Nine Reasons Your Blood Sugar Can Go Up

In order to prevent type 2 diabetes destroying our bodies, we diabetics need to control the glucose floating around in our bloodstream. Many of us are succeeding in doing so by the diets we eat.

Some times however our diets do not work very well and our blood sugar readings rise for reasons we cannot fathom easily. This may be because of a lack of knowledge of how certain foods or other things can affect the level of glucose in our blood.

Here are 9 typical reasons why our blood sugar can rise unexpectedly.


Drinking coffee, black tea, green tea, and energy drinks, all containing caffeine, has been associated with a small, but detectable rise in blood sugar levels, particularly after meals.

This can happen, even if you drink black coffee with zero calories. Two to three cups a day (250mg of caffeine) can have this effect.

In one experiment conducted on 10 people with type 2 diabetes, the subjects were given capsules of caffeine (the equivalent of four cups), rather than coffee. This increased their blood glucose levels by up to 8%. But how caffeine raises blood sugar has not been figured out yet.

The irony is that coffee, both caffeinated and decaffeinated, has other components that reduce blood glucose, and coffee has been associated with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Each person reacts differently to drinks containing caffeine, so it’s best to track your own responses to this little kicker and figure out for yourself whether the effect of caffeine on your blood glucose levels is significant. If it is, you need to cut down or quit.

Sugar-free food

Strange to say, food that is labelled ‘sugar free’ may raise your blood glucose levels. This is because it can contain lots of carbohydrates from starches and fibres.

The only way to find out if a particular food will raise your blood sugar is to check the total carbs figure on the label.

You should also check to see whether the food contains sweeteners such as sorbitol or xylitol. Although these two sugar alcohols add sweetness with fewer carbs than sugar, they can still deliver enough carbs to raise your blood glucose levels.

Fat-heavy Food

Eating food with lots of fat in it will cause the blood glucose levels of type 2 diabetics to rise over time.

When you have this type of diabetes, fat is blocking the receptors in your muscle cells and preventing insulin from doing its job of getting the glucose in your blood stream into the cells.

You can ‘reverse’ your diabetes by unblocking those receptors. The only way to do this is to eat a diet that is very low in fat.

You can best keep fat out of your food by eating a plant-focused diet. You need to avoid all animal products other than the leanest of lean meat. You also need to totally avoid eggs and dairy products, and use as little oil as possible when cooking. Your focus should be on fresh produce, raw or boiled.


Bagels are either no-fat or low-fat which sounds like a good thing if you are a type 2 diabetic and are trying to unblock the receptors in your muscle cells in order to improve you insulin sensitivity.

The problem is that bagels are packed with carbohydrates and calories. In fact, a bagel has more carbs than its equivalent weight in bread. Both bagels and bread are made from highly refined flour which means that they are digested quickly and cause huge spikes in insulin.

Thus you should avoid bagels, just as you avoid white bread, with the possible exception of bagels made from whole-grain flour.

Sports drinks

Sports drinks are designed to help you replenish fluids quickly after exercise. Indeed it is important to prevent dehydration and replace electrolytes you lose by sweating when you are exercising. The problem is that most sports drinks contain as much sugar as a bottle of lemonade or other soda.

Depending on the brand, the number of calories in 2 fluid ounces (60ml) of a sports drink can vary from 50 to 100, while the carbs can range from 14 to 25 grams. Thus, just drinking one 8-oz bottle means you’ll take in at least 200 calories and well over 50 grams of carbohydrate.

This you don’t need… unless you are training hard for a marathon. For a moderate workout of less than an hour, plain water will replace what you have lost through perspiration.

But if you do decide to follow fashion and use sports drinks, check the labels carefully for calories and carbs.

Dried fruits

Dried fruit is just as good for you as fresh fruit for a snack. The only problem is that, as the water has been removed, you tend to eat more than you would of fresh fruit.

There are two ways in which fruit can be dried. In the traditional method, drying is undertaken either in the sun or in special heated wind tunnels. Fruits dried in the traditional manner will have virtually the same nutrients as their fresh originals.

