How Do You Keep Diabetes Logs?

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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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