If you're new to using insulin to keep blood sugar under control, you probably have questions about snacks and how they affect your dosage. It's wise to monitor your blood sugar after mealtimes and snacks to get a feel for how different types of food affect you. Also, many people benefit from following a snack schedule, as this reduces the risk of dangerously low blood sugar.
Snack vs. Meal
Before we talk about handling your mealtime insulin and snacks, it's worthwhile to note that the differences between meals and snacks aren't always clear. What if you eat several smaller meals per day? Should they be counted as meals or snacks? What if you eat a snack shortly before or after a meal? Should it be considered part of the meal?
For the purpose of this article, we will use the word "meal" to mean a relatively substantial intake of food, such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while a snack is a smaller intake of food in addition to regular meals.
Many people have scheduled snacks to help deal with the peaks in their insulin regimens. In these cases, your healthcare provider will put you on a snack schedule, and you should be very careful to adhere to it. Missing a scheduled snack increases your risk for dangerously low blood sugar.
Not all insulin regimens need scheduled snacks, though. If your current regimen doesn't include a scheduled snack but you'd like to add one, check with your healthcare provider about any insulin changes you might need.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Orre-Pettersson AC, Lindström T, Bergmark V, Arnqvist HJ. The snack is critical for the blood glucose profile during treatment with regular insulin preprandially. J Intern Med 1999;245(1):41-5.
American Diabetes Association. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) (July 16, 2013). ADA Web site. Available at: http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/hypoglycemia-low-blood.html. Accessed December 18, 2013.
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