In the second method, fruits (such as cranberries, blueberries, cherries, strawberries and mangoes) are infused with a sweetener (often sucrose syrup) before drying. Fruits dried this way will naturally contain much more sugar than their fresh originals.

Prunes, dried dates, figs, apricots, peaches, apples and pears deliver energy when you are feeling tired and make great snacks… provided they have been dried in the traditional manner without being infused in a sweetener.

By removing most of the water, drying concentrates the fruit’s natural sugars whichever method is used. To obtain the same total sugar and energy, the amount of traditionally-dried fruit you eat should only be about 1/3 of the amount of fresh fruit you would eat; otherwise you’ll send you glucose level soaring.

You should of course avoid dried fruit that was infused with sugar before drying.

A bad cold or flu

Your blood sugar rises when your body is fighting an illness, especially if you are diabetic. Being diabetic makes it harder for you to handle infections such as influenza.

In addition, illness can prevent you from eating properly, which will also affect your blood glucose. Some medicines, such as antibiotics and the decongestants for your sinuses, can raise blood sugar.

Some medicines for colds contain sugar or alcohol. Although the sugar content is small, it is best to use sugar-free and alcohol-free products. You should ask your pharmacist about the possible effects of over-the-counter products before you buy them.

The solution for colds and flu is to avoid contact with people who have colds or flu as far as possible.

You should also have a flu shot once a year. A diabetic who gets a bad dose of flu is three times more likely to be hospitalized due to the flu and its complications compared to other people.


When you’re stressed, your blood sugar levels rise, especially if you have type 2 diabetes. This is due to stress hormones such as cortisol.

This is not surprising as the major functions of these hormones is to boost energy by raising blood sugar so that you have the energy you need to fight or flee. These hormones can be increased by both physical and emotional stress.

You probably know what increases your level of stress and can judge roughly when it is low, medium or high. You can match your stress with you blood glucose levels by recording your stress level (subjective though this will be) whenever you check your blood glucose. Once you begin recording your stress levels, you’ll be able to figure out what levels of stress make your blood sugar go up.

Once you know what stresses send your blood sugar levels soaring, you’ll need to devise ways to chill out.

Do whatever relaxes you. Learn to unwind with deep breathing and exercise. If possible, change the situation that is making you feel excessively stressed.

Steroids and diuretics

Drugs known as corticosteroids (steroids) are used to reduce inflammation in the treatment of asthma, arthritis, rashes and other conditions. However they can cause your blood sugar to rise, and may even trigger diabetes in some people.

To achieve their purpose, corticosteroids mimic the action of cortisol, a hormone that is released when you are under stress and which (as discussed above) increases your blood pressure and blood glucose levels so that you are ready to fight or flee.

High blood glucose levels whilst taking steroids may subside after you stop taking steroids. However, if you take oral corticosteroids for more than three months, these excessive levels may become more persistent and you are likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Diuretics (water pills) are used to treat high blood pressure. They can also raise blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. Thus you should never take diuretics unless they are prescribed by your doctor who should be well aware that you have diabetes.

Blood Sugar Level Control – 3 Strategies For Once A Day Checking Of Your Blood Sugars

I have shared some of the lows and highs of living with type 2 diabetes. Namely hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

Ultimately as a person living with diabetes, the goal is to have blood sugar levels within the target range of 70-130 mg/dL.

A lot of times this may require frequent monitoring of blood sugars. This is where I usually encounter a lot of resistance from my patients. They complain that testing their sugars several times a day is painful. Also that the test strips cost a lot of money. Or that because of their work schedule they just don’t have the time.

I found that the more I argued with them about this, the more resistant some patients became. In fact some even stopped coming in as scheduled. They would stretch out their appointments. So instead of coming in every three months, they made it twice a year.

Now that can be harmful as it is a surefire way to develop complications related to diabetes!

So I had to get creative with that segment of my patients that just were not going to check their blood sugars consistently.

Well here are three strategies that I came up with. For the most part they ended up being about compromise. Which I think is something that is very important if you are committed to living powerfully.


