Eating meal after insulin

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Hi, new to the group ... and diabetes.

?Don't see a lot (any) traffic involving insulin, but here goes.

?Dumb question - after injecting insulin you really want to start eating within just a minute or two (or maybe a minute or two before), but how long is OK to finish a meal?  Should you rush it, or not rush it, or what?

Thanks.

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5 Replies

  • Posted

    Dear jx41870,

    First of all, welcome to the group.  I'm sorry to hear, however, that you've been diagnosed as diabetic.

    Secondly, please don't EVER think that any question you might post is "dumb".  That is certainly NOT the case.  If you don't ask, you don't learn ... unless you've got someone sat with, or standing in front of you, explaining things related to diabetes.  Even then, it pays you to ask questions so that you can clarify things (set it into your mind).

    I will tell you, my friend, that there is NO insulin that requires you to start eating within 1 or 2 minutes.  It REALLY depends on which specific type of insulin it is that you're injecting as to when it starts to work.  Some of the fast-acting insulins require that you eat within 10 to 15 minutes of injecting, whereas others take longer before they start to work.  (There's a basic chart on the following webpage that might help you: https://www.diabetesnet.com/about-diabetes/insulin/insulin-action-time  ~Scroll down the page a little to see the table.)

    As to how long you should take eating your meal, this again depends on the type of insulin that you're injecting, but there's no rush to finish your meal.  The table on the page that I've offered  a link for also shows when the 'peak action time is'.  This is the time when the insulin is at it's most effective.  (The chart also shows when you are MOST LIKELY to suffer a hypoglycaemic [hypoglycemic, if you are, in fact, one of my American cousins] or low blood sugar (glucose) level, and how long the insulin will continue to work in your system.)

    If the table/chart isn't clear to you, or you'd like a bit of a hand interpreting what it's saying, don't hesitate to contact me and I'll try to help you as best as I can.  I will tell you, however, that I am NOT a medically qualified person, but I have been using insulin for the past 37 years and I do know a bit about diabetes.  (Ideally, you SHOULD have been given contact details for members of your diabetes support team ... endocrinologist/diabetes specialist nurse/certified diabetes educator/dietitian, etc. ... and you should be able to contact one of them for clarification with any queries you might have.)

    I wish you well, jx41870, and hope that we do get to 'speak' again.

    Lots of Love and Light.

     Mick

    x x x x

     x x x

    P.S. Please don't be offended, or alarmed, at the 'x's'.  It's merely a logo, of sorts, that I've used for the last 40 years or so.

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    • Posted

      Mick,

      Thanks for your response!  Though I could not get the link to work.  OK, even the short-acting insulin takes a few minutes to begin to work, and peaks around two hours then.  I wasn't clear on that before.  I think I just got it confused with stories of hypoglycemia - if you go out to a restaurant, when do you inject, before ordering or when the food arrives?

      ?I'm in the US, and ... well I guess I have to tell my story for it to make sense.  I was walking along, feeling very thirsty for a number of days, finally went in to see the doctor who took a blood test and when the results came in the next day he called and told me to get to the hospital.  They held me for three days to stabilize my raging diabetes with insulin, and here I am.  Up until then my fasting BG was a bit high, but I never had an actual diagnosis of diabetes.  I saw the endocrinologist only on the last day there, and will see him again in office in about three weeks.  In the mean time, other than the numbers of the in-hospital resources they gave me no other support contacts.  I am mystified at this - and horrified - but that seems to be the way it goes here.

      ?Fortunately there's this site and Doctor Google and my cousin the nurse who has been a diabetes educator, though some years back, but I welcome pointers to other resources online and real world.

      ?Getting the meal carbs and insulin routines down are my first orders of business of course.

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  • Posted

    Hi jx41870,

    Thanks for coming back to me, my new-found friend.

    I'm sorry that the link didn't work for you.  I clicked on it myself to find that an extra few characters had been attached to the url (link).  Let me try again.  It's the same webpage:

    https://www.diabetesnet.com/about-diabetes/insulin/insulin-action-time

    Do you actually mean "short-acting insulin" or "fast-acting insulin"?  There's a subtle difference between the two, though they both work over a period of several hours.  Fast-acting insulins tend to have a shorter period of time that they are active within the system than do short-acting insulins.  Do you know the name of the insulin that you are taking?

