Diabetes Self-Management Blog

One of the most important self-management skills is keeping logs of health-related information. Do you do that? What do you keep records of? Are you consistent with logging, and does it help?

I’m working a lot these days with people newly diagnosed with Type 2. I believe logging will help them understand how their bodies work and what affects their diabetes, but maybe I’m wrong. How can I help them start with logging, and should I? What should they log, and how can they do that?

I’m asking for help because logging is a skill I’m terrible at. I trust my memory on things like what I ate, how far I could walk, how many times I fell, etc. It never works. Two months later, who can accurately remember what supplements they were taking or how many days they did their stretching exercises? You’re just guessing most of the time, so you might miss important patterns that a good log would show.

Most people with diabetes, if they monitor at home, at least record their blood glucose results. But do you also record what you ate, your activity, what medications and supplements you took? Do you keep track of how you feel, your energy levels and symptom levels?

When you think about it, you could log so many different parts of your life. It all might be helpful, but it’s also a lot of energy and time spent. I can’t imagine many people doing it all. Do you think it’s worth doing, or even possible?

If you keep logs, how do you do it? I just use a big notebook and write down things that I think of, but I’m sure it would be better to be more orderly. There are diabetes logs for computers and apps for cell phones. Most monitors now will link to computers to store results and put them into charts. Do you use any of those, and do they help?

The diabetes log I give out has five columns, one each for date and time, food, exercise (what and how much), blood glucose level, and “notes/other things.” It’s a pen-and-paper log, not computerized.

I guess I should do an Excel or PDF version of it — have to stop being so old-fashioned. There are a couple of free Excel downloads for diabetes available at this Web site.

Do you use anything like that? If you want to see the paper or Word version, let me know and I’ll send you one. I’d also like some ideas on how to improve it.

Some people say they don’t keep records or even monitor because they don’t want to hear any bad news. Do you sometimes not check for fear of seeing a high number, or not write something down because you don’t want to be reminded?

For me, the main barrier to logging seems to be laziness. But I never accept that excuse from anyone else. There must be something else going on that gets in the way. What gets in the way of logging for you?

I see a difference between logging and record keeping. Record keeping is just an archive — something you can look back at or show to your doctor once in a while. It’s passive, just keeping track of what happens to you.

Logging is keeping information for a specific purpose, like to find out how certain foods, stresses, activities, or medications affect you. It’s being active, taking control.

It’s a valuable skill. Please tell us about your experiences with logging diabetes.

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Comments
  1. Use to log and then got software for my meter and downloaded, printed out and carried to doctor. But the upgrade on the meter, computer broke down and could no longer do. Now i just take meter to doctor and they download it.

    Posted by steve lowe |
  2. What, no comments? I really wanted to see what other people said, even came back the next day to harvest ideas but no luck. Here’s what I would like to log:

    Carbs per meal & per day. (T2 on very low carb diet. Logging helps keep this carb lover honest.)

    An easy way to calculate and tote up carbs per meal & per day.

    Exercise (mainly distance walked)

    Weight

    Waist

    Comments on health

    BG, of course, though I don’t measure frequently.

    A phone app would be grand. A small paper journal would do. The apps and journals I’ve seen concentrate on only a few aspects of this. I tried making my own from a cute 3×5 notebook but it didn’t get far since I stopped logging. I just remembered that the folks who make the little notebooks also will custom print them for you. Probably too costly but a thought. scoutbooks.com, if anyone is interested, and no, I have no relationship with them except as an occasional customer.

    Posted by Pauline |
  3. I use 2 apps on my iPad, Diabetes App and CarbsControl. You can do it all with Daibetes App but CarbsControl logs meals, carbs, calories, weight, gives you averages and a nice pie chart to show you the percent calories from protein, carbs and fat. I use Diabetes App to log exercise and meter readings primarily. I do not take meds but those can be logged there as well. It can also keep track of water consumption, weight, and blood pressure.

    I log what I eat because I will think twice before eating something if it doesn’t fit in my allowances. It also helps with portion control. I log exercise to keep me motivated and to remember because if I take a day or 2 off, it could easily become 3 or 4, then it is easy to convince myself that it hasn’t been that long…it keeps me honest. And if I have a higher than normal blood sugar I can see what caused it and how excise effects it. I am prediabetic and trying very hard to keep from progressing.

    Posted by Karen |
  4. Hi…and thank you for writing this article. A journal, or log, is incredibly important for a number of reasons.
    1. As a record of success. I loved it when I saw my glucose numbers go steadily down. It was a source of positive re-enforcement.
    2. Learning what you can eat and what to avoid. The reality is that there are general guidelines for eating: some can eat more carbs/calories than others due to body chemistry. Each of us is unique and by completing a food journal or log, you learn what you can eat and see how it effects your glucose.
    3. It acts as a reminder to take meds and exercise. You can see the effect of the exercise or activity almost immediately in glucose readings.
    4. It can be a place for you to register your weight every week and it becomes a positive re-enforcement when you see the success.
    5. It’s a tool that you can turn back to whenever something happens for which you don’t have an immediate answer. If your glucose goes up and you don’t know why - keep a food journal and you might be able to easily discover the cause. gain a few unexpected pounds? Keep a journal and you might be able to easily see why.
    6. A journal can be a place for summarizing thoughts and emotions, as well - which can be very important for some folks.
    There are a lot of reasons to keep a food log, or journal - but the biggest reason of all is that it can help lead to success in controlling Diabetes; it can help you find victory in your War On Diabetes.