This is by far my favorite strategy.

This is how it works:

On a calendar, divide the month into odd-numbered and even-numbered days.

On odd-numbered days of the month, check your fasting blood sugar level.

On even-numbered days, check your post-prandial sugar levels. Try to vary the times that you check your post-prandial levels. For instance on one day check the levels after breakfast. The next time after lunch. At another time after dinner.

This is a great way to get a general view of how your sugars run during different times of the day. And not test more than once a day.

Remember to label the times that you check your sugars so that your doctor can understand the trend. I find that certain machines, like the Accucheck One Touch Ultra has a feature that allows labeling the blood sugars also. Check your machine to see whether you can do this.


Here is when I would recommend this strategy:

For the most part there are two types of blood sugar levels that determine how well controlled a type 2 diabetic is.

The fasting blood sugar level – the blood sugar level first thing in the morning. The target range for the fasting blood sugar is 70-130 mg/dL.

The second level is the post-prandial blood sugar level. This is the blood sugar level that is taken 2 hours after a meal. The level should be less than 140 mg/dL.

Diabetes type 2, is well controlled when both the fasting blood sugars levels and the post-prandial levels are within the target range.

Let’s say I have a person who cannot check their post-prandial levels during the week due to their work schedule. I then encourage them to check the fasting levels during the week. And then over the weekend, focus only on checking their post-prandial levels.

They can do this by alternating post-prandial levels between breakfast, lunch and dinner over the 3 days.


I only bring out this strategy when I am pushed to the wall. Literally I am begging a patient to work with me.

There is nothing more frustrating than not having an idea about how the blood sugars are running in between visits. It is like shooting in the dark. You get a blood test result that is high, but you have no idea how to go about correcting it.

As I tell my type 2 diabetes patients, on average they get to see their primary care physician between three to four times per year for routine diabetes care. What happens the remaining 361 days is left in their hands.

If you take blood sugars consistently for even two weeks before an office visit. And when combined with the hemoglobin A1C. Most times it is much easier to spot the problem.


In an earlier article I shared some important numbers that a person living with diabetes needs to know. One of those numbers is the A1C. This is also known as the glycosylated hemoglobin. The target range for the A1c is less than 6.5- 7%. In order to achieve that goal, the fasting blood sugars are within the target range of 70-130 mg/dL. The post-prandial levels also have to be consistently less than 140 mg/dL two hours after a meal.

If your A1C is high, then by keeping a log of the blood sugars, you will be able to pinpoint the problem.

For instance, if the fasting blood sugars levels are within normal range. But the post-prandial levels are high. Then perhaps you need to adjust portion sizes.

Are your fasting levels are running high? It may be that the evening medications need to be adjusted. Or that a late night needs to be cut out. Sometimes this may even mean that the nighttime medications may need to be cut down. But your physician needs to see your glucose log. So that they can target the problem. And create a customized plan for you.


Perhaps you are a newly diagnosed diabetic. Or even if you have had diabetes for some time. But just never thought it important to check your blood sugars. Let’s start out fresh.

Review the instructions of your glucometer. If you do not understand how to use it then check to see whether your local pharmacist can help you. If not call your doctor’s office. And schedule a visit with the nurse. Most times they can help you. Most times the machines work the same way. A few have extra ‘bells and whistles’ attached to them.

Just as I share in my upcoming e- book, two of the hallmarks of living a powerful life with type 2 diabetes is being committed and persistent. If you do, you will go a long way to living free of diabetes complications.

The Meaning of Your Blood Sugar Numbers

Measuring your blood sugar is now a super simple test you can do at home on your own. It is the single most important test to know when you have diabetes, when you don’t (because you have reversed it, or didn’t have it in the first place), and when you are at risk. As well as what food suits you and what doesn’t. But understanding the meaning of your blood sugar numbers is really important. You see, most people get it completely upside down. Let me explain what I mean.

