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There is No Such Thing as a Perfect Blood Sugar

By Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., C.D.E

Why-do-I-test-my-blood-sugar-smLet’s just get this straight: There are no diabetes care guidelines that state you must eat a “perfect” diet (whatever that is!) or have perfect blood sugar readings. In fact, holding the belief that you must manage your diabetes perfectly actually backfires most of the time!

Let me give you an example. As you probably know, blood sugar testing is an important part of diabetes self-management. When you test at various times during the day—when you wake up in the morning fasting, before and after a meal, whenever you are having symptoms of low blood sugar or high blood sugar —you are gathering information that will be helpful to you and your healthcare team.

So let’s say you wake up and discover that your blood sugar is elevated. If you have a perfection mindset, you might have panicked thoughts like, What did I do wrong? I guess I can’t have that for dinner again! Or Why didn’t I realize that I ate too much?

It is understandable that if you see your blood sugars elevated, you might think something is wrong or be tempted to return to old patterns of restrictive eating, but that puts the numbers in charge, not you. If fear and blame happen every time you test your blood sugar, then you may feel like avoiding blood sugar testing altogether! This avoidance means you really won’t know what is happening in your diabetes care.

With mindful eating the intention shifts from the impossible illusion of being “perfect,” to more realistic questions like, How is my body doing? or Did this change work?

Let’s pause for a moment to reconnect to the true intention of testing your blood sugar levels: To learn! When you know what is happening, you can begin to make a plan for better health, instead of reacting out of fear or perfectionism. Learning starts by talking with your diabetes care team to get a clear understanding of what your blood sugar targets are. Then, when you go in for a diabetes check or a problem, take your Fearless Blood Glucose Log in to the appointment so they can review the results and answer your questions.

Back to the example… Did you know that blood sugars behave differently at different times of the day? For example, there is a condition called The Dawn Phenomenon that occurs when the liver releases stored glucose (glycogen) while you are sleeping, causing blood sugars to be elevated when you wake up—despite not eating! By becoming curious instead of judgmental about what is happening, you and your team can make changes to your treatment plan to manage this phenomenon.

In mindful eating, perfection is never the goal. Go ahead! Explore, discover, and learn when your blood sugars behave differently than expected. You are not trying to achieve a perfect blood sugar number; you are taking charge of your diabetes care.

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About the author

Megrette Fletcher is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, author, and co-founder of The Center for Mindful Eating. Megrette is the 2013-2014 president of The Center for Mindful Eating, a non-profit, organization to assist health professionals to explore the concepts of mindful eating. She has written articles for and has been quoted about mindful eating in Diabetes Self Management, Today’s Dietitian, Today’s Social Worker, Bariatric Times, Glamour, Family Circle, The Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, Women’s Day, and Oxygen Magazine. Megrette currently works as a diabetes educator in Dover, New Hampshire.

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