Meal planning, medications, stress management, blood glucose monitoring, and the physical activity you do, complement each other in a plan to control diabetes. Developing the skill to identify patters of your blood glucose ups and downs will be one of the best tools available to you to obtain the best glucose results.
What blood glucose levels should you aim at?
The risk of developing diabetes complications go down dramatically when your blood glucose levels are kept as close to normal levels as possible. What should your blood glucose levels be? Although you should check them with your health care team, in general, desirable levels are:
80-120 mg/dl before meal
100-140 mg/dl before going to bed
180 mg/dl or less 1 hour after a meal
150 mg/dl or less 2 hours after a meal
By keeping your blood glucose levels in these ranges, you can prevent many health complications linked to diabetes.
Look for patterns
Look for patterns in your daily management of diabetes; it will help you make decisions to change things you do that are not working very well when it comes to achieving good levels of blood glucose. Four steps can help you in this task; try to follow them for about 5 days.
Collect as much information as you can
Get yourself a copybook and write down the following:
Your blood glucose goals
Monitor your blood glucose and note the readings from your meter
Medications you take, when you take them, and dosages
Keep a record of the foods you eat for meals and snacks
The types of activities you do during the day, what time you do them and the amount of time of each physical activity –walking, vacuuming, gardening, etc.
Episodes of stress that can affect your blood glucose level such as an argument with a co-worker, a family member, a friend, etc.
Analyze the information you have collected
See if your blood glucose goes up or down after certain behavior that you have done such as physical activity, medication you have taken, the foods you have eaten, the beverages you consumed. Examples of patterns you may detect here could be:
Your blood glucose may tend to be elevated in the mornings, both before breakfast and 2 hours after your meal.
Your blood glucose levels tend to be in your goal range.
Your blood glucose is high in the evening, either after dinner or at bedtime.
Certain medications lower your blood glucose too much when you take them before you exercise
Consider the information you have collected
Based on the information you have collected, consider if you need to make changes. Check with your diabetes care team your new strategies to manage your blood glucose. Some adjustments that may help you are:
If your blood glucose tends to be elevated in the mornings and after breakfast you may want to try doing some morning activity. It may improve your readings. Get up early and do at least 15 minutes of walking or go to a pool and do some water exercise each morning.
If your blood glucose level tends to be within your goal after lunch, stay with the actual foods you eat for lunch.
If your blood glucose is elevated in the evening or at bedtime, you may want to try some physical activity. It will help to be closer to your target. Do at least 15 minutes of evening activity such as walking, yard work, or something else you may enjoy.
See also if you are overeating at dinner time. Reducing the amount of food on your plate will also help your blood glucose level go down. Check the foods you are eating –maybe too many carbohydrates at diner time.
If your medication is causing you hypoglycemia, talk to your diabetes care person to have the time and the doses you are taking modified.
Evaluate your changes
After you make changes to achieve the desired blood glucose levels, keep monitoring those changes and the results they produce.
You may monitor your blood glucose several times a day, take your medication, be physically active, and still find out that at the end of the day, your A1C is higher than you expected and that you have gained some weight, or both. That is why keeping records of all these activities will be your best allied to detect and correct some patterns that are not working for you.