The Blood Sugar Roller Coaster


The Blood Sugar Roller Coaster is the worst ride at the Diabetes Amusement Park. You didn’t ask to go on it. You don’t want to be on it while it’s happening. And it’s so hard to get off the ride after it’s started, or off the ride at all-ever.This roller coaster is the low, then high, the low again blood sugar cycle we’ve all been through in life with Type 1 diabetes. When our blood sugars are low, our brain is begging us to eat, to feed ourselves until we feel better. In reality, we don’t need hundreds of calories or carbohydrates to treat the average low blood sugar…we binge on that food any way.rollercoaster

The consequence of over-treating a low is of course a high blood sugar, which requires a correction dose of insulin. Too much insulin in our desperate desire to get our blood sugar back down leads to another low…and thus, more food.

The bigger picture is weight-gain, exhaustion, and a life or moment of life that is ruined because of diabetes getting in the way. A few questions to ask yourself:

· How many extra calories do you consume every time you treat a low blood sugar?

· How many times a week do you binge when treating a low blood sugar?

· How many extra calories per year do you consume because of over-treating low blood sugars?

Now, knowing that total calorie count, and knowing that it takes 3,500 calories to equal one pound of body fat, how much weight have you gained (or retained) this year because of over-treating low blood sugars?

For some people, this can lead to several thousand extra calories and several pounds of unwanted weight-gain. This roller coaster can absolutely also be the reason why your other efforts to lose weight simply aren’t working.

Breaking this cycle, getting off of the roller coaster, requires several steps, but the first is simply acknowledging and owning this fact: you are in control of how you treat your low blood sugars.

The foods you use to treat low blood sugars can be thought of as medicine. In fact, you can even choose foods that you would never enjoy enough to actually binge on. In my own life with diabetes, for example, I love to eat ice cream, but I only eat it when my blood sugar is in a healthy range, when I can enjoy the ice cream, and enjoy it in moderation.

I don’t use ice cream to treat a low blood sugar; instead I use foods that I don’t actually care for, like orange juice, raisins, and glucose tabs. I think of these foods as medicine, consume them in moderation to treat my low blood sugar, and sit on my hands and wait until I feel better. I remind myself, “I am in control of how I treat my low blood sugar.”

Sure, my brain is telling me to binge, but the logical part of my brain is working, too, and it’s telling me I only need 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates to treat the average blood sugar. I’m choosing to listen to that side of my brain, because I don’t want to get on the roller coaster-ever. The choice is my own.

For more tips, understanding, and tools for preventing binge-eating during low blood sugars, check out my new book, “Emotional Eating with Diabetes,” available in paperback, audiobook, and eBook at

By Ginger Vieira

Emotional Eating with Diabetes

Certified Cognitive Coach, Personal Trainer, and Record-setting Powerlifter

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