Normal Blood Sugar Levels for Adults, Children, Pregnant People

Learn the normal levels for adults, children, and pregnant people

Normal blood sugar after eating is important for a properly functioning body. Two hours after a meal, most adults without diabetes should have a blood sugar level between 90 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) and 140 mg/dL. Most adults with diabetes should come in under 180 mg/dL.

However, those aren't the right numbers for everyone. Your age, diabetes type, whether you're on insulin, and whether you're pregnant can all mean you need to maintain different levels.

This article goes over what normal blood sugar levels are, the range of glucose levels considered normal after eating, how different types of food affect blood sugar, and how to manage your blood sugar through diet.

The Plate Method for Managing Blood Sugar.

Danie Drankwalter / Verywell

What Are Normal Blood Sugar Levels After Eating? 

Sugar (glucose) is your body's main source of energy. During digestion, carbohydrates (e.g., sugars, starches, and fiber) are turned into glucose. Your body can use glucose for energy, or store whatever it doesn't use in your cells for later.

Your blood sugar level is influenced by the food you eat, your age, stress, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol use. Your blood sugar can also be affected by heart conditions and diabetes.

If you want to get an idea of what your normal blood sugar levels are, you'll need to check them. Your provider might want you to check at different times of the day, but you can start by checking your blood glucose levels one to two hours after eating.

Seeing what your blood sugar is after a meal or snack can help you better understand how your levels are affected by the food you eat as well as when you eat.

If you have diabetes, checking your blood sugar regularly helps you figure out if you're taking the right dose of insulin (and if not, you can talk to your provider about your dose).

As a general rule, your blood sugar level should be below 180 mg/dL one to two hours after you start eating a meal or snack.

However, your target blood sugar range will depend on:

Target Blood Glucose Levels After Meals by Age

Your target blood sugar level after eating will depend on how old you are, whether or not you have diabetes and how you are treating it (e.g., with insulin), and whether you're pregnant.

Here are some general guidelines for post-meal blood glucose levels:

  • Children (0-18) with diabetes: <200mg/dl one hour after eating; <180 mg/dL two hours after eating
  • Adults without diabetes who are not pregnant: 90-140 mg/dL two hours after eating
  • Adults with diabetes who are not pregnant: <180 mg/dL two hours after eating
  • Adults with diabetes taking mealtime insulin: <180 mg/dL two hours after eating
  • Adults with diabetes not taking mealtime insulin: <140 mg/dL two hours after eating
  • Adults with gestational diabetes: <140 mg/dL one hour after eating; <120 mg/dL two hours after eating
  • Pregnant adults with preexisting type 1 or type 2 diabetes: <110-140 mg/dL one hour after eating; <100-120 mg/dL two hours after eating

Do I Need to Check If My Blood Sugar Level Is Normal?

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, tracking your blood sugar regularly will help you understand how medication, food, and physical activity affect it. Checking your blood glucose level also gives you the chance to see when it's rising and take action to correct it.

Managing your blood sugar levels is the most important thing you can do to prevent complications from diabetes, like blindness, heart attacks, amputation, kidney disease, and stroke. 

Others who may want to track their blood glucose regularly include people:

How Can I Measure My Blood Sugar Levels?

You can measure your blood glucose levels with a glucometer. First, you prick your finger with a small device called a lancet to get a drop of blood. Your blood goes on a test strip which you put into the glucometer. Then, the device tells you your blood sugar levels.

You can also use a continuous glucose monitoring device, which uses a sensor that's placed under your skin to automatically check your levels every few minutes.

How Does Food Affect My Blood Sugar?

When you eat, your body breaks food down into carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

You need all of these parts for a healthy diet, but carbohydrates (carbs) are really important when it comes to your blood glucose level. However, not all carbs change into blood sugar at the same rate. 

Examples of foods that fit into each carb category include:

  • Starches, or complex carbohydrates: Starchy vegetables, dried beans, and grains
  • Sugars: Fruits, baked goods, beverages, and processed food items like cereals
  • Fiber: Whole wheat products, chickpeas, lentils, berries, pears, and Brussels sprouts

The glycemic index (GI) is a carb ranking system that uses a scale ranging from zero to 100. You can use the GI to find out how different foods affect your blood sugar levels.

High GI foods are quickly processed and can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. Low index foods are more slowly processed which leads to smaller blood glucose level changes. 

Diet for Keeping Normal Blood Sugar Levels

There are several ways you can manage your blood sugar through your diet and keep your levels as consistent as possible. For example, eating several smaller meals throughout the day rather than two or three big meals may help.

Plate Method

The plate method is a simple way to plan well-balanced meals. Here are the steps to using the method to build your meals:

  1. Start with a plate that is about 9 inches across or a typical salad plate.
  2. Now, imagine there is one line down the center that divides the plate into two portions.
  3. Add another imaginary line across one half of the plate so that you have three sections in total. 

Now that your plate is divided, you need to fill it up! Here's an overview of how each food component should fit into your meal.

Nonstarchy Vegetables

Fill the largest section with nonstarchy vegetables to ensure you get a healthy mix of foods that provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

Examples of nonstarchy vegetables:

  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli or cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Leafy greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans or peas
  • Peppers
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes 

What If My Meal Doesn't Fit the Plate Method?

Your goal is for the largest portion of your meal to be non-starchy veggies. If you’re not eating a meal that fits perfectly into each sectioned portion of your plate (like a soup or pizza) try to include smaller portions from the other two categories.

