My grandmother used to say, “Your memory only has to be as sharp as a pencil!” Of course, nowadays, it only has to be as close as your smartphone or computer! As a diabetes educator, I cannot stress enough how helpful it is to keep a detailed blood (sugar) glucose log. These logs can help you and your health care team piece together how your diabetes treatments – diet, activity and medications – are working. Checking your blood glucose regularly, becoming curious, looking for patterns, and making observations are big steps toward taking charge of your diabetes.
In Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes we encourage you to take your blood glucose log to all of your appointments. (You can download a copy of our 7-Day Fearless Blood Glucose Monitoring Log here.) But maybe you don’t really understand how to keep a blood sugar log or how helpful it is.
Pausing before a meal to test your blood sugar will help you tune in to the subtle cues that are commonly missed when you’re distracted or busy. Bringing mindfulness to glucose monitoring can also help you accept your deeper feelings about diabetes, checking your blood sugar, and your personal health goals.
Another benefit is that if you are at risk for hypoglycemia, making an effort to check in will help you notice change blood glucose levels before they go too low. This is important since most reactions occur when you’re busy doing other things – playing, shopping, working or sleeping – because the early signs of dropping blood glucose levels are ignored, mistaken for something else, or simply go unnoticed.
Try Mindful Glucose Monitoring for a Week
Become aware. For the next week, do a brief body-mind-heart scan before you test your blood glucose. Identify your hunger and fullness number as well as any other physical sensations, thoughts and feelings. Based on what you notice, estimate what your blood glucose might be.
Gather information. Test your blood glucose and write it in your log. (Download a copy of our 7-Day Fearless Blood Glucose Monitoring Log.) If you forgot to do a body-mind-heart scan beforehand, do it after your test. Just be aware that knowing the number can cloud or influence what you notice during your scan.
Be nonjudgmental. There are no wrong numbers, just information to help you and your health care team manage this disease more effectively. The impulse to think of a blood glucose number as “good” or “bad” often leads to thoughts that you are “good” if your blood glucose is “good” and “bad” if your blood glucose is “bad.” Over time, such thinking drains you of the energy needed to care for your diabetes. Remember, your self-worth does not depend on your blood glucose.
Be curious. Did your reading make sense to you? Did you think, “Wow! I didn’t think it would be that!” Ask yourself, “Do I feel any different when my blood sugar is above or below target? Were there any signs or clues that my blood sugar was low or dropping?”
Notice patterns. Take a moment to consider and record any possible reasons for your blood glucose reading in your log. Include information about your hunger and fullness levels; when, what and how much you ate; and details about illnesses, physical activity, and other circumstances.
Take your blood glucose logs to your medical appointments. If you find yourself resisting writing down those numbers, it might be because of some feelings you have. Remember, your self-worth does not depend on your blood glucose. Use that sharp pencil (or smartphone or computer) because these tools are designed to help you check-in and remember when your life gets too busy.