    Unfortunately, my friend, when you go out to a restaurant it's basically a 'guessing game' as you can never be sure just how long it's going to take for your meal to be prepared and served to you.  It's PROBABLY safer for you to wait until the food is served to you, rather than inject when you order.  (If you did inject at the time you order, and then find that you have to wait for an extended period of time, there's a greater chance that you COULD suffer a hypoglycemic attack.)

    Waiting until your food is delivered to you before injecting, however, will mean that your blood sugar (glucose) level will rise higher than it should.  Once the insulin begins to work, though, your blood glucose level will come back down again.  It's only when you have higher than 'normal' blood sugar (glucose) levels for extended periods of time that damage is caused.  (The damage does NOT appear suddenly.  It would take several months, or even years, before damage is caused.  It's this damage that causes diabetes-related complications.)

    I'm from the other side of the Atlantic ocean, my friend, so I do appreciate that things are vastly different under our different health systems.  For instance, I don't pay for hospital or doctor's appointments; I don't pay for insulin, test strips, blood glucose meters, etc.  Over here, in the UK, these things are 'covered' by our NHS (National Health Service), which is financed via direct taxation of all working people.  That's PROBABLY one of the reasons that you're not given contact details as, I presume, you'd have to pay for contact/meetings with them.

    I'm glad that you had the good sense to see your doctor when you were experiencing the intense thirst that you must have been experiencing, AND I'm glad that your doctor was knowledgeable to know that intense thirst is ONE of the major symptoms of diabetes mellitus (that's the full name of the type of diabetes that you have, by the way.  There's a totally different type of diabetes, called diabetes insipidus, which has absolutely nothing to do with blood sugar (glucoe) levels.)  Although it IS one of the major symptoms of diabetes, there are other medical conditions that can cause intense thirst, but your doctor did the correct thing in testing your blood sugar (glucose) level as untreated diabetes can lead to an extremely dangerous situation where you would need to be admitted to hospital for emergency medical attention.  (Dependent on the type of diabetes that you've been diagnosed with, you COULD have entered a state called Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA), which is more prevalent in type 1 diabetes, or a state called Hyperglycemic Hyperosmolar Non-ketotic Syndrome (HHNS).  Both of these conditions, if not caught in time could lead to someone losing consciousness, lapsing into a coma, and even death.  That is NOT intended to frighten, you my friend, it's just a statement of fact.  This is why it's so good that both yourself AND your doctor did the right thing in finding out exactly what was going wrong.)

    Can I just say, jx41870, how important it is that whatever you read on Google, or any other Search Engine, that you check with your doctor first.  There is so much false information, and some of it on websites that profess to be 'diabetes websites' that can prove dangerous to people.  No doubt, for instance, you've already come across websites that tell you of "cures" for diabetes.  Even SOME doctors are misguided in what they put online.  If you are able, always check, especially with your endocrinologist.  S/he is the one that's done several years of training AND specializes in hormones and glands, and conditions that are afffected by them.  (Insulin, if you weren't aware, is a hormone that's produced by the beta cells (islets of Langerhans) of the pancreas.)

    I will tell you, jx41870, that this particular website offers good support, so stick with it/us.

    Feel free to contact me at any time, jx41870, either here are via direct message.

    Lots of Love and Light.

     Mick

    x x x x

     x x x

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  • Posted

    I'll test my glucose and then eat.

    After I've eaten I'll calcite the carbs I've actually eaten and then I'll inject my insulin to cover what I actually ate other wise i'm likely to go hypo which I try to avoid as much as possible.

    my two hour glucose reading tends to be decent (within my own range - 4 [72] to 6 [106]).  

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    • Posted

      Nyxks, hey that makes too much sense!  If I can ask, are you type 1 or type 2?  Maybe once I'm through this initial recovery period they'll tell me to do it as you describe.

      ?When we eat sugar it goes right into the bloodstream, but I guess overall digestion takes about thirty minutes to start getting into the bloodstream and the insulin has effects over an hour or two.  Does that sound about right?  "Glycemic index" and "glycemic load" also describes how fast a given food hits you, right?

      Thanks.

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