What an RD learned from Wearing a Continuous Glucose Monitor
Since their inception I have wanted to try a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). RD nerd alert! You wear this monitor 24 hours a day on the back of your arm and it gives you your real time blood glucose level. Therefore, you can see how what you eat impacts your blood sugar. I think this is fascinating! On a deeper level, my endometriosis gives me a 30% chance of developing diabetes without any other risk factors. I learned early in my diagnosis that sugar and certain carbohydrates cause me to feel bad and sometimes REALLY BAD.
I have had a handful of clients who have used them and the data they can download and send to me helps me tremendously to be able to help them. I am able to take their care to a new level. One of the brands that makes the CGM, Freestyle Libre, offers a free 2-week trial with a doctor’s prescription. I’m IN! I figured I would learn about myself and this experiment would help me to help my clients better.
The monitor is about the size of a quarter and is worn on the back of your arm. I was asked by many if it was uncomfortable. No, I rarely noticed it was there and it was very easy to apply and not painful at all. It endured many hot, humid and sweaty runs in Houston. It held up in the shower. It did not, however, make it through my Master’s swim class. That is where it died. You are supposed to be able to swim with them, apparently not for an hour straight.
What I Confirmed:
· As I have always recommended, you should eat every 3-4 hours. My blood sugar trended down over the course of 1 hour after eating and by 4 hours, it showed it was time to eat again. This confirms that we should eat a meal or snack every 3-4 hours to stay well fueled.
· Always pair a carbohydrate with a protein. I have some clients that are scared to eat fruit because of the carbs and sugar. Fruit is one of the healthiest, disease fighting carbohydrates that you can eat. When I paired it with a protein (usually a handful of nuts) for my morning snack, there was barely a blip in my glucose.
· During an hour long run, my blood sugar would also trend down at the hour mark, telling me that if I were to continue running I would need to fuel my muscles with carbohydrates. I did not get to try fueling on a long run because the sensor died a few days early.
What I Learned:
· At Advice for Eating, we always preach real, whole food over processed food! Wow, will you hear that more from me going forward. One evening I arrived home from work ready for dinner. My blood sugar was 87. I knew my husband and son would not be home for 30 minutes. I also had to leave to see a home client for a consultation not long after they got home. I decided to eat a few Nut Thin crackers to boost my blood sugar until they got home to eat dinner. A serving of Nut Thins is 15 crackers with 22 grams of carbohydrates. I ate 5-7 crackers. A few minutes later I decided I was just going to eat dinner without them as I needed to get to a client’s house. I ate a yummy and common dinner in our house: salmon, vegetables and salad. As I was eating, I started to feel a little funny and get some pretty severe endo GI cramping that comes when I eat high sugar food (which is why I avoid it). This is very out of the ordinary for me at this time of day and with foods that were all familiar to me. I checked my blood sugar and it was 187!! WHAT???? The monitor also read that my blood sugar was going up. It topped out at 192 and slowly went down over the next 30 minutes and my cramping subsided. This was my most severe reaction to processed food, but I did try other foods throughout the 11 days and every time my blood sugar would soar, just not as high as 192. When I ate carbohydrates such as oatmeal, fruit, vegetables, dairy and even red potatoes my blood glucose stayed very stable.
If you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, hypoglycemia, a history of diabetes in your family, are overweight, or want to prevent diabetes in the future, I highly recommend doing this 2-week trial. Here is the link to the free voucher:
You should not need to purchase a reader but rather connect the sensor to an app on your phone.
If I have recommended that you try it, do so. If I have not recommended it to you, try it! It is another piece of data to help you monitor your health and nutrition so you are not surprised at the doctor’s office. Our goal is for you to live a long, high quality life and this is a free tool to help you do this!