What you need to know about checking your blood sugar

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I haven’t posted anything in a while because I’ve been away on vacation, but I did write two articles just before I left that are well worth a look if you haven’t seen them. 

Both articles are about our blood glucose meters, why they give us the numbers they do, and why that’s critical to managing your blood sugar. What you should notice in the picture above is almost all the meters show different numbers on them ranging from 99 mg/dl to 118 mg/dl. I took my blood sugar on all of them at the same time and with the same drop of blood.

You’ll find the post about what other things are just as important as our glucose numbers in managing our blood sugar in the article, “Meter Accuracy Counts More — and Less — Than You Think” on the Huffington Post and information about how meters really work in, “Why Meters Can’t Tell Us Our Blood Sugar Levels” on DiabetesMine.com. Be prepared to be surprised. 

On the vacation note, sad to say, I returned on crutches. While taking a lovely walk through the charming town of Leiden in the Netherlands, I tripped over a cobblestone curb and ended up with a sprained ankle. 

More on that in the next few days.

Counting down to the holidays

My Omron pedometer

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As I sail from Thanksgiving into the merriment of Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve, counting how many sweet potatoes and marshmallows I just devoured and how many cookies and glasses of champagne await me, I have one eye on threatening extra calories. But I have my other eye on a different set of numbers.

Diabetes comes with so many numbers. Our pre-meal blood sugars should be between 90 and 130, our 1-2 hour post meal blood sugars should be between 120 and 140, our A1cs should be below 7, our HDL over 45, LDL under 100, oops no, for us it’s under 70, our triglycerides under 150… you get the idea. But here’s one measurement I find truly encouraging, rather than discouraging. Counting my steps.

I know how I eat and how I move affect and create all the numbers above, but here’s one value I feel I have immediate, visceral control over; how many times I lift my foot, stretch it forward and put it down again. And, I am rewarded (not just with my blood sugar going down, my insulin sensitivity going up, my calories going away,) but with the instant knowledge and immediate gratification of seeing the results of my labor. 

These 9,183 steps on my pedometer are yesterday’s count from a one hour and 15 minute walk. On this late fall day I was strolling through a nearby neighborhood peering into new restaurants and kicking the leafy foliage underfoot. Since these 9,000 plus steps occurred between 11:30 AM and 1 PM, I know my ambling around my apartment before and after certainly put me over the 10,000 steps a day recommendation for physical activity.

There’s something truly motivating in seeing such immediate results of your efforts. Every time I give a diabetes presentation and show my pedometer someone will ask me where they can get one. Maybe they like the “gadget-ness” of it, but seeing things in black and white makes a big difference — it gives you a feeling of control. And as we all know, diabetes feels pretty uncontrollable a lot of the time.

So while you’re counting how many holiday parties you’re going to, slices of pumpkin pie you just ate, mini hot dogs and mushroom tartlettes you’ll be sidling up to at the buffet tables yet to come, remember, you can always count your steps. Getting them up to 10,000 a day, I guarantee you will put a holiday smile on your tiramisu-stained face.