Remembering to test: Just like flossing!

So many times patients say they don’t mind testing they just can’t seem to remember to do it. It reminds me of the question I get asked at each dental visit, “Are you remembering to floss?”  Like testing, it isn’t the process of flossing that prevents me from doing it regularly, it is remembering that’s the challenge.


I’ve finally arrived at the conclusion that I won’t floss regularly unless I make it easy not to forget. Visual cues are the strongest, so I put my floss right next to my tooth brush where my before bed and early morning ritual is. In fact, making it a new ritual or habit is my goal. It has to become as much a part of my routine as showering or brushing my hair.  


Think about ways to make testing easier. Keep your kit nearby. If you begin and end your day in a certain room in your house, e.g. bedroom, bathroom, keep it there so you won’t be able to ignore it. Like a cell phone, purse or keys take your meter with you when you leave the house.


Why test? There are lots of good reasons to test blood sugars. For those individuals on diet or oral medications you can see the affect of different types of food, especially carbohydrates on your blood sugars. Gathering this information helps you to manage and understand your diabetes.


Exercise can have a huge impact on blood sugars and by testing you’ll see the positive effect of lower blood sugars. Also, you’ll discover if you need to change your medication to avoid low blood sugars when exercising. Remember, every time you treat a low blood sugar with 15 to 20 grams of carbohydrate you take in unplanned and unnecessary calories. Individuals with frequent hypoglycemia tend to gain weight.


If you are following a diet for weight loss, you may find that your blood sugars reflect your efforts faster than the scale. This will reinforce your efforts and you’ll stick with your diet plan.


For those individuals on insulin, matching food to insulin by learning to carbohydrate count can give you flexibility in your meal plan and improve your blood sugars.  Remember too, if you are on insulin, when you check before each meal you’ll know if you gave yourself enough insulin at your prior meal. With this information you’ll be able to make the appropriate changes in your carbohydrate to insulin ratio if that’s the method you are using.  Testing frequently allows for what I refer to as “developing good clinical judgment”. Keeping blood sugars as close to normal through out the day relies on a combination of carbohydrate counting and good clinical judgment.


Last but not least when you test before each meal, if you find your blood sugar higher than your target blood sugar, you’ll have the opportunity to take extra insulin to bring it to target. This is called the supplemental rule.  For those individuals on insulin a combination of a carbohydrate ratio and a supplemental rule can mean better blood sugars and a feeling of being in control.

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