For years my A1C hovered in the high 7’s low 8’s. I felt like no matter what I did I just couldn’t budge below that threshold. Although that A1C wasn’t horrible, it also wasn’t great. That’s because high blood sugars start causing damage in the body anytime you’re above 140mg/dL . With an A1C of 7.5-8 that meant my sugars were hanging out mostly in the 190-205mg/dL range. No bueno! Here is how I lowered my A1C to a 6.0.
4 Steps to How I Lowered My A1C
1. A Change in Diet
I know this can be a touchy subject for T1’s, especially when we try to have the “I can eat anything I want and just bolus for it” attitude. Trust me, I was probably one of the top advocates for this mantra. But for me, this attitude was holding me back from the A1C I so badly wanted.
The first thing I did was to go Paleo. This meant cutting out dairy, gluten, and processed foods. I didn’t go strict paleo (as I still was eating legumes), but already I was seeing a huge drop in my insulin resistance.
Once paleo eating became a habit and thinking of meals/snacks became easy for me, I decided to take it one step further. I had just read Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution and decided to give low carb a try.
Going low carb improved my insulin sensitivity even more than just going Paleo. Not only did my insulin to carb ratio drop, but my background insulin decreased significantly as well.
Eating paleo meals/snacks that had no more than 20g net carbs and consisted of lots of healthy fats and protein almost totally eliminated my spikes. My CGM stopped looking like a roller coaster ride and started to look like a smooth shore line.
2. Get a CGM
Getting a CGM helped me to see what effect my diet & lifestyle choices were having on my blood sugar. Being able to see how certain foods and exercises were affecting my blood sugar helped me to make better choices.
With the help of my CGM I also noticed how ovulation was affecting my blood sugar (read about that HERE).
There are a few different different CGMs on the market right now, but I chose Dexcom because of its accuracy. See my review of the Dexcom HERE!
3. Get an Insulin Pump
Making the decision to go from MDI a pump was one of the hardest decisions I’ve made in my diabetes management, but it turned out to be one of the most rewarding.
In the beginning I was so against insulin pumps (this was before I knew there was such thing as a tubeless & waterproof insulin pump). Not only did I not want to wear tubing, but thinking about showering, swimming, and handing my diabetes management over to a robot totally freaked me out.
Before I got the pump my A1C had already reached my goal range, just from diet change and the help of a CGM. But I knew for pregnancy I would need even tighter control. I decided to switch to the pump. I told myself that it was just temporary and after I had a baby I would go back to MDI. But let me tell you, I got hooked!
The amount of control I have with an insulin pump is oddly addicting. Not only is the dosing insanely precise, but I have complete control over my background insulin. With the insulin pump you only use fast acting insulin. This means you can adjust your background insulin on the fly.
The on-the-fly adjustments are unreal and the pump gives you so many options and opportunities to be as precise as you want to be.
I decided to go with the Omnipod for a few reasons, see them HERE.
4. Make Being Mindful a Habit
While getting devices and changing your diet can be major players in getting your A1C down, another important aspect to remember is being mindful, and intentional. You can eat the healthiest foods all day long, but if you don’t take the time to count the carbs and pre-bolus then it won’t make as much of a dent as you’d like in your A1C.
As much as I love the occasional eating chips out of a bag, I’ve learned that I can NEVER get the carb could right when I do this. So instead, I put the chips I want to eat in a bowl, count the carbs for them, bolus, wait, then eat. I don’t do this every time (because, well, I’m human) but I always try to remember to do this. The more mindful and intentional I am with eating, the better my sugars will be.
Some tips for mindful eating:
- Instead of eating out of the bag, put your snack/meal in a separate bowl or plate.
- Slow down on eating and try to chew everything 15 times before swallowing. This will help give your insulin time to catch up to your food.
- Eating with chopsticks are a great way to slow down. (here is the kind I use)
- Know your carb max. If you always pass your BG threshold when you eat more than 30g carbs per meal, try to stay under that.
- Already have a high BG but you’re starving. Instead of going for the fruit salad try veggies and hummus.
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