Lean, Low-Fat Protein

Next, fill one-quarter of your plate with lean and lower-fat proteins. Keep in mind that some plant-based proteins like beans and legumes are high in carbohydrates and can raise blood sugar levels.

Examples of lean and lower-fat proteins include:

  • Chicken, turkey, and eggs
  • Fish like salmon, cod, tuna, tilapia, or swordfish
  • Shellfish like shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, or lobster
  • Lean beef cuts such as chuck, round, sirloin, flank, or tenderloin
  • Lean pork cuts such as center loin chop or tenderloin
  • Lean deli meats
  • Cheese and cottage cheese
  • Beans, lentils, hummus, and falafel
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Edamame
  • Tofu and tempeh
  • Plant-based meat substitutes

Carbs

Fill the remaining quarter of your plate with carbs—the foods that will have the greatest effect on your blood sugar. Remember that many types of foods can fit into the carb category, including fresh and dried fruits, yogurt, sour cream, milk, and milk substitutes. 

Don't Forget Water

You need to drink enough fluids throughout the day to help your body remove excess sugar.  While water is best for staying hydrated, you can also choose low-calorie and low-sugar drinks.

Counting Carbohydrates

Another way to manage your blood sugar through your dietary choices is counting the number of carbohydrates in grams per meal.

Carb counting when you have diabetes varies depending on whether you take mealtime insulin, which is taken before or after meals to help prevent blood sugar spikes. If you do not take insulin at meals, you can keep track of your carbs by adding them up. This will give you a better idea of how your food choices affect your blood sugar.

Insulin-to-Carb Ratio (ICR)

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and take mealtime insulin, you'll calculate the insulin-to-carb ratio (ICR) to manage blood sugar. You will need to count the total grams of carbs and match that to the dose of rapid-acting insulin to lower blood sugar:

  1. Start by finding the total carbs on the nutrition facts label of the food you're going to eat.
  2. Next, figure out your portion size by measuring or weighing your food.
  3. Remember that fiber does not count when it comes to blood sugar. You can subtract it from the total carb amount. This leaves you with a number called net carbs.
  4. Add all your net carbs per meal, then divide that number by your personal insulin-to-carb (ICR) ratio.

What Is My ICR?

Everyone’s insulin-to-carb ratio (ICR) is different. Some people will even have different ICR ratios for breakfast than for other meals. If you do not know your ICR, ask your healthcare provider or dietitian.

How many carbs you should eat will depend on many factors. If you aren't sure, reach out to your provider or dietitian for advice.

Medical Nutrition Therapy

Medical nutrition therapy is a support service that you may need in addition to the dietary changes you make on your own. The goal is to empower you to make healthy food choices based on factors like your overall health, diet, and activity level.

This kind of support is offered by registered dietitians. They can do a nutritional assessment and offer counseling to help you with goal setting over several one-on-one sessions.

Summary

Normal blood sugar levels are important for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. If you have diabetes, tracking your blood sugar can help prevent serious health complications.

In general, your goal should be to have a blood sugar level below 180 mg/dL one to two hours after you have a meal or snack. However, what is considered normal blood sugar varies depending on your diabetes status, your age, and any other health conditions you have.

While carbohydrates play a significant role in blood sugar levels there are many ways to manage blood sugar through your dietary choices, as well as with medical nutritional therapy.

A Word From Verywell

Normal blood sugar levels after eating are along a range because what is considered normal or healthy is different from person to person. Learning how food and medication affect your blood sugar can help you keep track of what your normal is and empower you to make choices that help you meet your blood sugar level goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What should my blood sugar be after a meal?

    In adults without diabetes, post-meal blood sugar levels should be less than 180 mg/dL.

  • What should a child’s blood sugar level be after eating?

    In children, blood sugar can fluctuate more than it does in adults. Two hours after eating, a normal glucose level in children is less than 160 mg/dL.

  • Is a 200 mg/dL blood sugar reading after a meal normal?

    In people without diabetes, blood sugar levels should stay under 200 mg/dL at all times. A random blood sugar reading that's higher than 200 mg/dL suggests a person has diabetes.

  • What blood sugar level is dangerous?

    A blood sugar level that's over 300 mg/dL or under 70mg/dL can make you feel sick and even be dangerous. Reach out to your provider or seek medical care right away if you get these readings.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. University of Rochester Medical Center. Two-hour postprandial glucose.

  2. National Institutes of Health, U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. Blood sugar.

  3. American Diabetes Association. The big picture: checking your blood glucose.

  4. American Diabetes Association. Blood sugar and insulin at work.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Monitoring your blood sugar.

  6. American Diabetes Association. Find your balance when it comes to carbs.

  7. How foods affect blood glucose: glycemic impactClin Diabetes. 2011;29(4):161-161. doi:10.2337/diaclin.29.4.161

  8. American Diabetes Association. Carb counting and diabetes.

  9. Children's Health. Pediatric hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

  10. American Diabetes Association Professional Practice Committee. 2. Classification and diagnosis of diabetes: Standards of medical care in diabetes—2022Diabetes Care. 2022;45(Supplement_1):S17-S38. doi:10.2337/dc22-S002

  11. Darmouth Health Children's. Monitoring Blood Glucose and Ketones.

  12. Michigan Medicine. High blood sugar (hyperglycemia).

By Michelle Pugle
Michelle Pugle, BA, MA, is an expert health writer with nearly a decade of contributing accurate and accessible health news and information to authority websites and print magazines. Her work focuses on lifestyle management, chronic illness, and mental health. Michelle is the author of Ana, Mia & Me: A Memoir From an Anorexic Teen Mind.