According to American Diabetes Association guidelines, normal fasting blood sugar levels range between 80-130 mg/dL. Blood sugars should also be checked after eating. This is called postprandial blood sugars. The best time to check postprandial blood sugars is two hours after a meal. Normal postprandial blood sugar levels should be below 180 mg/dL. In order to reduce diabetes complications, it is important to try and keep blood sugars within this range.
Sometimes it may be necessary to check blood sugars several times a day in order to make the necessary adjustments to get blood sugars in the healthy range. This is usually where I would encounter a lot of resistance from my patients. They complain that testing their blood sugars several times a day is painful. Test strips cost a lot of money. Or it may be that because of their work schedule they just don’t have the time.
I found that the more I argued with my patients about monitoring their blood sugars more than once a day, the more resistant some patients became. In fact some even stopped coming in as scheduled. They would stretch out their appointments. For instance, instead of coming in every three months, they made it twice a year.
Now that can be harmful as it is a surefire way to develop complications related to diabetes!
So I had to get creative with that segment of my patients that just were not going to check their blood sugars consistently.
Well here are some strategies that I came up with. For the most part they ended up being about compromise, which I think is something that is very important if you are committed to living powerfully.
Strategy number 1-alternate checking fasting blood sugar levels with post prandial blood sugar levels
This is by far my favorite strategy. This is how it works:
On a calendar, divide the month into odd numbered and even numbered days.
On odd numbered days of the month, check your fasting blood sugar levels.
On even numbered days, check your postprandial sugar levels. Try to vary the times that you check your postprandial levels. For instance on one day check the levels after breakfast, the next time after lunch. At another time after dinner.
This is a great way to get a general view of how your sugars run during different times of the day and not test more than once a day.
Remember to make a note of the times that you check your sugars so that your doctor can understand the trend. Some blood glucose monitors allow labeling the blood sugars also. Check your glucose monitor to see whether you can do this.
Strategy number 2- check postprandial sugars over the weekend
Here is when I would recommend this strategy:
If a patient cannot check their postprandial levels during the week due to their work schedule, then I encourage them to check the fasting levels during the week and then over the weekend, just to focus on checking their postprandial levels.
They can do this by alternating postprandial levels between breakfast, lunch and dinner over the weekend
Strategy number 3- check your blood sugars for two weeks before you see your healthcare provider
I only bring out this strategy when I am pushed to the wall. Literally I am begging a patient to work with me so that I can help them reach their blood sugar goals.
There is nothing more frustrating than not having an idea about how the blood sugars of a patient are running in between scheduled office visits. It is like shooting in the dark. You get a blood test result that is high, but you have no idea how to go about correcting it.
As I tell my type 2 diabetes patients, on average they get to see their healthcare provider between three to four times per year for routine diabetes care. What happens the remaining 361 days is left in their hands.
With blood sugars taken consistently for even two weeks before an office visit, when combined with the hemoglobin A1C most times it is much easier to spot the problem.
Why is it important to check both the fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels?
In an earlier article I shared some important numbers that a person living with diabetes needs to know. One of those numbers is the A1C also known as the glycosylated hemoglobin. The target range for the A1c is less than 6.5- 7%. In order to achieve that goal, the fasting blood sugars are within the target range of 70-130 mg/dL. The postprandial levels also have to be consistently less than 140 mg/dL two hours after a meal.
If your A1C is high, then by keeping a log of the blood sugars, you will be able to pinpoint the problem.
For instance if the fasting blood sugar levels are within normal range, but the post prandial levels are high, then perhaps you need to adjust portion sizes.
If the fasting levels are running high, it may be that the evening medications need to be adjusted or that a late night snack needs to be cut out. Sometimes this may even mean that the nighttime medications may need to be cut down. But your physician needs to see your glucose log so that they can target the problem and create a customized plan for you.
Start today to check your blood sugars
Perhaps you are a newly diagnosed diabetic or even if you have had diabetes for some time but just never thought it important to check your blood sugars. Let’s start out fresh.
Review the instructions of your glucometer. If you do not understand how to use it then check to see whether your local pharmacist can help you. If not call your doctor’s office and schedule a visit with the nurse. Most times they can help you. Most times the machines work the same way. A few have extra ‘bells and whistles’ attached to them.
Just as I share in my upcoming book, “Dr Eno’s A-Z Guide to Living Powerfully with Type 2 diabetes”, two of the hallmarks of living a powerful life with diabetes is being committed and persistent. If you do that you will go a long way to living free of diabetes complications.
I welcome your comments or questions so please leave them here. I’d also love to hear some of the issues that you have as a type 2 diabetic. Come over to my Facebook page and share some of your thoughts with me. It just may be a topic for an upcoming article.
Until next week Here’s to your Health and Wellbeing,