Testing Tips From a Diabetes Educator
Hear From an Expert
Taking charge of your type 2 diabetes means managing your blood sugar. But to manage your blood sugar, you have to test it, says Rhonda O'Brien, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator.
A big part of O'Brien's work is teaching people how to check their blood sugar, find their target blood sugar range, and create an eating plan that helps keep sugar levels stable.
"A lot of people who find out that they have type 2 diabetes think, 'Well, at least it's not the "bad kind" of diabetes [type 1].' But they still need to test. Type 2 diabetes is just as serious as type 1," O'Brien says.
The need to test your blood sugar never goes away, she says. "You need to keep up with it every day."
Look for patterns in test results
It's important to know what your test results mean and how to use them, O'Brien says. Testing helps you learn what things affect your blood sugar—like your activity level, your stress, and what, when, and how much you eat.
"Look for patterns," O'Brien says. "If your blood sugar is always high before lunch, take a look at what you had for breakfast. Maybe you need to make some changes."
You can work with your doctor, a diabetes educator, or a dietitian to create a plan that works for you.
Healthy eating and activity help you manage blood sugar
"You don't have to follow a strict diet. Focus on healthy eating," O'Brien says. "There's no 'good food' or 'bad food' for diabetes. Learn about the amount of carbohydrate in different foods. Then test your blood sugar to see how different foods and amounts of foods affect your blood sugar."
"Activity plays a part too. Even taking a walk after a meal can help you keep your blood sugar stable," O'Brien says.
"Some people get overwhelmed by the idea of having to start a vigorous exercise program. But you don't have to do that," O'Brien says. "Walking can work, but like everything else with diabetes, you need to monitor it and how it affects your blood sugar."