Blood Sugar Testing – Why You Need To Do It

By Marci Sloane|2023-09-29T12:54:43-04:00Updated: July 15th, 2014|Diabetes Management, DIY Diabetes Articles|0 Comments

Blood sugar (glucose) testing is essential to successful diabetes management. Here’s why you should be testing:

  • To understand your daily blood sugar pattern. Example: what readings do you typically have fasting or at bedtime or after your favorite meal or snack?
  • To find out how a particular meal or snack affects your blood sugar.
  • To indicate how your body processed the carbohydrate/sugar. Test before a meal/snack and 2 hours after your first bite of that meal/snack, if the reading goes up 50 points or less it means your body was able to adequately process that particular meal at that time of day.
  • To inform you of the effects food, exercise, stress, medications, hormones and alcohol have on your body by providing additional information for fine-tuning.

When testing your blood sugar, here are some important points to remember:

  • Test blood sugar right before eating a meal/snack and 2 hours after the meal.
  • Blood sugar should not rise more than 50 points from a meal.
  • Code machines (some machines do not need to be coded).
  • Use control solution – test one strip per vial to ensure the test strips are working properly (shake the solution before using).
  • Testing in the finger or palm of your hand will provide the most accurate reading. Alternate site testing (on the arm or leg) should only be done prior to meals for most accurate readings. After meals, alternative sites may display lower readings.
  • Alternative site results may differ from fingertip results when blood sugar levels are rapidly changing.

Below is suggestions of when you should test your blood sugar for both diabetics and non-diabetics. These numbers are based on the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American College of ENdocrinology (ACE).

Target Blood Sugar Levels
When to Test People Without Diabetes People with Diabetes
Blood sugar before meals mg/dL Less than 100 90-130(ADA) or 80-110(ACE)
Blood sugar 2 hours after the start of meals Not clearly defined
Less than 140 on glucose tolerance test.
Less than 180(ADA) or Less than 140(ACE)
A1c Less than 6% Less than 7%(ADA) or Less than 6.5%(ACE)

The hemoglobin A1c is a 3-month average blood sugar test that may be included in your annual, bi-annual or quarterly blood work:

  • Gives you an overview of the extent you are controlling your diabetes.
  • A blood test that measures the amount of sugar attached to your red blood cells.
  • KNOW YOUR NUMBER to determine your progress.
How to Compare
an A1c to Blood Sugar
A1c %’s Blood Sugar mg/dL
4% 65mg/dL
5% 100 mg/dL
6% 135 mg/dL
7% 170 mg/dL
8% 205 mg/dL
9% 240 mg/dL
10% 275 mg/dL
11% 310 mg/dL
12% 345 mg/dL
13% 380 mg/dL
14% 415 mg/dL
15% 450 mg/dL

About the Author: Marci Sloane

Marci SloaneMarci Sloane, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE, is a registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist and certified diabetes educator. She grew up in NYC where she graduated with a degree in Nutrition and Physiology from Teachers College at Columbia University. For over a decade, Marci managed a Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center at a multi-bed hospital in South Florida and has been counseling people on healthy eating, weight loss, and managing diseases and conditions such as: diabetes, pre-diabetes, healthy eating, heart disease, weight loss, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, hypertension, hypoglycemia and a host of other nutrition-related diseases. Marci is an American Diabetes Association Valor Award recipient and lectures frequently to the public and healthcare professionals. Marci was a featured panelist for the Sun-Sentinel's "Let's Take It Off" weight loss program, was highlighted in the Palm Beach Post: Meet Your Neighbor, "Woman's book on healthy eating uses humor as a key ingredient" and was a participant in their Diabetes Series in 2007. Marci Sloane is a member of the American Diabetes Association’s Health Professional Committee.

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