Last month when I was traveling to Aruba with my family for New Years, I had an unexpected low on the plane. I was hovering around 50 and ate 2 dates and a glucose tab to correct ( Side note- sometime’s the air pressure of the plane pushes out extra insulin if you’re wearing a pump…sneaky little thing…..so just a heads up if you’re traveling!) My mom and dad saw that I was low and told me they’d ask the stewardess for a large orange juice so I could come up faster. I told them I didn’t need the OJ, but they had this panic look on their face.
I reassured them that I knew it would be enough. It was so interesting to see them jump back into diabetes care taker role like they did when I was a child. It also made me see through a different point of view why I used to always over correct my lows and have rebound highs as a child/teenager.
We have a habit to over treat lows whether its because of the fear of continuing to drop, hating the feeling, or your brain going into panic mode and irrationally eating everything in sight (we’ve all been there at 2am on the floor of the kitchen with the cereal box!). But luckily I’ve learned a few techniques that help me out when I’m low that I hope you find helpful!
1. Choose your go-to low snacks
I like to have 4 options of things I eat/drink if i’m low. For me its’ coconut water, dates, orange/apple/pear juice ( whatever I have), or glucose tablets. I don’t deviate and have just trained myself that these are what I have when i’m low. My brain isn’t strong enough when i’m low to make an educated decision if I have the whole kitchen to choose from so I limit my choices ahead of time.
2. Stay out of the kitchen
If you’re at home while you’re having a low, a good tip is to stay out of the kitchen. If you need to go in there to get you designated low snack, grab it and go sit on the couch or your bedroom and stay there until your blood sugar is up! Out of sight, out of mind kind of thing!
3. Portion out your snacks/juices
When I was younger we’d always have a big carton of orange juice in the fridge and when I was low and my mom/dad asked me what size glass I wanted it in, i’d always choose a big one over a small glass. Now for juice I like to buy 15 carb juice boxes/ coconut water because there is way less chance of me opening up a second one than me over serving myself juice from a larger bottle. Does that make sense? I also put my glucose tablets in baggies next to my bed for if I go low in the middle of the night. I can’t tell you how many times in college i’d had a low overnight, fell asleep eating out of the glucose tab jar, and woken up at 400.
4. Stick to carbs. Don’t bring protein or fat into the mix.
I only treat lows with straight carbs for two main reasons. Because they slow down the absorption, you don’t come up as quick, think you didn’t eat enough, eat more, and then it all ends up catching up to you. Try to stay away from mixing your carbs with things like nut butters or chocolate.
5.If you over eat and know it, even if you’re still low, bolus
Ideally I always try to do tips 1-4 but sometimes, rarely but it happens, it doesn’t go as planned and I end up eating a ton of everything. If this happens, even if i’m STILL low, i’ll recognize i’m doing it and cover for it. The food is going to hit you a lot faster than the insulin will and it’ll help reduce the rebound spike for anything above the 15 carbs.
If you have trouble overeating and over correcting your lows, try out some of these methods. I swear they definitely help!!