In my last blog i asked the question: how am i to learn which carbs spike my blood glucose (BG), and how much of them can i eat? [As promised, diabetic discussion behind the cut…]

The only way to know this is to measure the amount of glucose in my blood, and i can do this via a blood sugar monitor.

There are many available on the market; the monitors themselves are relatively cheap, and are often given away as part of a promotion. They consist of a machine, strips that you put into the machine, and a lancet for stabbing yourself in order to get a bead of blood. The strip is then dipped into that bead of blood, and the machine measures the glucose from that.

[Its the strips that are expensive – i think £13 per 100 strips – and if you do a test in the morning to get your FBG (Fasting Blood Glucose – taking this reading every day is a bit like weighing yourself every week, it shows progress with overall control of the diet), and a before and after every meal test, then you can use upwards of 7-8 strips per day. Sadly, the UK govt and NICE (who issue the clinical guidelines have decided on the basis of two studies which seem to be flawed, that blood sugar monitors don’t work for T2 diabetics and that there’s no point providing them on the NHS.I may have battles on my hands in future to get the strips i need.]

In order to use a blood sugar monitor effectively, i have to test my blood immediately before each meal, and about one hour after each meal (since i’ve realised it takes me a certain amount of time to eat (i eat rather slowly), i’ve settled on 75 minutes after i started to eat). The difference between these two readings tells me the effect of what i’ve eaten on my BG levels, and thus i can make a decision from there whether i need to drop the amount of carb, increase it, or stop eating that particular carb altogether.

[I use a LifeScan OneTouch UltraEasy monitor.]

For example: a couple of days ago i made a very nice duck noodle soup for dinner, using the carcass of the duck from new year’s day to make a stock, and then using that to make an asian style broth with lots of vegetables, scraps of duck, some bean curd and some noodles. Obviously, the veg will have a certain amount of carb (all veg have carb – cellulose, which is the main structure of plant cell walls, is basically starch, but some veg have more carbs than others – which is why potatoes don’t count as a veg in one of your 5 a day), but the noodles was what i was really watching for. My before dinner reading at 21:42 was 5.9 – on the high side of normal, but otherwise, very nice. Post dinner reading, 60 minutes later, was 7.2. this is a difference of 1.3. (anything below 3 is good). To be sure, i repeated the experiment the following day, with another asian style soup, hot and spicy soup which has lots of veg and prawns in, and which also has noodles in. before dinner reading was 5.7, post dinner was 7.3. Difference was 1.6. so noodles are, at the present time, probably okay – in small portions (the ratio of noodle to soup was probably about 10% or less).

This makes it sound incredibly simple. it actually isn’t. if you’re a cook, like me, then you rarely make the same meal twice, which makes it difficult for comparative purposes. You also rarely eat the same amount twice. Even if you were to eliminate both of these, and eat something that you know is the same (e.g. a tin of baked beans, or something commercially prepared), and weigh the items so you know you’re eating the same amount, then even the time of day you eat (eating something in the morning can have a different effect from eating it for dinner) can have an effect, as can (for women) their fertility cycle (all those hormones – its no accident that i always had hypoglycaemic episodes when i was either having my period or ovulating).

So what’s the point of measuring, if this is the case? well… its all we have, really. Unless a result is so extreme (e.g. i have yet to eat a jacket potato and measure that, but i think when i do, the results will be staggering – my BG should shoot sky high) that i can eliminate it immediately then its often going to be a case of small moves, over a long period of time. recording absolutely everything, and using my body as a science experiment, basically. Getting a theory, and trying it out… which i’ll pretty much be doing for the rest of my life (and which is the reason why the governments decision to NOT recommend blood glucose monitors for T2 diabetics is so disastrous – for those who understand how to use them properly, they’re an extremely powerful tool).

Its also the reason why i’m going to be posting my BG results and menus on here. i need to record them somewhere, and frankly, it might help another T2 diabetic. (too often, T2s are isolated: knowledge, as in so much else in life, is power. I gained most of my understanding from this site and its forum). As with all my other diabetic discussions, i’ll put them behind a cut.