When I was first diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2015, in my online search for answers to dealing with it without medication, I ran across the idea of ‘eating to your meter.’
For those who don’t know exactly what that means, that means using a glucometer to test your blood sugar before you take the first bite of a meal, then checking it 30 minutes after that, then again in another 30 minutes, then again in another 30 minutes. If your blood sugar doesn’t return near or to the level it was before your first bite, there might be something in your meal that has a negative affect on your blood sugar and you may need to eliminate it.
I ran across this article by Dr. Georgia Ede of Diagnosis: Diet in an article on Psychology Today’s website that recommends that everyone use a glucometer to get priceless feedback on your journey to better health.
Using a glucometer is a tool I’ve long recommended to family, friends, and coaching clients. It really does provide feedback in your journey to better health that you can use to adapt your menu and track to see your progress.
In this article, Dr. Ede shares the same philosophy:
Everybody Needs Access to a Glucometer and I do mean everybody: extremely fit people, children, skinny people, people who have no health problems, people who feel great and have lots of energy, people who just went to the doctor five minutes ago and were told their blood sugar is normal and they don’t have any signs of diabetes—everybody.
Why? Because what you don’t know about your blood sugar levels can hurt you, and even kill you. This is no exaggeration. You could deteriorate slowly over decades and eventually die of Alzheimer’s disease, or you could literally drop dead of a heart attack tomorrow.
Tracking your blood sugar is one of the best and least expensive ways to gather data to improve your health, and like Dr. Ede, I believe everyone should be doing this.
What does a glucometer do?
A glucometer gives you a window into your metabolism and can help show you if you have “insulin resistance.” Insulin resistance plays a major role in the development of nearly every chronic disease we fear: type two diabetes, obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome/infertility, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, erectile dysfunction, certain forms of cancer, and many other conditions, including most psychiatric disorders. Who wants any of these? Nobody.
What is Insulin Resistence, also known as Metabolic Disorder? From Wikipedia:
Insulin resistance is a serious condition in which insulin becomes less able to lower the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Usually, insulin helps sugar move out of the blood and into the body’s cells. In the cells, the body can use sugar to make energy. If this does not happen correctly, too much sugar stays in the blood. This is called hyperglycemia. If the blood glucose level is above normal for a long time, this can lead to major health problems.
Insulin resistance often causes certain types of diabetes mellitus, especially type 2 diabetes or latent autoimmune diabetes of adults. A condition called ‘metabolic syndrome’ is strongly tied to insulin resistance.
According to the most recent report from the CDC, over 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. The report finds that as of 2015, 30.3 million Americans – 9.4 percent of the U.S. population –have diabetes. Another 84.1 million have prediabetes, a condition that if not treated often leads to type 2 diabetes within five years.
Some signs that you are prediabetic (insulin resistant, metabolic disorder) include:
- Darkened area of skin folds and creases around the neck, armpits, knees and knuckles. This condition is called acanthosis nigricans.
- Skin tags, which are tiny bumps of skin that develop around the neck, armpits, face and other crevices of the body.
- A range of more than 5.7% to 6.4% on an Hb AIC blood test. This test provides an average of how well your blood glucose has been managed over a three-month period and is a good indicator of how healthy your lifestyle has been. More than 6.5% indicates diabetes, 5.7 to 6.5% indicates pre-diabetes, and normal is 5.2% or below
- Experiencing any three of the following symptoms:
- high blood pressure
- high blood glucose
- a waist circumference of more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men
- blurred vision
- always thirsty
- frequent urination
- feeling lightheaded or having dizzy spells, especially after having sweets
- unexplained weight gain
- constantly being tired
- joint aches
- your feet burn and your toes feel numb after standing for a long time
- swollen feet and ankles
- getting grumpy (aka hangry) or feeling nauseuos and shaky when you don’t eat for long periods of time
- frequent yeast infections
- cuts and bruises that don’t heal quickly
- breathing issues and sleep apnea
Dr. Ede also explains in this article that
Diabetes doesn’t happen overnight. It is preceded by many years of gradually worsening insulin resistance. The details about what exactly causes insulin resistance and how it develops are still being explored, but a consensus is emerging that our ultra-processed modern diet, which is loaded with refined carbohydrates (sugars, flours, processed cereal products, fruit juices, etc.), is largely to blame. These rapidly-digestible simple sugars flood the bloodstream with too many sugar molecules at once, placing tremendous stress on our delicate insulin signaling system to process them all.
What should your blood sugars be?
Your fasting blood sugars (FBS), which are the ones you take in the morning before your first meal:
- Healthy 70-110 mg/dL
- Pre-diabetic 110-126 mg/dL
- Diabetic >126 mg/dL
And one hour after you take the first bite of a meal:
- Healthy <140 mg/dL
- Pre-diabetic 140-200 mg/dL
- Diabetic >200 mg/dL
If you do have insulin resistance, the best thing you can do for your health is to reduce your carbohydrate intake, because carbohydrates are what increase blood sugar and insulin levels the most—but don’t take my word for it—use a glucometer to see for yourself which foods raise YOUR blood sugar the most. Periodically testing your blood sugar provides valuable insight about which foods are working against you.
A glucometer leads you out of the darkness and into the light, giving you speedy feedback about your diet, helping you understand whether the changes you’re making are effective, holding you accountable, and keeping you motivated. Blood sugar readings improve rapidly when you make the right changes, which is gratifying and empowering.
Be sure to read the article for more details, and if you want help with buying a glucometer and learning to use it, please contact me using the contact form found here.
I also offer coaching, and would love to help you modify your way of eating and help you develop an eating plan that helps you maintain healthy blood sugar levels and sets you on the path to better health.
As always, please be sure to read my disclaimer, which you can find here .