Managing your Type 2 Diabetes without a glucometer is like flying an airplane without an altimeter – that little dial that tells you how high up in the air you are. Things are safer and more accurate when you use it.
People use the words Fasting and Random Blood Sugar. Let’s get rid of the notion of doing things randomly when you’re fighting this disease, and instead look at what information you need to manage your diabetes.
There are times when you really need to know your blood sugar. One is when you don’t feel right. You know the typical symptoms of a low blood sugar – dizziness, weakness, confusion, irritability, tremors and cold sweats. A high blood sugar may be seen without the typical symptoms of tiredness or lethargy, thirst and increased urination.
Fasting Blood Sugar testing can give you an idea of how things are today, whereas your Hemoglobin A1c tells you about the past three months.
Whether your Fasting Blood Sugar is good or bad, fighting your chronic disease is something you have to do every day. Think of yourself as extremely sensitive to sugar and carbohydrates just like someone might be very sensitive to alcohol. You can’t use your glucometer to check the carbohydrate content of the foods you’re considering any more than you can use a Breathalyzer to determine the alcohol content of regular versus light beer. You have to eat/drink something, wait for it to get into your system and then check the result. How much did your blood sugar (or alcohol level in the case of the beer test) go up? That will help you choose more wisely next time.
You wouldn’t use a Breathalyzer on your way into the bar, would you? Then why check your blood sugar before that nice meal instead of after it? Once you know which foods raise your sugar the most, you can modify your food choices next time, just as you might decide how many light beers equal one regular beer.
There are two reasons people check their blood sugar before meals. One is when they need to take insulin with a meal – then they may need to know their “starting point”. The other situation is when they’re too afraid or embarrassed to see how high their blood sugar goes after they eat. By checking only when they’re fasting or just before meals, they only see their best numbers – after all, it is human nature to want to look your best. However, without ever seeing the peak numbers, those people never know which diet changes are likely to pay off and which ones aren’t.
So, here’s the deal: Eat the foods you really want to eat, check your fingerstick blood sugar two hours later, write it down, and if you don’t like the numbers, adjust that meal. Move forward on your journey to control your diabetes; a smaller serving, no chips with the pizza, or maybe a substitution of a green vegetable instead of the second half of that baked potato will give you a better reading. You’re in charge. Do your own science experiment; see what happens, learn from it and make tomorrow’s numbers better than today’s!