Tips & Advice

From Dr. Liz Herself

December 8, 2022
Continuous Glucose Monitoring
Woman with Continuous Glucose Monitor

Continuous Glucose Monitoring

A “fad” I think will become “normal”

double_stuf_oreosI am a closet sugar-holic.

Most people don’t know that I have handled some hard times in my life by eating an entire package of Double Stuf Oreos.

At this point in my life, however, eating processed sugary “food” is taking a bigger toll than ever in the form of bad moods and stubborn belly fat. Naturally, this leads me to worry just a little about the yummy treats this winter holiday season.

If this resonates with you, I am happy to say there is now a way to stay in control of the sugar monster: the continuous glucose monitor.

After a year and a half of my patients asking me to prescribe them a continuous glucose monitor patch, I decided to try it myself. The results were very eye-opening.

What is continuous glucose monitoring (CGM)?

Freestyle_Libre_CGM_sensor_patchCGM was originally reserved only for people with diabetes bad enough to require insulin. A CGM device has three parts: a sensor, a transmitter, and a reader.

The sensor is a probe under the skin (not a needle!) that detects the glucose (sugar) level in the tissue fluid. (This level is not exactly the same as the blood level – it lags a few minutes behind, but still correctly reflects the ups and downs.)

The transmitter records the glucose level every few minutes, day and night. These levels create daily graphs that you and your doctor can refer to whenever you want.

The reader is a separate device that records and displays your glucose levels. The latest sensor patches, however, transmit to an application on your phone – this means one less piece of equipment is needed. You can check your glucose level when you want, but you do not have to use the reader to be able to see the daily graphs of your sugar levels.

My Experiment on Myself

I wore the Freestyle Libre CGM sensor patch for two weeks.

The first day brought the first lesson.

My husband and I walked in San Francisco in the Alzheimer’s Walk fundraiser. Among the “healthy” treats they served the participants were some lovely looking yogurt cups with plain yogurt, a few fresh berries, and a small amount of granola. Here is what my blood sugar curve looked like in the hours following this “healthy” snack:Blood-Sugar-after-a-healthy-snackThis first day was rocky, as you can see. That innocent looking yogurt parfait at 2:00 pm made my blood sugar go up to 175, which is pretty high. What got my attention, though, was the plummet down to a level low enough to sound the alarm on this CGM system.

Here is what the day looked like as a whole. This picture shows that it took about six hours for my blood sugar to stabilize after eating what most would consider a healthy snack:

Blood Sugar stabilized

It took a few days to get the hang of eating meals with balanced carbs and protein, and watching the blood sugar reaction. Here is a screenshot of a much better blood sugar response to a meal. What you see next is a normal increase after eating, followed by a nice smooth return to baseline:

Blood Sugar Response - Better

My patients have told me stories that I also experienced. Here are a few:

  • “People say an after-dinner walk brings down blood sugar, but seeing is believing when you see the glucose level drop after the walk”
  • “Seeing what my blood sugar really is when I feel ‘hypoglycemic’”
  • “When I saw the sugar spike after the ‘healthy’ energy bar, I was upset that these are marketed  to kids!”

Pro-Tip: it’s not sugar that makes you gain weight; it’s the insulin response to the sugar. You’ve heard of insulin resistance? That is what happens over time: after prolonged sugar intake, your body has to release more and more insulin to keep it under control. Insulin then causes weight gain, inflammation, and more.

I’m going to use this CGM to help me navigate my sugar eating over the holiday season. Want to join me?

Click here to sign up for this first-ever Special 4-Week Sugar-Busting Holiday Program with Dr. Liz

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