Blood Sugar – The Basics

So I’m sure you understand by now that diabetes is a collection of different diseases that all result in high blood sugar. There are the two main types of diabetes – conveniently called Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 occurs when you have damage to your pancreas making it unable to produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar down. Type 2 occurs when your pancreas is fine but you just eat too much carbohydrate for your body to keep the sugar down even with lots of insulin circulating around. Of course, in reality there is a lot of overlap between these two but still, the distinction is useful.

The normal levels and those diagnostic of diabetes vary somewhat depending on whom you ask and what year you ask them, but the numbers I’ll give here are a pretty standard sort of guide. Take a look at this chart:

US (mg/dl) / Metric (mmol/l)


70 / 3.9

75 / 4.2

80 / 4.4

85 / 4.7


90 / 5.0

95 / 5.3


100 / 5.6

105 / 5.8

110 / 6.1

115 / 6.4

120 / 6.7

125 / 6.9


130 / 7.2

135 / 7.5

140 / 7.8

Fasting Blood Glucose

If you get up in the morning and measure your blood glucose that’s called your ‘fasting blood glucose’. This is the most important measure of your blood glucose to indicate if you have diabetes or not. It’s really simple, just take the measurement and compare it to the chart above.

If a healthy person measures their fasting blood glucose they’ll get a reading of between 70 and 90 mg/dl (US measurements) or between 3.9 and 5.0 mmol/l (the standard everywhere else). That’s called ‘normal’.

At some arbitrary point, there is a threshold above which you are diagnosed as having diabetes. It’s typically either 130 or 140 mg/dl (7.2 or 7.8 mm/l). If you have a reading above this, it’s called ‘diabetes’. And then anything between ‘normal’ and ‘diabetes’ can be called ‘pre-diabetes’ – in other words, you haven’t crossed the threshold to be diagnosed as diabetic yet, but if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, it’s only a matter of time.

Really, you can see that anything higher than normal is a problem. ‘Pre-diabetes’ and ‘Diabetes’ are just labels on a continuum. People diagnosed with ‘Pre-diabetes’ are predisposed to the exact same complications as those diagnosed with ‘Diabetes’ – loss of vision, loss of limb, heart disease. The only difference is that those complications are somewhat less likely. The higher your blood sugar, the more dangerous.

It’s a bit like driving recklessly. If you drive recklessly you are more likely to have an accident. The more reckless your driving is the more likely you’ll be in an accident, but the consequences are just the same… bad!

If you take responsibility for your blood glucose and take the right steps, you will steadily see those readings come down. I have never yet seen a case of Type 2 diabetes that can’t be reversed with correct diet, the right supplements and the right exercise.

Post-Prandial Blood Glucose

After you eat (what’s called ‘post-prandial’), it’s normal that your blood glucose will go up. It’ll go up more the more carbs you eat and a bit with protein too. Eating fat has virtually no effect. The important thing is that it doesn’t go too high or stay high for too long.

Most diabetes specialists will say it shouldn’t be over 140 (7.8) two hours after you have eaten. Ideally, it’ll be fully back into the normal range of under 90 at that time. How much your blood sugar goes up and how long it stays up depends on what you eat and how bad your diabetes is. Said another way, it depends on what you eat and how strong your sugar regulation system is.

With diabetes, your sugar regulation system is exhausted so its ability to normalize your blood glucose after a meal is weak.

So there are two reasons you don’t want your post-prandial sugar readings to be too high. One is because high glucose is one of the causes of the complications of diabetes. The other is that every time you do it, it makes your sugar regulation system weaker, which of course makes your diabetes worse.

You can easily improve your post-prandial blood glucose by simply avoiding the foods that make it bad and eating the foods that don’t push your blood sugar up.

What’s the problem with measuring my blood sugar?

Now you understand that your fasting blood sugar is a great and easy measure of how you are going with reversing your diabetes. And you know your post-prandial blood sugar is a great and easy way to learn what are the right and wrong foods to fix your diabetes. Fantastic. What’s the problem?

