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Understanding Your Blood Sugars: A Case for Curiosity

By Michelle May, M.D.
By Megrette Fletcher, M.Ed., R.D., CDE, and Michelle May, M.D.

In our last post, Fearless Blood Sugar Monitoring we talked about using blood glucose monitoring to learn more about your diabetes. We provided a 7-day Blood Sugar Log Sheet (Download Fearless Blood Sugar Monitoring Log) for you to record blood sugars twice a day for a week. Now let’s take a look at your blood sugar log and try to interpret the testing to more fully understand your diabetes.

Here are the typical target blood sugars (check with your health care provider to see if these are right for you):balanced scale

  • Fasting or before meals 80-120 mg/dl
  • 2 hours after eating <140 mg/dl

Review your log and circle all of the blood sugar readings that are within these targets. Call your healthcare provider if you have two or more low blood sugar (less than 70 mg/dl or 80 mg/dl with symptoms of hypoglycemia).

Next count all the blood sugar tests you took. We suggested 14 tests; it’s fine if you tested a different number of times.

Divide the number of blood sugars that were in target by the total number of tests you took. For example: 6 tests in target/14 total tests =
43% on target.

It isn’t realistic to expect 100% of your blood sugars to be on target. Shoot for 50-65%; anything above that is even better!

Get curious! As you review your blood sugars, try to let go of any judgment about them. Instead, use observation and curiosity to help you interpret the results.

Look for patterns or trends that seem predictable. Make guesses about how your glucose numbers, eating, activity levels, and feelings are related.

Here are some examples of observations you might make:

  • Do I have any feelings of guilt, blame, shame, or fear about blood sugars that are out of my targets? (Read this post about the effects of guilt.)
  • What do I notice about my morning or fasting blood sugar? What percentage was in target? What percentage was out of target?
  • Without judgment, shame, blame, or guilt, do I have any guesses about why this happened?
  • What do I notice about my after meal blood sugars readings? What percentage was in target? What percentage was out of target?
  • Without judgment, shame, blame, or guilt, what are my guesses about why this happened?
  • Do I see any changes when I’m active or exercising?
  • How does physical activity affect me?
  • How do I feel physically this week? Was I sleepy, alert, weak, strong, hungry, or tired?
  • How do I feel emotionally this week?

How are these emotional and physical feelings related to my diabetes, blood sugars, eating, physical activity, or other variables?

You could check your blood sugar a thousand times and it would never tell your doctor how you feel. That is information that only you are able to discover. Checking your blood sugar regularly, becoming curious, looking for patterns, and making observations are big steps toward taking charge of your diabetes.

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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

2 Comments

  1. i check my blood sugar every two months!

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