I don’t often talk about my blood sugar with my family or friends. If I’m high I inconspicuously give myself more insulin and if I’m low I whip a juice box out of my purse and chug it down in 2 seconds flat without feeling the need to call any more attention to it. Most people forget I am diabetic or don’t even know. The truth is, if I were to say, “man, my blood sugar is 300,” the majority of people wouldn’t know if that was a good number or a bad one. I like to avoid that awkward head nod and half-smile as they say, “oh,” and then stare back in silence, clueless as to the appropriate reaction. However, occasionally my blood sugar readings do creep into conversation. So, I decided to address the topic of “normal” blood sugar ranges in this weeks D for Dummies segment.
Ideal Glucose Ranges
Non-diabetics usually stay between 70-100 unless they’ve eaten a rather carb-heavy meal, in which case the blood sugar may spike up a bit higher. Once my sister ate a piece of pie and I pressured her into letting me check her sugar right afterward as a little experiment. She looked shocked to see the meter spit back a number of 138.
For diabetics, the range varies a little more. As a kid I was told to keep my blood sugar between 80-180. Then it slowly shifted down to 80-150. Then again the range changed to 70-140. Now I like to stay between 70-120 (ideally).
As a type 1 diabetic, my numbers are often outside the ideal range (more often high than low) and sometimes I feel embarrassed, like it’s somehow my fault that I don’t have perfect control. Even among other diabetics, I feel a little ashamed if my meter returns a crappy number. A couple months ago I joined a few different diabetes online communities and I expected I would feel relieved to find so many people out there facing the same control issues as me. In actuality, I didn’t find many people I could empathize with at all.
I encountered two different types of people:
- The blood sugar boasters–those that flaunt their magnificent readings and never let their sugar spike high
- Those struggling tremendously with control–those that can’t seem to bring their numbers below 200 on a regular basis
But I didn’t see many people like me–those that have fairly good control with most readings in range but maybe a few outside as well. My doctor always told me I had excellent numbers and I felt fine about my readings until I read all those posts by the people with flawless control. They preach militant-style monitoring. Check your blood sugar 10-12 times a day. Don’t eat any grains or fruit to avoid spikes. If you eat chocolate, eat only one square. If your blood sugar is 180, it’s dangerously high. I mean seriously?
I honestly stopped visiting the sites as much to avoid reading post after post of people that bragged about their numbers. On one hand, it’s great to try and achieve readings as good as a non-diabetic but I feel that I would be sacrificing quality of life to do so. I’ve read posts in which diabetics will say they never eat cake at a birthday party or never eat more than 30 grams of carbohydrates at a meal. Some won’t eat cereal or bread or fruit smoothies. The fact is that I already have a disease that I must fight daily so why let that disease take more from me than it already has?
How to Check Blood Sugar
**I am not a medical professional and do not intend any information I write to serve as medical advice or absolute truth. My knowledge is based on a decade of life with diabetes but I have not studied any related sciences. In fact, I’m an English major. Also, please don’t take offence to the name “D for Dummies.” I’m sure you are very smart.