugar readings, meals, and bouts of exercise. This will play a crucial role in your diabetes management—it will help you piece together important patterns that you can use to create an individualized program that fits with your disease and your lifestyle.

The response to food and exercise varies from person to person; the log will uncover your unique reactions. For instance, you might note that your blood sugar is usually high after eating bread but not after eating pasta. Or that your blood sugar is in a great range after 30 minutes on the treadmill but a little too low after 40 minutes. Or that the dose of medication taken in the morning seems to send your blood sugar plummeting in the afternoon, which is something you and your doctor can adjust.

The Best Life Guide to Managing Diabetes and Pre-Diabetes

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Whether it is type 1 diabetes or type 2 diabetes blood sugar levels can be managed by looking after your nutrition plan, medications and incorporating physical activity, if aplicable!

Taking into account your lifestyle, your medication, your weight and any medical conditions you may have in addition to diabetes and your favorite foods, having a dietitian will help you create a diet plan that will prevent complications and still give you the pleasure to enjoy your foods.

Few things you may want to consider. 

  • Eating a well balance meals with the appropriate caloric intake. 
  • Keep a daily log of all the foods consumed.
  • keep record of your blood sugar level tests through out the day for comparison and assessment purposes. 

The American Diabetes Association offers great deal of information on how to apply tools, guidelines and valuable nutritional suggestions into your daily routine to manage diabetes.

Please visit the site to explore at your convenience. And always consult with your physician for any special requirement that you might need.

Clyde Mealy
Fitness Specialist

Follow the advice of your primary care physician and take your medication(s) as prescribed. A diabetic approved diet and checking your blood sugar levels as advised can help you as well. Another way to manage/reduce your blood sugar (A1C levels) and increase your good cholesterol (HDL) is by being active everyday. You can do this with your basic activities of daily living or an exercise program. I hope this helps and have fun!

To keep blood sugar levels down, you should avoid foods with simple sugar, trans fat and saturated fat. Also, a little physical activity goes a long way. Burning about 1,000 calories a week through activity—about 30 minutes of walking a day and 30 minutes of weight lifting a week—causes your muscles to be so much more sensitive to insulin, which allows sugar to do its duty inside your cells rather than cause havoc in the bloodstream.

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Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Sugar and refined carbohydrates will cause a spike in your blood sugar, which is followed by a crash leaving you stressed, tired or sluggish. In this video, Dr. Oz explains how to get protein throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable.

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD

Not a simple question if you have diabetes, obviously, and one about which many whole books have been written, including one that I wrote with colleagues Bob Greene and Janis Jibrin, MS, RD. The short answer is that diabetes is managed by balancing diet, exercise and medication, which is why Bob, who is an exercise physiologist, and Janis, who is a dietitian, and I teamed up.

The list of highest-priority things to do to manage your blood sugar is as follows:

  • Eat properly. In most cases, reducing the amount of carbohydrate (sugar and starch) that you eat will be important, and if you are overweight it will be important to lose weight. But having diabetes or being overweight does not mean that you can’t eat well, it just means that you have to eat sensibly. And I personally think a little treat or indulgence is fine: it’s all about being honest with yourself if you are overdoing it.
  • Get enough exercise. Getting into or staying in good physical condition is the best way to fend off many of the terrible problems that diabetes can cause, including early heart disease. If you are completely out of shape, start slowly and work up gradually with guidance from your doctor or diabetes educator about how much you can do. If you are in a bit better shape but still not quite there, increase the frequency and duration of what you are doing until you are exercising most days out of the week, 45 minutes or more at a time. Sounds like alot, but the payoff is fantastic.
  • Take your medication faithfully. Your doctor will prescribe your drugs, of course, but your role is equally important in two ways: You have to take the medication as prescribed, and you have to let your doctor know if you are having any adverse reactions, including blood sugars that are going too low.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.