Q: Dear Dr. Trapp, 

Is it true that natural food starches can cause blood sugar imbalance, and spikes in my readings? How should I handle this?

A:   Dear Pauline,

Great question. The issue is how high, and for how long, and how often. I can't give you specific advice, but in general, for people 65 and younger, it is reasonable to aim for the ADA goal of 180 mg/DL of less, 1-2 hours after eating (The most current guidelines have relaxed the targets for older adults on medication, due to risk of hypoglycemia, a leading cause of hospitalizations). Another good tool is to look at your A1c, which provides a 3-month average. If your A1c is where you and your health care professional want it, than the spikes are probably not significant. 

Significant spikes after certain foods don't necessarily mean you need more insulin. In fact, more insulin might just make you hungrier, which can make you eat more, which can raise your blood sugar! You might try choosing lower glycemic index foods, such as sweet potatoes instead of Russet potatoes, or steel cut oats instead of instant oatmeal. You can also try going for a walk after the meal, a great way to naturally lower blood sugar. 

A great read is Dr. John McDougall's book, The Starch Solution. He provides ample reassurance that starchy vegetables and beans have sustained people for years, and are perfect for preventing and treating type 2 diabetes. 

Kind regards,

Dr. Caroline Trapp

Caroline Trapp, DNP, ANP-BC, CDE, FAANP