Recording Diabetic Sugar Levels for Diagnostic Purposes

Diabetics are often advised to follow a 'normal' lifestyle, but that does not take into account the reactions they may have to low-blood-sugar episodes, the summer heat, stress and the obvious enemy: sugar.

Also, everyone sees 'normal' differently.

Banishing processed food from the diet is always recommended for diabetics. Their intake should be made up of foods that can be easily identified because they look the way God created them.

Some diabetics strive for a healthy lifestyle, others for moderation in all things and yet more believe they've taught how to cheat their sugar levels successfully.

In the same way, all react differently to identical circumstances.

Everything we all eat turns to sugar in our bodies and one form of it is not necessarily much better than another for diabetics. The disease is also dynamic rather than static; it evolves over time and what works for some today, may not, tomorrow.

As long as everything seems to be under control, diabetes management looks easy. But when sugar levels begin to fluctuate wildly, they can be very difficult to re-stabilize.

This is when up to seven daily blood glucose tests with a meter daily can help determine where and what changes are advisable, if any. Record all the results you take on a simple table with twelve columns across. Label the first two columns from the left: 'day' and 'time'.

The next three columns will indicate whether you have ateen, exercised and / or medicated before checking your blood-sugar level (ticking the boxes is adequate). In the last seven columns you will note your sugar levels three or more times each day. Do your checks 1.5 hours after eating, except in the case of the first of these columns and the last of them. Label these seven columns (from the left) 'on waking', 'morning', 'mid-morning', 'midday', 'mid-afternoon', 'evening' and 'bedtime'.

This is a particularly useful exercise for your healthcare professional to see if you suspect your medication dosage or diet needs changing. Diarise the readings for the week before seeing him. This could allay the assumption that you need increased doses when the opposite is true, or vice versa.

If you do not usually eat between meals, simply dividing your usual lunch between midday and a small snack during the afternoon could stabilize you. Some diabetics, on the other hand, typically have high waking sugar levels and benefit from a change in their usual choice of breakfast.

When your sugar levels are satisfingly stable it can be difficult to lose weight. The only sure way of doing so is to reduce your intake of some foods and bring in others to compensate.

While most dietitians punt complex carbohydrates, the cardiologist who created the South Beach Diet with diabetics in mind, Dr Agatston, advocates replacing some carbohydrates with low GI vegetables, dairy products and eggs.

If this is uncharted territory, ask a dietitian to help you determine what changes to make. Ultimately, recording diabetic sugar levels is the only way to approach any concerns scientifically.