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Diabetics: When to Eat, Take Medicine, and Test Blood Sugar

Updated on February 12, 2022
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Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She researches and shares remedies for using certain products for illnesses.


Whether you have just been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or you have been a diabetic for many years, here is good advice you can use to manage the disease. Every diabetic is not the same and will have a different program prescribed by a doctor or a diabetic specialist.

The information provided in this article might not apply to every diabetic. Instead, there are general guidelines and basic information that will help most diabetics based on recommendations from the American Diabetes Association.

When to Test Blood Sugar

Testing blood sugar on a regular basis will give patients an idea of how their plan is working or not working. The best time to test your blood sugar is when it is at its peak. You should check when you first wake up. Then test it again after you eat.

For some diabetics, testing before a meal is very helpful. For others, it is also helpful to test about 1 to 2 hours after eating to see what the postmeal glucose number is.

In general, you should test as often as you need to get information to help you manage your diabetes. If your goal is to test once a day, then do it before breakfast. Keep a written record so that you can see the pattern. If your blood sugar is controlled, then the once-a-day testing might be enough.


The general rule is to test before meals and keep a record. If you want to know how your meals affect your blood sugar, then test about 1-2 hours after you start eating your next meal. That's because most of the food you eat will be digested by then.

Test whenever you feel your blood sugar is either too high or too low. Testing will give you important information about what you need to do to raise or lower your blood sugar.

When people travel or are sick, they tend to forego testing their blood sugar. That's a bad idea. Those are the times they should take it more often than usual.

If you take more than two insulin shots a day or use an insulin pump, you should test 4 to 6 times a day. You should test more often if you're having unusually high or low readings, if you're sick, under more stress than usual, pregnant or traveling.


When to Take Medicine

When diabetics take oral diabetes medicine, they should do so before they eat. After they eat, they should test again 1-2 hours later. The time starts at the beginning of the meal instead of the time at the end of the meal.

When to Take Insulin

Some diabetics take insulin only once a week. Some take only once a day. Others have to take it three times a day with each major meal.

The body still needs insulin while you sleep to help move sugar from the bloodstream into cells. That's why most people will have a higher blood sugar level in the morning. One way to treat this is to take insulin before you go to bed. It will do its job while you sleep because it lasts about 8 or 9 hours.

Person taking insulin in the shoulder
Person taking insulin in the shoulder | Source
Recommended Order of Things To Do Do
Test Blood Sugar at Beginning of Day
Take Oral Diabetic Medicines
Eat Breakfast
Take Blood Sugar 1-2 Hours After Eating
Take Insulin (if it has been prescribed)
Eat Within 20 Minutes

You might not have been told to follow the order listed in the above chart. Therefore, go by the instructions your doctor has prescribed.

When to Test Blood Sugar When Exercising

Exercising affects your blood sugar. Testing before and after you exercise can help diabetics monitor what is happening. Blood sugar usually goes down after a person has exercised. Sometimes blood sugar will go up. Test your blood sugar every 30 to 45 minutes if you are exercising longer than 1 hour.

Blood sugar goes up more often in people who take insulin injections. If they don't have enough insulin in their bloodstream at the time they start exercising, it will make their blood sugar levels go up. Muscles will use up glucose stored and will send signals that they need more. The liver responds by releasing glucose into the bloodstream. This makes blood sugar levels go higher than usual and stay high.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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