If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, you know that blood sugar matters. But reversing that diagnosis is totally doable. According to the CDC, it is possible to reverse a prediabetes diagnosis. But it won’t happen by accident.
You’ll need to make changes. And yes, you can read articles, blogs, and books to find general dietary recommendations to improve your blood sugar balance. But, everyone is different. And those recommendations may or may not work for you.
If you really want to attack your prediabetes head on, you need good information about what is happening inside your body to inform the changes that will make the big impact you want. Many people who struggle with blood sugar are also sensitive to carbs. If you’re not sure, click here to take the Carb Sensitivity Quiz.
The very best way to get a picture of what’s going on inside your body is to monitor your glucose (blood sugar) levels. Then you can see exactly how your food and lifestyle affect your blood sugar. The changes you make can be tailored specifically to your unique body chemistry and needs.
And while there are a few options for this, a glucose monitor is the most common and affordable. But a glucose monitor has lots of disadvantages:
😕 You have to carry it around with you all the time.
😕 You have to remember to use it, even when you’re away from home.
😕 You have to prick your finger every time you need a reading — OUCH!
But there is a better way to check your blood sugar consistently. You can use a continuous glucose monitor.
What is a continuous glucose monitor?
A continuous glucose monitor, or CGM, is a device that automatically measures your glucose — similar to a blood glucose monitor. But it has several advantages:
😃 You don’t have to carry any equipment or testing strips around with you — other than your phone.
😃 You don’t have to remember to check your blood sugar — testing is automatic.
😃 Fewer finger sticks!
😃 You can easily track trends in your blood sugar over time.
😃 You can set an alarm to alert you when your blood sugar gets too high or too low.
😃 You can use it for a limited time. You only need to wear your CGM long enough to inform you and your practitioner of which changes work for you. Then once you’re headed in the right direction, you can stop using it!
A CGM is a small (but complex) device that monitors your blood sugar levels in real time. You wear the device on your arm or stomach. A tiny plastic probe attached to a sensor penetrates the top layer of your skin. And no, it’s not painful!
This type of monitor isn’t testing your blood directly. It takes glucose readings from the fluid that surrounds your cells, called interstitial fluid. And because it’s a wearable device, it checks your glucose level every 5 minutes or so, whether you’re asleep or awake.
Then the data can be accessed through an app on your smartphone.
There are a few things to consider before getting a CGM:
😦 A continuous glucose monitor isn’t quite as accurate as the glucose monitors that require finger sticks. So you will still need to endure an occasional finger stick to calibrate your CGM and double check that your readings are accurate.
😦 In the US, you need a prescription to get one. But there are companies that can help with that.
😦 CGMs are much pricier than a blood glucose monitor. Although they are sometimes covered by insurance.
I have prediabetes. Can I use a CGM without a diabetes diagnosis?
Absolutely! A continuous glucose monitor is just that — a monitor. It doesn’t do anything but keep track of what’s happening with your glucose levels. So from a health perspective, there’s no reason you need a diabetes diagnosis to use one.
The more you can do to prevent problems, the better off you’ll be in the long run. You could wait and hope that you never get that type 2 diabetes diagnosis. But if you start monitoring your glucose now, you can make the dietary and lifestyle changes that may keep type 2 diabetes at bay.
The biggest potential disadvantage to continuous glucose monitoring is cost.
How much does it cost to have a continuous glucose monitor?
If you’re using a blood glucose meter where you use test strips and prick your finger, you can pick one up for as little as $20 with no prescription needed. You pay a bit for the lancets you’ll use to prick your finger and for the testing strips. But that is a really affordable option. You can learn more about this type of glucose monitor here.
A CGM on the other hand, can run you anywhere from $80 - $500 per month without insurance. You don’t have to keep buying testing strips because these devices don’t use them. But you do have to regularly purchase new sensors.
But CGMs are covered by many insurance companies, including Medicare. Coverage isn’t automatic. You’ll need to work with your doctor to prove the “medical necessity” that the insurance requires. And if your insurance company rejects your claim, some of the CGM companies will work with you directly to petition your insurance to cover their device.
What are the disadvantages to using a CGM?
Most of my clients love using a CGM. They are easy, painless, and they provide really valuable information that can inform your diet and lifestyle choices in a way that makes a genuine difference in your health. But, unlike a blood glucose monitor, you can’t just walk into a drug store, drop a few bucks, and take one home for immediate use.
With a CGM, there is a learning curve. But once you’ve got it figured out, they are really easy to use.
The biggest obstacles to getting a CGM for most people are cost and whether or not you have a prescription.
How much you pay for your CGM depends both on which brand you choose and whether or not your insurance will cover all or part of the cost. But even if your insurance won’t cover it, there are lower-cost options. I'll talk about the CGMs I recommend below.
In some parts of the world, including Europe, CGMs are considered over-the-counter. But in the US you need a prescription. And if you’re looking to use a CGM as part of your plan to prevent a diabetes diagnosis, sometimes a prescription can be harder to come by.
Which CGMs do you recommend for your clients?
There are many good quality CGMs on the market. They vary in price and whether or not you need your doctor to write a prescription. Each brand has its own interactive app with differing information, tracking & analysis options, and graphics.
For my clients, I recommend the FreeStyle Libre. It’s a solid CGM and it tends to be the most affordable option — whether or not you have insurance. There are also ways to get it without a prescription from your doctor.
There are 3 ways to get a FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitor:
1) Your local pharmacy — prescription required, but often a cheaper option
If you have a prescription from your doctor, you can get this CGM right at your local pharmacy.
Most insured patients end up paying under $65 per month for this CGM. Insurance doesn’t always cover it, and the uninsured cost can be about $80 per month.
2) NutriSense — No outside prescription needed
Nutrisense is a great option to get your FreeStyle Libre if you are not going through insurance. And you don’t need a prescription from your doctor. Nutrisense has health professionals on their team who will help you get up to speed on using the CGM. The cost varies between $199 and $250 per month, depending on the subscription level.
3) Levels — No outside prescription needed
Levels will connect you with one of their telehealth physicians to get a prescription in place. So if you can’t get a prescription from your doctor, Levels is a good option as well. The cost is about $400 per month.
How do I decide which CGM is right for me?
If you were going to buy a new TV, I’m willing to bet you wouldn’t need any help figuring out which one you want. That’s because you likely already know a lot about TVs. You probably already know if you want a smart TV, what size you want, and what your favorite brands are.
But when it comes to choosing a piece of tech you are unfamiliar with, having someone around who can help you sort through all the information and decide what to prioritize can be a big help.
If you’re ready to do all you can to reverse that prediabetes diagnosis, I can help. When we work together, it’s not like your 15-minute doctor’s appointment. We’ll spend some solid time talking about your symptoms, concerns, eating habits, lifestyle, and goals.
Then I’ll personalize a program that works for YOU. And if you are ready to look into using a continuous glucose monitor, I can help you figure that out too. You don’t have to navigate this all on your own!
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