Welcome to DIY (Do It Yourself) Diabetes with Marci Page Sloane

Why Test Blood Sugar
Learn the "Whys" of blood sugar testing

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.

Target Blood Sugar Levels
*According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA)
** According to the American College Of Endocrinology (ACE)

Test People without diabetes People with diabetes
Blood sugar before meals mg/dL Less than 100 90-130*
Blood sugar 2 hours after the start of meals Not clearly defined
Less than 140 on a glucose
tolerance test.
Less than 180*
Less than 140**
A1c Less than 6% Less than 7%*
Less than 6.5%**

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 A1c to blood sugar

    4% = 65 mg/dL 10% = 275 mg/dL
    5% = 100 mg/dL 11% = 310 mg/dL
    6% = 135 mg/dL 12% = 345 mg/dL
    7% = 170 mg/dL 13% = 380 mg/dL
    8% = 205 mg/dL 14% = 415 mg/dL
    9% = 240 mg/dL 15% = 450 mg/dL

Marci Sloane, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE, is a registered and licensed dietitian/nutritionist and certified diabetes educator with a degree in Nutrition and Physiology from Teachers College at Columbia University. Marci is the author of The Diet Game: Playing for Life! More about Marci Sloane

The goal of Destination Diabetes is to be a useful and credible resource for the more than 20 million children and adults who have diabetes in the U.S. and their families. Destination Diabetes provides information on a wide range of diabetes health and wellness topics. Articles are written or reviewed by diabetes advisors who have experience in diabetes education.