The problem is that many people fall into the mentality that good food choices are a penalty for bad numbers. You know, when your numbers go up you have to ‘punish’ yourself by being more careful with your diet and when your numbers go down, you can ‘cheat’ to reward yourself. It’s easy to fall into the habit of feeling you deserve a treat for having good number. Don’t fall for it!

Instead, use blood sugar measurement as a positive reinforcement of success. “Eating the right way and doing some exercise really is reversing my diabetes!” You are going to keep eating healthy to get healthy and stay that way for life anyway.

There is no reading you’ll reach where you can stop living right and go back to the ways you lived that caused the diabetes. Sure, you’ll have to be quite strict for the first few weeks or months and you can relax more as your sugar-regulation systems get strong again. But you can never go back to the total neglect that caused your diabetes in the first place. It’ll just come back again. But don’t worry, changing your habits takes some work but once they are changed, you have a new set of habits only this time they are ones keeping you well!

You can be sure I enjoy my food!

There is a second problem with measuring blood sugar and that has to do with medications taken to lower it. Many people, including doctors, believe that diabetes is the consequence of high blood sugar and that all the complications of diabetes are from the high blood sugar too. This isn’t really true. In fact, the high blood sugar is a result of excess carbs in your diet and insufficient exercise -let’s call it ‘wrong living’. Wrong living doesn’t only cause high blood sugar, it has a whole slew of bad health consequences of its own. So if you lower your blood sugar using medication of any kind, and make your readings ‘good’, you can be fooled into thinking that your ‘wrong living’ is just fine. After all, you readings are now ‘normal’ aren’t they?

The truth is that the only way to get a ‘normal’ reading is to have it in the normal range without any medication. And the only way to get truly healthy is to live right. When the medication is in your system, you can’t really get a true reading at all and you are lulled into the false belief that your wrong living is OK.

Measuring Your Blood Sugar

If you are gonna conquer this disease, you need to get serious about measuring your blood sugar. You need to measure it when you rise in the morning and plot it in a chart. You need to measure it after each meal so you can see what effect each kind of food has so you can learn what is right for you, what is OK sometimes, and what is always wrong.

To do this, you need a good blood glucose meter. Accurate, compact, fast and easy. For those of you in the US, I have secured you a special deal to get you started. Click through to a special deal on a glucose meter. The deal will change from time to time but essentially you’ll get a free glucose meter for the price of a set of strips – it’s a very good deal. I’m sorry this isn’t available outside of the US. You’ll just have to go to local retailer and pay normal retail prices.

You can record your daily fasting sugar readings in the Easy Diabetes Exercise Record Sheet at the Optimal Health Works web site. There is also a US version (with US units). If you don’t have Excel and can’t read the Record Sheet, you can upload it and use it with your Microsoft Live account. It’s free if you don’t have one already.

What if you are on medication? How can you get a true reading? Of course you can’t. However, you can certainly get your readings into a good range while on the medication, then reduce your medication as you find you are able. You do need to be careful because if you are living right, the medication is likely to cause you to have hypos. That just means you need less medication. I highly recommend working with your health professional on this. Just remember that they may not know you can actually reverse Type 2 diabetes. You can show them how it is done!

Look out for your family

Now diabetes runs in families. Some of it is a genetic predisposition – that is, it takes less of the wrong lifestyle to cause diabetes in you than in someone without the genetic predisposition. It’s important to realize though that just about anyone can get Type 2 diabetes if they just eat enough carbs and do no exercise. It’s just that it’ll happen sooner for some than for others.

But then the most of the rest of the risk comes from lifestyle and who do you learn your lifestyle from? More from your family than from anywhere else. This is the main reason diabetes runs in families.

So one of the best things you can do is to test the fasting blood glucose of your family members. Of course, the first ones to test are those that you live with. But don’t forget the rest of your family either. It might sound like a funny thing to do – go visit your parents or your sister or brother or your son or daughter first thing in the morning, pull out your glucose meter and test everyone in their home – but this is one of the kindest acts you can do.

If you do find a high fasting reading of 100 (5.6) or more, send them to the Optimal Health Works web site and I’ll show them how to reverse it.

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