Logging for Your Life with Diabetes
If you’re most people, logging is not fun. It’s annoying in much the same way brushing teeth is annoying for young children. Neither takes tons of time and they are both very helpful but “I just don’t wanna!”
Adults brush their teeth without fail because they fully understand all the benefits of doing so. Same with logging. If you really see the benefit in doing it and it becomes a lifestyle habit, you will be much more interested in following through.
Logging Blood Sugars
The easiest way to log blood sugars is to use a meter that hooks up to your computer and downloads the info which can then be printed out.
If you log manually, here are a few tips to getting in the habit of logging those nagging, yet important readings:
Try to get a small notepad that fits in your meter case along with a small pen. This way, each time you test you’ll see the pad and pen and be reminded to log your blood sugar and the time. Use the time displayed on your meter to avoid looking around for a clock.
If you have a hard time logging, do so in spurts. Log when your blood sugars are acting up for just a week or two.
First thing I will say to do is to log basal insulin and tweak it until you get it right. This is extremely crucial for getting your bolus insulin levels right. Ginger Vieira’s book is the best source I’ve found on how to get insulin doses right, you can find out about it here.
If you have a pump, find out if there is a way to get your insulin delivery on your computer for printout. If not, what I recommend is to log insulin right along with blood sugars in a notepad. It helps if they go together. Some people go all out and note where they inject or where their pump site is connected at the time of giving insulin, but that’s mostly if you want to experiment with different sites to learn about your personal absorption in different areas of the body.
Logging moods and symptoms
You know, this one isn’t often done. It’s not an obvious choice or a popular one, but it should be. It’s a plain fact that stress, feelings, pain, anxiety, and infections all mess with our blood sugars. So logging moods and symptoms is a really valuable tool to figuring out what changes need to be made. You may need to tweak your life. Maybe you need to learn stress management or see a counselor about a nagging emotional issue that’s taking a toll on you. Perhaps you need to see a specialist about an ongoing infection. Or it could be that you have depression or anxiety that is truly affecting how you live and act-which affects blood sugars.
The key is to get at the root cause of your blood sugars. This log is something I really, really, really recommend. I do it for one week out of every month, alternating the weeks (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th week). I alternate weeks because of what I can learn by doing so. For example, I’ve learned that I feel completely different during the week before my period and that is something I’m soon to discuss with my doctor because of the extreme nature of the change.
Logging food intake (food diary)
A food diary can be really helpful because it’s enlightening to know exactly how much we are eating and also, how often. Many years ago when I first tried to log my eating for dieting purposes I was shocked to find out how much I was snacking in between meals. Shocked I tell you. It also helps to log your food intake in order to pinpoint which foods or meals are making you feel well rather than not. Thanks to my food diary, I’ve tracked the possibility of a gluten sensitivity and am very thankful for that key piece of information and it’s effects on my blood sugar management.
I think the best way to log for your diabetes is to do it intermittingly. Unless you love logging all this information all of the time, of course. If your blood sugars need tweaking, log your sugars and insulin for a week or two. If you need to lose weight or deal with some food issues, write a food diary for a week or two. If your blood sugars are decent and you eat well but feel ill or strange in some way, log blood sugars, insulin, food, and your moods and symptoms. Try to get to the bottom of what is making you feel less than great. Be a diabetic Sherlock Holmes.
If you hate logging, you’re not alone. I absolutely hate it with all my heart and soul (ok, a tad dramatic) and many others struggle with keeping it up, as well. Scott Johnson wrote a great post here about how he is fighting with his logbook. Read it and know you’re definitely not a bad diabetic or bad person just because you don’t log. Be creative and find a way that works for you and keep in mind why you’re logging numbers and data-you want to be well and knowledge is power that’s always on your side.
Do you have any suggestions/comments?