    Yeah, I feel very strongly about the value of food logs and journals.

    Thanks,
    Phil

    Posted by Phil Ruggiero |
  5. I use MyFitnessPal on iPad for food. This is an excellent tool for counting carbs because you can scan bar codes of food or enter recipes and carbs are estimated. Enter all the items for a meal and it totalizes the carbs. No more guessing. Then you can go back and see exactly what you ate if glucose readings don’t work out.

    I use my pump info for everything else. It’s not a complete picture but I have never been able to do maintain a practice of writing everything down.

    Posted by John Koehler |
  6. ‘Discipline’ is why I keep my paper logs in a zipper binder beside the meal table. My sheets (2 of them) are custom made (computer) and I fill in the blanks. This process was trial and error in the beginning. I record blood sugar, insulin and meds and more.

    In the beginning I tried all kinds of logs, computer programs, you name it.. but in the end I designed the ones that worked for me. I need to actually hand write my information. My goal with LADA meant doing at least 7 tests a day because of the variance. That goal turned out to be getting as close to a normal person as possible — I’ve done amazingly well with it too. It’s been years and is part of my life.

    My blood test results, blood pressure and other information go in this binder too. Let me count the number of times a doctor has tried to pass me a new med because something had changed a tiny bit but was only a temporary thing. The word NO is important when you can back it up. (Take your binder to the doctor).

    If this sounds simplistic that’s because it needs to be. Hey if it is going to be one of the important things in your life KIS. It really does have to work for only you!

    Posted by JohnC |
  7. I have an Excel spreadsheet that I keep on a flash drive. The spreadsheet has every hour columns and rows for blood glucose, carbs eaten, insulin bolus taken, correction insulin taken and basal rate for each hour. Being on the pump, this log has been very helpful with making necessary adjustments to my basal rates. Using Excel will also allow me to conditionally format the spreadsheet to highlight the lows in yellow and the highs in red for quick review of problems/concerns. I have been using this log method for several years now. My PCP loves this spreadsheet as do I!

    Posted by Terri |
  8. I USE INSULIN PUMP WHICH USES WIRELESS CONNECTED METER. DOWN LOAD READINGS WHICH INCLUDE BLOOD SUGAR,CARBS, AND INSULIN USED INTO A COMPUTER SYSTEM SHOWING DAILY AND MONTHLY ETC DATA WHICH I PRINT OUT AND TAKE TO DR.

    Posted by JACK MCABEE |
  9. I have made my own log sheet and photo copied it. I need to turn in copies to my pharmacy so Medicare will pay for 8 strips per day. I have 4 days on a sheet, I keep track of bg of course but I also have 6 w listed that I can circle if I have glasses of water, I have waist, weight, exercise areas like w for walking, t for treadmill so I can write minutes and a place for food eaten and number of units taken at each meal and nighttime 24 hour insulin. But it only works when you use it and it is too big for my purse so it is not very portable and when I leave it at home and use scraps of paper to then transfer later, it just doesn’t happen. I am planning on trying to record by voice and then try to transcribe it by using the Dragon program. Wish me luck,

    Posted by Diane |
  10. Thank you all for these valuable comments and suggestions. I’m sure many will benefit from them.

    David

    Posted by David Spero RN |
  11. Hello,

    My name is Richard Scanlan and I am working on a Blood Glucose control system. The project has gotten to a stage where I need Blood Glucose information from some subjects to run through a program. My own daughter is a T1 and I have information from her. What I need is to try different subject information in the equation. I am hoping to get several days of Blood Sugar logs from several different subjects. I would not have any interest in any type of identifying information, just BG levels, carb to insulin ratios, insulin sensitivities and type of insulin. It would be a great help if your program would be able to provide me with this information or be able to direct me to where I could find it.

    Thank you,

    Rick Scanlan

    Posted by Richard Scanlan |
  12. Hi, I have just been confirmed type 2 as of dec - 13. I to was looking at spreadsheets to log my results but could not find one that i thought was suitable, so i created my own excel spread sheet.
    This incorporates the following:-
    1. 7 day, upto 5 tests a day
    2. Auto day and dates after inputting just one date
    3. Time: manually enter time of testing
    4. BG: manually enter BG levels
    5. Comment: manually enter what you have eaten or excersise etc
    6. Daily Carbs: manually enter your meal carbs
    7. Daily Carb Intake: automatically updates how many carbs you have consumed
    8. Daily BG: automatically calculates your daily BG average
    9. Weekly BG: automatically calculates your weekly BG average
    10. Med Time: manually enter the time you took your meds
    11. Weight Kg: manually enter your weight
    12. FOOD Product: drop down list with over 350 food product carb data, select food and carb detail will appear
    13. Print the weekly results on 1 A4 piece of paper, visual graph at bottom of page showing BG results.
    If anyone is interested in using this excel spread sheet then leave a comment where i can sent it.
    Kindest Regards
    Glenn

    Posted by Glenn |
  13. Thanks for sharing

    Posted by shelly Tinsley |

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