High and low blood glucose are a big part of diabetes. Here’s how to reframe them so that your mental health doesn’t suffer from ups and downs.
Imagine diabetes without the highs and lows – wouldn’t that be so much easier? Not having to get on the rollercoaster at all, just coasting along… Sounds like a dream!
Unfortunately, the unpredictability of blood glucose is the one constant in diabetes. Isn’t that annoying? Well, only if we expect it to be otherwise. Here’s how to reframe high and low blood glucose.
What is reframing?
Essentially, reframing is looking at a problem and redefining it. For example, you could look at a high blood glucose reading and beat yourself up about it – “Why didn’t I take the right amount of insulin? Why did I eat that? Why didn’t I carb count correctly?” Or you can look at a high blood glucose reading and see it as data that helps you make better decisions in future – “Huh, that’s interesting. It seems like when I eat that food and take that amount of insulin, I go high. I’ll correct that calculation next time.”
Reframing low blood glucose can be seen in the same way. Either you get frustrated and panicky when you see your blood glucose going low, then overeat and it shoots high again (sound familiar?) Or you see your blood glucose going low, calmly assess the situation, eat a pre-determined low snack, and see if that was enough after 15 minutes.
This might sound super-human, and some days it is! But if you set yourself up with the tools (and the right mindset) to approach highs and lows this way, you’ll have a much better chance of taking the emotion out of your blood glucose readings.
Tools to reframe
So what are those tools?
- Look at blood glucose readings as information, not value judgements.
You wouldn’t beat yourself up if you did the calculation wrong and a pot of rice boiled over, would you? So why beat yourself up if you do the calculation wrong and your blood glucose goes high or low?
- Assess the data.
When you have a quiet moment and your blood sugar is stable, look at your LibreView trends and see if you can spot patterns. Do you usually over-treat hypos? If so, choose a pre-determined low snack, and stick to that. It might be a juice box or 10 jelly beans or 5 Super Cs – test until you know what works for you. Don’t treat your hypos with food! It’s too unpredictable, and if the food is delicious you’ll eat too much of it.
Similarly, look at what happens when you go high. Do you usually over-inject and then go low? If so, log how much insulin you take when you’re high (in LibreLink), and adjust it.
- Act, don’t react.
This is only possible if you’ve taken the time to think through things before you’re high or low. You have the power to smooth out the rollercoaster – as long as you approach it with patience, knowledge and as little emotion as possible!
Reframe high and low blood glucose
Life coach Catherine Andrews (thesundaysoother.com) outlines different ways of thinking, and how to reframe.
What to read next?
SMART goals: what they are and why you need them. By defining your goals using SMART, you can break down exactly what you’d like to accomplish, when you’d like to accomplish it and how you plan on doing it.
The Type 1 diabetes toolkit: what you need to carry at all times
What is behaviour change? Here’s a simple explanation – and why you should care.
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