How I Lowered My HbA1c

Emily Imblum of Pump Peelz - HbA1c

At the beginning of this year, I saw my endocrinologist for my usual quarterly visit. The appointment started off a little like this: "Your A1c is 7.9." Now to some of you that number may be dreadful and to others that number may desirable. For me, that was my lowest point in taking care of my diabetes over the last five years. When I left the appointment, I knew something had to give. 

Realizing things had to change was the first and most difficult step.


This was about me defeating diabetes and regaining control. I wanted to succeed so I started small. First thing was first, I needed to evaluate my daily routine, the food I was eating and how it was impacting my blood sugar, how much insulin I was taking, and the amount of exercise I was getting. It sounds like a lot, I know, but just observing taught me so much!

Believe it or not, I decided to take a break from my pump (Animas Ping) and do multiple daily injections to try to make myself more aware and conscious of the food I was eating and how much insulin I was using. Needless to say I was hesitant to lose the convenience of the pump but felt it was necessary in part of this learning experience. I have not looked back since that day I unhooked my leash. Now, I am not saying I will never use an insulin pump again because I know that day will come! For now, I am doing better than ever.

Getting my long acting insulin correct made the biggest difference!


After losing the pump and observing myself for a while, I began to make changes one at a time. I started by working on really nailing down my long acting insulin needs.  Next, I had to stop eating things that were not agreeing with my blood sugar. What had to go?  Bagels, cereal of any kind, popcorn, having a cup of coffee first thing in the morning (my insulin resistance is terrible in the morning so I have to wait until the afternoon to drink coffee - meaning coffee + milk and Truvia only), pretzels, and a lot of other carb heavy foods just were not cutting it. Looking at that list right now, I realize how bad those foods are anyhow!

I found foods that I like and work well for my blood sugar, especially in the morning!


Here are some new things I am eating these days:

  • plain Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of protein powder + PB2 (think cookie dough yogurt - yum!)
  • protein mug cakes (recipes here)
  • low carb microwave bread (recipe here)
  • peanuts and almonds
  • broccoli + other veggies, and yet more protein (usually in the form of chicken or eggs).

Eating better and getting over those foods that were just ruining my blood sugar anyway made me feel so much better! 

Exercise also makes me feel better not only physically but mentally too! To keep active, I run and/or walk every day. Exercise always lowers my blood sugar tremendously so I use that to my advantage! I track my activity levels daily and try to be as consistent as possible.

Probably the most challenging thing I learned was not to be scared of insulin.


I am sure I am not alone when I say that insulin, while a lifesaver, can be scary. Thinking about how powerful just a few drops are can be intimidating! In the past, and sometimes still, I had the mentality that I was safer with higher blood sugar readings than with lower. Well, in the short term I might feel safer but in the long term I am damaging my body.

My fear of going too low needed to stop. I am living with type 1 diabetes so I need insulin and that is that. I monitor my blood sugar with my Dexcom and do finger stick checks frequently. While lows still happen the highs are far and fewer in between.

Unfortunately, there is no secret or trick to lowering your HbA1c! It has taken me nearly this entire year to get to my HbA1c goal of less than 6.5!

I am not a medical professional of any kind so please don't take what works for me as a prescription for lower A1c success! Simply devote yourself to your health and you will find the best way to achieve your goals with the help of your medical professionals!

Be well,
Emily
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