Need help lowering your A1C? Here are 12 tips from our friends the One Drop | Experts to help you get started:
Test your blood sugar
We can’t fix what we can’t see. If your A1C is not where you want it to be, try testing more often to get a better picture of what your blood sugar levels are doing throughout the day.
Look for patterns
Is your blood sugar highest in the morning before breakfast? In the evening after dinner? Once you have the glucose readings from your meter and/or CGM, you can begin to look for problem areas and then make a plan to tackle them. Ask your doctor or diabetes educator for help spotting patterns if needed.
Eat fewer carbs
While we do need some carbs, we do not need as many as have been recommended in the past. This is especially important for people with diabetes, since carbs are the main reason why blood sugar levels go up in the first place. You may see improved blood sugars by reducing your carb intake (fewer highs and fewer lows too!).
Physical activity makes us more sensitive to insulin, meaning it’s easier to lower blood sugar levels. The effects of activity last many hours afterwards too, so even a little bit of activity can go a long way towards lowering your blood sugar readings and your overall average.
Watch your weight
Being overweight makes it more difficult for insulin to do its job of lowering blood sugar levels. Eating healthy and staying active can help keep weight in check (and they also help blood sugar levels as well!).
Take meds as directed
Diabetes medications help blood sugar levels in a variety of ways, and taking them as directed ensures they are as effective as they can be.
Adjust meds when needed
Overall blood sugar trends can change over time- what worked last year may not work as well this year. Talk to your doctor if you notice higher readings, especially if you’ve already worked on reducing carbs and increasing activity. A different medication, a tweak in timing, or a simple dose change may be all it takes to get you to your goal A1C. Continuing to watch for changes in blood sugar trends can help you know when it’s time.
For most people with diabetes, stress hormones cause blood sugar to surge. Stress can come in many forms, including mental, emotional, and physical stress (like getting sick or not sleeping well). Taking steps to reduce stress and to manage stress when it does occur can help keep your A1C in check.
Connect with other people who “get it,” whether it’s an in person support group or an online community. Finding support can not only reduce stress and help you feel empowered, it can also be a sounding board of practical, everyday tips and tricks to make living with diabetes easier while improving blood sugar levels.
Use your healthcare team
Diabetes is never a do-it-yourself condition. Your health care team plays a huge role in how easy or difficult it is to lower blood sugar levels over time. Can you be seen relatively soon if an issue comes up? Does your doctor help make dose adjustments in between visits? Do your providers listen to your concerns and take them into consideration when making treatment decisions? If you feel like your health care team has not made your diabetes control a priority, advocate for yourself and consider finding a team that does.
Ask for “DSME”
Diabetes Self-Management Education is an in-depth, individualized review of all the things that go into diabetes care. Even if you’ve had diabetes for a while, diabetes education can provide insights to help lower your blood sugar. Start by asking for a referral from your doctor. And if possible, look for a diabetes education program that is accredited by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) or American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE), like One Drop | Experts.
Always remember: reaching your goal A1C is great, but having frequent episodes of low blood sugars puts you at risk. Talk with your doctor if you’re having low blood sugars often, and discuss different ways of lowering A1C without frequent lows.
Author Rachel Sánchez-Madhur
Living with T1D for 22+ years. Low-carb foodie, wine enthusiast, yogi, and dog-lover. Consumer Marketing, Strategy, and Customer Success at One Drop.