Your blood sugar should fall within a specific range two hours after you eat.
As food digests, sugar molecules circulate through the bloodstream and provide energy for the body. But having too much sugar in the blood can be dangerous, sometimes leading to diabetes and other health concerns. Knowing the acceptable blood sugar target range after eating can help you determine whether your blood sugar levels are stable and healthy or unstable and dangerous.
About one to two hours after the beginning of a meal, a healthy blood sugar goal for most adults is less than 140 milligrams per deciliter, while diabetics should aim for a blood sugar goal of less than 180 milligrams per deciliter. Keep in mind, however, that a blood sugar target range may vary with age, during pregnancy or with specific diseases and health conditions. Your physician can help you determine an individualized blood glucose target range to meet your specific health needs.
Why It's Important
The two-hour postprandial blood sugar test is not able to diagnose diabetes; diagnosis is often achieved with a combination of fasting blood sugar tests, oral glucose tolerance tests and glycohemoglobin A1c tests. The two-hour test, however, can help you determine whether you're properly controlling your diabetes. Checking your blood sugar a few hours after you eat will help you understand the effect of different foods on your body, the impact of stress and exercise and whether you're taking the proper dose of insulin with your meals.
Hyper- and Hypoglycemia
If your blood glucose is higher than your target range a few hours after your meal, the condition is referred to as hyperglycemia. Symptoms include excessive thirst, nausea, blurred vision and abdominal pain. If you're not a diabetic, your body will typically resolve the hyperglycemia on its own. In severe cases, medications or insulin may be needed. Reactive hypoglycemia occurs when your blood sugar falls too low -- typically lower than 70 milligrams per deciliter -- within a few hours after eating. Symptoms often include sweating, muscle weakness, fatigue, shakiness, increased heart rate, anxiety, confusion and irritability. Treatment is often simple as consuming a carbohydrate-containing food or drink to supply the body with sugar.
Meal Planning Tips
Certain meal planning strategies can help you stay within a healthy blood glucose target range. Consume approximately 45 to 60 grams of carbohydrates with your three main meals and about 15 to 30 grams of carbohydrates with snacks. This strategy should keep your blood sugar level relatively consistent throughout the day. Avoid eating large amounts of carbohydrates at one time, which can cause blood glucose levels to rapidly rise and then quickly crash. Choose complex carbohydrates for more consistent blood sugar levels; complex carbohydrates include whole grains, legumes, beans, fruits and vegetables.