15 Reasons to Check Your Blood Glucose
Readers tell what motivates them to test
Staying on top of blood glucose testing can yield short- and long-term health benefits. Whether your goal is to bring down your A1C, avoid extreme highs and lows, or prevent complications, regular testing—according to your individual needs—can help you take good care of yourself.
According to American Diabetes Association recommendations for self-monitoring of blood glucose, all people with diabetes should be educated on how and when to test, plus how to use their blood glucose data to adjust meals, exercise, and medications to reach their target glucose range.
In addition, people on multiple daily injections or an insulin pump should consider testing several times per day: prior to eating and sometimes after, at bedtime, before exercise, when they suspect low blood glucose, after treating low blood glucose—until readings are back into target range—and prior to tasks that could have safety repercussions, such as driving. Testing frequency isn’t as clear for people on oral diabetes medications or basal insulin alone, so have a conversation with your doctor about your specific needs.
Even if you know the guidelines for monitoring your blood glucose, sometimes it’s hard to stay on track. Here’s what keeps people in the diabetes community motivated to test:
Getting Off the Rollercoaster
“I just started on an insulin pump, so I am motivated to check to ensure I don’t drop too low or skyrocket from a malfunction. I use the results to know if I need to refresh my carb-counting skills or if I need to adjust my basal rates.”
“Finger sticks provide the information necessary to make good choices. Too many times I thought my blood sugar was in range (or out) only to do a finger stick and find out differently.”
—Jana Henderson Wardian
“I no longer feel lows until I am below 30 mg/dl, so [testing] is routine up to eight times a day.”
—Christina Warren Faulkner
“My motivation to keep blood sugar under control is never to feel like I did before my type 1 diagnosis two years ago. I make sure to set all my alarms to remind me to test.”
Raising Healthy Kids
“My 3-year-old [with type 1] is my motivation. I want to look him in the eye one day and tell him that while he was in my care I did absolutely everything imaginable to keep him safe and free from complications.”
“I’ll tell you what motivates me: We are trying to get pregnant, and the doctor won’t do an [artificial insemination] unless my A1C is in the sixes.”
Figuring Out Foods
“It takes effort, but the numbers keep me honest. They help me make better choices at the grocery store, which leads to preplanning meals and snacks. Talking to my doctor about timing medications along with [eating] fresher, healthier food choices have shown much-improved results.”
“I find that it is not only easy to do, but keeping a record of what happened before a meal or after, and my glucose reading when I go to bed is in itself a motivating thing.”
“I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 60. My doctor’s initial recommendation was testing one time a day, but I did not think I could learn enough doing that, so he agreed to order supplies to test two times a day. I test in the morning every day and usually two hours after dinner. At first, I varied the second test time. This way, I learned [which] foods drive my blood sugar up, and how much I can eat while [still] maintaining good levels. For me, the motivating factor is the immediacy of information and a strong desire to avoid the long-term complications for as long as possible.”
—Shelley Rau, OTR/L
“I have found numerous apps that help remind you that you are slipping or right on track and make a game out of keeping your blood sugar on track. Playing games is what makes this thing we have palatable.”
“I journal my results! I am even creating a blog about it!”
“After 25 years with type 1 diabetes, my motivation is not fueled by a promise of ‘someday,’ but rather by glucose reading to glucose reading. Each new day presents me with a new opportunity to repeat, try again, and improve, knowing the payoff will be significant.”
“What motivates me? Maintaining normal, nondiabetic blood sugar and A1Cs to avoid any complications from diabetes for the rest of my life.”
“I’ve seen the consequences of not keeping your blood glucose in control, and this motivates me greatly! Checking your blood sugar often throughout the day [as directed], as well as making corrections [when using rapid-acting insulin], will keep your A1C where it should be, which will keep your doctor and your body happy!”
“My 12-year-old type 1 daughter checks up to 10 to 12 times a day. She is fully aware and educated about the long-term effects of unstable blood glucose levels and a high A1C, and she is motivated to check and keep her levels normal through a lower-carbohydrate diet, exercise, finger-pricking, and insulin therapy.”
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