People who are worried about their blood sugar contact me for help all the time. Maybe they have a relative who’s been diagnosed with diabetes, or they’ve had a doctor tell them they are prediabetic.
Finding out you have blood sugar issues is scary. No one wants to be on the road that leads to diabetes. According to the CDC:
😬 In the US, over 37 million people have diabetes — and 1 in 5 of them don’t even know they have it.
😬 80% of people who are prediabetic don’t know it.
😬 Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the US.
😬 The number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has doubled In the last 20 years.
The statistics are grim. But if you’re prediabetic or worried about a family history of diabetes, there is so much hope. Diet and lifestyle changes can totally change your outcomes. According to the CDC — and the experience of many clients in my practice — prediabetes is reversible. Just because you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes doesn’t mean you have to become a diabetes statistic.
I like to equip my clients with tools that help them not only manage their blood sugar, but keep living their lives. Lifestyle changes are challenging. But when you utilize tools that make it easier, you’re more likely to stick with your new habits.
Last month we talked all about how to use food journaling to help with blood sugar management. You can read about how to use this tool efficiently and effectively here.
Knowledge is Power
Blood sugar issues are scary. Many people presented with a scary medical issue prefer to just pretend it isn’t there. It may feel easier in the moment. But for something like prediabetes, you have so much control over what happens. It’s worth facing your fears and figuring out what’s really going on.
The best way to do this is to monitor your blood sugar. There are so many advantages to knowing your blood glucose levels and patterns:
✔ You remove the dread that comes with uncertainty.
✔ You and your practitioner can spot patterns that can inform your blood sugar management strategy.
✔ You can see which dietary and lifestyle changes are working.
✔ It’s motivating and empowering to see how your efforts are making a real difference.
Isn’t blood glucose testing just for people with diabetes?
People with diabetes HAVE to check their blood sugar. Once you get that diagnosis, blood sugar can quickly become a life and death matter. So if you have diabetes, monitoring blood glucose isn’t optional.
But you don’t need a diagnosis to start checking your blood sugar. It’s easy. It’s cheap. And it’s (relatively) painless. You don’t need a prescription or a doctor’s permission. Checking your blood glucose is a powerful way to take your health into your own hands and prevent a more serious situation.
How do I test my blood glucose?
You have a few options. I encourage you to choose the one that best fits you and your lifestyle. And if you try one method only to find it doesn’t work well for you, then you can switch! Most of the testing options are easy to purchase and use.
A glucometer — also known as a blood glucose meter — is a small device that measures the amount of glucose in your blood. Glucometers are fairly inexpensive and extremely accurate. The FDA has strict requirements for any glucometers on the market. You can expect that your glucometer will be within 15% of results obtained from a lab 95% of the time, and within 20% of lab measurements 99% of the time.
These devices are small, lightweight, and battery-powered. So they’re easy to use on-the-go.
Most glucometers work like this:
Prick your finger to get a drop of blood. No, this isn’t fun. But it isn’t that bad either. The first few times will feel startling. It’s a little uncomfortable. But you'll get used to it. And you’ll figure out what works best for you. Many people find it more comfortable to prick their fingertip a little off to the side, rather than right in the middle.
You’ll use a device designed for this. All you have to do is position the device and click a button. The needle pricks quickly and stays shallow. And it doesn’t make you bleed much at all. You’ll likely just get a drop or two of blood, which is exactly how much you need.
Touch a test strip to the drop of blood and insert the strip into the machine.
Your blood glucose results will appear on the screen. Many monitors store the time and blood sugar reading, so you don’t even need to write it down anywhere.
Share your data with your practitioner so you can work together to make diet and lifestyle changes. Then keep monitoring so you can see patterns. And make sure to celebrate as you see your blood glucose stabilize over time!
There are many different glucose monitors. There are even some that don’t require repeated finger sticks. If you’d like some recommendations on models and brands, check out this article on Healthline.
Downsides to Blood Glucose Testing
Glucose testing is a highly effective tool when it comes to managing your prediabetes. But it isn’t perfect. There are a few issues:
😕 You have to carry your testing device with you. This involves the glucometer, the finger stick device, and the test strips. These are all relatively small and lightweight. But if you don’t typically carry a purse or bag, it can be inconvenient.
😕 You have to test consistently to inform your care. It’s important to test at the same times each day so you and your practitioner can spot the patterns in your blood glucose. Your blood sugar won’t stay consistent throughout the day. And it will spike after a meal. It can be difficult to catch the peaks in your blood sugar. It may take a little trial and error to get to where you’re testing at the best times. But like anything else, testing at regular intervals can become a habit you don’t think much about.
Testing your blood glucose is an important step in working to reverse your prediabetes diagnosis. But trying to figure out your patterns and what they mean on your own can be confusing. You can google blood sugar charts and dietary suggestions. But these may or may not work well for you. I don’t recommend you try to be your own practitioner.
I recommend working with a practitioner who is experienced in blood sugar management. Finding someone who not only understands how to read your blood sugar highs and lows, but can also give you guidance on the diet and lifestyle changes is crucial. These tools work exceptionally well when you use them in conjunction with dietary coaching because they reveal if you’re heading in the right direction.
And I’m here to help. If you’re anything like most of my clients, you don’t want to waste time making changes that don’t make a difference. If you’re ready for a personalized plan to get your blood sugar back in balance, you can book a consultation below.
But if you’re not ready for one-on-one nutrition coaching, I still want to help. In my newsletter, I offer tips and suggestions for things you can do on your own that can get you moving in the right direction. Sign up below for blood sugar help delivered right to your inbox!